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NEWSLINK
April 2009

<I>Cryptanthus</I> Black Mystic
Cryptanthus Black Mystic



- Articles appearing in this issue of NEWSLINK are for information purposes only and are not necessarily endorsed by the Committee or the Illawarra Bromeliad Society.
- The Society is, by the holding of meetings, displays and competitions, to provide a forum for the people of the Illawarra region who are interested in the culture and collection of bromeliads.
- Under the provisions of the Privacy Act, use of names and references to private details, such as illness, holidays, birthdays and items of a similar nature, may only be published with the written permission of the person concerned.

NEWS IN BRIEF . . .

NEW MEMBERS:
A very warm welcome to Jørgen and Maria Jakobsen who joined at our February meeting. We hope that you will be involved members of our Society for many years to come.


MONTHLY RAFFLE PRIZE ROSTER:

April
Sylvia Clare, Jenny Taylor, Meri Stefanidakis, Bruce Cluff, Richard Westera
May
Jenny Godin, Steve Morgan, Glenise Weston, Dick Jamieson, Gary Claydon
June
Dot Stephenson, Warwick, Mandy Tilley, Peter Netting, Rena Wainwright
July
Noel Kennon, Rhama Thompson, Robert McGuire, Edwina Caruana, Phillip
While we have relaxed things to make it easier for our members who might not have large collections or plants that they can spare as raffle prizes, we would like to keep it in the spirit of things that plants that have the potential to take over a garden not be offered. This would include agapanthus, asparagus-type and fishbone ferns, etc. Bromeliads are, of course, first choice, but, as mentioned in our January Newslink, items such as potted herbs, succulents, garden tools, and spare fruits/vegetables from your garden are acceptable.

INCREASE IN MEMBERSHIP FEES:
It has been decided to increase our annual fees to $10 single membership and $15 for a family living at the same address to help defray the rising costs of insurance, postage, hall rental, etc. This will take effect as from the payment due on June 30, 2009.


DEFINITION OF NOVICE FOR COMPETITION AT OUR MEETINGS AND SHOWS:
According to the Rules of the Illawarra Bromeliad Society Incorporated a “Novice” is defined thus: “For the purpose of the Monthly Plant Table {Competition} only, a Novice is a member who has not won the Novice trophy {Annual Points Score Award} at the Illawarra Bromeliad Society and/or has not won a first prize (excluding decorative sections) at any Bromeliad Society Show. This does not apply to bromeliads entered for competition outside Bromeliad Societies.”

When it comes to our Annual Show, a member may still enter plants into competition in the Novice Section if they have not taken out First Prize in that particular class {or if they have not won the Annual Points Score Award}. For example, if, say, your Aechmea or Neoregelia has taken out First Prize in a previous Show, you may still enter as a Novice in any of the other classes such as Billbergia, Vriesea, Tillandsia, etc.


BROMELIAD COLLECTION FOR SALE:
Unfortunately, our member Ailsa McDonald has not been well for some time now and finds that she will have to sell off at least some of her lovely collection. She can be reached on: (02) 4296 6258, but due to her frail health PLEASE NOT BEFORE 11.00 AM!


COMING EVENTS:

April 9-22
SYDNEY ROYAL EASTER SHOW – BROMELIAD COMPETITION AND EXHIBIT ARRANGED THROUGH THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY OF NSW
April 10-13
XVth Australasian Bromeliad Conference, BROMADELAIDE2009. See Eileen or www.breomeliad.org.au/BROMADELAIDE2009.htm
April 18-19
COLLECTORS’ PLANT FAIR, ‘WOODGREEN’, 27 Powells Road, BILPIN 9AM–4PM SATURDAY/9AM–3PM SUNDAY $10 Admission for the weekend/$8 Prepaid - Email: collectorsplantfair@bigpond.com
May 2-3
BROM.SOC.NSW AUTUMN SHOW Concord
May 16-17
BROM.SOC.AUSTRALIA AUTUMN SHOW Burwood RSL
Sep 12-13
ILLAWARRA BROMELIAD SOCIETY SHOW, Uniting Church Hall, CORRIMAL
Oct 10-11
BROM.SOC.AUSTRALIA SPRING SHOW Burwood RSL
Oct 24-25
BROM.SOC.NSW, SPRING SHOW - CONCORD
May 1-2,2010
BROM.SOC.AUSTRALIA AUTUMN SHOW Burwood RSL
Oct 9-10,2010
BROM.SOC.AUSTRALIA SPRING SHOW Burwood RSL



UPCOMING TOPICS:
February 7, 2009: Potting Mixes - Neville/Bruce/Graham
April 4, 2009: Cryptanthus - Elizabeth/Nina/Rena and John
May 2, 2009: Billbergias
June 6, 2009: “Seed Propagation: From Start to Finish”-Neville Wood
July 4, 2009: Christmas in July

PLANT RESULTS - February 7, 2009
OPEN

1st
Neville Wood Neoregelia Rain Cloud
2nd
Neville Wood Aechmea orlandiana ‘Stain Glass’(unregistered)
2nd
Coral Baldwin Vriesea Splenriet
3rd
Rhonda Patterson xNeophytum ‘Galactic Warrior’
NOVICE
1st
Neil Wheway Nidularium campos-portei
2nd
Warwick Varley Neoregelia Fosperior ‘Perfection’
3rd
Jenny Taylor Aechmea hybrid (Labelled ‘Wellbunna Birdum')?
TILLANDSIA
1st
Suzanne Burrows Tillandsia tenuifolia (Red form)
2nd
Sandra Southwell Tillandsia caput-medusae
3rd
Rhonda Patterson Tillandsia ortgiesiana
3rd
Muriel Baldwin Five plants on a log

PLANT RESULTS - March 7, 2009
OPEN

1st
Nina Rehak Aechmea ‘Samurai’
2nd
Bruce Cluff Neoregelia Hannibal Lector
2nd
Neville Wood Vriesea Sunset
3rd
Rhonda Patterson Neoregelia Bob and Grace
NOVICE
1st
Warwick Varley Hohenbergia correia-araujoi
2nd
Carissa Morgan Neoregelia Empress
3rd
Steve Morgan Vriesea hybrid (orange bracts)
3rd
Brian Baldwin Neoregelia pendula
TILLANDSIA
1st
John Carthew Tillandsia cyanea
2nd
Laurie Dorfer Tillandsia xerographica
3rd
Graham Bevan Tillandsia crocata


CRYPTANTHUS! CRYPTANTHUS!
Come see my plants at
11 Moorea Court, PACIFIC PINES, QLD

Specialising in Cryptanthus. Cryptanthus Starter Kits Available
Roly Soegaard. Phone: (07)5502-7701



RECYCLING (PART 3) . . . By Neville Wood 2009
BUSH TIMBER FOR A BORDER AROUND A BROMELIAD GARDEN: If you’re fortunate enough to be in a position to get some rough hardwood bush timber, it can be used to make an attractive natural looking garden border. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s new or old and weathered, it can still be used to good effect as a border and, when after some years it finally begins to rot, it can be used in the garden as a feature and finally broken up and used as mulch, so nothing is really wasted.

Often this timber is available from Local Council green waste tips where it is taken after people cut down large trees, especially after severe storms, and if you’re lucky enough to get there before it is cut up for firewood or mulched you can often get reasonable lengths for a “song”. Another source is to approach one of the many tree felling companies and tell them of your requirements. Although these trees are usually cut up into firewood sizes as the trees are felled, if you organise it in advance it’s often possible to arrange to pick up what you require from the location where the tree is felled or have it delivered for a fee.

Wherever you get your timber from, you’re not limited to requiring long lengths as quite an attractive garden edge can be made using short lengths. This is especially handy if the edge you are making is curved or circular. If you have a mix of long and short lengths the best way to utilise them is to use the long pieces for the straight edges and the short or bent pieces for the curves. I find it more attractive to break the continuity by using some on their flat and some on their ends--i.e., instead of butting pieces together to cover the required distance, where the end of a horizontal piece finishes dig a hole of about 15-20 cm and cut a piece so that when inserted in the hole it protrudes about 5-8 cm above the top of the horizontal piece, giving a random look so you have alternate horizontal and vertical pieces. The horizontal pieces can be nailed or screwed to the vertical pieces making a very strong edging and any off-cuts left over can be scattered throughout the garden as features or used as attaching points for some bromeliads.

ARM PROTECTORS: We all know the damage bromeliad spikes can do to our forearms, in fact it’s said that you can judge the size of a person’s bromeliad collection by the amount of scratches on his or her arms. Of course a degree of protection can be offered by a long sleeved shirt but even then the spikes can protrude through the thin material. I have found that by modifying a re-cycled pair of thick woollen work socks and cutting out the toe section you can get pretty good protection by wearing them on your forearms. Pull the toe end of the sock up over your forearm so the heel of the sock fits over the bend in your elbow and cut the remainder of the sock off at your wrist. With the addition of a light pair of gardening gloves you now have hand and forearm protection from bromeliad spikes.

BRACKETS FOR COLORBOND FENCES: Unlike the old paling fences where you could just hammer a nail into the rail to hang a basket or pot hanger from, Colorbond fences are not quite as easy to utilise for this purpose, but there still is a way: make a fence hanger/s.

This fence hanger can be made from light steel bar 1.5 mm – 2.0 mm thick X 20 mm wide and can be used to hang plants from Colorbond fences without drilling or disfiguring the fence in any way. It fits up under the top capping piece of the fence and its own weight and that of what it is supporting is what holds it in place. It can be made longer or wider to suit what it needs to support and can be used to hang planter pots and baskets from as well as for storing long pieces of timber, etc. (as long as there isn’t a lot of weight) up off the ground.

The shape is shown in the sketch below and the measurements are as follows: Start at the top and go down 1 3/8” then across to the right 1 3/8” then down 3” and across to the left 2 5/16” and finally up 1/2“.

COLORBOND BRACKETS

POTTING MIXES
Neville Wood, Illawarra Bromeliad Society, February 2009
The topic for the February meeting was “Potting Mixes” and this demonstrated the variations found from grower to grower. Our committee had selected growers from a variety of areas to speak about the make-up of the mixes they use for their particular environment, and, subsequently, different plant collections and climatic conditions.

The intended speakers were Steve Morgan, Bruce Cluff, John Carthew and myself. Steve is from Broulee on the far south coast, an area which is low lying and has very cold winters. Bruce is from Camden which has a higher altitude and also gets very cold winters and extremely hot summer days. John lives at Bellambi, closer to the coast, and I live at Shellharbour, one street back from the ocean. So you see, by the very nature of the different locations, the potting mixes used in these areas all vary and have different requirements. As well as the above conditions, these locations also have varying prevailing winds which also have to be taken into consideration due to their different reactions on the drying times of the various potting mixes.

These notes are based around the segment I presented only and don't include the ideas of the other speakers: no doubt they will write their own versions sometime in the future so I will leave that to them.

When I grew orchids thirty or so years ago I belonged to an Orchid Society with about the same number of members as our Bromeliad Society. I was once asked to give a talk to fellow orchid growers on this very topic, “Potting Mixes”. I started my talk with the statement “There are probably as many different potting mixes as there are orchid growers.” Nothing has really changed since then except that in our Society, I would now say “There are probably as many different potting mixes as there are bromeliad growers.”

It seems that everyone we talk to has their own favourite mix, and although in some instances mixes are very similar, they often have minor or major variations in their composition which sets them apart from each other. This will always occur because growers are always striving to obtain that “magic formula” that will enable them to grow their plants just that little bit better than their fellow growers; and that’s the challenge, trying to grow the best plants we can with the resources we have.

When considering components that make up the structure of the mix, various things need to be taken into account: the main ones being what you require from the mix and the type of plants you are going to grow in it. Without going deeply into the finer points, I separate the plants roughly into two groups: those that prefer to grow on or in the ground and those whose preference is to grow on other things such as rocks or on branches of trees. If a plant naturally grows on rocks or trees they will get much more air circulation around their roots than those growing on or in the ground so your potting mix must try to satisfy these conditions also.

When I make a mix for plants that are naturally rock or branch dwellers, I make it quite “open”, thereby increasing its ability to drain quickly and allow good air circulation around the roots. For plants that grow in or on the ground I use the same mix but with the addition of a quantity of Coco-Peat which “closes” the mix up a little and adds to the water-holding capacity. Having said that, I don’t mean that the mix for the ground dwelling plants should be heavy and poor draining. It must be able to retain some degree of moisture but still be able to drain freely and not become water-logged.

We must not forget that when we put a plant in a pot, the roots are then expected to live within the confines of that pot, and until they outgrow the pot or unless they are able to escape and roam free, they are committed to survive with what you have provided.

As an experiment, take two plants of the same type and size: put one in a pot in a well drained potting mix and the other in the ground in a similar mix. Give both plants the same amount of light, protection from the elements and water as required. Usually the one in the ground will grow much quicker and into a larger plant, simply because it isn’t confined. If there are elements in the ground which the plant dislikes, the roots are free to seek out an area more to their liking; they won't stay in an unsuitable area by choice. In a pot, however, they don't have the luxury of choice, they are stuck with what you have provided them with, and if it’s a poor draining and continually moist environment, they will gradually deteriorate until they finally succumb and die.

No matter what ingredients you make your mix from, good drainage must be a priority!

For a lot of us if we’re honest, cost of the ingredients must also be part of the equation when selecting materials to make up our mixes, and with this in mind it’s probably worthwhile looking at what re-cycled materials can be successfully utilised as mix ingredients.

Some re-cycled ingredients I use are:
- Charcoal and fine clinker from fire boxes of old steam boilers, broken into various sizes.
- Broken bricks of the crumbly type that can easily be crushed into a coarse aggregate and used to open up the mix.
- Polystyrene pieces grated to about 5 mm size to open up the mix and improve drainage and air circulation around the roots.
Polystyrene chunks of a larger size can also be used in the base of the pot to improve drainage and economise on the amount of mixture used. (When re-potting I often find the roots tightly woven around these pieces of polystyrene in the bottom of the pot, which seems to prove that the plants find it agreeable to their requirements.)

Unfortunately there are some ingredients I do have to buy, the main one being pine bark of varying grades, and, to a lesser degree, Perlite which I use as it is said to promote good root growth. These are mixed with the recycled charcoal/clinker, broken and crumbly small brick pieces (if I have them) and 5 mm polystyrene chunks. I find this is a suitable mix for my adult aechmeas, billbergias and neoregelias, with the quantities shown below:
- 6 parts fine/medium bark
- 1/2 part 5-10 mm charcoal/clinker
- 1/2 part Perlite
- 1/2 part 5 mm polystyrene pieces
- 1/4 part broken and crumbled bricks if available

For the vrieseas and guzmanias I also add a small amount of Coco Peat to the above ingredients to slightly increase the water holding properties; this gives us the mix shown below:
- 6 parts fine/medium pine bark
- 1/2 part 5-10 mm charcoal/clinker
- 1/2 part Perlite
- 1/2 part 5 mm polystyrene pieces
- 1/4 part broken and crumbled bricks if available
- 1/2 part Coco Peat

For smaller plants such as young seedlings I use similar ingredients, with the main difference being a finer grade of bark, charcoal and polystyrene pieces.
- 6 parts very fine pine bark mulch
- 1/2 part 2-5 mm charcoal/clinker
- 1/2 part Perlite
- 1/2 part 2-3 mm polystyrene pieces
- 1/2 part Coco Peat

And for the first “plant out” of very small seedlings I use a mix of:
- 4 parts Coco Peat
- 1/2 part Perlite
- 1/4 part fine polystyrene
- 1/4 part very fine charcoal (coarse sand size)

Consideration should also be given to drying times for mixes. Mixes in smaller pots will dry out quicker than mixes in larger ones and mixes in pots hanging near the roof will dry out quicker than mixes in pots on benches.

As a general rule I use a finer grade of bark in small pots and a coarser grade in the larger ones. As for plants that are hanging, I top dress these with sphagnum moss as I find it slows down the amount of evaporation from the mix. I find by using these methods, all plants can be watered at about the same frequency; but I must add that these methods have been designed to suit my conditions and the type of plants I grow in my environment and they may not suit other growers. Although not the main topic of this discussion, fertilizers are sometimes used as part of the potting mix and need to be discussed briefly as well. Fertilizers can be used in various ways: incorporated into the mix when it is first made, applied as a top dressing during re-potting, applied as a foliar food during the year, or applied during watering. I mention this simply because some growers consider fertilizers a very important component of their potting mixes. I would just say, be careful!

Once you have added fertilizer to your mix, you can’t take it out again if you find it isn’t performing the way you expected and for this reason I don’t use it in the mix, preferring to use one of the other methods instead.

To sum up I would say that I have found that bromeliads will grow in almost any type of mix as long as it has some water holding capacity, can dry out slightly between waterings and is well draining. The ideal potting mix is at the discretion of the individual grower and should be made to suit their individual requirements.


Steve’s Potting Mix:
As Steve says, his potting mix is simple and with the following large quantities, he mixes it up in a wheelbarrow. Measures are approximate.
- 20 litres charcoal {crushed to about thumbnail size and soaked in a high nitrogen soluble fertilizer for a few days before using}
- 25 litres cheap potting mix
- 30 litres pine bark chip (fine)
- 8 litres Perlite, medium grade
He adds that this mix does not allow plants to rot in winter when it is wet and cold. He does not water excessively in summer and all the plants appear to like it.

Bruce’s Potting Mix:
Bruce uses a 1 litre icecream container and a Meadow Lea margarine tub (MLC) to measure out his mixes. The pine bark mulch he buys at a local sand and soil supplier, and for the cost of $14 he can fill (with the other additives) around 600 pots. Sand is also purchased in bulk. In the bottom of his pots he layers 1/2-3/4 inch coarse wood chip and then tops up to 1/4” below the top of the pot. He uses a 3-month slow release fertiliser.
- 50% pine bark mulch
- 50% potting mix
- 1-1/2 MLC Perlite
- 1/2 MLC Zeolite
- ~1/2 MLC sand

John’s Potting Mix:
John repots around every 12 months and advises to dampen mix before potting.
- 15 litres pine bark, fine
- 6 litres Good Earth Potting Mix
- 4 litres Good Earth Orchid Mix
- 2.5 litres aged cow manure
- 5 litres Coco Peat, fine
- 2.5 litres charcoal
- 1.5 litres Dynamic Lifter
- 4 litres Perlite (No. 3, from Sydney Markets)
- 3 litres Vermiculite (No. 4, which is biggish and holds water)

Other members gave their recipes.

For example: - Ted uses Debco(TM) small bark chunks with Organic Life(TM) on top. He foliar fertilizes with Phostrogen(TM) and sometimes adds zeolite to the mix.
- Laurie uses: 6 parts composted pine bark; 1 part coconut husk chips; 1 Perlite (Jumbo); 1/2 rice hulls, 1/2 peanut husk; 1/4 Xeolite; 1/2 charcoal (10 mm and less); and a handful of 3-month Osmocote(TM) fertilizer.
- Dick has two compost heaps which, when making up his mix, he sieves to get out any larger pieces and adds copious amounts of pine bark/Perlite/Dynamic Lifter. He then stands back to take a look at what else might need to be added.

As you can see, all very different mixes, and all work extremely well as evidenced by the beautiful plants brought in by these members for the competition tables. As Neville says above, “Bromeliads will grow in almost any type of mix as long as it has some water holding capacity, can dry out slightly between waterings and is well draining.”


GROWING CRYPTANTHUS
By Marcelo de Senna Dias Cândido (From the Journal of the Bromeliad Society May-June 1997 Vol. 47(3)—in turn reprinted in part from BROMELIA 3(1):33-37)

Growing plants of the genus Cryptanthus is a different experience from that of raising other bromeliads. These plants are always from terrestrial or saxicolous {rocky} habitats, that is, they are not epiphytes. This fact alone indicates that the root system of these plants is important for absorbing nutrients, in contrast to that of most epiphytes which serves mainly to fix the plant to its substrate. Another important consideration when growing cryptanthus is that this genus is quite widely distributed and is therefore found in a variety of environments, from sandy coast plains to grasslands on rocky soils, and while some plants do very well at sea level, others may shrivel up and die at low altitudes. Therefore, the natural habitat of a species should be investigated before an attempt is made to grow it, and this environment would be recreated as much as possible at the growing site.

Cryptanthus plants need space to develop roots — the main nutrient-uptake organ — and this should be taken into consideration at planting time. The roots usually fan out below the surface and do not grow very deeply into the soil. For this reason they should be planted in wide pots that are not very tall. It is important to keep the potting mixture rather moist so the roots will not dry out. Plastic pots are recommended because they keep the mix moist for a longer period of time. Growers use several kinds of potting mixes, any of which should be rich in nutrients. Nutrients may also be supplied through artificial fertilization, as will be seen below.

Artificial fertilizing of Cryptanthus is not absolutely necessary if a soil mix is used that supplies enough nutrients. However, if maximum plant growth is desired, adding fertilizer is a must. Some growers have gotten excellent results by adding chicken manure to the growing medium. Others prefer slow-release chemical fertilizers such as Osmocote (14-14-14), or small doses of liquid fertilizers applied weekly — or even daily when the plant is watered. The dose recommended by the manufacturer should be reduced to a fourth, or more, depending upon the frequency of application.

In the wild, cryptanthus plants grow in full sunlight as well as in shade. A home-grown plant should be raised in an environment as similar as possible to that where it occurs naturally. More delicate species such as C. pseudoglaziovii Leme prefer moist, shady habitats, while more resistant species such as C. bahianus L.B. Smith can withstand greater exposure to the sun and drier soils. As a general rule, cryptanthus species and hybrids do well when shaded by screens of the Sombrite type and screening should be adjusted for local conditions. For example, a reduction of 50-70% is often used in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The best way to find out if the correct light regime is being used is to examine the plants daily. Plants with long, dark green leaves in a loose rosette are growing in too shady an environment, while plants that turn yellow, with typical sunburned splotches, are being exposed to too much sunlight.

The genus Cryptanthus is Brazilian, found along the Atlantic seaboard from Rio de Janeiro to Rio Grande do Norte, and inland to the state of Goias. Therefore, the ideal temperature range lies between 20C and 38C. The altitude at which these plants are found is also important since species growing at higher elevations tend to be exposed to greater daily fluctuations in temperature than those that grow at middle or low elevations (Table 1). Altitude is sometimes a limiting factor in raising cryptanthus because species from sites over 1000m are hard to grow near sea level, and vice versa. A probable explanation for this is the smaller daily temperature fluctuations occurring at sea level. The plants that live naturally under these conditions are very sensitive to abrupt changes in temperatures and especially to cold breezes.

Table 1: Altitude Ranges and Regimes of Cryptanthus Species

Species
Alt.(m)
Light
Species
Alt.(m)
Light
acaulis
bahianus
beuckeri
bivittatus
bromelioides
burle-marxii
capitatus
caracensis
colnagoi
C coriaceus
correia- araujoi
delicatus
dianae
dorothyae
exaltatus
fosterianus
glazioui
incrassatus
lacerdae
latifolius
leopoldo- horstii
0-300
500
0-300
?
0-300
?
200
1000
1000
200
500-800
0-300
570
0-300
300-700
350
1400-1600
0-300
?
0-300
1000
mesophytic
heliophilous
mesophytic
mesophytic
mesophytic
mesophytic
mesophytic
heliophilous
mesophytic
heliophilous
mesophytic
mesophytic
?
mesophytic
mesophytic
mesophytic
heliophilous
heliophilous
mesophytic
mesophytic
heliophilous
marginatus
maritimus
minarum
odoratissimus
osiris
pickelii
praetextus
pseudoglazioui
pseudopetiolatus
pseudoscaposus
roberto-kautskyi
ruthiae
scaposus
schwackeanus
seidelianus
sinuosus
vexatus
warasii
warren-loosei
whitmanii
zonatus
600-800
0-300
1500
500-800
0-300
0-300
?
700-900
0-200
500-800
700-800
0-100
500-800
700-1000
?
0-300
300
1000
400-500
700-800
?
mesophytic
heliophilous
?
mesophytic
mesophytic
?
?
mesophytic
mesophytic
mesophytic
mesophytic
mesophytic
mesophytic
heliophilous
heliophilous
mesophytic
mesophytic
heliophilous
heliophilous
mesophytic
mesophytic
{Heliophilous = Requiring a great light intensity and relatively little humidity}
{Mesophytic = Growing under conditions of well-balanced moisture supply}

When they are grown correctly, these bromeliads usually do not have problems with disease, but they sometimes become infested with scale insects (Homoptera) that may weaken or even kill less resistant plants. Several species of scale insects attack cryptanthus. Treatment involves applying an insecticide, preferably one of a systemic nature that is absorbed by the plant from the soil and reaches all parts of the plant through the sap, killing insects more efficiently. One should keep in mind, however, these products are very toxic and constitute a risk to those who are not duly advised of this fact. Spraying mineral oil on the plant is also effective, but often does not reach insects at the base of the leaf sheaths or on the roots. This can be achieved by applying the oil directly or by using a systemic insecticide. The advantage of mineral oil is that it is not toxic to plants if applied at the recommended dosage, and it is readily available on the shelves of stores dealing with farm products. A less toxic option would be a pyrethrum-based insecticide which is marketed as an aerosol or spray.

Fungi may also wreak havoc in a cryptanthus collection, for once a fungus becomes established it is very difficult to get rid of. The best remedy is prevention through good lighting and good air circulation. Removal of all affected plant parts plus spraying with a fungicide such as Benlate(TM) may keep the fungus at bay.

Cryptanthus are most easily propagated through vegetative offshoots, thus preserving the characteristics of the mother plant, especially in the case of hybrids. Sexual reproduction by seed should be used, especially for production of hybrids, although cross pollination in cryptanthus does not always work. Apparently, a species may be compatible with some, but not all, congeners. Not all attempts to reproduce hybrids will result in viable seed.

Stoloniferous species (C. sinuosus L.B. Smith, C. delicatus Leme, C. burle-marxii Leme) may reproduce through buds on the stolon that give rise to new plants, a fact that contributes to in vitro reproduction of these species.

After the offshoot is removed from the mother plant, it should be left for a day so that a scar can form over the severed point. It is then planted in a potting medium similar to that used for the adult plant and it should be kept moist. Roots are produced in a short time, the duration of which may be shorter in summer and longer in winter, and dependent upon temperature.

Acknowledgements
I would like to thank my friends Elton Leme, Rafael Faria, Rubem Ramalho Rangel, Andréa Costa, Pedro Nahoum, Luiz Felipe Nevares de Carvalho, Roberto Menescal, Renato Bello and Alberto Mofati, for their encouragement and exchange of information and ideas that produced this article, as well as to all those who directly or indirectly contributed to this work.


CRYPTANTHUS … TO LOOK GOOD THEY NEED TO BE WELL FED
By Brian Chudleigh
{From Bromeliad, Journal of the Bromeliad Society of New Zealand Inc, July 2005 Vol.45(7)}

Cryptanthus is a genus of approximately 50 species {58}, which come mostly from Brazil. All are terrestrials or grow on rocks. Leaves are generally long and narrow, 3-12 inches (8-30 cm) in length, with edges finely toothed. There is the odd form with a fairly broad leaf produced on a long stem, Cryptanthus beuckeri.

Many are attractively striped or banded, some of the variegated forms being especially colourful. The flowers are small, usually white or cream and short-lived so the plants are grown mainly for their attractive foliage. The flowers are produced from the leaf axils and following flowering the plants usually offset profusely. There are a few varieties which produce their offsets on long stolons. These make excellent hanging specimens. Some species like C. bivittatus quickly make large clumps when grown well. Unfortunately its very colourful cultivars like C. ‘Ruby’ and C. ‘Pink Starlite’ are not nearly as productive.

Feeding: To grow them to look their best they need to be well fed. Use a potting mix rich in leaf mould or compost. An African Violet mix is said to be good. I make up my own mix of homemade compost, some commercial potting mix and a little added pumice where I feel it is needed. Fertilize regularly in warm weather and never let them dry out. In hot weather you can treat them as bog plants. I keep my plants potted with the pots in large plastic containers with lids on so the atmosphere is constantly dripping with moisture during warm weather. During winter I reduce watering but never let the plants dry right out.

Light and Humidity: Leaf colouring with many varieties will change with the seasons. Too much light and that will bleach and burn the leaves. Too much cold is also extremely damaging and freezing will kill them. Bright diffused light is best and temperatures from about 15-27C are the ideal.

They can be excellent houseplants and grow well in areas with high humidity, like over a kitchen sink or in bathrooms. Inside pots should be seated in saucers of water to increase the humidity around the plants. Do not situate them where they get direct sun in the middle of the day as you risk scorching the foliage.

Offsets: Offsets are usually easily removed—sometimes they just fall away though many may need a decent tug or a snip at the base with the sharp point of a knife. They can be removed when about half the size of the parent plant, and they rarely have roots unless left to grow to almost full size. Offsets take some weeks to root and can be tricky as if the leaves dry at all they will curl and lift the base of the offset out of the potting mix. Use an elastic band over the pot to hold them down until well rooted. Remove offsets from late September till February, which should give them time to establish decent roots. Keeping the plants in plastic shopping bags with the tops tied will keep them from drying out and speed rooting.

Footnote: I had been struggling for years to grow a decent specimen of Dyckia marnier-lapostellei, a beautiful silver-leafed plant which I assumed had requirements nearer to the specifications of a drought resistant plant. My plants constantly suffered from brown leaf tips and early this year, in desperation, I put a couple of small plants in with my cryptanthus. The improvement was instantaneous. In a matter the days the plants lost their dried-out appearance and were oozing health and vitality. I promptly wrapped my two largest specimens in plastic shopping bags, soaked them, and tied the tops. Again the improvement was visible in a couple of days. There are now no more brown tips to new leaves and growth has picked up noticeably.


LEN TROTMAN’S MOZZI AND SNAIL DETERRENT
Step 1. - 500 ml Sunlight or Zip liquid dishwashing detergent
200 ml Household Cloudy Ammonia
100 ml Citronella or Pine-O-Clean disinfectant
Mix the above ingredients in 5 L cold water

Step 2. - Mix 30-60 ml (2-4 Tablespoons full) of the above mix in 1 L water
(To make 6 L, mix 180-360 ml in 6 L water)
Can be used weekly and can also be mixed with liquid fertilizer
NB: This recipe will also prevent ‘Quilling’ of bromeliads,
and while it will cause foaming in the centre of the plant
it can be left in without any harmful effects.


BIRDS AMONG THE BROMELIADS

Brown Honeyeater Lichmera indistincta (Vigors & Horsfield, 1827)
Sharyn took this photograph during a recent visit to our member Maureen Wheeler’s home in Bundaberg.
The little birds—well, actually just the female who builds, incubates and feeds the young {the male apparently develops a black gape flange, then merely sings in defence and keeps watch from a nearby branch} (*Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds 1986) — have built their nest beneath a pot of orchids, anchoring it between two clumps of Tillandsia bergeri which Maureen had attached to the orchid pot.
Like the little Sunbirds, below, this nest was built quite close to where people come and go, as it was in a shadehouse, which is near an eating area just outside the front door. The photo shows two little eggs in the nest, which subsequently hatched, and the baby birds developed successfully.
The honeyeaters’ nest is much more open than that of the Sunbirds and their distribution is much wider, stretching from the Hunter Valley, NSW, up through the Top End and right down to the south-western edge of Western Australia. The Sunbirds range is a narrow strip along the coast from Cape York to Gladstone.

Brown Honeyeater

Yellow-bellied Sunbird, Nectarinia jugularis (Linne, 1766)
Those of us fortunate enough to attend the WBC in Cairns last year were delighted to see this sunbird nest—with babies—{which was blocking the front door} during one of our garden visits. Lynn Hudson has kindly supplied some details.
“Sunbirds are small, yellow birds with a black top of head and a very long pointed beak to get plant nectar. Very busy around the bromeliads and makes us some lovely surprises with bromeliad seedlings, including intergenerics. At the centre of the nest, just above the hole, is an ‘awning’ to keep rain out! They use spider webs to hold the plant matter together. They build close to human walking areas as they trust humans more than birds (that steal their babies for food!). They mate for life and often re-use the nest {for up to 15 years!}. They usually build two nests, one as a decoy. When deciding on a site they are very noisy.”

Brown Honeyeater


BRISBANE BROMELIAD CENTRE
34 Hauton Road, MORAYFIELD 4506
Huge selection of Aechmeas, Vrieseas, Guzmanias, Neoregelias, Nidulariums and Tillandsias, together with a variety of rarer species and hybrids.
BARBARA AND LORRAINE. Phone:(07) 5433 0303
VISITORS BY APPOINTMENT

THE OLIVE BRANCH
232 Canvey Road, FERNY GROVE 4053
Specialising in Hybrid Vrieseas, Aechmeas, Variegated Neoregelias, Skotak Hybrids, ‘Aussie Dream’ and varieties,And other quality bromeliads.
LEN AND OLIVE TREVOR. Phone:(07) 3351 1203
VISITORS BY APPOINTMENT


PLANT BIOTECH
Suppliers of fine Tissue-cultured bromeliads
info@plantbiotech.com.au - www.plantbiotech.com.au
Phone:(07) 5471 6036. Postal Address: 7 Thougla Place, BUDERIM, QLD 4556
Lab: 99 West Coolum Road, MOUNT COOLUM, QLD 4573


BROMAGIC BROMELIAD NURSERY
{New owners: Andy and Sue Lancaster}
421 Hunchy Road, PALMWOODS 4555
An extensive range of bromeliads including many first-release Neoregelia hybrids.
For enquiries phone Sue on:(07) 5445 0441 - www.bromeliads-of-australia.com.au
OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, WEDNESDAY TO FRIDAY 9.30–2.30, SATURDAY 9.00-4.00


WILDFIRE GARDEN BROMELIAD NURSERY
1560 Yandina-Coolum Road YANDINA, QLD 4561
Alcantareas, Foliage Vrieseas, Neoregelias and Other Genera.
CHERYL BASIC. Phone:(07) 5472 8827, Mob:0403 193 069, wildfiregarden@westnet.com.au
VISITORS WELCOME BY APPOINTMENT


WHOLESALE BROMELIADS OF AUSTRALIA
THE POCKET 2483 (Near Mullumbimby)
Large range of bromeliads. Agents for Deroose Exotic Plants of Belgium, and Andrew Maly’s KIWI COLLECTION OF VRIESEAS.
Phone:(02) 6684 5374 Fax:(02) 6684 5168. plants@ausbroms.com.au - www.ausbroms.com.au
VISITORS WELCOME BY APPOINTMENT


COLLECTORS CORNER
BROMELIADS
— a large colourful range of bromeliads, both species and hybrids of many genera. Includes a very large range of tillandsias.
A mail order list of tillandsias is available upon request. We also specialise in orchids, cacti, succulents, hoyas, bonsai and carnivorous plants. PLUS gems, fossils, natural history, books and much MORE!
810 Springvale Road, Keysborough 3195. Ph: 03 9798 5485, FAX 03 9706 3339
sales@collectorscorner.com.au - www.collectorscorner.com.au
Open 9 am – 5 pm 7 days a week


FOREST DRIVE NURSERY
Located at REPTON (a few miles south of Coffs Harbour)
Specialising in SPECIES and VARIEGATES from mostly imported stock.
Beautiful Tillandsias, Vrieseas (including ‘silver’ species), Guzmanias, Aechmeas, Neoregelias, etc.
VISITORS WELCOME BUT PHONE FIRST (02) 6655 4130 A.H.
Send S.A.E. for MAIL ORDER list of quality plants.
Proprietor: Peter Tristram C/- P.O. Box 2, BONVILLE, NSW 2441


M.J. PATERSON (Margaret)
212 Sandy Creek Road GYMPIE, QLD 4570
Large range of Bromeliads for sale, especially our own hybrid Neoregelias and Tillandsias
Do call in if you are up this way, but please phone first.
Phone/Fax: (07) 5482 3308 wm_paterson@bigpond.com


PINEGROVE BROMELIAD NURSERY
Ross Little and Helen Clewett
Aechmea, Alcantarea, Guzmania, Vriesea, Tillandsia, Neoregelia and many more
114 Pine Street, Wardell. P.O. Box 385, WARDELL, NSW 2477
Phone/Fax: (02) 6683 4188 pinegrovebromeliads@bigpond.com


MIDHURST BROMELIAD NURSERY
Specialist Grower of Tillandsia Seedlings and other Genera
Hard grown to suit all Australian conditions
Wholesale and Mail Order only
WRITE FOR FREE PRICE LISTS OF TILLANDSIA AND OTHER GENERA TO
P.O. Box 612, HURSTBRIDGE, VIC. 3099
Phone: (03) 9718 2887 Fax: (03) 9718 2760 mossy@melbpc.org.au


BROMELIADS AUSTRALIA The Larnach Family – Robert, Gleness, Jamie and Jennifer
Supplier of quality Bromeliads with 35 years’ experience! Home of “Aussie Dream Series” and other Australian Hybrids!
Collectors’ plants are available in a wide range of genera
We welcome wholesale and retail customers by appointment. Please contact us.
Mail Order also available! Phone/Fax: 02 4359 3356 Mobile: 0418 471 754



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Updated 15/02/10