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picture showing white dust and difference when wiped clean

picture illustrating size compared to pot, also shows underside of leaves

What to do? I was given this Bromeliad, two links above. Please see what looks like white dust. A neighbor had quite a few plants on her porch, she gave me most of them because she didn't want to have to bring them inside this winter, as she's going south. None if the other plants have this white dust looking stuff. Is it just dust? Or should I be worried it's a fungus? The top of the leaves wipe off,as pictured but the white on the bottom of the leaves are just colored that way (do not wipe off. Can anyone help to identify this Bromeliad and tell me if simply wiping the leaves is good enough, or should I be doing more?

I also need help identifying the Brom, what kind it is. I'm not sure if it's one without a bloom or if it just hasn't bloomed yet. Also, is the pot too small?

I will be posting another question of an additional plant she gave me, with further questions about it and it's identification. Thanks!

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This plant is Aechmea_fasciata or the Urn plant. It is a bromeliad native to Brazil which is widely grown for the interior trade. The white dust is part of the plant and nothing to worry about. Do not wipe the leaves.

This plant has bloomed already as evidenced by the pups growing out from the side of the base.

Now for the bad news: like all bromeliads the life cycle is simple, grow, flower and die. The main stem is going to slowly die over the next six to eight months and the pups will take over.

This plant benefits from strong diffuse light and a regular misting with dechlorinated water. Opinions differ on keeping the central cup full of water. In the wild the cup acts as a reservoir and helps it during dry periods. Inside a house stagnant water just gets skunky and sometimes rots the plants.

Although wikipedia lists the plant as causing dermatitis I found if you just keep your hands away from it and the sharp bits on the edge of the leaves you will be fine

  • So the center portion FOR SURE has already bloomed? And it's NOT necessary to remove it until it shows signs of dying? Glad you told me not to wipe, as I stopped wiping after the first leaf. I just didn't want to bring it inside and expose a fungus to other plants. Thanks – Christy B. Oct 4 '17 at 1:01
  • So, @kevinsky my neighbor DID confirm the center had a bloom when purchased well over two years ago; so I'm assuming this plant has been babied and well taken care of for it to have lasted this long? Curious on your opinion of the size of the pot, is it large enough? Should the soil be replaced since it's only been replaced once? Thanks for your detailed response. – Christy B. Oct 4 '17 at 3:26
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    @ChristyB. I would not rush to repot. Pot bound plants often put on more top growth than ones that are repotted and spend their time growing roots. These plants are epiphytes by choice. If you like to pamper your plants a very dilute fish based or other organic fertilizer will do the job nicely. – kevinsky Oct 5 '17 at 0:17

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