Guzmania minor ‘Red’

The bromeliad has been one of the commonest fixtures in the florist’s window for years. Often the bracts are coloured orange-yellow instead of bright red, in which case it is the equally common cultivar ‘Orange’. Both cultivars often produce flowers when the leaf rosette measures only 25 cm (10 in) across, whereas in the type species they appear later, when the rosette is at least 10 cm (4 in) larger. This is because, for one thing, both cultivars are smaller, and secondly, in today’s conditions of culture the flowering of bromeliads is generally provoked artificially by the use of chemicals. These preparations generally release acetylene as they decompose, to which the plant reacts by flowering within a few months. However, after the bromeliad has flowered once, further flowering may be expected only in the plants that develop from the sideshoots produced at the base of the mature rosette, for a plant does not flower a second time.

Guzmania minor, the same as most guzmanias, requires high temperatures, shade and permanently high atmospheric moisture. This applies to cultivars as well as specimens of the type species grown in Europe. In the wild, however, one may encounter populations adapted even to quite cool conditions. For example, in Colombia G. minor grows high up in the mountains where the night temperature during the winter months drops to near freezing point. Many foliage guzmanias, such as G. musaica, are best kept in closed plant-cases. Only one species can be grown successfully in a rather dry, warm room in full sun, namely G. sanguined with leaves longitudinally striped purple and with large yellow flowers. All guzmanias are particularly good for epiphytic arrangements, but they may also be grown as potted plants in a light, slightly acid soil – John Innes potting compost with extra peat added would be suitable.

15. November 2011 by Dave Pinkney
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