Bring a bit of the lush Tropics indoors with a cherry torch bromeliad (Guzmania "Cherry"). A cold-tender perennial plant with a rosette of glossy, strap-like leaves, this bromeliad is popular for its bright red bracts, or modified leaves, atop a thick stem. This bromeliad grows in a peat-based medium, not soil, that remains moist when grown indoors as a houseplant. Tolerant of low light, it is best when given warmth and bright indirect light near a window, but just out of the reach of any direct sun rays. After the plant flowers, the colorful bract "torch" lingers for weeks, but eventually the plant dies, leaving small replacement plants, or pups, at its base.
Place the cherry torch bromeliad in a location that receives very bright to low light in the house, away from any drafts from air-conditioning or heating registers. Although tolerant of dim spots in the home, it will look more lush and colorful if situated in a bright room where any direct sun rays do not reach the foliage.
Water the potting medium when it feels slightly dry to the touch. Put your finger atop the medium and gauge the amount of particles that stick to your fingertip. If the medium is soggy and wet, do not water. If particles stick to your finger, add room temperature water to the pot until it trickles out of the drainage holes. Do not over water, just add enough water so that the medium is moist.
Check the rosette of leaves every five to 10 days, looking for reservoirs of water in the basal core of the bromeliad, sometimes referred to as the vase of the plant. There should always be some water pooling in the plant rosette, as this provides moisture to the plant as well as increases humidity. Add water that is room temperature, never cold water. Allow chlorinated tap water to rest in a container for one hour to permit the chlorine to dissipate into the air before placing in the bromeliad rosette.
Avoid fertilizing the bromeliad with liquid or granular fertilizers. Fertilizer causes bromeliads to grow quickly and the over-abundance of nutrients usually causes bract and leaf colors to turn dull.
Realize that this plant will slowly die. After the flowers wane, the torch-like red bracts will remain for weeks or months. Cut them only after they begin to dull or the bract tips turn white or brown.
Cut off the bromeliad after the torch bract stem is removed and the foliage no longer looks attractive. Look for signs of the plant degrading, such as brown leaf tips, yellowing leaves or holes. With a sharp blade, such as those of a hand pruners (secateurs), cut the dying plant away at is base. Take care not to cut into any small plants emerging from the base of the dying plant. These pups are young replacements for the dying mother bromeliad that has flowered.
Re-pot the bromeliad only when the number of plants and breadth of foliage makes the container topple. Do not use houseplant potting mix or soil to grow this plant. Use peat or orchid mix media to prop the plants in the container. Water must freely drain from the media and pot.