Bromeliads are flowering plants with some attractive features. They are popular as houseplants, and most of them are suitable for growing indoors. While some of the hardy types are grown outdoors, others are grown indoors only. Guzmania is a genus that belongs to the bromeliad family. These bromeliads are named after Anastasio Guzman, a Spanish naturalist of the eighteenth century. These tropical plants are perennials, that are native to South America.
Guzmania bromeliads are mostly epiphytes, as they are found to grow on tree trunks. Some types are found attached to rocks or soil. While some species are really small, there are certain types that can be around four feet tall. The most attractive feature of bromeliads is the strikingly colorful part of the plant; which is not the flower, but the terminal spike formed of colorful bracts. Even the flowers are attractive, but smaller, as compared to the bracts in the inflorescence. The bracts can be orange, yellow, or red. The small flowers are yellow, red, or greenish white. There are some varieties with purple or white bracts.
The foliage of different bromeliad species varies in shape and size. Guzmania bromeliads are characterized by long and glossy, green leaves. The leaves are thin with smooth edges. They are often found to have fine vertical lines that extend throughout the length of the leaves. These lines can be brown, purple or maroon.
Most of these bromeliads grow to a width that ranges between 30 to 60 centimeters. One of the most popular varieties is the scarlet star Guzmania (Guzmania lingulata) with bright orange and red bracts. It can grow to a width of more than 60 centimeters. In case of Guzmanias, the actual flowers last for a day or two; and once the flowers wither, the plants die. However, small plants called pups emerge from the dead one; and these pups can be planted in individual pots. Guzmanias are heavy at the top, and so heavy pots are required for planting them.
How to Take Care of a Guzmania Bromeliad
Guzmanias are found to survive well in warm temperatures with high humidity. If you get a Guzmania bromeliad with the inflorescence; the plant will die, once the flowers wither. In that case, you can start afresh with the pups, that grow from the dead plant. These pups have to be planted in well-drained acid potting mix, like the orchid mix. You may prepare the potting mix for these bromeliads by mixing equal amounts of potting soil and pine chips. You may also tie these plants to roots bound with sphagnum moss. A balanced fertilizer can be used once or twice a month; but make sure that it does not contain any trace of lime, that can stain the leaves.
Over watering may cause rotting of these plants, and so it is better to sprinkle some water on the roots. Use distilled water or tap water for this purpose. Tap water must be kept open for some time, before use. Don't water the leaves of these bromeliads. Once in two months, leach the pot by drenching the soil with water. Once the water drains, drench it again and allow to drain. This is good for removing the salts accumulated in the soil. Place the Guzmania bromeliads in bright, indirect sun or under a fluorescent light. A temperature range of 40 to 100°F is perfect for these bromeliads. As they need humidity, a humidifier can also be used. With proper care, these plants will grow healthy.