Colorful flower stalks or leaf rosettes are typical of Guzmania, which belong to the bromeliads. These exotic houseplants are not easy to grow, especially in winter. They like it really bright, which is difficult to do in our latitudes. Special lighting can help the plants not only survive the winter well, but even bloom. We have put together for you what else you need to know about the care of the Guzmania.
Table of Contents
- Perennial herbaceous plants
- Mostly grow as epiphytes (grow naturally on other plants)
- Belongs to the pineapple family
- Most species are found in northwestern South America, in the tropical rainforest
- Form a rosette with the leaves
- Mostly leathery leaves, often shiny
- Are mostly cultivated for their showy leaves and/or extravagant flowers
- Flowering time – late winter, flowering lasts a long time
- The brightly colored bracts are what catch the eye, not the flowers themselves
- Capsules are formed which contain the seeds
- In the trade almost exclusively hybrids on offer – crossbreeding of different varieties
- There are over 200 wild Guzmania species and a few varieties
Guzmania lingulata – smooth long leaves (about 50 cm), long stalk, small white flowers arising in the center of a cupped or funnel-shaped wreath of crimson colored bracts, numerous cultivars
- ‘Cardinalis’ – simple, dark green, long leaves, white tubular flowers arranged in captions, bright red bracts
- ‘Minor’ – cupped flower head, variegated bracts, plant only grows to about 30cm tall
Guzmania monostachya – light green, about 40 cm long, linearly pointed leaves, long-stalked, honor-shaped inflorescence, white flowers, greenish-brown bracts, purple patterned, orange or red tips, up to 40 cm high
- ‘Variegata’ – variegated, white and green striped leaves, red bracts, ideal for a flower window or display case, needs extra humidity and warmth
Guzmania musaica – light green, trough-shaped long leaves, up to 60 cm long, fine brown wavy transverse bands, scaly dots underneath, inflorescence up to 40 cm high, numerous white, waxy flowers, red bracts and bracts, yellow sepals with white tips
Guzmania sanguinea – sharply acuminate leaves about 30 cm long, inner rosette leaves shorter and mottled bright red or reddish-yellow and green when flowering, simple inflorescence, sunken into rosette, yellow, erect flowers
The care of the Guzmania
Guzmania are considered difficult houseplants, although they do quite well with pure indoor culture. They are not difficult to get into bloom and are quite frugal. Faded Guzmania will not flower a second time. However, after flowering, they usually form children, which are separated, replanted and cultivated until they flower again. The offspring should be about half the size of the mother plant when separated. Flowering usually occurs after about two to three years.
A light location is important for the development of the Guzmania. The plants need as much light as possible, but without direct sun. Additional lighting is ideal in winter. The plant substrate is also important. It should be relaxed, humorous and permeable. It is watered only with soft water and very regularly. The plant substrate should never dry out, but it must not be too wet either. It is important that there is always some water in the leaf rosette, even during the flowering period. This is often stated differently. However, you have to be careful not to spoil it. Otherwise there is not much to consider.
The location should be as bright as possible. However, direct sunlight should be avoided, in summer as well as in winter. Morning and evening sun is favorable, but midday sun is to be avoided. There is a risk of burns, even behind glass.
- Bright location without direct sunlight
- Shady to semi-shady
- Morning and evening sun is ideal
- If the sun is too strong, burns will occur
- If the plant is too dark, it will not flower
- Temperatures around 20 to 25°C
- High humidity is important – around 80 to 90 percent
- The plants look good in a bathroom.
- Alternatively, spray the leaves regularly with soft water
- It is also good to put the plant pots in another container, but to put water on the stones and underneath.
The plant substrate is important for good development. Above all, it must be relaxed, permeable and humorous. Different experts recommend different mixtures. The best thing to do is try them out and form your own opinion.
- Relaxed, humorous and permeable
- low in nutrients
- Mixture of leaf soil, peat moss and sharp sand
- Alternatively, a mixture of potting soil, clay granules and orchid bark is suitable
- Pure orchid soil is also often recommended, or white peat with 20 percent crushed polystyrene
- A mixture of coarse heather soil, pine litter, peat and rotted leaves, with the addition of sand, was also recommended
- Instead of peat, fresh or dried sphagnum can also be used
- pH between 4.0 and 5.5
There is not much to consider when planting the Guzmania. The pot size is important, it should not be too big. A heavy planter is also better than a light plastic pot. Sometimes you have to support the rosette of leaves that is leaning to the side.
- Form only small roots and therefore do not need large vessels
- It is important to use heavy containers, as some plants like to lean to the side and grow top-heavy. Light pots then fall over quickly
- If pre-fertilized soil is used when repotting, it must not be fertilized for the next two years
watering and fertilizing
Watering is important for Guzmania. The root ball should be kept evenly moist. The plants are sensitive to dry bulbs, but also to permanent moisture. In addition, the funnel (rosette) should always be filled with a little water. Fluctuations in the water supply can lead to leaf damage, as can too little humidity.
- Keep root ball evenly moist
- Water only with soft water
- Rainwater is best
- Do not use too cold water, always nice and lukewarm
- Always allow the surface of the soil to dry between waterings
- Pour water directly into the rosette before and after flowering
- It should be replaced with fresh water every three to four days to keep rot from forming.
- Under no circumstances standing water – root rot
- Fertilize with a complete fertilizer every 4 weeks during the growth period, but in a low concentration
- Put fertilizer directly into the rosette with the irrigation water
- Liquid fertilizer is ideal, as it prevents the plant from being burned by undissolved salts.
- Do not water on the ground!
There is not much to cut at Guzmania. The withered inflorescence is cut off as far down as possible when it has completely dried up. If leaves of the rosette no longer look nice, these can also be carefully removed. However, if you cut off the bottom leaves, the plant loses its footing. Withered plant parts should be removed as soon as possible.
In winter, the lighting conditions are particularly important. Guzmania need a lot of light. This can be achieved with additional lighting, which should be installed about 50 cm above the plants. About 1,000 lux are sufficient. Otherwise, an appropriate level of humidity is important. Unfortunately, the air in our homes is usually too dry in winter.
- As bright as possible, preferably with additional light from a plant lamp
- Warm, no temperatures below 12°C
- Do not place too close to a heater
- Occasionally dust the leaves (wipe or shower)
- Uniform temperatures are recommended, between 18 and 20°C
- From the start of flowering, 20 to 22°C is ideal
- Also water less than in summer, but continue to water regularly
- Watch out for pest infestation. The little pests must be recognized as early as possible before they multiply too much. Then they are difficult to eliminate.
Guzmania can be propagated by sowing seeds and separating the offspring. Seeds are commercially available. Anyone who owns a real plant, i.e. not a hybrid plant, can count on seeds that can be used for propagation. Hybrids do not form seeds.
Separation of side shoots
- The children should not be separated too early, because the mother plant supplies the children with nutrients. They also reach flowering maturity earlier.
- It is best to separate the children from the mother plant in spring
- Plant separately in a small container
- Be sure to protect from direct sunlight for the first few months
- Water sparingly at first
- After about 4 months, treat like adult plants
- When growing young plants, additional lighting is usually necessary.
- Sowing is best done in a heated conservatory or a heated small greenhouse
- The seeds are only germinable for a short time.
- Therefore, sow purchased seeds immediately if possible
- However, the best time is spring.
- Sterilize seed trays (preferably made of clay).
- Place pot shards on the floor
- Press down a 2 cm thick layer of coarse, steamed peat
- Press a thin layer of chopped osmunda roots (royal fern roots) over it
- A space of 2 to 3 cm should be left between the substrate and the edge of the bowl
- Do not put the seeds too close to the substrate with tweezers
- Light germinators – just press down, do not cover with soil
- To avoid fungus or algae infestation, shower the sowing area with hydroxyquinoline sulphate solution (1:1,000)
- Cover the vessel with glass or foil to ensure high humidity
- Turn the cover regularly to avoid dripping water
- Place in a bright, warm place (at least 20°C) and keep evenly moist
- 22 to 25°C is better
- Germination time – 12 to 25 days depending on the season
- Spray seedlings lightly regularly (use boiled water)
- Alternating between dry and wet conditions helps keep seedlings healthy
- Slowly acclimate plants to normal room temperatures
- Additional light, especially during the dark season, accelerates growth
diseases and pests
Diseases are quite rare, at least if no major care mistakes are made. Pests, on the other hand, appear again and again, especially during the winter. Here it is important that they are discovered as early as possible before they multiply profusely. The difficulty is that scale and mealybugs can hide well in the guzmania. They sit hidden between the leaf shoots. A clear sign is the sticky honeydew around the plant. Affected plants should be isolated to avoid transmission.
The main pests are scale insects and mealybugs. They are not easy to fight. Commercially available agents, especially those based on mineral oils, must not be used. The oil closes the stomata.
Frequently Asked Questions
How can nutrient deficiency or over-fertilization be recognized?
- Lack of nitrogen – poorly developed leaves and simultaneous discoloration to light green to yellow, often with a reddish tinge, can lead to browning of the leaf tips and leaf loss
- Phosphorus deficiency – stunted growth with simultaneous low leaf development, leaves die off from the leaf tip, stunted or missing inflorescences
- Lack of potash, plant grows very loosely, leaves partially stunted, look very light at first, later turn brown and die
- Excess nitrogen – pilling growth, delayed flowering, flowering may not occur because all the energy is put into leaf formation, leaves dark green, may curl up, punctiform swellings on the leaf surface, less resistance to diseases and pests, less intensive leaf colouring
- Excess phosphoric acid – symptoms similar to those of excess nitrogen on the leaves, plus maroon spots