Dyckia (2016)

PhotoBy Mike Cushner (February 2016)

There is a wealth of information available on the Internet on the genus Dyckia. The genus gets its name from that of an early expert on succulent plants, German Prince von Salm-Dyck (1773-1861).

Dyckias are terrestrial bromeliads, numbering approximately 120 species. Hybridization has been extensive, both in the wild and in cultivation. While most dyckias are native to Brazil, others are found in Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Typically, they grow in areas where the temperatures rarely drop much below freezing. Yet in cultivation, these “hardy bromeliads” – if kept dry – can tolerate temperatures of 20 degrees F or lower for short periods of time.

Dyckias commonly grow on rocky soil and are xerophytes with stiff, rugged and often spiky leaves. They can survive long periods of drought by going dormant and eventually wilting, but return to their normal state when the drought subsides. In spring, thin stalks – eventually bearing yellow, orange or red flowers – emerge from the sides of the plants.

Growing dyckias in the garden in the U.S. is severely limited by cold and/or wet weather. Given a sunny or at least bright location and appropriate winter weather, dyckias can do well. They thrive on water in warmer weather and will clump, forming large mats.

In the St. Louis area, pot culture is the way to go with dyckias. The same water and temperature guidelines as indicated earlier should be observed. Strong sunlight or intense artificial light will be required to promote vigorous growth and bring out the best coloration in some hybrids.

Dilute fertilizer solution treatments throughout the growing season are recommended. Because of dyckias’ appetite for water during the growing season, a more moisture-retentive growing medium than our standard succulent mixes is recommended.

Given appropriate growing conditions, the plants and their root systems can expand significantly. Choose pot sizes accordingly.

Propagation is commonly done by separation of pups. Dyckias can be grown from seed, but beware of unexpected hybridization if growing multiple plants in this genus. Seedlings may flower in the third year.

Bromeliad Society/Houston –