Very appreciated for the brightness of its foliage and the beauty of its flowering, the guzmania is a beautiful indoor plant, ideal for embellishing home and office interiors is also very useful for health, because it purifies the air from pollutants.
Guzmania is a tropical herbaceous plant, perennial and evergreen, native to the Antilles and Central and South America, which belongs to the family of Bromeliaceae.
Its name is a tribute to Anastasio Guzman, Spanish naturalist of the XVIII century, who first studied it and appreciated its ornamental and purifying characteristics.
The guzmania is formed by a small rhizomatous root from which branch out lanceolate leaves, leathery, green and shiny, which form a rosette with a central cup, called “vase”, which retains water.
During the flowering, usually in summer, at the centre of this calyx, several brightly coloured floral bracts appear, living for a couple of months.
The real and proper flowers, on the contrary, come out inside these bracts, are tubular and of yellow and white colour, but have a short life.
The guzmania is not an imposing plant and never exceeds one metre in height.
The guzmania includes more than 200 different species and numerous hybrids and cultivars. The most cultivated species in Italy are:
- Guzmania lingulata, i.e. tongue-shaped. It is the most marketed species and also includes several cultivars. It can reach 45 cm in height and is characterized by white or yellow flowers that remain within the rosette of the leaves and stand out in contrast to the bracts ranging from bright red to scarlet red to orange.
- Guzmania cardinalis, very suitable for pot cultivation. It has long, pointed dark green leaves and scarlet bracts on the upper page and yellow ones on the lower one, with bright red flowers.
- Guzmania sanguinea. It has a wide and flat rosette, with leaves even 30 cm long, green with flashes of red and produces white or yellow tubulous flowers, up to 7 cm long.
- Guzmania conifera, native to Ecuador and Peru. It is formed by a rosette that can reach one meter in height and by long green leaves, narrow and rigid and, in late summer, produces an inflorescence in the shape of a cone surrounded by bright red bracts with an orange tip.
- Guzmania zanhii, with many hybrids and cultivars. It can reach 60 cm in height and has thin, very long green leaves with streaks of various colors depending on the variety and the center of the red copper rosette, while the bracts are reddish and white or yellow flowers.
- Guzmania musaica, also this with different varieties and cultivars. It has particular leaves of a beautiful light green colour with transversal red and dark green streaks, which seem to form a mosaic. It reaches a height of 45-50 cm and produces an inflorescence formed by red-pink bracts with golden-yellow flowers.
Guzmania is not a plant of difficult cultivation and does not require special care.
However, it is a species which, by its nature, has a short life.
Guzmania has a lot of light, but does not like the direct sun, and the leaves tend to lighten in the presence of too much light, while they darken if it is scarce.
It wants a good air circulation but does not tolerate currents, especially cold ones.
It needs a warm-humid climate, with temperatures between 15° and 20°.
Guzmania wants a porous, slightly acid soil, mixed with peat, coarse sand and bark.
It is to be repotted when the pot becomes too small to contain the roots, however, it is never to be used a too big one, because too much soil could lead to water stagnations, particularly dangerous for this plant.
The guzmania should be constantly watered in summer, being careful to avoid water stagnations, and less frequently in winter, when the plant goes into vegetative rest.
It is important to keep always a high level of humidity and for this reason it may be appropriate to spray water on the foliage or to place the pot on a saucer in which to place some gravel or stones to be kept always wet, so that the environment is always humid, without that the bottom of the pot is in contact with the water and the roots are protected from rottenness.
Another important device is to use non calcareous water and to keep always full the central hollow, emptying it, however, and renewing the water every 15 days to eliminate any plant or animal residues or other substances that could rot and therefore harm the plant.
Starting in spring and throughout the summer, every 15 days, a liquid fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, iron, manganese, copper, zinc, boron, molybdenum must be diluted in the irrigation water.
Guzmania: Diseases And Parasites
Guzmania is a fairly disease-resistant plant.
It could, however, be attacked by aphids, which, sucking the sap, make the leaves viscous. In this case, the plant should be gently washed with neutral soap or a specific insecticide should be used.
Also the floury cochineal could hit the guzmania and, also in this case, it is sufficient to rub the leaves with a pad soaked in alcohol.
On the contrary, a very dry environment causes the attack of the red spider, which manifests itself with the appearance of small yellow dots on the leaves, which then crumple and fall, and of small spider webs on the lower page of the leaves. Here, in addition to increasing the humidity around the plant, you can clean the leaves with water and neutral soap, or, if the infection is serious, use a pesticide, being very careful not to let it go into the rosette.
Other problems could be caused by poor crop care, such as poor light exposure or excessive irrigation. If the leaves darken, it is a symptom of radical rottenness and the water supplies must be stopped.
Guzmania is multiplied by seeds or lateral shoots. The multiplication by seed does not give the certainty of obtaining a specimen equal to the mother plant, while the multiplication by side shoots is simpler and also safer.
Multiplication by Seed
The multiplication by seed must be carried out in spring.
- Prepare a container with a soil composed of three parts of peat and one of coarse sand or perlite. Compact the soil well and spread the seeds on the surface, without burying them.
- Cover the container with a transparent plastic sheet and place it in a dark place with a constant temperature of around 25°.
- Keep the soil moist until it germinates and remove the plastic sheet every day to remove condensation.
- When the seeds have germinated, remove the plastic sheet and move the container to light, until the plants become strong enough, usually after 3-4 months, to be transplanted into small individual pots and cared for as adults.
Multiplication By Lateral Shoots
After flowering, lateral shoots form at the base of the guzmania.
- Wait until April, when the lateral shoots have formed roots, and, with a well sharpened and disinfected knife, detach the bud.
- Plant the young plant in a pot of no more than 10 cm in diameter and breed it as an adult specimen.
- Keep the pot in a place sheltered from draughts.
- The plant thus obtained will flower in 2-3 years.
The particularity of the guzmania flower, enclosed within the leaves and, at the same time, very intense and bright colors, makes this plant suitable to symbolize charm and beauty, but also extravagance. It is, therefore, suitable to give to a person who considers himself fascinating and full of personality.