Club News.

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April 2010

Tillandsia duratii

- 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.


We extend a very warm welcome to Christa Thomas and to Ross Little who joined our Society in February. Ross, and his partner Helen Clewett have taken over ownership of the Pinegrove Bromeliad Nursery in Wardell, which for many years has been a favourite stopover point for bromeliad lovers as they travel north and south across the New South Wales/Queensland border. Ross and Helen took over a magical collection from the Buchanan family after John Buchanan died, and they are building it up to even greater heights. See the back page for a little history on this nursery (and p.4 for address details).


Jenny Taylor, Neil Wheway, Eunice Spark, Phillip Robinson.
Carol Taylor, Yvonne Perinotti, Loreen Whiddett, Meri Stefanidakis.
Dot Stephenson, Jørgen Jakobsen, Jenny McKenzie, Sharyn Baraldi.
Neville Wood, Colleen Claydon, June Smith, Russell Dixon.
Catherine Wainwright, Elizabeth Pavatich, Steve Morgan, Jarka Rehak.
Eileen Killingley, Doreen Netting, Glenise Weston, Laurie Dorfer.
Brian Baldwin, Stephen Wain, Christine Okoniowski.
David Buxton, Ann Kennon, Janine Varley, Maadi McKenna.

As mentioned in our January Newslink another of our popular workshops will be held on Saturday, April 17, dealing with the removal of pups from perhaps some of the more difficult genera such as Vriesea. If you have plants that you would like help with in this area, you might like to bring them along to the gathering. Again it will be held at Sharyn Baraldi’s home at 25 Antrim Avenue, Warilla (Phone: 4296 2166) from 10.00 am until 2.00 pm and anyone interested is invited to attend. Bring your lunch—and something for morning tea would be appreciated—tea and coffee will be supplied.

Because renovations are proposed for the area around the Laurel Room, it is possible that we may have to change to the Scribbly Gum Room (where we hold our November meetings) during these months. However, nothing is certain yet, so we suggest that you check out the Laurel Room when you arrive for these meetings in May and June and if it is not available then you should switch through to the Scribbly Gum Room. Sorry for any inconvenience!


April 1-14
SYDNEY ROYAL EASTER SHOW – Bromeliad competition and exhibit arranged through the Bromeliad Society of NSW.
April 17-18
6th COLLECTORS’ PLANT FAIR, 27 Powells Road, BILPIN. 9am–4pm Sat./9am–3pm Sun.
April 24-25
BROMELIAD SOCIETY OF NEW SOUTH WALES AUTUMN SHOW – Senior Citizens Centre, 9-11 Wellbank Street, Concord.
May 1-2
Jul 26 - Aug 1
Sept 11-12
ILLAWARRA BROMELIAD SOCIETY SHOW – Uniting Church Hall, Russell Street, Corrimal.
Oct 9-10
Oct 23-24
April 7-10

Darwin NT - 7th – 10th April 2011
Registration: Early Bird $220 before 31/10/10; $280 1/11/10 to 6/4/11
Thereafter $300
Venue: Holiday Inn ‘Esplanade’ – 116 The Esplanade, Darwin, NT
Room Rate: Superior Queen/Twin $159/night
See Eileen for extra details and Registration Forms

April 3: Graham Bevan, Species - Neoregelias.
May 1: Laurie Dorfer, Tillandsias and Their Environments.
June 5: To be advised.

PLANT RESULTS - February 6

Catherine Wainwright Guzmania sanguinea
John Carthew Guzmania Denise
Steve Morgan Neoregelia Pink Rocket
Ted Clare xVriesea saundersii x platynema
Carissa Morgan Nidularium Pink (Unregistered)
Carissa Morgan Neoregelia Stripe Supreme (Unregistered)
Laurie Dorfer xerographica
Sandra Southwell flabellata
Catherine Wainwright leiboldiana
John Carthew Tillandsia


John Carthew xVriesea Kiwi Sunset
Catherine Wainwright xGuzvriesea Jeannie
Catherine Wainwright Orthophytum Copper Penny
John Carthew Guzmania hybrid
John Carthew Vriesea Splenriet
Sandra Southwell Vriesea Sunset
Catherine Wainwright Vriesea ospinae var. gruberi
John Carthew cyanea ‘Paradise’
Sandra Southwell brachycaulos x flabellata
Catherine Wainwright tectorum forma gigantea

Pinegrove Bromeliads

(Article taken from the Bromeliad Society of NSW’s Bromeliad Newsletter, January 2010 Vol. 28(1), which in turn was reprinted from the newsletter of the Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society, August, 2009.)

How many times have you heard that said by speakers who are deemed to be authorities in bromeliad culture? And how many of you have at least one bromeliad in your collection that apparently missed the lecture on blooming and now stubbornly refuses to put up a bloom spike? Probably the most common complaint that I hear from new growers is that they have had great luck in growing pups of a particular bromeliad after purchasing it in a home and garden centre, and now have many plants that seem to be full grown but refuse to bloom. Aechmea fasciata is often the subject of this discussion—a common commercially available variety that sometimes can be a bit stubborn. Usually I ask whether they are fertilising it. If this answer is “No” then my response is “That’s your problem!”, and if they say that they fertilise it regularly, I say “Stop fertilising it.” (See how this works?) Then I ask if it is growing in strong light: (response—“Put it in the shade”); if they are growing it in low light (“Put it in stronger light”), and so on. The basic point I try to make is that if the current culture practices are resulting in the plant not blooming, you should try something different. And often that’s all it takes to spur the plant into bloom—a change from its normal routine. The grower ends up with a beautiful blooming bromeliad and I look like a genius: everybody wins!

Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. Occasionally you have that “hard-core” non-bloomer that simply refuses to cooperate. I think everyone runs across these plants at some point—whether it be that unusual hohenbergia, or a seldom seen species of aechmea, or, in my case, Vriesea philippo-coburgii.

I acquired this plant quite a long time ago at an Extravaganza and was advised by none other than Wally Berg (certainly an authority on bromeliad culture and someone that you paid attention to when he gave advice) that “You may have a little trouble getting that plant to bloom!” That turned out to be an understatement. Over the next decade I put my plant and its progeny (this plant is very generous in producing pups) in full sun (it seemed to like this just fine, but didn’t bloom), full shade (it liked this too and turned a little greener, but didn’t bloom). I let it form a large clump (sometimes bromeliads like a little company before they bloom) with no response. I split it into individual plants and potted them in multiple varieties of potting mixes (it continued to grow and reproduce just fine, but didn’t bloom). I left it out in the cold (Wally also said it may need some cold weather to spur it into blooming) when temperatures fell below -10C. It didn’t seem to mind this either—but it didn’t bloom. I even used Herb Plever’s ethylene pills and followed his instructions precisely—the aechmeas that I treated at the same time bloomed, but not Vriesea p-c. Finally, this past winter we had a spell of really cold weather and I left one potted specimen of V. philippo-coburgii outside to fend for itself, but took pity on a larger clump of the same plant and carefully covered it with frost cloth until the weather warmed a bit. In mid-June I noticed a tell-tale elongation of the centre of several of the plants in the clump and by early July it was clear that these plants were putting up an inflorescence—and so was the plant that was left out in the cold!

Interesting, but the story doesn’t end there. In mid-July I had occasion to visit the Boca Raton Bromeliad and Tropical Plant Society in South Florida (an interesting, rowdy bunch) and during the course of their meeting, the president asked if anyone was growing Vriesea philippo-coburgii. Mine was the only hand raised, and he proceeded to inform the group that he had been growing this plant for well over 10 years and had come to call it “the plant that never blooms”. He was amazed to notice that his clump of Vriesea p-c was putting up several bloom spikes! Finally, last weekend a grower in Deltona [Florida] told me that for the first time in memory his Vriesea philippo-coburgii also was blooming.

What triggered the same species of bromeliads (plants that hadn’t bloomed for several generations) in Port Orange, Boynton, and Deltona—three widely different climates—to all begin blooming at the same time? I’m doubting that the deciding factor was cold weather alone. Cold weather in South Florida is probably 20 degrees [F] warmer than in Port Orange and Deltona tends to see low temperatures somewhere in between the two. Could it be the combination of cool weather last winter followed by an unusually wet spring and summer? Typically we see little or no rain in the spring for three to four months, but this year we experienced frequent rains, culminating in enough rain in one event in May that caused wide-spread flooding for several days. These rainstorms soaked much of the east coast of Florida during this period and that is the only obvious connection that I see linking the three different locations.

So, the comment that “all bromeliads bloom” is once again proven correct. Sometimes, however, you may have to wait for over a decade to see that bloom—and you may never know for certain what caused that bloom to be triggered.

By Alan Herndon – Florida

(Reprinted from BromeliAdvisory, the newsletter of The Bromeliad Society of South Florida, November 2009)

Days are beginning to grow noticeably shorter. The sun is lower in the sky. Temperatures are beginning to fall (although this may not be especially evident to most readers given that daily high temperatures have rebounded into the upper 80s[F] [~30C] as these words are written). We are truly seeing the end of summer, albeit more in promise than reality.

Bromeliads in your garden are still holding memories of summer, and plants that bloomed earlier in the year are displaying these memories in the rapid growth of offsets. Keep careful watch on the offsets. As the sun goes lower in the sky, your offsets may find themselves in too much shade and become ‘leggy’ (with narrow and thin leaves that can’t hold themselves up the way a proper bromeliad leaf should). You may have to move the parent plant into a location with more light or remove some shade from the vicinity of the parent plant.

It is important to reduce the amount of fertilizer you feed your plants over the next few months. With the reduced sunlight and cooler temperatures on the way (eventually), your plant will naturally be growing more slowly and will need less fertilizer. If you continue with your regular fertilizer schedule, your plants will respond in the same way as if you doubled the dose of fertilizer, or moved them into deep shade, during the summer months. The newer leaves will come up green and leggy. In addition to ruining the proper leaf proportions you are trying to achieve for the show table, this puts your plants at greater risk of damage when the inevitable ‘cold’ spells appear. Perversely, our coldest days and nights tend to come after a period of unseasonably warm weather. Over-fertilized plants will be growing as fast as possible during those warm periods, so the leaves will be thin and susceptible to cool, dry winds when a cold front moves through. The temperature does not have to fall to freezing. The dry winds themselves are sufficient to desiccate and kill thin leaves.

Within a month, we can expect night time temperatures to fall low enough that root growth is slowed and root initiation is halted entirely. Once that happens (and until temperatures rebound in late spring), it is useless to remove and plant offsets from most bromeliads before they produce roots unless you can provide artificial heat to the root zone. During summer, you often have to remove offsets before roots are formed just to keep the offset from overwhelming the mother plant, but, during winter, harvested offsets without roots tend to sit listlessly in their pots. They rarely produce roots before the return of spring, and they don’t start to grow until roots are formed.

When you do find an offset with visible roots, it is usually safe to remove and repot. Already formed roots seem to grow adequately during our winters, and these offsets will continue to grow (slowly) throughout our normal cold weather. If you are unlucky enough to pot up an offset just before a really cold spell (this will, of course, always occur right after you have taken an extremely valuable offset), it might be wise to move the pot indoors for a day or so. Once the night time temperature returns to the seasonal average, put the plant back outside.

Beyond these generalities, you need to learn what plants in your collection need most protection from cold. Surprisingly, Vriesea (including Alcantarea) and Nidularium species and hybrids are among the more cold hardy bromeliads. Also particularly tolerant are species in the Ortgiesia subgenus of Aechmea (Aechmea gamosepala, A. comata, etc.) and many species of Billbergia. Unless we are expected to have temperatures in the 20s, these plants don’t need particular protection.

On the other end of the spectrum, Aechmea fulgens and its relatives are famous for showing cold damage when temperatures dip into the 40Fs [5C-10C]. Cryptanthus species and hybrids are also very susceptible to cool temperatures. Again, a freeze is not necessary—in a single night, cool dry winds in the 40s[F] are perfectly capable of turning a plant ready for the show table into something that looks like it just came off the compost pile. Plants in this group greatly benefit from being grown next to your house throughout the winter. Heat from the house walls helps keep the air temperature slightly higher, and the house often provides protection against the cold winds. In a perfect world, you would be able to place sensitive plants against the south end of the house [in the northern hemisphere] for winter. If you have a courtyard in your house, it is even better. In the imperfect world, you can still gain some benefit from having your plants next to the house in other exposures.

Most bromeliads fall between these extremes. They show visible damage when frost forms on the leaves (this can occur with temperatures a few degrees above freezing). You can protect these plants from frosts and light freezes by covering them with sheets of lightweight material overnight. The sheets will slow the rate of heat loss by radiation from the plant and its immediate surroundings, keeping the air temperature higher than it would otherwise be. If you use plastic sheets for this purpose, remember to remove them promptly in the morning or risk losing your plants to heat damage if the sun shines directly on the covered plant for any length of time. Usually, bromeliads growing under tree canopies (shade trees, not palms) do not need extra covering. The leaves in the tree canopy act effectively like a blanket.

Plants grown for the show next spring should be given a little extra care. Grow them near the house, even if they are not particularly sensitive to cold. If a really cold spell is predicted, take the time to move the plants into a completely sheltered location—even into your living room. Then, do not keep the plants inside any longer than necessary. As soon as the temperatures return to seasonal normals, place the plants back in their original locations outside.

Winter, aside from a few days when it really seems cold (although any northerner will laugh in your face if they hear you say so), is the nicest season for humans in southern Florida. With a little attention to their changing needs, you can also make it a fine season for your plants.

Lynn Hudson – (I have extracted from Lynn’s article – Bromelcairns 2010 #1)

phylla = leaves
macrophylla = large leafed
longifolia = long leafed

- - - heterophylla = leaves of more than one shape (Tillandsia heterophylla)
- - - streptophylla = twisted leaves (Tillandsia streptophylla)
- - - trycophylla = hairy leafed (trichomed)
- - - angustifolia = having narrow leaves (Aechmea angustifolia)
- - - filifolia = having threadlike leaves (Tillandsia filifolia)
- - - iridifolia = having iris-like leaves (Billbergia iridifolia)
- - - tenuifolia = finely leafed (Tillandsia tenuifolia)


(This article was reprinted from The Sunshine Coast Bromeliad Society Inc.’s January-February 2010 newsletter, which in turn was copied from Plant Oddities at:

Tillandsias (Air Plants) - Fun and Easy to Grow

- About Tillandsias

Tillandsia is the largest genus in the bromeliad family, accounting for approximately 550 of the over 2,500 species of bromeliads. They are native to the warmer climates of the Americas.
Commonly known as air plants, they are found from jungle to rainforest to arid desert environments--from sea level to high mountain regions.

Most tillandsia species use their root systems to attach themselves to trees or rocks and absorb moisture and nutrients through their leaves. This classifies them as epiphytes. Absorption occurs through small scales on their leaves called trichomes. These trichomes are what give many air plants their silver or grey appearance. There is enormous variety in size, shape, texture, bloom and colour of these bromeliads. Many of these unique plants undergo a dramatic colour change as they prepare to bloom. Some have a very luscious and unequalled fragrance. Since tillandsias are epiphytes, the mounting medium you choose is limited only by your imagination. These hardy plants are adaptable and tolerant to a wide range of environmental conditions and require minimal care.

The three most important requirements are bright light, although not direct sun, good air circulation, and water.

Indoor/Outdoor Care

- Light

If your tillandsias are going to be in your home or office, care must be taken to provide enough light and correct moisture to maintain a healthy plant. A South, East or West window would be best. Bright light or filtered sun is recommended. If these light conditions are not possible, a broad spectrum fluorescent light, such as an aquarium light, will provide short term light requirements for your plants. Monthly rotation of indoor plants with those grown in more favourable outdoor conditions allows for continued colour and vitality of the tillandsia in the home or office.

Air plants do exceptionally well in outdoor environments. A screened porch or pool patio would be the most likely areas to find the bright filtered light conditions that tillandsias love. Even though many grow in full sun, as a rule we do not recommend it. Early morning or late afternoon sun should be fine under more humid conditions. In hotter, drier conditions, more shade and water should be provided.

- Water

Indoor tillandsias should stay healthy with a watering schedule of 2 to 4 times a week. However, it may be necessary to water more often due to drier, less humid, air caused by air-conditioning or heating. Plants grown in humid outdoor environments should be watered 2 to 3 times weekly. In drier climates, more frequent watering may be necessary. Saturate the bromeliad completely until water runs off the plant – light misting is normally insufficient. Allow to dry completely between waterings. If your plant's leaves start to curl or roll (nature's way of conserving moisture), it could be an indication of dehydration. This can be corrected by completely submerging your plant in water overnight; then resume a normal watering schedule. Softer, greener-leafed plants will require more frequent watering and a bit less sun than grey or silver-leafed plants.

- Ventilation

Locate your tillandsias in a well-ventilated area as they love fresh, moving air. The movement of air dries plants between waterings which helps to avoid any disease due to over-watering.

- Fertilization

If you wish to make your plants extra happy, you should fertilize about once a month. Because they have the ability to capture and hold nutrients with their trichomes, they have a tendency to be sensitive to over-fertilization. Use a good quality liquid or water-soluble fertilizer with a formulation low in copper. (High amounts of copper are toxic to bromeliads.) We recommend 10-5-5 plant food. Normally dilute the suggested dosage to ¼ strength. Fertilizing is not absolutely necessary to survival, but will increase the growth and vigour of your plants and their blooms.

- Temperature

Very tolerant of a wide range of temperatures, most species can withstand near freezing temperatures. Although preferring temperatures in the seventies (Fahrenheit), with increased water, air circulation and shade, they can do quite well in temperatures well into the nineties.

- Bloom

Tillandsia blooms are as diverse and beautiful as any in the plant world and can last from a few days to as long as a year in some of the slower growing plants. Colour can vary from bright yellow, orange, red, pink, blue, purple, white and many shades in between. A wide variety of plants bloom naturally in late winter through midsummer. Many, but not all, can be forced to bloom using a solution of plant growth regulator sprayed lightly over the entire plant. This treatment will induce the blooming cycle within 4 to 8 weeks. However, many air plants are too sensitive and can be damaged by this process, or the bloom they may produce is a disappointment compared to the plant's natural blossom.

- Reproduction

Tillandsias reproduce by offsets (pups) or by seed. Many send out pups from the base or between the leaves of the mother plant. This is one characteristic that endears tillandsias to plant enthusiasts. In some plants it is not unusual to see 4 to 8 offsets appear before, during or after bloom. Young plants can be separated from the mother when they are about ½ of the parent's size, and will mature in about one year. Reproduction by seed is a rewarding process; however, growth of the seedling can be very slow, taking years before the young plant is mature.

- Mounting

Since most tillandsias are epiphytic, the possibilities of mounting media are almost endless. Some suggestions are: driftwood, tree limbs, cork, clay pottery, manzanita [an American shrub] burl, rocks or stones of any kind. As tillandsias tend to grow in colonies or clusters of plants, many look very nice just hanging with no mounting at all. Given time, an exceptional specimen plant can develop.

There are only a few things you must consider carefully when choosing your mounting. Make sure the media you select does not hold water. If a hole is drilled in wood, make sure that it goes all the way through the wood for quick drainage. Accumulated salts in ocean driftwood could burn the plant's leaves. It would be best to soak the driftwood in fresh water for a couple of days before use. Do not use treated wood as most is impregnated with a copper solution to help prevent wood rot. This copper is very toxic to bromeliads.

Several different adhesives are used for securing the plant onto the mount. For example; Liquid Nails, hot glue, Goop, Tilly Tacker or E6000. We recommend E6000 because it is colourless, odourless, extremely strong, waterproof, and non-toxic to plants. Use a small amount of adhesive near the base of the plant, but not on the bottom. Avoid covering the area where the roots form. Then, using a soft coated wire, such as telephone wire or floral wire, tie the plant securely until the adhesive sets. With E6000, it will take about 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the size and weight of the plant.

If you do not wish to use adhesives, plants can be wired without glue. The plant will eventually attach roots which will anchor it to the mount. If the plant has a root system large enough, a heavy staple gun can be used to staple the roots directly to the mount without injury to the tillandsia.

- Common Mistakes

Many people do not water often enough. If your tillandsias are not getting water from Mother Nature or humidity is very low, watering three or four times weekly is necessary for healthy, thriving plants.

Too little light is a common mistake. If your plants are inside, they need to be near a window to receive adequate light: remember, bright light but not direct sun.

Most tillandsias are epiphytes and grow on trees and rocks. Putting them in soil or covering their bases with moss can keep them too wet and cause them to rot.

Too much fertilizer can burn air plants. With most liquid fertilizers ¼ to ½ tsp. per gallon of water applied once a month will keep your bromeliads healthy.

PINEGROVE BROMELIADS – June and John Buchanan, Wardell, NSW
(In The Hunter District Bromeliad Society’s July 2003 newsletter Jan Townsend [Editor] published this article under the title, TOWNSEND’S TREK, May 2003, telling of her visit to Pinegrove Bromeliads when it was owned by the Buchanan family. New owners, Ross and Helen, are just as welcoming—but call first.)

June and John Buchanan travelled to Wardell to visit a bromeliad grower’s collection in June 1982 and fell in love with a rundown, unused, nursery next door which they duly purchased. Leaving Sydney, they began moving themselves and a small bromeliad collection to 7 acres at Wardell. John secured the position of Principal at a nearby school and they proceeded to develop their dream, Pinegrove Bromeliads.

Their interest in bromeliads started around 1975 when, at an auction sale in Narabeen, John noticed a box of prickly plants and thought they would be tough enough to survive in their, then, Sydney garden.

This was the start of their collecting days and eventually a different lifestyle. Over the years they have been involved in both the New South Wales and Australian Bromeliad Societies where, like many members, they collected different broms at the various meetings and then started to travel up the coast in search of new varieties.

Wardell lies about 15 km south of Ballina. After the town of Broadwater, turn left just over the bridge into Wardell, then right into Lismore Road and then left into Pine Street and there is Pinegrove Bromeliads.

They have two large, and a couple of smaller, shade houses which contain thousands of colourful broms of all types, shapes and sizes. Shane, their son, is also responsible for some of the new hybrids and seems always to be filling orders. Both June and John were happy for us to look around the shade houses. John has quite an interesting collection of parrots and lorikeets housed in several large aviaries. But you can’t stop there! Down the back lies June’s joy, around 4 acres of landscaped bromeliads. Most are grown directly into the rutile, rich, sandy soil. June does not fertilize these. It takes quite some time to stroll along the pathways bordered and landscaped with many of the hotly sought after imported Neoregelia and Aechmea, most of which we would not dare to plant outside but tenderly pamper. It is enough to make one rethink where one places one’s broms! Even though we are into the month of June, the colour was remarkable and should be a sight to behold around November when neos flush.

Down towards the back of the property June is developing a tropical rainforest, where, in abundance and growing in the ground, are Vriesea fosteriana, V. ‘Red Chestnut’, V. hieroglyphica, V. splendens, V. glutinosa and other hard-to-get Vriesea, still displaying their old inflorescences. The peat floor is quite spongy and very nice to walk on. June loves to point out some of her rare rainforest palms and trees planted only a few years ago and all growing extremely well. The floor is quite damp now, but nothing seems to mind; the trees appear lush and green and their canopy provides the shelter these often-considered-to-be-delicate broms require.

So, if you are heading up the coast, take the time to call in and walk around the property and you won’t be disappointed. The plant sale section contains some really good cheap buys. But please telephone June a few days in advance so she can spend some time with you.

Click HERE to return to Illawarra Bromeliad Society "Club News Page".

Updated 12/04/10