Neoregelia is a bromeliad, native to South America, many species originate from the Brazilian rainforests; there are a few dozen species, but the ease of cultivation, and the beauty of the foliage, has ensured that several hundred varieties, hybrids and cultivars are available in the nursery. They have broad ribbon-shaped leaves, slightly leathery, not very thick, of an intense green color, but also bronze green, or with streaks and variegations of various kinds, forming the typical rosette of the bromeliads; these plants are not very tall, generally they do not exceed forty centimeters in height, because the rosette is very flat and compact, and tends to widen even up to the meter, in the larger species; in general, in plants of the most common varieties in nurseries, we have a rosette about twenty centimeters high, and about forty wide. Most bromeliads produce central inflorescences, which rise upright; Neoregelia is an exception: when the plant is about to bloom a certain number of leaves around the center of the rosette it is tinged with more nursery colors, from blood red to bougainvillea fuchsia; later the rosette widens, to show at its center a low and flat inflorescence, which seems to consist of green bristles, among which bloom small white or blue flowers. A Neoregelia takes two or three years to begin to bloom; the flowering continues for some months, after which the plant dies, having produced some basal shoots, which will restart the life cycle of the plant.
They are very beautiful and decorative plants, in particular they are cultivated for their foliage, shiny and colored, which is decidedly very showy even when the plant has not even begun to produce the central inflorescence. During flowering, if the cup in the center of the rosette is kept full of water, it has the striking and pleasant effect of the small flowers that seem to bloom from the bottom of a tiny lake.
These plants are widely distributed, thanks to the fact that, even if mistreated or kept in not ideal conditions, they tend to develop well and in a pleasant way. They are decidedly apartment-like plants, as they do not tolerate temperatures below 10 ° C; therefore they can be kept outdoors only during the summer. They find a place in a well-lit area of the house, where they can also enjoy a few hours of direct sunlight, which guarantees a more vivid and intense coloring of the foliage, even when the plant is not in bloom. If it is possible, at the arrival of spring, when nighttime minimum temperatures tend to rise, it is good to move the plant outdoors, in an area where it receives a few hours of direct sunlight, but possibly in the morning, and not in the hottest hours. of the day.
The watchword that allows us to have a healthy and luxuriant plant is high humidity: we always guarantee the plant a lot of humidity in the air, or it will tend to turn gray. Moisture in the air is not entirely connected to watering, which in the case of Neoregelia must be fairly regular, but to be provided only when the soil is well dry; to increase the humidity of the air, it is instead necessary to vaporize the plant often, using demineralized water. Vaporizations will be more regular and abundant when the plant is on the terrace, in the middle of an esthete, but also when the heating or air-conditioning system is active at home, which take away a great deal of environmental humidity.
We also periodically fill the cup that is created between the leaves; we avoid to leave stagnant water, and every 15-20 days we provide to turn the jar upside down, to completely empty the cup, which we will then fill with fresh, possibly demineralized water.
From March to September we provide a mild fertilizer, mixed with the water used for watering, in half the dose recommended on the package, every 15-20 days.
In general, these plants can also withstand non-ideal conditions, but in the case of persistent low luminosity and low environmental humidity they tend to become not very colored, and with the passing of months they wither. They do not even like a ground that is always damp or stagnant water in the saucer, which favors the development of harmful fungi. They are plants that produce a poorly developed root system, so they often do not need frequent repotting; generally the pot is changed when the mother plant dies, and the basal suckers are moved into containers with fresh soil.
As with most bromeliads, after the complete flowering of all the small white flowers, the plant tends to dry out, leaving small basal suckers outside; these suckers can be left in the jar in which they are found: they will develop a beautiful, very large and decorative plant, which will need increasingly large containers with time. If instead we want to have more specimens, we can detach the young suckers from the base of the mother plant, possibly keeping some small roots, and repot them individually, in not excessively large pots, with a good fresh soil, consisting mainly of peat. To carry out the detachment it is advisable to use a well sharpened knife, previously sterilized and clean, to prevent it being a vector of bacteria or viruses; if we need to detach more than a small sucker, it is good to sterilize the knife even between cuts. Neoregelias can also be propagated by sowing, although a few years of patient waiting are necessary to obtain a plant of a good size; in addition to this, given that most of the neoregelias on the market are cultivars or hybrids, it is not certain that from our snack seeds plants identical to the mother plant; it could still be an interesting activity, which leads us to obtain many small bromeliads with different colors.