Orthophytum Is A Zebra-like Exotic For Beginner Florists. Home Care. Photo

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Orthophytum Is A Zebra-like Exotic For Beginner Florists. Home Care. Photo
Orthophytum Is A Zebra-like Exotic For Beginner Florists. Home Care. Photo

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It is not in vain that bromeliads have a reputation for bright and colorful indoor exotic plants. But even among the representatives of this family, there is no plant more original in patterns and color options than the inimitable orthophytum. The most famous of these rare and valuable plants, with the right "presentation", looks like a flower cut out of striped fabric, and nondescript representatives of orthophytum still evoke bizarre associations with various marine life. Despite its reputation for being extremely rare, the trendy Orthophytum is not at all difficult to grow.

Orthophytum is very unpretentious in growing
Orthophytum is very unpretentious in growing


  • Zebra bromeliad - orthophytum
  • Types of orthophytums for growing in rooms
  • Conditions for growing indoor orthophytums
  • Orthophytum care at home
  • Diseases, pests and problems in growing
  • Reproduction of orthophytum

Zebra bromeliad orthophytum

Orthophytums are far from the most popular bromeliads. They are not so common in our country yet, although fashion is changing this trend. Orthophytums got their name because of their straight leaves and the nature of growth - from the Greek “straight” (orto) and “plant” (phyton).

The genus Orthophytum (Orthophytum) does not belong to the most extensive, but the plants in it are surprisingly diverse. Among them there are more accurate ones, they look almost like man-made sculptures, but there are also species that are much more aggressive in structure, growing and decaying, chaotically careless.

In nature, orthophytums are found only in Latin America. Brazil is rightly considered the homeland of these plants, where they are represented by the largest number of species. At the same time, orthophytums spread not throughout the Amazon, but mainly in the southeast.

Orthophytum leaves most of all resemble aloe, although the plant does not look so boring. With a width of up to 2 cm, the leaves can be limited to a length of 15 cm or stretch out to more than half a meter. They are always narrowly triangular, thick, rigid, scales are clearly visible on their surface, and strongly elongated sharp tips are in harmony with curved spines on the serrated, expressive edge of the leaf plates.

The color seems light - from light green to gray-green. Most orthophytums are characterized by color transitions. The tendency to reddening of the leaves leads to the fact that with age the plant becomes covered with streaks, washes of brown, red, orange colors, always more intense at the tips of the leaves.

Orthophytum rosettes are usually loose, consisting of 12-20 leaves; in most species they are strict and symmetrical only at a young age.

Thick, strong, massive peduncles of orthophytum are always densely pubescent and leafy. They are hugged by miniature copies of ordinary leaves in a rosette. From the axils of the upper bracts, which in some species are equal in length or even exceed the size of the inflorescence, low-flowered ears grow, which become more and more dense towards the top.

The bracts and sepals of orthophytum are equal in length and can be pointed or rounded. The flowers do not exceed 2 cm in diameter. Free sepals emphasize the beauty of lanceolate, most often white, petals.

Spectacular zebra-like leaves are characteristic of only one indoor type of orthophytum
Spectacular zebra-like leaves are characteristic of only one indoor type of orthophytum

Types of orthophytums for growing in rooms

There are only four types of orthophytums in the rooms. Some plants today are becoming fashionable and show off on the shelves of large flower centers quite often, others can be found in exotic catalogs, and some - only at specialized exhibitions and botanical gardens. But the popularity of orthophytums is growing, mainly thanks to one inimitable fashionista, advertised as an original gift.

Gurken's Orthophytum (Orthophytum gurkenii), of course, has become the hallmark of the entire genus, and attracted admiring attention to other orthophytums. This amazing succulent terrestrial bromeliad plant is called zebra, striped, and black and white bromeliads.

But it's very easy to recognize him. Flat, triangular, with a perfect coarse-toothed margin, the leaves of this plant are adorned with contrasting gray-silver-cream stripes that flaunt against a seemingly gray, dark green-brown background. White thorns only accentuate the zebra effect on the leaves. The most striking thing about the variegated color of the plant is the almost complete symmetry of the stripes, ideally repeating the curves of each other. The flowering of this orthophytum surprises with its “usual”, rich light green color. The ears of the inflorescences, due to the large size of the bracts, themselves look like mini-rosettes.

Orthophytum boat or scaphoid (Orthophytum navioides) - no less original species with red, bloody leaves, creating a drooping rosette. The leaves are very long and thin, almost grass-like. They are only decorated with thin thorns along the edges. Against the wine background of the original rosette, more reminiscent of an outlandish octopus, a short peduncle appears with an inflorescence-spike almost lying on the rosette with fleshy bright green bracts and nondescript white flowers.

Leafy Orthophytum (Orthophytum foliosum) is an original species that resembles either octopuses or shiny starfish. It is quite large, up to half a meter in height, bromeliad with a weakly pronounced stem. Leaves up to 80 cm long, limited in width to only 2 cm, are collected in a spreading, sloppy and loose rosette, the form that is more difficult to evaluate with age.

The leaves are fleshy, with a serrated edge, a hard texture, shiny, with a changing color: a bright green young color remains in the center of the rosettes and gradually turns into an orange-red-brown, which is why the color of this orthophytum seems watercolor and unique (each plant in looks different depending on growing conditions).

This type of orthophytum sometimes pleases with flowering twice a year. Thick, densely pubescent peduncles with small triangular leaves surprise with large, up to 13 cm spikelets of inflorescences. The sparse bottom turns into a dense ear at the top. The flowers are attractive with round large bracts with a serrate edge, which emphasize medium-sized flowers with lanceolate, free, white petals.

Rocky orthophytum (Orthophytum saxicola) is a stricter, but also aquarelle in color. At a height of up to 13 cm, this orthophytum flaunts with flat, loose, but strict in structure rosettes, in which up to 20 narrow triangular, up to 6 cm long, serrate-prickly along the edge, thick, light green leaves are collected, which also change color to orange-brown depending on conditions.

Short peduncles with upper leaves, almost equal in length to the spikelet of inflorescences, look impressive, but not too bright. Leafy bracts emphasize medium-sized, sessile, light green-white flowers with free petals.

Orthophytum gurkenii
Orthophytum gurkenii
Orthophytum boat, or Scaphoid (Orthophytum navioides)
Orthophytum boat, or Scaphoid (Orthophytum navioides)
Rocky orthophytum (Orthophytum saxicola)
Rocky orthophytum (Orthophytum saxicola)

Conditions for growing indoor orthophytums

The outlandish beauty of zebra-like orthophytums or bright watercolors of other species evoke thoughts about rare and difficult plants to grow. But orthophytums do not justify such a reputation. They do not require any special conditions, they are perfectly adapted to room conditions. The only thing that can be regretted is the loss of decorativeness with age, when the sockets become sloppy. But on the other hand, the plant does not have a pronounced rest period and is decorative all year round.

Orthophytums can be grown as a regular potted houseplant or used in complex compositions - for flower girls, large floor containers, florariums, arboretums, flower display cases, mini-gardens, and even greenhouses.

Orthophytums effectively contrast with almost all other indoor bromeliads, they look unusual and complement other plants in tropical collections.

Lighting and placement of orthophytum in the interior

Despite the play of colors, orthophytum is the most light-loving plant. It can be placed only in bright, or even better - sunny places. In hot weather, when temperatures exceed the recommended ones, it is better to protect the leaves of brightly colored orthophytums from direct sunlight. This plant will need good lighting even in winter.

In the interior, orthophytums are placed only on windowsills. For this culture, east windows are considered not the best option, because only south and west windows provide ideal illumination.

Temperature regime and ventilation

Orthophytums can be safely ranked among the typical flowering bromeliads, requiring cool content during the dormant period. For orthophytums from spring to autumn, average room air temperatures are comfortable - from +20 degrees to a maximum of +25 degrees. In the heat, the plant suffers significantly, becomes more vulnerable and capricious.

The wintering regime for orthophytum should be stably cool. The minimum temperature drop is +10 degrees. If the temperature exceeds +15 degrees, it will be quite difficult to achieve flowering from the plant.

Orthophytums, especially when it comes to the same "zebra", love stable conditions. They lose their decorative effect in the heat, during sudden temperature changes, in drafts. The containers with the plant should be placed away from air conditioners or heating appliances.

Orthophytums love stable living conditions
Orthophytums love stable living conditions

Orthophytum care at home

This is one of the easiest bromeliads to grow. The cultivation of orthophytum is within the power of even beginner growers, because the plant is watered using the standard method of filling the funnel, it does not need spraying, and you can refuse from frequent transplants. Orthophytums easily forgive missing watering and are suitable for those who often travel.

Watering and air humidity

For orthophytum, the irrigation system is no different from most bromeliads. This plant grows well at stable humidity. Since the root system of the plant is poorly developed, orthophytums are watered inside the outlet, observing the usual natural mechanism for providing moisture. The plant is watered abundantly enough during the period of active development and rarely during the dormant period. With classic watering, the earthen coma is allowed to dry by half between procedures. Waterlogging is destructive for orthophytum, but the plant is not afraid of drought.

The plant demonstrates extreme resistance to dry air, but with average values, the patterns and shades of the leaves appear more fully. It is better to replace spraying with placing bowls with water next to it.

Top dressing and composition of fertilizers

For orthophytum, a standard fertilization schedule and a standard form with water for irrigation or foliar feeding are suitable. Fertilizers are applied every 10 days, observing the fertilizer doses recommended by the manufacturers.

For this plant, you can use bromeliad fertilizers or universal fertilizers. If possible, it is better to alternate organic and mineral fertilizing with each other.

Transplant and substrate for orthophytum

Orthophytums are transplanted only when the plant needs to be divided or it simply has nowhere to develop. Even young orthophytums are best transplanted only as needed.

One of the key features of growing orthophytums is limiting the size of containers. This houseplant will reveal its beauty only when the root system develops in cramped conditions. Orthophytum rhizome is not impressive in volume, and usually the plant is grown in miniature bowls with a diameter of 5 to 8 cm. Such containers allow the plant to remain compact, not to spread out and please with a neat look.

For orthophytums, soil mixtures are selected from among the typical representatives of the Bromeliad family. Ready-made substrates for bromeliads or orchids are perfect. If the soil is mixed independently, then the sod soil is combined in equal parts with sand and high-quality leafy soil, correcting the soil structure with fine gravel, moss, broken brick, perlite or other loosening components.

When transplanting orthophytums, you should be careful. It's not just the thorns of the plant, which can damage the skin, but also the fragile and small root system, which must be handled with care. Orthophytums are planted so that the plant is stable, trying to keep contact with the roots to a minimum.

When grown indoors, orthophytums are threatened only by rot
When grown indoors, orthophytums are threatened only by rot

Diseases, pests and problems in growing

When grown indoors, orthophytums are only threatened by rot, which occurs when the soil is severely waterlogged. In too hot conditions, the plant can suffer from aphids, which are best dealt with immediately with insecticides.

Reproduction of orthophytum

By the ease of reproduction, orthophytum is a typical representative of the Bromeliad family. New plants are obtained either from daughter rosettes, separating them during transplantation and planting in separate medium-sized containers, or grown from seeds. The latter option takes a lot of time, but it allows you to get a large number of seedlings.

Orthophytum seeds are best sown in Petri dishes or superficially in a very light, loose substrate. Under film or glass, with frequent ventilation and stable humidity, the seedlings are quite friendly. They remove the cover from the crops only when the seedlings reach the glass height. The transplant is carried out as it grows up, carefully transferring the plant to miniature containers.

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