The Scarlet star plant, scientific name Guzmania lingulata, is a species of flowering plant in the Bromeliaceae family. It is native to southeast Mexico and the tropical Americas. Among bromeliads, these are among the most popular bromeliads cultivated today. They are also known as Droophead tufted airplant.
The plant has broad, strap-like leaves which are green with a glossy finish. The leaves form a rosette around the central spike of flowers. The flowers are tubular and range in color from pink to orange to red (and sometimes white), depending on the variety. The Scarlet Star plant grows well indoors and thrives as a houseplant or outdoor potted plant in frost-free climates.
|Common Name||Droophead Tufted Airplant, Orange Star plant, Scarlet Star, Vase Plant|
|Botanical Name||Guzmania lingulata|
|Synonyms||Tillandsia lingulata, Caraguata lingulata, Guzmania cardinalis, Guzmania minor, Caraguata splendens, Guzmania peacockii|
|Native Range||Tropical Americas|
|USDA Hardiness Zones||10 to 12|
|Mature Size||Height: 1-2 feet; Spread: 1-2 feet|
|Propagation methods||by offsets|
Scarlet Star Plant Care
This beautiful flowering evergreen bromeliad can be found in homes and gardens worldwide. It is prized for its brightly colored flowers which take some time to bloom. Scarlet star plants are easy to care for and will thrive if given proper light levels, watering, and humidity levels.
Light and Location
Scarlet Star is a sun-loving plant, although it can tolerate relatively low levels of light. Shelter it from direct sunlight in the summer months, when the intense sun can cause bleaching and spotting damage to the leaves. Scarlet Star grows well under fluorescent lights or near windows receiving early morning or filtered sunshine.
This plant needs plenty of water but not so much that the soil gets soggy. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which will kill the plant. The best way to water the scarlet star plant is to water it until the soil is wet, then wait for the soil to dry out before watering it again. The leaves naturally form “cups” at the center of the plant, which needs to be filled with water. Replace this water regularly, especially during the growth phase (summer).
Scarlet Star is a tropical plant. It prefers warm conditions, from 60 F to 95 F during the day, and no lower than 70 F at night. The potted guzmania will not survive any temperatures below 41 F.
This plant is native to rainforests and other tropical environments. Therefore, they require a certain level of humidity to survive. 50-70% is considered optimal. You can mist the leaves to increase humidity if the natural environment fails to provide enough moisture. High humidity levels are especially beneficial during flowering, but low humidity can cause the flower spike to die.
Fertilize it every month with a half-strength balanced fertilizer or an orchid mix during the growing season (spring and summer). This will ensure that the plant gets the nutrients to grow and thrive.
Propagating Scarlet Star
You can propagate Guzmania lingulata by offsets or seeds. Like most other bromeliads, the recommended strategy uses the offsets or “pups.” It has a higher chance of success and a faster growth phase.
After the plant has bloomed, it usually starts to wilt and die. But the offshoots provide an easy way to grow a new plant.
The method is easy: Simply cut off an offset from the mother plant and replant it in a potting mix. Cover the pot with plastic to increase humidity and keep it in a warm environment. New growth should start to show in about a month.
Potting and Repotting
When potting, fill the bottom of the pot with a layer of gravel or stones. This will help to ensure good drainage and keep the soil from washing away. These plants are epiphytes (growing on trees), and they like to take up nutrients from the air and the soil. Therefore, the potting mix should be porous enough to allow airflow to the roots and make sure that the water drains away. A standard orchid or bromeliad mix will do if you’re unclear on how to mix the potting mix yourself.
When repotting, choose a pot of the correct size. The pot should be on the smaller side and have a drainage hole in the bottom. The small size helps induce flowering in these plants (when mature). Repotting is usually needed yearly with these plants.
Guzmania lingulata is non-toxic to humans, cats, dogs, and horses. Perfectly safe to be kept around children and/or pets.
Common pests of the Guzmania lingulata include scale insects, spider mites, and mealybugs. These pests can be challenging to get rid of and can damage the plant if left unchecked. Use an insecticide if the problem isn’t solved using rubbing alcohol.
How to care for a scarlet star plant?
Keep the temperature around 65-80 degrees Fahrenheit. Try to maintain proper drainage via drainage holes and use a bromeliad potting mix. Keep the plant in either bright, indirect sunlight or bright fluorescent light. And feed monthly during the growing phase.
How to water scarlet star plants?
In summer and spring, water generously and keep the soil moist but not wet. In winter and autumn, water less and allow the soil to become dry before watering.
How big of a pot do I put my scarlet star plant in?
Pot size depends on the maturity of the plant. If the plant is fully mature and set to flower, use a pot that’s smaller, about 6 inches. This will help induce flowering. But if the plant isn’t fully mature, use a pot that’s appropriate for the size of the root ball.
“I colori della Guzmania Lingulata” by Luca Bove is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
“Guzmania lingulata, Bromeliaceae” by In Memoriam: Ecuador Megadiverso is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0