HOW TO GROW AND CARE FOR OUR PLANTS
They are splendid plants belonging to the large family of Bromeliaceaemuch appreciated for their long, rigid and arched leaves of an intense green color, more or less mottled or variegated and for their inflorescences, very spectacular in different species.
Species: see the paragraph on "Main species"
The genre Guzmania groups plants belonging to the great family of Bromeliaceae,native to the southwestern regions of South America and the Antilles.
They are mostly epiphytic evergreen plants but terrestrial species are also found, characterized by long, rigid and arched leaves of an intense green color, which can be more or less variegated or streaked depending on the species, with smooth edges. It does not reach large dimensions, not exceeding one meter in height.
The peculiarity, as in most of the Bromeliaceae, are the leaves arranged in a rosette enlarged in the central part to form a sort ofcup in which in nature rainwater and a flora and fauna often abundant consisting of plant and animal residues are collected which with the decomposition release nutrients that absorbed by the plant, through the basal part of the leaves, constituting an excellent food source.
The genus groups about 120 species (the number of species is very controversial, several botanists claim that they are considerably higher) among which we remember:
There G. lingulata it has white-yellow flowers, sunken inside the rosette of leaves surrounded by red bracts. It is a practically devoid of stem species that does not exceed 30 cm in height. The leaves are lanceolate, arched with a beautiful metallic green.
There are numerous cultivars among which we remember: G. lingulata 'Concolor, which forms dense rosettes of 25-50 cm in diameter; there G. lingulata 'Lingulata' or 'Splendens' with leaves with red-purple longitudinal bands.
There G. conifer it is a plant that reaches up to one meter in height with long, narrow and rigid leaves. It produces large inflorescences during late summer with bright red bracts with orange tips.
The G. lindenii they are mostly epiphytic species characterized by white flowers and variously mottled leaves.
There G. zahnii is a splendid representative of this family and reaches 60 cm in height. It forms the classic rosette of leaves which in its center takes on a coppery red color while the bracts, to protect the flowers, are reddish in color and the flowers are white or yellow. The leaves are thin and very long of green color with streaks of various colors depending on the variety. It is an epiphytic species.
GUZMANIA MONOSTACHYA (GUZMANIA TRICOLOR)
There G. monostachya or G. tricolor it forms large rosettes of leaves even 45 cm wide and produces inflorescences enclosed by white-green bracts with a purple color. It blooms in the summer. It is an epiphytic species, much more rarely terrestrial.
There G. musaica it has leaves of a beautiful light green color with red and dark green transversal streaks. It is a plant that reaches 45-50 cm in height and forms an inflorescence from the central rosette of leaves formed by pink-red bracts with yellow flowers.
There G. sanguinea it has the particularity of forming a wide and flat rosette with even 30 cm long leaves.
There G. berteroniana it can be terrestrial or epiphytic and is usually large in size, acaule and forms large colonies in its natural environment. Form of very dense rosettes of 30-70 cm in diameter, with leaves 2.5 to 5 cm wide. The inflorescences are carried by a flower stem even 30 cm long protected by dark red bracts. It is common in Panama, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico.
They are not plants that require special attention or difficult to cultivate.
They need good lighting but not direct sunlight. It will be the plant herself who will tell you if the light conditions are optimal for her as the leaves become light green if the light is excessive or vice versa dark green poor.
Ideal temperatures are between 15-20 ° C. It is important that they do not drop below this value while it can withstand temperatures of 27 ° C without damage provided that a humid environment is maintained.
Good air circulation is important but beware of cold air currents which are not welcome.
Never use foliar polish and clean the leaves with a soft cloth moistened with water.
Water in order to always ensure a moist (not wet) soil. Being acidophilic plants it is advisable to use rainwater or if the water in the water pipeline is calcareous, boil it first with a few drops of vinegar. It is important not to leave water stagnations in the saucer which are not appreciated.
The central well must always be kept full of water (absolutely not calcareous) which must be renewed every 15 days to eliminate any salts, plant residues or animals or other substances that could rot and therefore damage the plant.
They require a humid environment so it is good to spray the leaves regularly with non-calcareous water in the summer almost daily in order to have a humid microclimate around the plant. For this reason it is advisable to place the vase on a saucer in which you will have placed some gravel or stones (or other material) on which you will place the vase. In this substrate, always leave a little water in order to ensure a humid environment by evaporating. Make sure that the bottom of the vase is not in contact with water.
In winter, water just enough to keep the soil slightly moist.
TYPE OF SOIL - REPOT
It is repotted when it is realized that the pot has become too small to contain the roots.
In consideration of the fact that they are acidophilic plants, the ideal is to prepare a mixture of peat, coarse sand and bark (or perlite) in equal parts.
It is very important that the soil allows irrigation water to excessively drain quickly as they do not like water stagnation. Do not use vessels that are too large but slightly larger than the previous one as they are too much soil, they would stagnate too much water.
Personally, I always recommend using clay pots as they allow the earth to breathe.
From spring and throughout the summer it should be fertilized every 15 days using a liquid fertilizer diluted in the irrigation water, halving the doses compared to what is reported on the package.
Use a fertilizer that is equally balanced in nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (macroelements), however, make sure that the fertilizer you use always also contains microelements, i.e. those compounds that the plant needs in minimal quantities (but still needs them) such as magnesium ( Mg), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), all important for a correct and balanced growth of the plant.
Generally starting from the second year of age and during the summer period, it produces inflorescences which however have a very short life. The peculiarity of flowering is that it is accompanied by the formation of showy bracts, mostly red, very decorative and persistent.If it does not bloom and you think it has reached "age" and is well developed to produce the flowers and you are sure that you have ensured all the optimal growing conditions (light, humidity, temperature and above all fertilization) you can stimulate it this way: place it inside of a clear plastic bag with a ripe apple and then close the bag. Keep it like this for a week. As the apple ripens, it will release ethylene which triggers a series of chemical reactions in the plant that tell it "it's time to bloom". Be careful not to do the treatment on plants that have not reached at least the third year of age and that are not small in size because this could damage them and in any case they would not be affected by the treatment.
After flowering (after a variable period of time), the plant dies unable to develop new leaves due to the presence of the inflorescence that obstructs the rosette.
Do not be saddened by the apparent death, it is the normal cycle of life and your plant in the meantime will have formed at the base numerous suckers from which new plants will develop.
These plants cannot be pruned. Damaged leaves are simply eliminated to prevent them from becoming a vehicle for parasitic diseases.
Always remember to sterilize, possibly over a flame, the shears you use to cut, especially when you switch from one plant to another.
The multiplication takes place by basal shoots or also by seed.
If you choose to do the multiplication by seed, bear in mind that this multiplication technique has the disadvantage that, by taking over the genetic variability, you will not be sure of obtaining specimens equal to the mother plant. Therefore, if you want to obtain a precise specimen or you are not sure of the quality of the seed, it is preferable to multiply by basal shoots.
MULTIPLICATION FOR BASAL SPROUTS
Transplant the young seedling into a single small pot (no more than 10 cm in diameter) with the same soil indicated for adult plants and reared as such.
Usually within 1-3 years it will be in a condition to flower.
MULTIPLICATION BY SEEDS
The seeds should be sown in spring in a compote made up of three parts of turb and one of coarse sand or perlite or vemiculite. The soil is compacted well, moistened completely and then the seeds are spread over the surface, without burying them.
The tray containing the seeds should be kept in a dimly lit place and at a temperature around 24-27 ° C. It is essential that the sowing soil always remains moist (use a sprayer) until the moment of germination.
Since the seeds are not buried to prevent them from drying out, the tray is covered with a transparent plastic sheet (or a glass plate) which will guarantee a good temperature and avoid too rapid drying. The plastic sheet was removed every day to check the degree of humidity in the soil and remove the condensation.
Once the seeds have germinated, the plastic sheet is removed and the tray gradually moves to the light but trying not to vary the temperature.
Once the seedlings are large enough to be handled (usually after 3-4 months) they are transplanted into small single pots using compost as well as adult plants and treated as such.
PARASITES AND DISEASES
They are not particularly prone to diseases, more than anything else they are always plagued by bad cultivation techniques (or excessive care). It is only necessary to remember that with this type of plants (as with all bromeliads) the administration of pesticides must be done with caution and must be administered so that they do not rest in the well full of water as they could damage the leaves.
In any case, the pathologies that can be found are:
The leaves take on a pale green color
This symptom indicates that the light is too bright.
Remedies: move it to a less bright place.
The leaves turn a very dark green
This symptom indicates little light.
Remedies: move it to a brighter place but not in direct sun.
Leaves turn brown
This symptom could be a wake-up call for root problems as a result of over-watering.
Remedies: remove it from the pot and check the soil and roots. If you notice rotten roots (to the touch they are soft) remove them and sprinkle the surfaces with broad spectrum fungicides. After that let the earth dry out and then repot but don't water for at least a week. Put water only in the central well.For the future, better regulate irrigation and humidity.
Presence of small formations reminiscent of cotton tufts
These presences are most likely cochineal and in particular the cochineal flour. If you look with a magnifying glass you can recognize them without problems, also if you try to scratch them, they come off easily.
Remedies: use a cotton swab soaked in alcohol or you can wash it with water and neutral soap by gently rubbing with a sponge to remove parasites, after which remember to rinse the plant to remove the soap.
Leaves with small yellow dots that shorten and fall
If the leaves show these symptoms, it is most likely an infestation of mites or red spider mites as they are more often called. By observing carefully you can notice some thin cobwebs especially on the underside of the leaves and you can easily recognize them as they are the size of the tip of a pin, are reddish and have 8 legs.
Remedies: increase the humidity around the plant as a dry environment favors their development. If the infection is severe it is advisable to use an acaricide with extreme caution and being careful not to let the pesticide go into the rosette of leaves. You can also try cleaning the leaves using a damp, soapy cotton ball which, in combination with a humid environment, could be effective.
Presence of aphids on all green parts
Look carefully with a magnifying glass: if you notice the presence of small white - yellow - green insects you are almost certainly in the presence of aphids or lice, as they are more often called.
Remedies: treated with specific aficides.
The genre Guzmania It was dedicated to Anastasio Guzman, a Spanish naturalist who lived in the 1700s.