About two hundred species of bromeliads belonging to Central and South America belong to the Pitcarnia genus; they can be epiphytes, lithophytes or terricolous. Many species have a decidedly conspicuous development in nature, while in most cases the majority remains below 45-50 cm in height. They form compact rosettes, made up of long linear or ribbon-like leaves, light green, covered with thorns in the lower part; often the outer leaves are modified into long, stubby thorns. From late spring to winter they produce a high inflorescence of bright color, from which red, orange or white flowers bloom. Usually the inflorescence, from twenty to forty centimeters long, tends to be prostrate and the flowers are generally pendulous, very elongated, in the shape of a narrow trumpet. Some species could also be cultivated in the garden, as they do not fear the cold and are resistant to the winds, but it is usually easier to find decorative ornamental species on the market.
Place the Pitcairnia in a bright place, even when exposed to direct sunlight, but not for too many hours a day. The apartment species fear the cold, even if they could withstand temperatures close to -1 / -2 ° C for short periods, they prefer to grow them at home; this prolongs the flowering season.
It is advisable to water the pitcairnia regularly and regularly, by slightly moistening the soil and filling the cone formed by the rosette of leaves with water; in the warm months, or in those in which the domestic heating system is active, it is good to vaporize the plant often, to increase atmospheric humidity. Every 20-30 days, provide fertilizer for flowering plants, in half the dosage recommended on the fertilizer package.
The soil is a fundamental aspect to take into consideration when it is desired to grow any plant species. The soil is in fact the main source of plant sustenance, through which they receive the most important nutrients they need. Despite this, most of the pitcairnie are epiphytes, so they do not need soil; it is advisable to use soil for orchids mixed with a good quantity of balanced universal soil. Generally they do not have a very developed root system, so they can be grown in small pots, they are particularly suitable for cultivation in hanging containers.
In nature the pitcairnia produce fruits, from which fertile seeds are obtained. The propagation of the potted specimens usually occurs by division of the tufts, in fact the pitcairnias, like the other bromeliads, tend to produce numerous basal shoots after flowering. If separated from the main head, they can be repotted individually, and quickly develop a good root system.
Pitcairnia: Pests and diseases
These plants are often attacked by the cochineal. This parasite attacks the pitcairnie by feeding on the sap contained in the leaves and debilitating the whole plant. To combat the problem it is possible to use alcohol soaked in rub and rub the affected parts with this solution by manually removing the scale insects. In the most serious cases, use specific pesticide products that can be purchased at the best garden centers.