How to Grow & Care for Guzmania Bromeliad

Guzmania Bromeliad

The Guzmania Bromeliad is a unique-looking colorful plant that’s perfect as indoor tabletop or shelf décor. Its size (about 2 feet tall and up to 2 feet wide), makes it compact enough to put in different areas of your home. And, because of its bright colored bracts that extend up and outwards, they make for eye-catching displays.

Available in white, red, pink, and yellow colors, it is taller than most other bromeliad species. It narrow stature and small base makes it top heavy. So, you’ll want to balance out the weight at the bottom of the pot to keep it from tipping over.

In addition to being beautiful to look at, they are also easy to grow. This makes them appealing for beginner gardeners and houseplant owners with brown thumbs.

Guzmania Bromeliad Plant Care

Guzmania Bromeliad Light

Guzmanias like bright, indirect light. But, they can’t stay under direct sunlight for too long otherwise they’ll burn. Thus, the best places to put them are either facing the east or the west.

Both areas give you a lot of bright, natural sunlight. However, if you do choose the west, you’ll want to move it a bit farther away from the sun’s rays. This allows it to get light exposure without being directly hit by the harsh rays.

Similarly, they will tolerate some low light conditions as well. But, too little light will reduce their lifespan. Additionally, it slows their growth and their ability to produce pups as well.

 

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Guzmania Bromeliad Temperature & Humidity

Guzmania bromeliads are tropical plants. As such, they are used to warm, humid conditions. This makes indoor conditions most homes have perfect for them.

But, depending on where you live you may have to adjust the thermostat and humidity levels to accommodate them.

The ideal temperature for growing guzmanias is between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. And, you want to make sure that the thermostat does not go below 60 degrees. Once it hits 55 degrees or lower, your plant will start feeling the stress.

In colder conditions, one way to help it stay warm is to get rid of the cold water that’s left in its cup and replace it with warmer water. This will help increase them temperature temporarily.

Similarly, keeping the temperature above 80 degrees for long periods of time will keep them from growing at their best.

In addition to moderately warm conditions, you’ll want to keep the humidity high. This is why the kitchen and bathroom are good spots for this plant, as long as they get enough light there.

However, the biggest problem with humidity for most homes are air conditioning and heaters, both of which blow hot or cold air into room. Thus, causing the moisture in the air to dry quicker.

guzmania bromeliad

source: wikimedia commons

 

Guzmania Bromeliad Watering

When it comes to watering, your main duty is to place filtered or distilled water in the central cup. It’s not a good idea to use tap water with your guzmania because of all the potential chemicals added to it. So, if you had hard water, use a filter or purify it before watering your plant.

And, on a regular basis, replace the old water with fresh one. Doing this every 1 or 2 months keeps the water from getting dirty and flushes out bacteria.

The cup in the middle of the plant serves like a “water tank” that allows it to collect what it needs. This feature makes bromeliads different from most other plants.

When filling the cup, you want to maintain it at about a quarter full. But, be aware when the temperature starts to cool down.

In cold climates, the plant won’t need as much water. Thus, the water can pool and cause the plant to rot. So, during the fall and winter, it’s a good ideal to use less water. You can likewise let the cup dry out for a few days before filling it again with a little bit of water. Alternatively, you can also lightly water them through the soil and keep the cup dry during the wintertime.

 

Soil

As with anthuriums, bromeliads are epiphytes. This means in their native environment, they don’t grow in soil. Instead, they cling onto other plants like trees and get their sustenance from the wind, air and debris that fall from the bigger plant.

Thus, this setup allows their roots to be exposed. It is also why the roots of epiphytic bromeliads are not as well developed as other plants. They never have to dig through and extend though the soil. In contrast, terrestrial bromeliads (those that grow in the soil), have root systems closer to common houseplants.

What this means is that you need a potting mix that is loose (lightweight) and easily allows air to pass and water to drain well. Otherwise, they’ll become susceptible to root rot.

You can use 50% orchid bark and 50% coco coir or peat moss. Both combinations work well for allowing your guzmania to get the hydration it needs without getting waterlogged.

In addition to the soil, it is important to note that because guzmanias use their roots as anchoring systems rather than structural foundation, they tend to be top heavy. So, it’s a good idea to add extra weight on the bottom to balance out the top side of the plant. This keeps it from toppling over as it grows.

One quick way to do this is to add pebbles at the bottom of your pot. This adds enough weight to keep it from falling over. Plus the rocks make is easy for air to circulate and water to drain.

 

Fertilizing

Because guzmanias use their roots to cling onto other plants, they’re not as efficient in absorbing nutrients (unlike most plants use their roots). Instead, this plant, along with most bromeliads rely on the air, wind and debris that fall from trees and other plants from above. It does this using its leaves.

So, a good way to feed your guzmania is to spray the fertilizer on its leaves as well as the growing medium. Similarly, you can mist its leaves for it to absorb water.

I like to use an all-purpose orchid fertilizer diluted to 50% strength. Although they don’t need a lot of it. All you need to do is feed them during their growing season (spring & summer). Once to three times a year is more than enough.

 

Pruning Guzmania Bromeliad

Unlike vining plants, you don’t need to worry about trimming back your guzmania bromeliad.

The only time you’ll need to prune it is to keep it healthy. This means getting rid of discolorations, dying, old or diseased leaves.

When you do so, make sure to use a pair of sterilized scissors. Just use cotton with rubbing alcohol to clean the blade. This ensures that no bacteria can be transferred to the plant’s open wound.

 

Guzmania Bromeliad Propagation

Part of the bromeliad’s life cycle includes the mother plant dying after flowering. As the main plant begins to die back, it will start to grow pups or plantlets. These are what turn into your new guzmanias.

Thus, while the plant’s life cycle seems like a sad one, it does make propagation much easier for you compared to other plants which need to be divided, grown by seed or stem cutting.

Once the pups get to a few inches, the mother plant will almost be out of life. This signals the time to cut back the parent plant.

With the pups, you have a choice of separating them and growing them in individual pots. Or, you can let them grow together.

From here, you can care for them as you did the parent plant. And, in 2-5 years, the pups will bloom and the life cycle ends then begins all over again.

 

Transplanting & Repotting

There’s no need to repot your guzmania because its root system never really grows enough to warrant moving to a larger container. Just as importantly, you may not want to repot them because the mother plant dies after flowering.

The good news is she kind of lives on as she sprouts pups at the base of her stem. These grow up to become mature bromeliads. And, their life cycle continues.

While there’s not need to repot your guzmania bromeliad, go make sure that you put enough weight at the bottom of the pot to keep it from tipping. It’s top heavy nature makes its susceptible to fall over.

 

Toxicity

Bromeliads in general are not toxic. Thus, you don’t need to take extra precautions if you have kids and pets. However, because their leaves are crunchy, your dog or cat may get tempted and chomp on them.

While not poisonous, I’ve found that my dog sometimes vomits stuff she’s not supposed to eat because they get stuck in her tummy or throat.

 

Pests and Diseases

Grown indoors, you’ll likely never need to deal with pests. But, if left in less than ideal temperatures and humidity, you may see your guzmania experience pest infestation. The most common ones include mealy bugs, sclae and aphid.

Similarly, too much water can also lead to root rot.

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