Wholesale Bromeliads of Australia

Newsletter No 11 - December 2011

by Wholesale Bromeliads 13. December 2011 22:44

Firstly we would like to thank all our customers for their purchases this year. Was great to see new faces among our regulars & we look forward to another successful year in 2012. Times are tough - but a small cost item like a bromeliad can add lots of cheer.

We would also like to welcome our new Newsletter subscribers & thank our 'old' ones for your continued support. We hope you enjoy & benefit from our Newsletter.

Many thanks to all those who emailed about our mystery frog (see newsletter below). It was identified as a Peron's Tree Frog (Litoria peronii), sometimes known as the Maniacal Cackle Frog due to its distinctive call. It's found in Southern QLD through into NSW & VIC.

A Testimonial Section is being set up on our website - we always appreciate your feedback. Thanks to those who agreed to have their comments published. Permission will always be requested & no personal details included (first names only & state).

We are also working on a general 'Overview of Bromeliads' webpage so there is easy access to more general information.

EVENTS: Our local Bromeliad Society (Gold Coast) held their annual Show & Competition in September & we were pleased to do quite well. Most of the broms we entered in the competition got a place. Our Billbergia 'Groovy' won the Billbergia section & we got the judges award for best bromeliad overall with our Vriesea 'Montezuma's Gem'. Some photos of our broms are below.

Vriesea 'Montezuma's Gem'-Judges Award best bromeliad        Billbergia 'Groovy'  - 1st                      Guzmania 'Bernie's Gold' - 2nd

COMING EVENTS:

The next Wavell Heights (Brisbane) Extravaganza will be held on 10th & 11th March 2012.

The Gold Coast - Tweed Orchid Fair will be held 3rd & 4th November 2012 at Tweed Heads (Northern NSW).

SPECIALS: We have some great Summer specials - refer to our Price Lists.

FEATURED BROMELIAD: Aechmea nudicaulis variegated is a colourful medium growing bromeliad with a bright yellow & red inflorescence. It's attractive even when not in flower. It likes dappled sun & is ok with full sun in the cooler parts of the day. We have 3/4 grown plants (double planted) for $15.

Aechmea nudicaulis variegated

PET PYTHON: As well as Millie (small blond Tibetan Spaniel), Beau (big black Labrador) & Ella (Larry's faithful companion) who race out to greet customers - we now have a pet python who does give some visitors a scare.  It quietly moves around from shade house to shade house. It nestled on top of an Alcantarea extensa & then wound around the base of an imperialis Rubra. It's really a beautiful creature. Our thanks to David & Heidi who were here buying broms for the first photo.

Our pet python - we suspect one of quite a few !!!

CULTIVATION FOLIAGE VRIESEAS

POTTING MIX:  As with most bromeliads, vrieseas require an acidic mix that retains some moisture yet drains freely. The roots need aeration & will rot out in a tight or boggy mix. There are many ways to achieve this & different growers all have their favourite mixes. Ingredients commonly used include peat moss, cocopeat, composted pine bark chips (11 - 20 mm in diameter), sand, perlite, charcoal, small pieces of polystyrene foam & 'clinker'. Commonly used mixtures are:

  • 1 part charcoal to 7 parts pine bark
  • 1 part coarse river sand to 1 part cocopeat/peat moss
  • Pine bark chips with some cocopeat/peat moss added
We use 80% composted pine bark chips with 10% cocopeat & 10% polystyrene foam pieces. Ag lime & dolomite are added to reach a pH of 5.5 - 6.0. The pine bark assures good drainage whilst the cocopeat retains fertiliser & moisture. The foam pieces maintain aeration whilst the other ingredients are breaking down. We need large quantities of medium as we are a nursery & our mix is professionally prepared.

If you want to try a mix that is prepared for you -  try a commercial Dendrobium Orchid mix. I was in Bunnings recently & noticed that they now sell bags of potting mix that are for Orchids & Bromeliads.

POTS: Vrieseas do well in pots or planted in the ground as long as they are planted directly into well drained, organically rich garden soil. We think it's a good idea to add some pine bark chips to ensure adequate drainage. As they are mainly epiphytes- they also grow well on logs & trees etc.

FERTILIZER: For foliage vrieseas- add a controlled release fertilizer (normal strength for indoor plants) that is higher in Potassium (K) than Nitrogen (N) - either in the mix or on top. This is often found in fertilisers for flowering plants. We note the expiry date & reapply at this time. Other growers apply controlled release only once. Foliage vrieseas also benefit from weekly feeding with a soluble fertiliser at normal strength for indoor plants. Phostrogen is used by many growers which has an N:P:K of 14:4.4: 22.4 (P = phosphorus). 
We've spoken to two well known hybridists of foliage vrieseas who use a soluble fertilizer that is higher in Nitrogen (N) then Potassium (K) & now use this regime with good results.

LIGHT: Foliage vrieseas do best in bright, indirect light. They are ok with direct sun in the cooler part of the day (especially in Summer) but will bleach & burn if exposed to the Australian midday summer heat.  Beige shade cloth is the best (50% Winter & 70-75% in Summer). 50% black shade cloth is usually ok all year round. If in too much shade, they will go green, & if in too much sun they will yellow & burn. In the words of one experienced Australian hybridist - 'Give them as much light as possible without burning them'.  Some foliage vrieseas tolerate more light then others.

AIR:  All vrieseas like plenty of air movement around them. They do best on benches above the ground if possible. Space the plants so the outer leaves are just touching.

WATER: Vrieseas do not like to dry out. As a guide only - in Summer give a heavy water 2 x week (water drains out of the pot) preferably early am or late pm.  In Winter heavy water 1 x week.  In temperatures over 30 degrees C - dampen the foliage 1 x day.

TEMPERATURE: Vrieseas can survive quite cold conditions. However, as a general rule, they need protection from frosts.  Under the shelter of taller shrubs & trees or shade cloth, where frost isn't going to settle on the foliage, they should tolerate light frosts (-2 degrees C). Note -  Brazilian species & hybrids will tolerate near or slightly below freezing. Central American & Andean vrieseas are less cold tolerant.

PESTS & DISEASES
  • Vrieseas can suffer from Flyspeck Scale - treat with a systemic insecticide such as Folimat or Confidor.
  • Root Rot or Stem Rot through poor drainage can occasionally cause problems especially in periods of persistent rain. Early symptoms are red discolouration of the leaves. Once diagnosed, it's often too late to save the plant. Ensure free draining potting mix or soil.
  • Grasshoppers can be a problem. They are easier to catch in the morning.
PROPAGATION: Vrieseas can be propagated either from pups or seed. The best time to remove pups is from mid September - late November & from mid February - late March. In the tropics it is usually the rainy season. Foliage Vrieseas are night flowering & receptive to pollination at night or early in the morning. You will see a drop of liquid on the stigma.  

VRIESEA HYBRIDIST ANDREW MALOY FROM NEW ZEALAND states that the three main factors affecting the colour & pattern intensity of foliage vrieseas are genetics, age & light.

CULTIVATION of GREEN LEAVED VRIESEAS GROWN FOR THEIR FLOWERS

All of the above is the same except for 1) Fertilizer 2) Light

FERTILISER: We use normal indoor plant strength controlled release fertilizer (replaced at expiry) & weekly soluble fertiliser throughout the year that are both higher in Potassium (K) than Nitrogen (N).  The recommended ratio of N:P:K from the European growers who are experts in flowering Vrieseas is 1:.44: 1.66. I always keep this ratio in mind when assessing the total result of our controlled release & soluble fertilizing program. 

LIGHT: These Vrieseas are like Guzmanias & need shade to do well (80% shade cloth). For this reason they are great for indoors for long lasting colour instead of short lived flowers. They do well in pots on a patio or in the garden in shade. 

TISSUE CULTURE: Most are grown from tissue culture & as such are not sought after by collectors. We are wholesalers & collectors - & use these lovely flowering Vrieseas for colour in our house & garden. Even if you are a serious collector - consider these beautiful bromeliads for colour in your own house & garden.


 

Vriesea 'Vogue'

 

CULTIVATION TILLANDSIA TYPE VRIESEAS - Should be cultivated as Tillandsias

* The above information is offered only as a guide. Talk to other growers & monitor your results to find a regime that is right for you.

 

NEXT TOPIC: Biological terms for bromeliads

Bob, Larry & True send warm wishes for the Festive Season. Have a very Happy Christmas & our best wishes for 2012.

 

Bob & True Grant

Wholesale Bromeliads of Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newsletter No 10 - August 2011

by Wholesale Bromeliads 24. August 2011 06:33

We've had a relatively mild Winter - cold nights but many lovely warm days with the temperature reaching 27 degrees recently. Still glad that Spring is around the corner when the bromeliads will start to grow & look lively again.

Lots of people are now coming to visit us & we really enjoy the time out to 'brom chat' as we look through the nursery. We love having visitors - just remember to ring to arrange a suitable time.

Bob found a beautiful small frog among the vrieseas that we haven't seen before - see photo below. If anyone can identify it we would be very grateful.

EVENTS: The Oasis Orchid & Garden Expo was held at Broadbeach, Surfer's Paradise on 21-22 May. We had a very successful day & were pleased to meet some of our Newsletter subscribers there.

COMING EVENTS FOR US:

27-28 August: The Orchid & Foliage Show is being held by the Gold Coast District Orchid Society at the new Community Centre Hall, Lawson Street, Southport. Sat 9-4  Sund 9-2

17 September: The Gold Coast Succulent & Bromeliad Society Annual Show at the Carrara Community Centre, Nielsens Road, Carrara, QLD. 9-3

15-16 October: Wavell Heights Bromeliad Extravaganza at the Wavell Heights Community Hall, Edinburgh Castle Road, Wavell Heights, Brisbane. Sat 8-3   Sund 9-2.  Refreshments available & off street parking.

5-6 November: Gold Coast - Tweed Orchid Fair at the Civic Centre, cnr Wharf & Brett Streets, Tweed Heads, Northern NSW. Sat 8.30 - 4  Sund 8.30 - 2

For those who are close enough, we hope to see you at some of these events - lots of bromeliads & other plants for sale plus beautiful show & display plants.

SPECIALS: We have some great specials for Spring including Aechmea 'Del Mar', Neoregelia Mini 'Inca Fire' & a list of Neoregelias. Refer to our Price Lists for details.

FEATURED BROMELIAD:  Aechmea 'J.C. Superstar' is a beautiful larger growing Aechmea which was hybridised by Hawaiian Howard Yamamoto (see photo below). It's pink tinted leaves have paler barring & the inflorescence is large & branched. We have half grown plants for sale for $18.

PRICE LISTS:  We are now putting the sizes & prices of Neoregelias for sale on our Price Lists to make ordering easier & quicker. 

VRIESEAS

The genus was recognised by botanists in 1843 & named by the English botanist John Lindley (1799-1865) after the Dutch botanist & physician Dr. Willem Hendrik de Vriese (1806-1862).  Even before that date Vriesea splendens was introduced into Europe from the Guyanas (South America) in 1840. Taxonomically Vrieseas are closely related to Tillandsias. The distinguishing botanical difference is subtle. Vrieseas have a small wing or flap at the base of the flower petals (called a ligule) which Tillandsias don't have. 

SUBFAMILY: They belong to the Tillandsioides subfamily & have spineless leaves which has made them popular with plant enthusiasts. They have winged seeds ('parachute' seeds) which are usually dispersed by breezes. The feathery plumes also help the seed to stick to a suitable epiphytic surface for germination.

HABITAT: There are approximately 260 species which live in moist tropical & sub-tropical shady conditions. They inhabit the tropical zones of Mexico, Central America & South America with the majority of species being native to Brazil. They have adapted to a range of altitudes ranging from sea level to 3500 metres. Most thrive in the shade at a high humidity in mists or rain forests. They are epiphytic on bushes & trees (majority) as well as being terrestrial in permeable humus ground.

FORM: Most are rosette types with 'tanks' formed by their central leaves which store water. Water & nutrients are absorbed through the leaves since the roots mainly serve as adhesive organs. However when the plants are grown in containers & the roots are exposed to a moist potting medium, the roots also aid in the absorption of water & nutrients - an important fact when considering a watering & fertiliser programme. 

INFLORESCENCE: The colour of the simple (single) or branched inflorescence varies between yellow, orange, pink, red, purple, green, speckled or a combination of colours. The bract colours last for several months. The flowers are white, green, yellow or bluish violet. Some species, in particular the night flowerers, are noteworthy for the striking mosaics, banded patterns or speckles of the rosettes & are commonly known as foliage vrieseas. The inflorescences of many night flowerers produce large bell shaped flowers whose fruit like perfume & sweet secretions attract bats & moths for the purpose of pollination. They open late in the evening & are withered by the following morning.

GROUPS: Besides the many species, there are also a great number of hybrid vrieseas, many of which are not formally registered. Vrieseas can be put into three broad groups & their cultivation will be outlined in these groups:

  • Foliage or pattern leaf vrieseas
  • Flowering vrieseas
  • Silver tillandsia-type vrieseas 
HISTORY OF VRIESEA HYBRIDS 
1840 - Vriesea splendens was introduced into Europe following the 'New World' exploration.

1880-1920 - Edouard Morren (1833-1886) who was curator of the Botanical Garden of Leige, Belgium (& who specialised in bromeliads) introduced many vriesea species into Europe. He also started a period in which growers began to produce their own hybrids. His first hybridisation was performed in 1879 (V. psittacina x V. carinata which produced V. 'Morreniana'). Vrieseas became popular with plants lovers due to their spineless leaves & attractive inflorescence & they were suitable as house plants.

During the following 40 years, breeders in Belgium, France & The Netherlands started hybridising vrieseas for the wholesale trade. Many exotic varieties were produced up until World War 1 which halted the breeding programmes & led to the loss of some species.

Two important early vriesea hybridists were Jos Marechal of Belgium & Leon Duval (V. 'Poelmannii') of France. Others were Edouard Morren, J Chevalier & J M Closen from Belgium, MA Truffaut from France, Kittel from Germany & Witte from The Netherlands.

The early hybrids nearly all had a simple (not branched) inflorescence.  The species mainly used were V. psittacina var. rubrobracteata, V. psittacina, V. duvaliana, V. fenestralis, V. incurvata. V. barilletii & V. splendens.  Attempts were made to produce branched inflorescences. One of the first was V. 'Kitteliana' (1890) from Kittel (barilletii x saundersii). Another was V. 'Vigeri' (1894) from Duval (rodigasiana x 'Cardinalis').

 

1918-1945 Hybridisation slowed down after World War 1. The economic crisis of the 1930s was followed by World War 2. However, Louis Dutrie of Belgium did produce many hybrids during this period. Also during this period there was interest in Belgium in hybridising with foliage vrieseas & one example is V. 'Intermedia' (1930s) from M R Morobe (hieroglyphica x 'Viminalis Rex').

1945 ON - Vriesea hybridisation began increasing again after the Second World War. Dutrie died in 1948 & most of his hybrids were lost as his establishment was destroyed in the bombing of 1944. The new breed of hybridisers found it difficult to find vriesea species or hybrids to use. Noteworthy vriesea hybridists from Belgium of this period are Carlos Broeckaert, Hendrik de Meyer, Albert Deroose & his son Reginald who now runs the family business.

Broeckaert produced the first variegated hybrid V. 'Madam Carlos Broeckaert' (< 1945) which was not very stable (cv. of V.'Poelmannii). After years of selection Albert Deroose produced a stable cultivar which is now sold as V. 'White Line.

Deroose Senior made his first vriesea crosses in the 1950s. The hybrids of Deroose & others are now produced by tissue culture & sold all over the world. The supply through to Australia now comes to us from Shanghai.

Others who have made a significant contribution to the modern hybridisation of vrieseas are: Marnier-Lapostolle from France, Richter & Pinckert from Germany, Cornelius Bak from The Netherlands, & Nat De Leon, Herbert Hill & John Arden from America. The modern pioneers of hybrid foliage vrieseas include David Shiigi from Hawaii, Andrew Maloy from New Zealand & of course our own Jack Koning from Australia.

NEXT: Vriesea cultivation

Happy growing,

Bob & True Grant

 

Aechmea 'J.C. Superstar'

 

Unknown frog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newsletter No 9 - March 2011

by Wholesale Bromeliads 23. March 2011 04:52

Both humans & plants are enjoying the milder, fine weather of Autumn. This Spring & Summer have been one of our coldest & wettest though we were very lucky to miss out on the devastating floods. This was followed by sudden intense heat which tested a few of our broms. Most however were fine. They are looking bright & perky now with the lovely Autumn weather.

It's been a time too when our thoughts have been with those affected by floods & earthquakes. Hard to imagine the destruction, loss of life & hardships.

We're making a concerted effort to get photos of most of the bromeliads on our price list up on the website. It's a big task & will take some time. 

Also - a reminder that we are able to send gift vouchers for our bromeliads as well as sending them to people as gifts.

EVENTS: The Wavell Heights Bromeliad Show was successful as usual with an even bigger variety of plants for sale. Was great to meet some of our newsletter subscribers who were able to attend. Next one in October - will notify dates as soon as known.

21st & 22nd May - We'll be at the Orchid & Garden Expo at the Oasis Shopping Centre, cnr Surf & Victoria Ave, Broadbeach QLD (9am start).

FEATURED BROMELIADS: We now have for sale some lovely seedling hybrid foliage vrieseas that are beginning to show the characteristics of their parents (example photo below). They will improve as they mature & are listed on our current price list. Photos of them are on our website. As seedlings, they do vary - but if any are significantly different from the photo shown, we'll email a photo of the plant for sale.

We also have a selected number of our mini neos on special - list & information sent with price lists. Photos of those on special are in the neoregelia section of the Bromeliad Gallery.

NEOREGELIAS - PART 3

PROPAGATION

As with most bromeliads, after flowering the mature neoregelia goes into a slow decline - but small offsets (pups) develop from buds at the base of the plant (vegetative propagation). When a pup is about 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother (taking into account both the height & width), it can be removed & repotted. The base of the pup should also feel firm. The decision to remove the pup is also affected by the way it is developing on the mother. If growing 'lopsided' with most of the leaf growth on one side, then it's best to remove it earlier (ie 1/3 the size of the mother) & repot to encourage symmetrical growth. 

If possible, avoid the extremes of hot & cold weather when removing pups. So ideal is mid October - November & February - mid March (in the tropics in the wet season). My experience has been that if offsets are removed in the colder months, growth does not occur till it's warmer, & the plant just doesn't ever do as well. 

Neoregelias can be grown from seed but this is a slow, complicated process. It is the technique required to hybridise for the adventurous.

Some people prefer not to remove the pups & to allow the plant to clump & grow as nature intended. We allow the neos in our garden to do this. Also neos that send out pups on stems (stolons) lend themselves to being grown in clumps. However, generally neos are more attractive as a single plant & more pups will be obtained if you remove them & pot up separately.

HINTS:

  • When removing the pups, we only take the plant out of the pot with the most difficult - this is due to time & also experience. If you are a beginner or are dealing with only a few plants, it's a good idea to do this first so that you can see what you are doing. Also remove any leaves from the base of the pup by splitting them longways first, then tugging each half away from the mother.
  • Use a serrated knife (10 - 15cm long) & slide it right down between the mother & the pup, gently tilting the pup a little away from the mother so you can do this. 
  • Cut the pup off with a sawing action close to the mother whilst making sure not to cut into the parent. Gently tilting the pup further away as you go often helps.
  • Repeat the above till all pups large enough have been removed.
  • Clean up the mother, removing any dead leaves. Repot. Top up with potting mix if necessary & give a pinch of slow release high in potassium if these are the first pups removed. The mother will likely produce 1-2 more batches.
  • If you cut the pup off too high and the base is not firm & 'woody', it may not survive.  Still worth giving it a chance. Let it dry out for a few days. Then treat with a fungicide (no copper) & pot as usual.
  • Pot the pup into the normal size pot & potting mix (small pups 1cm deep & large ones 5cm deep to prevent rotting). Stake to keep stable if necessary as they need stability in order to grow optimally.
  • Some smaller growing neos & mini neos are stoloniferous ie they produce pups on the end of a stem or stolon. Cut the pup off with sharp secateurs, leaving .5cm - 1cm of stem on the pup. The stem left on the mother can be trimmed back as it won't produce any more pups. The mother may still produce more stolons.

GROWING A NEOREGELIA THAT HAS BULK

*This article is reproduced with the kind permission of John Catlan from his booklet 'Bromeliads Under the Mango Tree'

I am NOT referring to the length of the leaf.
I am NOT referring to the size of the plant
I am referring to the number of good leaves that the plant can maintain at any one time.
I am referring to the size of the plant stem both diameter & length.
All pups that miss their first flowering season will be better looking.
More time to grow, more leaves & the core of the plant will be bigger.
Here is the tricky bit.
Too much fertilizer - greener plant, longer leaves, more leaves.
Just the right amount of fertilizer - good colour, each row of leaves slightly shorter. This makes a show plant. If you get it just right, a lot of leaves & the old leaves slow to deteriorate -  plant with bulk.

'Lord give me the skill to grow a brom so big, that even I
When speaking of it to my friends, will never need to lie.'
 
NEXT: Foliage Vrieseas & Mini Neoregelias

Happy growing,
Bob & True Grant


Vriesea seedling platynema var. variegata x 'Milky Way'

 

 

 

 

 

Newsletter No 8 - November 2010

by Wholesale Bromeliads 8. November 2010 05:25

Apologies for the gap between newsletters. We spent quite a few weeks away this winter & have therefore had a super busy spring catching up. We removed lots of pups in October & more will be ready in a month or so. Our broms are loving the gentle weather we are experiencing with days around 23 degrees C & cooler nights. They are growing before our eyes.

We have some new staff members - a new receptionist (first photo below) & as we've had to beef up security, our broms are now looked after by the characters in the second photo below.

EVENTS: Our Wavell Heights Bromeliad Show went off really well as usual. Lots of people came along & it was good to see many familiar faces.

We also had a stall at the Gold Coast -Tweed Orchid Fair that was held this weekend at the Tweed Heads Civic Centre.  It is worth a visit for those who are close enough - lots of beautiful orchids including a judged show & of course our beautiful bromeliads.

FEATURED BROMELIAD: We now have a lovely hybrid Guzmania from Deroose called 'Patricia' which gives vibrant red colour & lovely symmetrical green foliage - see third photo below (used with the kind permission of Deroose Plants). The inflorescence is very similar to a x Guzvriesea hybrid. It's great for indoors or a shady spot on a patio or in the garden.  They are $15 for a mature plant.

WATERING AT MIDDAY IN SUMMER:This is another snippet from John Catlan's 'Bromeliads Under the Mango Tree' reproduced here with his kind permission. John's booklet is available from him or from the Gold Coast Bromeliad Society.

 I would like to lay to rest what I believe is a misconception on watering: Don't water bromeliads in the middle of the day because you will burn or cook them. Well I've watered kids, dogs & myself - it cools us down & the evaporation cools us down even more. With bromeliads it relieves a stressful situation. The only plant I can bring to mind that turns to mush when watered in the middle of the day is lettuce. This may explain origins of this piece of misinformation.

NEOREGELIAS - PART 2

CULTIVATION

Neoregelias are very sensitive to light, fertiliser & pot size.

LIGHT: Correct light is essential to develop & maintain their beautiful leaf colour & compact growth. Neos need bright indirect light or dappled sun (are ok with direct early morning sun). In too much shade they will grow long & strappy & go green. In too much sun they will burn.

A few neos are more sun tolerant but even these appreciate protection from the summer midday heat (cruenta, johannis,compacta, macwilliamsii, marmorata, olens, 'Fireball', sarmentosa, tigrina, bahiana). 

Variegated neos need more shade as do those with green leaves & coloured centres (eg 'Tangerine', carolinae, 'Nuance').

Shadecloth: 50% winter & 70-75% summer.

TEMPERATURE: Neos are fairly hardy but protection from frosts is recommended. High temperatures don't harm the plants, but foliage colour fades when nights are hot. Normal colour returns when night temperatures drop to near 18 degrees C or lower.

WATER: They do best if grown on the dry side. Water the central cup & the potting mix & allow the mix to almost dry out before watering again. As a guide, water 2 x week in late spring/summer/early autumn  & 1 x week rest of the year. However they will survive on a lot less - 1 x month in winter & 2 x month in summer. Flush out the cups once a week if possible.

AIR: Neos are epiphytic & need good air circulation.

POTS: They prefer to be under potted. Our miniatures go into 90mm & 100mm pots. Most others go into 150mm pots. Larger varieties (eg richteri, 'Gee Whiz') go into 170mm pots.  

POTTING MIX: Must be free draining. We use the same mix as for our Guzmanias & find it works well (see newsletter No 5).  

FERTILISING: Proper application of fertiliser is crucial for producing good quality neos. They respond well to light feeding with a high potassium (K) slow release fertiliser. 

We apply one that lasts for 8-9 months (1/2 teaspoon per 150mm pot) & don't fertilise again. It is important not to fertilise heavily as the plant nears maturity.

Some people prefer to use a slow release that lasts for only 3 months - you need to use it on rooted pups so they are able pick it up in these early months.

The granules can be placed on top of the potting mix (spread around the pot) or mixed in with it.

It is suggested that using foliar fertiliser on neos causes the leaf markings to fade. We get good results with just the slow release.

PESTS & DISEASES: Main problems are scale & fungal disease (see Guzmanias in Newsletter No 6).

Treat scale with a systemic insecticide such as Folimat, Confidor or "Chemspray' Antiscale.

Fungal problems can occur during periods of prolonged rain. Treat with Mancozeb Plus or Fongarid. AVOID FUNGICIDES WITH COPPER.

SHOW QUALITY PLANTS: In order to produce show quality neoregelias, it is necessary to maintain them under the same conditions throughout their pup to bloom cycle. Their tight symmetry can be ruined by a major change in light intensity, light direction, temperature range or feeding.

 

NEXT: Neoregelias Part 3 - Propagation

Happy Growing,

Bob & True Grant

 

Bromeliad Extravaganza Brisbane

by Wholesale Bromeliads 29. September 2010 19:33

The Wavell Heights Bromeliad Extravaganza will be held on Saturday 9th October (8am to 3pm) & Sunday 10th October (9am to 2pm) 2010.

Buy direct from the growers - lots of varieties of bromeliads for sale. It's also a great place to meet other bromeliad enthusiasts.

Venue: Wavell Heights Community Hall, 175 Edinburgh Castle Road, Wavell Heights Brisbane.

There's plenty of off street parking. Refreshments & lunch provided by local girl guides.

For more information phone Nigel  on 07 5485 3800

Next Newsletter & Spring Price List will be out very shortly.

Newsletter No 7 - April 2010

by Wholesale Bromeliads 29. April 2010 06:52

Xmas seems an age ago - well I guess it really is with time marching quickly towards winter. We hope you all had a restful & happy festive season. Our bromeliads have loved the cooler weather of early autumn & look refreshed after the summer heat. The nights are just beginning to get colder, so growth will slow down now till Spring.

WAVELL HEIGHTS SHOW: The Bromeliad Extravaganza was held on 27th & 28th February & was successful & enjoyable. It's a great place to chat to others who are interested in bromeliads. Our next show is Saturday 9th (8am - 3pm) & Sunday 10th (9am - 2pm) October 2010. Venue is Wavell Heights Community Hall, 175 Edinburgh Castle Road, Wavell Heights, Brisbane. The local girl guides provide refreshments & there is plenty of off-street parking. Phone Nigel for information 07 5485 3800.

BROMELIAD PUPS: Now is the time to consider leaving the removal of your pups till it warms up again in October. Some people do remove pups in the cooler months - but I support the opinion that these plants can struggle to grow well. This doesn't apply to areas in Australia that remain warm all year round.

FEATURED BROMELIAD:

We now have Robert Dilling's Alcantarea 'Silver Plum' for sale (25cm high) for $20 plus $7 postage. Picture of actual plants for sale - see below. This stunning specimen bromeliad, which develops a lovely silvery purple sheen, does well in full sun but can also be grown in the shade. The flower spike, which can take up to fifteen years to produce, can be as tall as 2.5 metres & the plant itself 1.5 meters wide. Silver Plums have been grown from seed & are a relatively rare collector's plant. As with most bromeliads frosty spots should be avoided & good drainage provided.

Alcantarea 'Silver Plum'

INSTABILITY & NITROGEN: This article has been reproduced with the kind permission of the author, John Catlan, from his booklet 'Bromeliads Under the Mango Tree'. John is a well known hybridist & collector who lives on the Gold Coast, QLD. This booklet (which has gems of information) can be purchased through the Gold Coast Succulent & Bromeliad Society (details on the net).

Over the years we have collected variegated neoregelias & grown some seed. Take Neoregelia 'Perfecta Tricolor' as an example. We have seven forms divided by size & colour. They have the basic characteristics of the original 'Perfecta Tricolor' but are all new plants from seed. At our peak frenzy with vatiegated neoregelias, we held a fraction over 240 different plants, at the present time about 180. Because of the cost of time to maintain these plants & the cost of room, the numbers will be reduced to 100. There were 18 sections with the number of variegated neoregelias approximately 9,000. These plants went through rapid propagation (potting up - new potting mix & fertilizer) & neglect (no new potting up - no new potting mix or fertilizer).

Lesson learned - Variegated neoregelias are more stable with neglect.

When fertilizing variegated neoregelias it is better to err on the side of caution - too little is far better than too much. When we create unstable plants from too much fertilizer, the pup may appear to be ok - but - if the section where the pups are initiated has had the variegation almost destroyed by the release of too much fertilizer when it was formed, it will produce unstable plants.

'To err is human; to blame the plant is even more human'

NEOREGELIAS - PART 1

Neoregelias are tank epiphytes & are the most popular bromeliads for hybridists & collectors. They are also used extensively for landscaping. They are often referred to as 'neos'.

The genus was named in honour of the German horticulturalist & botanist Eduard August von Regal (1815-1892) who was director of the Imperial Botanical Garden of St Petersburg (now Leningrad) in Russia. The first neoregelia was described in 1825, although incorrectly as a Tillandsia. When plants of this genus were originally brought to Europe in the early to mid 19th century, they were classified with the genera names Karatus & Agelia. The genus Regelia was established for these plants in 1890 by Lindman. Since that name had already been given to three species of myrtle, Dr Lyman B. Smith (American taxonomist who died in 1997 at the age of 93) reclassified them as Neoregelia in 1934, adding the Greek word 'neo:new' to distinguish it from the old genus.

Neoregelia belong to the subfamily Bromelioideae which all have berry-like fruit with seeds within the fruit's 'pulp' (Foster 1951). Nearly all have leaves edged with spines of varying sizes. A small number of neos are smooth edged.

SPECIES: Two subgenera of Neoregelia are currently recognised - Neoregelia & Hylaeaicum (high-lee-ai-cum). There are 110 known species (some references list 112. There are 94 listed on the FCBS register) of which 10 belong to the subgenus Hylaeaicum (N. eleutheropetala, leviana, margaretae, mooreana, myrmecophila, pendula, rosea, stolonifera, tarapotoensis, wurdackii).

HYBRIDS: Of all the bromeliad genera, neos are the most popular for hybridising - there are currently 3857 listed on the FCBS register (Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies) & there are many more unregistered. Confusion & debate are commonplace, even among the experts. Many of the hybrids grown today have beautifully marked & coloured foliage throughout their life with the colour intensifying at flowering & the central leaves becoming flushed with intense colours of red, pink, purple & more. The leaves may be green, silver, banded, blotched, variegated, marbled, spotted, albomarginated & many colours. While the actual flowers only last a day, the blushing foliage will stay in colour for months. With their high colour, neos attract as pollinators bees, butterflies etc in habitat. This evolutionary strategy was improved for many green leaved neos when they evolved the ability to turn the inner half of their leaves to bright red, purple, yellow etc as they began to flower.

FORM: Neos are compact & low growing with leaves arranged in a circular pattern (rosette) which ranges from open & flaring (eg N. carolinae) to narrow & tubular (eg N. ampullacea). The tubular neos are small & they clump by sending out new plants on stolons. Neos mostly have broad, relatively flat leaves.

SIZE: They vary from the tiny N. lilliputiana (7 cm high) to the large N. carcharodon & N. johannis which can reach 120cm across. Leaves can be few (5-10) or many. The average is 15-20. Neoregelias in the subgenus Hylaeaicum are mostly small & stoloniferous.

INFLORESCENCE: This does not rise above the leaves but nestles in the central water cup (tank) that is formed by the inner leaves. This is a nidular (meaning nest like) inflorescence. The tank collects water & decaying debris which satisfies the plant's nutritional needs when the leaves absorb the dissolved nutrients.

FLOWERS: These have three sharply pointed petals which are white, lavender, lavender edged, blue or blue edged. They are quite pretty. There are many of them, but only a few open at a time & last for a day. They all gradually open, blooming from the outside into the centre, over an extended period. In the subgenus Neoregelia, the petals are connected to each other in part or for most of their length (connate = joined). In Hylaeaicum, the petals are separate & there is a dense cluster of white petaled flowers in a deeply sunken inflorescence.

HABITAT: The subgenus Neoregelia is confined to coastal southern Brazil with two exceptions - N. cathcartii is found in Northern Venezuela & N. johnsoniae is found in Amazonian Peru. The subgenus Hylaeaicum is entirely Amazonian in parts of Columbia, Venezuela. Peru, Ecuador & Brazil. The climate zone is subtropical & they grow from sea level to 5000 feet. They are found in the lower levels of rainforests where they grow on logs, lower tree branches & even on rocks. Some do grow on coastal rocks & scrub near the ocean.

Next: Cultivation of neoregelias

Happy growing

Bob & True Grant

 

 

Newsletter No 6 - December 2009

by Wholesale Bromeliads 12. December 2009 06:05

A warm hello to all our newsletter subscribers. I guess many of us are sweltering in the current heatwave & hoping for cooler weather & rain around the corner.

Be careful of your broms in the midday heat. We find here in Northern NSW that most of our 'full sun' broms are being bleached & burnt when above 35 degrees unless given some protection. Keep up the moisture especially for guzmanias & vrieseas.

PRICE LIST: We have brought out an updated December list of bromeliads available. There are limited numbers of some of the neos & other non tissue culture plants & we do apologise if we have sold out when you place an order.

MINI NEOREGELIAS: We have a collection now of over 100 mini neos & at last have some coming through for sale - see price list.

WAVELL HEIGHTS BROMELIAD SHOW: The Bromeliad Extravaganza held in October was a great success with increasing attendance as it's reputation grows. The next show is Saturday 27th (8am - 3pm) & Sunday 28th (9am - 2pm) February 2010. Address is Wavell Heights Community Hall, 175 Edinburgh Castle Road, Wavell Heights, Brisbane. Phone Nigel for more information 07 5485 3800

KIWI VRIESEAS (photo below) : These broms are now maturing & showing beautiful colour - everyone who has bought them has been impressed. At three year's of age they are quite stunning. They need bright indirect light tolerating early am or late pm sun. In Jack Koning's words  - 'they need as much light as possible without burning'. They also like the mix to be kept moist.

GUZMANIAS PART 4

Propagation: As in most bromeliad species, the mother plant slowly dies after flowering, but produces offsets (pups) as it is declining. They usually form after the mother has flowered, though some do produce pups beforehand. Guzmanias readily produce pups which are able to survive independently when they are 1/3 to 1/2 the size of the mother plant. If taken off before this, they may not survive as they still depend on the mother & store little or no nutrient.  If possible, avoid the extremes of hot & cold weather when removing pups - so ideal in Oct / Nov / Feb / Mar - in the tropics in the wet season.

Remove the leaves & potting mix from the base of the pup (you may need to take it out of the pot to do this), then gently remove the pup using a sharp knife & cutting down towards the parent, being sure to preserve the base of the pup, while not injuring the mother. You can also gently twist the pup away from the mother. Guzmania pups form from the leaf axils, are therefore rootless & can be harder to establish.

Some growers leave the pup overnight to 'seal', others dip the base in fungicide (NO COPPER) especially if cool & wet weather. Some also pot into peat/perlite/vermiculite/sand till roots develop. We plant straight into our usual mix. Don't sit the pups in water as they may rot & don't plant too deeply for the same reason. Bury the base no more than 2.5 cm & brace if necessary.

Guzmanias usually produce two batches of pups. Give the mother some slow release fertiliser (if out of date) & continue to apply foliar fertilizer after removing the first lot. A second batch will often then be produced.

The new pup will not benefit from slow release fertilizer till roots have developed, but needs spraying & watering in the cup after potting, plus an occasional weak foliar spray till established. Then pursue the normal fertilizer regime. 

If you want lots of pups, look after the mother while she is maturing; remove the bottom older leaves carefully to allow light into the nodes (developing pups).

Pests & Diseases: Guzmanias have few pests & diseases. Scale can be a problem. Spray with an insecticide such as Folimate (some growers use Rogor). Don't use an insecticide that contains white oil which kills bromeliads. Before treating, empty all water out of the plant, clear out any debris & allow to dry. Spray thoroughly & allow to dry again for 24 hours before watering. Check in 7-10 days as it may need retreatment. Don't scrape off the scale when alive as you will release the eggs into the leaf bases & increase the problem. In cold, wet weather, heart rot & root rot (Phytophthera) is a problem with some hybrids. Treat with a fungicide -  Ridomil (Fongarid) is recommended & is readily available. Copper is the main ingredient in most fungicides & it kills bromeliads - so take care to check.

Next: Neoregelias

Our staff (Larry & Robin) & Bob & I wish you all a very Happy Xmas & send our best wishes for the New Year.

Bob & True Grant

Newsletter No 5 - September 2009

by Wholesale Bromeliads 10. September 2009 05:26

It's great to welcome Spring again, even though we've had an amazingly warm winter. It reached 36 degrees C at our nursery one day in August!

HAWAII: We had a most enjoyable two week trip to Hawaii in August. It was great meeting renowned hybridists Sharon Peterson, David Shiigi & Lisa Vinzant, all of whom were wonderful, friendly, hospitable people. Found some very interesting broms, but it will be several years before they are any available for sale. We visited two islands, Oahu & Hawaii (the Big Island). Loved Waikiki Beach, even though the waves were flat due to it being their Summer. Winter is the time for the big waves. The volcanic activity on the Big Island was fascinating - red hot lava spilling over a cliff into the sea. We drove a four wheel drive to the summit of Maunea Kea, the tallest mountain in the world from the bottom of the sea to the top. We were way up above the clouds, snow was on the ground & did experience a little altitude dizziness & shortness of breath. The sunset was breathtaking.

BROMELIAD WALLS: After the exposure on some of the TV garden shows, bromeliad walls have become very popular. They are a wonderful feature or cover for a blank wall. They can be either in partial shade (neos etc) or shade (guzmanias, vrieseas, canistropsis & other shade lovers). We have recently supplied bromeliads for several walls in Sydney. If you need any information about setting one up, give us a call & we can help you with it.

SHOWS: We will be at the Twin Towns & District Garden Club Annual Flower Show being held at the Civic Centre, Tweed Heads, NSW on Saturday 19th September. Also upcoming is the Bromeliad Extravaganza at the Wavell Heights Community Hall, 175 Edinburgh Castle Road, Wavell Heights, Brisbane. Saturday 10th (8am - 3pm) & Sunday 11th October (9am - 2pm). For further information call Nigel on 07 5485 3515.

FEATURE PLANT: Aechmea 'Del Mar'. We now have this beautiful aechmea growing from tissue culture & can supply quantity. This brom grows well in high light, avoiding the midday sun.

GUZMANIAS PART 3 - Potting Medium & Pots

Potting Medium: Needs to be acidic (5.5 not to exceed 6.2), hold moisture, retain fertilisers & yet drain freely. A commercial cymbidium orchid mix is suitable. A recommended potting mix is composted pine bark combined with peat moss or cocopeat (3 parts bark to 1 part peat moss). Dolomite can be added to the mix to achieve a final pH of approx 6.0.

Pots: Bromeliads need to be snugly potted, with the pot just a little larger than the root area, allowing for a year's growth before potting on to the next size pot & fresh potting mix. Repot in warm weather until the plant fills a 150cm (6") pot.

Next: Propagation, pests & diseases.

Happy growing,

Bob & True Grant

 

 

 

Newsletter No 4 - May 2009

by Wholesale Bromeliads 26. May 2009 10:04

A warm welcome to all our new newsletter subscribers.

The Wavell Heights Show in Brisbane on 7th & 8th March was once again a great success. It was good to meet some of our customers there in person. Next one will be held 10th & 11th October this year.

We will also be at the Orchid Show held at the Oasis Centre on the Gold Coast Saturday 23rd & Sunday 24th May.

You are very welcome to visit our nursery but do need to make an appointment. We also mail order to all states in Australia except Tasmania & now export our bromeliads overseas.

We only have small numbers of some of our collector plants - & do apologise if we have sold out when you place an order. There will always be more available in the future.

If you have trouble opening up the price list (excel document), please let us know, email your address & we'll post one to you.

Also, if you'd like a copy of the previous newsletter with Guzmanias Part 1 - we're happy to email you a copy.

We're working on getting more photos up on our website. You can access photos of many of our broms on www.fcbs.org/pictures.htm  & we're happy to email photos on request.

Feature Bromeliad: Alcantarea imperialis Rubra

We have available the New Zealand clone of this wonderful specimen bromeliad which develops exceptional colour. 

One of the giants, imperialis is considered the signature species of this genus. This sun loving bromeliad grows to a span of more than 1.5 metres & the thick, red, branching flower spike, which reaches up to 3.5 metres tall, produces hundreds of slightly fragrant white flowers. This inflorescence lasts up to 12 months.

The grey/green broad leaves are quite leathery & tough, with a red underside. In full sun, the leaves of Rubra take on a deep red cast. However it is also suitable for shade where the leaves become greener.

It can withstand very cold temperatures as it's native to mountains near Rio de Janiero at an elevation of 1,500 metres - but it does need to be protected from frost.

It can be planted in the garden as a feature plant or in large containers (300mm - 500mm) & requires little fertiliser or water when established.

Special: 'Sapphire Tower' (Puya alpestris)

Seedlings 15cm high  - $15

This clumping bromeliad from the highlands of Chile, where the days are hot & the nights cool, grows terrestrially & on rocks to a height of approx 1 metre. It has a tall flower spike filled with dark turquoise flowers. Loves full sun & tolerates frosts minus 5 degrees to minus 10 degrees C.

Cultivation Notes - Guzmanias Part 2

Water

Keep potting mix moist but not wet & the central tank filled with water which is changed frequently. One heavy watering a week in winter is sufficient & two in summer. This also helps to leach out any accumulated salts. A daily light watering is beneficial if the temperature is over 30 degrees C. It's preferable to water early am in winter, & early am or late pm in summer.

Water quality is important for guzmanias - if possible avoid hard, alkaline or salty water. Alkaline water causes burning in the central leaves of the cup. Hard water can cause spotting of the leaves.

Fertiliser

Guzmanias benefit from a stronger fertilising regime than do most other bromeliads. Opinions differ - but it is generally agreed they benefit from a higher % Potassium (K) then Nitrogen (N) & low Phosphorus (P). High levels of phosphorus can cause tip burn. European growers advocate a ratio of N:P:K of 1 / .11 - .22  1.66 - 2.49. Some in Australia recommend even higher levels of Potassium.

All bromeliads require Magnesium (Mg) which must be in the form of magnesium sulphate (MgSO4). This is usually in the slow release fertiliser. It can be added to a soluble fertiliser, if necessary, as Epsom Salts.

There are 3 micro elements that can be harmful to bromeliads & should be no more than trace elements in the fertiliser: Excess Boron (B) causes tip burn. Zinc (Zn) & Copper (Cu) will kill bromeliads at higher levels & toxic levels have been associated with quilling.

Add a slow release fertiliser (eg Osmocote or Nutricote) to the potting mix. Guzmanias love liquid fertilisers - use a high potassium soluble fertiliser at normal indoor plant strength at least fortnightly, preferably weekly throughout the year. This will give you shiny green leaves &  a large colourful inflorescence.  Examples are Phostrogen (14/10/27), Thrive (15/4/26) & Flourish (16/4/25.7)  -  all readily available commercially.

There is a wealth of information about fertilising bromeliads on the net & in books for those who want to delve further into this complex subject . It comes down to what works for you in your climate & what you have the time to do. We keep our ratio of potassium closer to 1.66 due to our higher levels of light here in Northern NSW. 

Having outlined all of the above, we have some 'guzzies' in a shady area of our garden which are quite neglected - & they don't look too bad!

Next Newsletter: Guzmanias - Potting Mix / Pots

Happy growing, 

Bob & True Grant

Newsletter No 3 January - February 2009

by Wholesale Bromeliads 1. January 2009 21:38

Wholesale Bromeliads of Australia
Newsletter No 3
January - February 2009

Belated Happy New Year ! It's been a rather sombre start to 2009 with all the depressing economic news - but at least we have our bromeliads & our families to cheer us up !
We've experienced very humid weather here in Northern NSW, which our broms have loved. For those further down south - we hope the heat wave conditions ease up very soon.
Our next 'Bromeliad Extravaganza' in Brisbane is coming up soon:
Sat 7th March 8am - 3pm Sunday 8th March 9am - 2pm
500 + bromeliad varieties for sale from six collectors & experienced growers. Free admission. Refreshments & lunch available. For more information phone Nigel:07 5485 3800

Featured Plant: Ursulaea macvaughii

This sought after collector's bromeliad has one of the most beautiful flowers in the bromeliad world. A pup recently sold on ebay for $72. As a special for Jan/Feb - we are selling young plants (30cm high & 45cm wide) for $30, postage included throughout Australia. A photo can be seen in the bromeliad gallery under 'Alcantareas & Others').
Ursulaea macvaughii is one of only two species in this genus. It is large growing (will reach aprox 70cm high & 80cm wide) with a stunning pendulous flower. It makes a beautiful specimen plant either in a pot or in the garden. The leaves are mid green with spined edges & the magnificent inflorescence is white & pink & produces purple flowers. It takes 2-3 years to flower – sometimes longer.

Like all bromeliads, it requires a free draining medium, whether in a pot or in the garden. It doesn't tolerate the midday sun when UV rays are highest (11am - 3pm), preferring bright indirect light or dappled sun. However it does enjoy early morning or late afternoon sun.

Don't overwater - keep medium moist but not wet. Feed lightly with a fertiliser equal to or higher in potassium than nitrogen.

*The photo in the bromeliad gallery is used with the kind permission of Kerry Tate (to use her photo of Gloria Dunbar's plant in flower).

Cultivation Notes: Guzmanias

The many hybrids available are very vigorous & easy to grow. Species guzmanias often require more specific conditions that mimic their natural environment.

Light: In their natural habitat, guzmanias are usually found in heavily shaded areas of humid rainforests & can therefore adapt to darker conditions than other bromeliads. Because of these lower light requirements (& their long lasting flower), they are an ideal indoor bromeliad (including air conditioned premises).They require moderate indirect light with no direct sun. Large European growers recommend 18,000 lux (you can buy a light metre at Dick Smiths & other elactronic stores). 70% - 75% shade cloth is ok for most areas for most of the year. Some extra protection may be required during the heat of summer (extra shade cloth or move to a darker area of the shade house). If the leaves look bleached, they are getting too much sun. Guzmanias with reddish leaves (G. zahnii & some lingulata hybrids) do require brighter indirect light to develop good colour.

Temperature: Guzmanias must be protected from frost & many don't like extreme summer heat preferring average to warm year round (16 - 27 degrees centigrade ideal). They grow best in high humidity but do tolerate drier air.

Air: These broms prefer to be well spaced so that the leaves are just touching - this allows good air circulation, which as epiphytes, they prefer. If the lower leaves die off, it's probably because they are grown too close together.

Next Newsletter: Guzmanias - water / fertilising

I've had several newsletters returned - email addresses non valid. So if you have subscribed & not received a newsletter & current plant list, please contact us.

Happy growing,
Bob & True Grant