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Neoregelia compacta (Mez) L.B.Sm. 1939
pronounced: nee-oh-reg-EL-ee-uh com-PACT-uh
(Bromeliaceae – the bromeliad family)
common name: Compact Bromeliad
Neoregelia is from the Greek νεος (neos), new, and for Eduard August von Regel (1815-1892), German botanist who was superintendent of the botanic garden at St Petersburg, Russia; compactus is, of course, Latin for compact.
This genus is a native of Brazil, where there are about 90 species of the plant. Over and above those, there are hundreds of hybrids, with an amazing variety of size, form and colour. They range from the very large, almost statuesque bromeliads to the squat and colourful ones seen in the tropics, such as the one described here.
For optimum growing conditions, they prefer indirect light or moderate shade, although they can be acclimatized to higher light levels. They like their central cup always to be supplied with water, but not too much: the water should be changed regularly with clean water to prevent smells and bacteria. Soil does not really matter, as they are technically air plants that only use their roots for support.
If you are applying fertilizer, do so in the central cup. Over-fertilizing will cause the plant to lose colour.
Neoregelia, like all bromeliads, spread by producing offsets around the bases of mature plants. After the mature plant has flowered, it will gradually die back as the pups take over. These pups can be potted in separate pots, although mature bromeliads should not be potted.
Neoregelia compacta is a small plant with lime green foliage and a bright red centre. It will reach only about 30 cm in height with a spread of about 50 cm.
The plant has sharp edges, and should be handled carefully.
Photographed in Wansfell Street, Picnic Bay, 2010
Page last updated 9th January, 2018