This genus has only one species; it is a large bromeliad, native to Central and South America, particularly diffused in Costa Rica. It forms a wide head, which can reach the metre of height and of width, formed by big curved leaves, long up to 60-80 cm, fleshy, rigid, of reddish green or pink colour; these leaves are pointed and have a finely serrated margin.
At the centre of the rosette of leaves, which often forms a 35-40 cm tall stem, in spring a thin fleshy stem stands, carrying a long panicle of white flowers, followed by small berries, also white. The androlepsis skinneri are plants of conspicuous dimensions, they are utilized as houseplants, but only if we have a great space in which to let them develop freely. It is advisable to remove the inflorescences when the stem that carries them tends to dry up.
The optimal growth of our plants is given by a series of factors to which we must pay attention: among these we find the exposure. The position in which our plants are planted is very important because each species presence specific cultural needs and the position in which it will be placed will depend on the development of the plant. The Androlepis skinneri prefer very bright positions, but not excessively exposed to sunlight.
The recommended cultivation temperature is around 15-28°C, therefore during the winter months they should be grown in an apartment, or in a temperate greenhouse to prevent the low temperatures from being able to somehow damage our androlepis.
Like most bromeliads, even androlepsis skinneri can withstand short periods of drought and do not like to keep the soil constantly moist; let’s water fairly regularly, during the period from March to October, acting only when the soil is dry. Watering is done by slightly moistening the soil and filling with water the calyx that forms between the leaves.
In the wild, these plants develop in the undergrowth of the pluvial forests; they need a soft soil, formed by decomposed vegetal fibres and foliage, quite drained. An ideal soil can be prepared by mixing sphagnum peat, leaf mould and a small quantity of sand. If we want to cultivate the androlepsis in pot, we have to supply a container of just sufficient size to contain the roots, the repotting will be done every 2-3 years, using a pot a few centimetres bigger than the one containing the plant.
The multiplication happens by seed; not always the plants of androlepsis skinneri produce fertile seeds, for this reason, usually these plants are propagated by removing the small rosettes of leaves, which are produced frequently at the base of the adult plants; these small plants are repotted in a single container, where they will begin to root within a few weeks.
Androlepsis skinneri: Pests and diseases
Usually these plants are not affected by parasites or diseases, even if it may happen that the cochineal attacks the specimens cultivated in a place with very dry air and poorly ventilated.