The great interest in decorative Guzmanias prompted many growers to engage in the selective breeding of less demanding species. This has resulted in the development of many different cultivars, one of which is illustrated here . Typical of this cultivar are the fiery red, flared bracts; the leaves are sometimes pink at the base and at the margins.

Guzmania monostachya

This Guzmania is distributed from Florida to Bolivia, growing as high up as 2,000 m (6,500 ft). The very dense rosettes reach a height of 30-40 cm (12-16 in). The leaves are 2-3 cm wide, yellow-green, paler on the underside, and completely glabrous. The inflorescence overtops the leaf rosette – it is about 50 cm (20 in) high. The bracts are approximately 3 cm (1 inch) long; those at the bottom of the inflorescence are brownish-red and longitudinally striped, those at the tip, where there are no flowers, are a brilliant red. The white flowers grow from the axils of the brightly coloured bracts, to which they form a striking contrast.

Because it is an epiphyte it is very attractive when grown on a stump in a plant-case. It requires light, but not direct sun, and tolerates partial shade. The compost should contain an adequate amount of peat and must be kept permanently moist. As with all bromeliads, use only soft water. It requires high relative humidity – 60 per cent is best.

Vriesia is a large genus. The exact number of species it contains is not know but is estimated to be 180-200. It was named in honour of the renowned Dutch professor of botany Hugo de Vries. Most Vriesias grow as epiphytes and are native to Brazil. The leaves typically form a funnel-shaped rosette and the two-ranked, compressed flower spike has striking variegated bracts. The illustrated cultivar has a large rosette of very stiff leaves, about 50 cm (20 in) long and 10 cm (4 in) wide. They have irregular, reddish-brown, horizontal stripes on the underside. The erect inflorescences, composed of 20-25 flowers, are up to 1 m (39 in) long; the rachis is green dotted with reddish-brown. The flowers are pale yellow.

Vriesias require a high temperature, a very humid atmosphere and some shade. The usual growing medium is a loam and peat mixture with sphagnum moss. When watering, it is necessary to top up the water in the leaf funnel. Propagate by means of the side rosettes.

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