The genus Regelia was
established in 1890 by Lindman and named for the German botanist A.v. Regel. Since that
name had already been given to a genus in the myrtle family, L. B. Smith changed the name
to Neoregelia in 1934. The genus belongs to the subfamily Bromelioideae and comprises some
100 species in two subdivisions. Many of these undergo spectacular changes of coloration
as they come into bloom and hundreds of hybrids have been produced. Neoregelias have not
yet achieved in the marketplace the popularity enjoyed by vrieseas and
Nearly all neoregelias grow as epiphytes in the rain forests of eastern Brazil.
Neoregelias produce their best color in strong light, even sunlight
(with due caution). They tolerate low temperatures and, indeed, 50 degree nights enhance
their color. Their centers should be kept full of water, even when the plant is blooming.
The potting mixture can be watered by letting the centers overflow into it. Fertilizer
should be withheld as the plant matures. Too much nitrogen produces oversized leaves at
the expense of color.
Pups are produced from buds at the leaf axils. The pups are on
stolons which may be very short or quite long. Since pups root only from their base, the
stolen may be cut away. Stoloniferous species can form large colonies and make impressive
hanging basket specimens.
Form: rosette, ranges from open and flaring to narrow and tubular.
Size: from a few inches (N. lilliputiana) to over 3' (N. johannis) in diameter.
Leaves: few (5-10) to many; edges toothed, in larger species teeth can be vicious,
tips end in a pronounced tooth.
Inflorescence: does not rise above the leaves, flowers are nestled low in the
center of the plant.
Flowers: three sharply pointed petals, white, lavender or lavender-edged, bleu or
blue-edged. In the subdivision Neoregelia the petals are fused, in the subdivision
Hylaeaicum (12 species indigenous to the upper Amazon River area) the petals are separate.
Fruit: seeds are borne in berries.
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