At last another newsletter. It has been an exceptionally busy year both in the nursery & personally.
The main topic for this newsletter is about Seasol which is a plant conditioner used by many brom growers. See article below this newsletter. It's worth reading to become aware of the advantages as well as precautions about its use for bromeliads.
Whilst talking to various brom growers, we are always picking up new information & I would like to share some of this with you:
We have advocated growing them hard (without fertiliser) as is recommended by Grace Goode & others. We did fertilise our minis on one occasion, with a high potassium controlled release fertiliser, & ended up with green plants & long, green pups which took a generation to grow out. However, I gave a talk about mini neos recently for which I researched information. I learned that Rob & Rosie Kelly (who specialise in neo minis) & Margaret Patterson (well known hybridiser) both fertilise their minis with a tiny amount of controlled release. Margaret says 'otherwise they sit & sulk'. Looking back, we probably used too much fertiliser. We are now trying an 1/8 teaspoon on a few & will monitor results. The bottom line is that if you fertilise your minis, use a very small amount of high potassium formula. * Already I have noticed that Neo Mini Chiquita Linda has gone green - so will be more selective in the future.
We had a wonderful day earlier this year visiting George Stamatis who lives just north of Brisbane. George imports rare bromeliads & has a superb collection. He gave us a great tip for growing pitcairnias which need moist (well drained), shady conditions: Put some sphagnum moss in the bottom of the pot & cover the top with mulch.
George Stamatis also mentioned the importance of supplying silicon for bromeliads whose spines contain this element. As there are reduced amounts of silicon in a soil less potting mix, this can be achieved by adding coal ash (mainly silicon dioxide) or sand (silicon dioxide). Our preference is coal ash which we have now added to our mix, as it is lighter & (we have been advised by our potting mix supplier horticulturalist) breaks down more quickly to supply the absorbable form of silicon which is monosilicic acid. This is taken up by the root system & moves upwards through the plant.
Documented Advantages of Silicon:
- Strengthens cell walls improving plant strength, health & growth.
- Increases drought & frost resistance
- Boots plant's natural pest & disease resistance
- Improves root mass & density
- Improves uptake of several macro & micro nutrients
Urea & Bromeliads
Urea is a common source of nitrogen used for fertilsers (both soluble & controlled release) because it is cheaper than other forms. I was recently made aware that using soluble fertilisers with ureic nitrogen as a foliar application is harmful to bromeliads because of the chemical compound biuret that is found in urea. The nitrate form of nitrogen is best for bromeliads as a foliar spray - so check the analysis of any soluble fertiliser you are using. I have also heard reports (unconfirmed by research) that ammonium nitrogen is best for Tillandsias. I would be interested to receive any feedback about this.
I am working with a horticulturalist to formulate a controlled release fertiliser that is suitable for bromeliads & that will have a life of around 12 months. This guy states that ureic nitrogen is ok for absorbtion through the root system. It is only harmful when applied to bromeliad leaves.
We have added information about orthophytums to out website which can be accessed at www.ausbroms.com.au/BromeliadOverview.aspx (Information section of our website).
These interesting bromeliads will grow in bright filtered light or full sun. They look great in the garden adding colour & texture (se photo below for some in our garden - in the foreground). We now have quite a few varieties for sale.
The festive season is nearly here. We wish you all a peaceful, happy & safe Christmas & a prosperous New Year.
True & Bob Grant