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July 2005

Tillandsia cretacea
Tillandsia cretacea

- 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.
August. . . . . Beth/Sue/Elizabeth
September . . . Carol/Jarka/Russell
October . . . . Alan/Graham
November. . . . John/Dawn/Rosetta
December. . . . Vonda

What a wonderful day out when we visited four members’ gardens on Wednesday, May 18. The weather had looked so threatening, but fortunately the rain held off, all except for a light fall late in the morning. About 25 of us started out at Rena’s beautiful little cottage-type garden, with a wonderful collection of bromeliads, scones, jam and cream for morning tea, and ideas-a-plenty to take home with us. In fact, there were ideas-a-plenty to take home from all of the gardens - each one different, and each one inspiring! From Rena’s it was on to Hans’ garden (thanks, Hans, for taking time from work to allow us to visit your lovely garden!), with some wonderful mountings - a tree-encircling clump of Aechmea dichlamydea var. trinitensis, with an ‘underlayer’ of Aechmea fasciata var. purpurea particularly took my eye - and then it was on to Sharyn’s lovely Balinese-style garden, and a delicious, warming lunch, with Graham doing great duty on the barbecue. Elizabeth and Graham’s garden goes from strength to strength, and I think we were all fascinated with how beautifully the mountings on the big, old bottlebrush out the front have taken and are thriving, with self-sown seedlings now doing their best to add to the show. There were also some beautiful ‘big-uns’, including Aechmea blanchetiana, Aechmea eurycorymbus, Portea petropolitana var. extensa and Tillandsia pyramidata var. vivipara. Thank you to all those who worked so hard to make it such a very enjoyable day for us!

We have received a letter from a Mike Symmons from Burpengary, Queensland who writes that because of health problems he is forced to sell his property, with, as he says, the “remote possibility” that one of our members or their friends may be interested. At this stage it is his hope to sell “as is”, as it would be a shame to split the collection, which, I understand from other sources, is a very extensive collection and maintained in excellent condition. (For photographs of the property and bromeliad collection, see:

Burpengary (Brisbane) HOME + INCOME on 2 acres.
4 bedroom brick house, ensuite to main bedroom. Commercial design 46 m x 40 m x 4 m shade house with automatic sprinkler system, containing one of Brisbane’s best bromeliad collections.
Also, 2 smaller shade houses for display and sales plants; garage and shed. Main building has 24 GI pipe and mesh benches and extensive hanging space.
All buildings are Council approved.
Contact owner on (07) 3888 0092 or 0417 635 359

Coming Events :

A reminder that our Annual General Meeting and election of officers will be held at our August meeting.

See later in this issue of Newslink for details.

July 30 BERRY CAMELLIA & WINTER FLOWER SHOW – School of Arts, Alexandra Street 12.00 noon to 4.00 pm. See
Sept 8 - 11 CENTRAL COAST NSW BROMELIAD SOCIETY - SPRING SHOW - as part of the Australian Flora Festival – KARIONG - (02) 4369 4304
Sept 10 - 11 ILLAWARRA BROMELIAD SOCIETY SHOW - as part of ‘Spring Into Corrimal’ - Uniting Church Hall, Russell Street, CORRIMAL
Oct. 8 - 9 BROMELIAD SOCIETY OF AUSTRALIA – SPRING SHOW – BURWOOD RSL, Cnr. Shaftesbury Road and Clifton Avenue
Oct 14 - 17 BROMELIADS XIII CONFERENCE, BRISBANE – For information on this event please see Eileen, or visit the Website at
Oct 20 - 23 BERRY GARDENS FESTIVAL: Open 10.00 am to 4.00 pm daily
Oct 29 - 30 BROMELIAD SOCIETY OF NEW SOUTH WALES - SPRING SHOW - Senior Citizens Centre, 9-11 Wellbank Street (Cnr Bent St), CONCORD
Nov. 5 - 6 Bromeliad Society of Queensland’s BROMELIAD BONANZA SPRING SHOW – MT COOT-THA (BRISBANE) AUDITORIUM – Talks/Displays


August 6, 2005: Annual General Meeting

September 3, 2005: Last-minute Show details

October 1, 2005: Topic: Green-Leafed Tillandsias

PLANT RESULTS - April, 2005

1st Alan Kirkby Neoregelia Blast
2nd Ailsa McDonald XNiduregelia Something Special
3rd Ted Clare Neoregelia One and Only

1st Rhonda Patterson A log filled with miniature Neoregelias—Lovely!
2nd Beth Churton Neoregelia concentrica hybrid
3rd Pat McIntyre Neoregelia Maggie’s Pride

1st Rena Wainwright Tillandsia caerulea
2nd Nina Rehak Tillandsia tectorum
3rd Rena Wainwright Tillandsia cyanea

PLANT RESULTS - May 7th 2005

1st Alan Kirkby Guzmania Decora
2nd Rena Wainwright Neoregelia Fireball — a lovely display with around a dozen plants in the pot!
3rd Ted Clare Neoregelia Perfection
3rd Ted Clare Neoregelia Crackerjack
3rd Alan Kirkby Dyckia Warren F2

1st Dawn Climent Billbergia (?)—A lovely plant, with big, spotted leaves and 5 brilliant inflorescences.
2nd Sue Burrows Vriesea philippo-coburgii
3rd Rhonda Patterson Aechmea recurvata var. benrathii
3rd Rhonda Patterson Neoregelia carolinae forma tricolor

1st Nina Rehak Tillandsia cretacea
2nd Graham Bevan Tillandsia tenuifolia var. surinamensis (Black form)
3rd Ted Clare Tillandsia stricta (4 lovely inflorescences)

PLANT RESULTS - June 4th 2005

1st Graham Bevan Aechmea recurvata hybrid
2nd Graham Bevan Aechmea kleinii
3rd Alan Kirkby Neoregelia Predatress

1st Rhonda Patterson Aechmea Peek-A-Boo
2nd Dawn Climent Vriesea carinata
3rd Dawn Climent Neoregelia carolinae hybrid(?)

1st John Fleming Tillandsia Houston
2nd Graham Bevan Tillandsia cacticola
3rd Dawn Climent Tillandsia stricta


1. In May our topic was “Tillandsia-like Bromeliads” and Graham had brought in an assortment of these types of plants. Included were:
· Catopsis floribunda - (floribunda = heavily flowered; much-branched inflorescence) Looks like a tillandsia, except for the flowers which reminded me of ‘blow-fly grass’ and made it very interesting. Graham says that it is a very slow grower and has it hanging in a hedge under the bottlebrush tree, so that it is sheltered. In habitat it grows as an epiphyte in forests at altitudes around 1500 m, from Florida to Venezuela.
· Fosterella schidosperma - A little terrestrial, with velvety-soft green leaves and a branched inflorescence with flared white petals.
· Racinaea pugiformis - This has soft, velvety-looking leaves, a tallish, bare scape, with an inflorescence bearing tiny white flowers. (The flower stalk had reminded me of the old-fashioned grasses.)
· Vriesea espinosae - Nina mentioned that this species comes in a variety of sizes; however, this was the biggest clump grown in cultivation that she has seen. Graham grows his under cover. Padilla’s book tells us that Vriesea espinosae is native to the dry, deciduous forests of northern Peru and southern Ecuador at elevations of 1500 to 2500 feet. It is a little plant, with many silvery gray, rigid, narrow, deeply channeled leaves that form a flat rosette 6 inches in diameter. The bracts are bright red; the flowers have blue-violet petals. The plant has a peculiar habit of producing offshoots, the new plants forming on stolons in the axils of the basal leaves. These twist around the plant, in time forming a thick mat.
{Padilla, V. In: Bromeliads: A Descriptive Listing of the Various Genera and the Species Most Often Found in Cultivation. Crown Publishers, Inc., New York}

This species is still quite rare in cultivation and so it was interesting when Nina brought in her beautiful plant to our May meeting. Below is an account of her experiences in growing it; however, when we came to research it, there was very little information available, apart from a short description (from plant fragments from the type collection) written up in Flora Neotropica and an article by Harry Luther (with cover photograph) in a 1999 BSI Journal. (There is also a photograph by Pamela Koide on the fcbs web site.)
{Smith, L. B. and Downs, R. J. (1977) Tillandsioideae. In: Flora Neotropica Monograph No. 14, Part 2, Hafner Press (A Div. Of Macmillan Publishing Co.), New York.}
{Luther, H. E. (1999) Introducing: Tillandsia cretacea. JBS July-Aug, 1999 Vol. 49(4).}

Dr. Luther’s article tells us that while Tillandsia cretacea is quite uncommon in cultivation, it is both a spectacular ornamental and a very interesting species from an ecological and ethnobotanical standpoint. It has one of the northernmost distributions of any large tillandsia: into subtropical Sonora and Chihuahua states in Mexico.
He went on to say that the earliest mention of this species seems to be by Howard Scott Gentry (1942) who collected the plant in 1935, from along the Rio Mayo, in the State of Sonora. However, this collection was incorrectly determined as Tillandsia inflata Mez, a name later changed to T. mooreana L.B. Smith The next recorded finding was by Knobloch in September, 1957, who found it growing on igneous rocks at La Bufa, in the State of Chihuahua and it was this collection which became the specimen described by Lyman B. Smith in 1974 and written up in Flora Neotropica. It is described as lithophytic (growing on rocks) but I think we were all surprised when Nina just lifted her plant out of the pot (one, it turned out, she had just used to hold it upright!) to show its tiny root system - one which would easily fit into a small dessert cup!
Nina mentions in her article that her Tillandsia cretacea had not done well during the very hot spell last summer and Dr. Luther also says in his article that the plant featured on the cover of the July/August 1999 issue of the BSI was only about one-half the size (around 65 cm tall) of the wild plants in habitat, guessing that it might prefer cooler and drier conditions than those where it was being grown at the Marie Selby Gardens in Florida. This specimen had also taken 5 years to progress from small seedling to flowering.

Tillandsia cretacea was one of many tillandsias brought to the Bromeliad Conference in Cairns in 1999 by Pamela Koide (of Birdrock Tropicals in southern California).
When I purchased my plant at that time it was small, only 150 mm across, but since then it has grown into a beautiful symmetrical rosette, 550 mm in diameter, with many glossy, arching leaves.
It gave easy, trouble-free growing until the bad heat wave in the summer of 2004-2005, when the temperature reached 450C. Even with both ends of my plant house open, and the T. cretacea standing on the ground partially covered by other plants, an upper layer of its leaves yellowed badly. Soon afterwards, some leaves in the middle - looking at it from the side - showed signs of rot. After treating it with Previcur® a disaster was averted, but many affected leaves had to be stripped.
Early in autumn I observed the beginnings of an inflorescence, possibly triggered by the traumatic events. Three-and-a-half months later the inflorescence is still spectacular - and including the (pink) inflorescence (with violet flowers), the plant is 3 ft tall.
Seeing it complete its life cycle was a gratifying and instructive experience. In retrospect, a big mistake was in not giving it a cooler spot in summer - but by mistakes, we learn.

3. Aechmea weilbachii: We had 3 different forms of this beautiful and colourful species at our June meeting:
· Aechmea weilbachii --the more common, but nonetheless still beautiful, type that we see in our gardens with bright red bracts and purple flowers. It dates back to around the 1850s.
· Aechmea weilbachii forma pendula: I love this form, with its long, hanging inflorescence, but with colours perhaps not as brilliant as the upright form. Nina says that this wonderful plant will very quickly fill a basket.
· Aechmea weilbachii forma viridisepala: This form is quite eye-catching and unusual in that it has green/violet flowers. It was first discovered in 1984.

4. Neoregelia ‘Blast’: Alan’s lovely plant is a Chester Skotak hybrid, made in the 1990s, and brought to Australia and named by Peter Tristram. It is a symmetrical plant with many albomarginate leaves. The centre becomes bright pink at flowering time. The seed parent is N. carolinae x ‘King of Kings’ and the pollen parent N. carolinae ‘Tricolor Perfecta’.

5. Neoregelia ‘King’s Ransom’: Ted’s lovely neoregelia, which he had purchased at the Illawarra Conference, was much admired. The Cultivar Registry shows it as Elmore, J. (#1133) (McCrory) <1983, a cultivar of … “‘Foster’s Red’ x ‘Royal Burgundy’—and remarks that it is an unlikely parentage for this large, heavy, many-leafed rosette in deep green which does not bloom and exhibits a scarlet crest similar to ‘Medallion’--This may or may not be the commercially marketed plant of McCrory’s which was marketed after 1995??”

6. Tillandsias:
· Tillandsia ‘Houston’: John Fleming was back and took out first place with his glorious plant, with four inflorescences, and mounted on a beautiful piece of wood. While it apparently used to be known as T. meriodionalis (no longer a recognized species), the Cultivar Registry lists it as a cross between stricta and recurvifolia, made by Dimmitt in 1982. Dimmitt said, “…a dense, spreading rosette to 10” across, many more leaves and larger than either parent, greenish-to-white lepidote (covered with scurfy scales) arching to nodding inflorescence pale pink to deep rose-red fertile.”
· A few points from John’s talk:
o Grey-leaved species love the sun/Green-leaved species don’t like full sun.
o T. lorentziana is a hardy plant that requires bright light and a generous fertilising program in warm weather to thrive.
o Tillandsia flexuosa: Doesn’t like cool weather.
o Tillandsia streptophylla: Ants love this plant and sometimes nibble a little hole which they occupy and farm pests such as scale. Rather than use chemicals, flick out pests with stick and/or put in a bucket of water, but not for too long.
o Tillandsa brachycaulos: Quilling can occur when left too dry.
o Some tillandsias talk to you by curling their leaves when too dry! In warm weather could leave in bucket of water overnight!
o When trialling fertilizers NEVER do all your plants at once!
o Galvanized wire mesh can get hot and damage (kill off) base leaves touching it.

When I had written up my article for our April 2005 Newslink, I thought that I had researched it to the point that I could confidently say that the genus Neoregelia was divided into two subdivisions-
Neoregelia and Hylaeaicum. However, I had completely missed other references which would have told me that there are, in fact, four subdivisions in the genus Neoregelia, albeit that two of these have only fairly recently been created:
· Neoregelia subgenus Neoregelia
· Neoregelia subgenus Hylaeaicum
· Neoregelia subgenus Protoregelia, and
· Neoregelia subgenus Longipetalopsis.
Neoregelia subgenus Protoregelia, which covers only the one species, Neoregelia longisepala, was created around the mid 1990s to place this new species, discovered in 1983 (although with strong reservations at the time as to which genus it actually belonged). The name comes from the Latin prefix, proto, meaning “first” or “most primitive”, referring to the more primitive type of pollen (sulcate pollen which is grooved or channeled, giving it a closer affinity to the genus Aechmea). The importance of sulcate pollen lies in its presumably primitive status within the nidularioid complex (which includes Nidularium, Wittrockia, Canistrum and part of Neoregelia, with these genera characterized by having a nest-like inflorescence lying within the leaf rosette), where all species, except for Edmundoa lindenii, have porate pollen (pollen grain with circular or elliptic apertures).
Neoregelia longisepala is endemic to the State of Bahia, in Brazil, where it grows in the Atlantic rain forest, in swampy areas near sea level, both on the ground and as an epiphyte in the tree canopy. The inflorescence, hidden quite deep within the leaf rosette, has large flowers with purple petals which contrast sharply with the dense white wool of the sepals, It is a huge plant, rarely collected because of its size (nearly 2 m tall) and spiny leaves which make it difficult to handle.

Neoregelia subgenus Longipetalopsis : The Latin word, longus, meaning “long”, “lengthy” was combined with petalum (“petal”), to which the Greek suffix opsis (like, habit, disposition, make-up) was added to emphasize the markedly long petals of its 17 species, ranging from 60 mm up to 110 mm, some of the longest petals ever recorded for the Bromelioideae sub-family.
Other traits of this subgenus include flowers with a strong fragrance; the inflorescence always simple and distinctly longer than wide because it lies in the central tank of a very narrow leaf rosette which does not give way, even at flowering time; and they often propagate by stout stolons bearing well-developed cataphylls (simply organized, scale-like leaves).
Neoregelia bragarum is the type species of this subgenus, which also includes Neoregelia rubrovittata and Neoregelia paulistana.
Geographically, while they are found throughout the entire southeast region of Brazil (Espirito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo), plus the state of Bahia, from what is known at least 70% of the species are restricted to mountain ridges above 800 m. On the other hand, Neoregelia subgenus Neoregelia is more common at altitudes below 800 m, and occurs in habitats where no members of the new subgenus exist, as, for example, near sea level in the sandy coastal plains.
In the so-called “dance of the genera” as Elton Leme refers to it in his book, Canistrum: Bromeliads of the Atlantic Forest, there are sure to be changes made down the line. For example, Leme, in his work to sort out the nidularioid complex, has divided Neoregelia subgenus Neoregelia into 15 sub complexes, with sub complex #15 at present holding those in the “too hard” basket. Also, as there are many differences which put species in the Neoregelia subgenus Hylaeaicum group closer to Aechmea than to the typical Neoregelia, we can expect to find more changes in the future.

Map of Brazil

· Neoregelia subgenus Neoregelia: Native mainly to eastern coastal area of Brazil - Rio de Janeiro, Espirito Santo, Minas Gerais, and São Paulo - usually below 800 m.
· Neoregelia subgenus Hylaeaicum. Indigenous to upper Amazon River area - Colombia, Venezuela, Peru and Amazonian Brazil.
· Neoregelia subgenus Protoregelia. Endemic to the state of Bahia where it grows in the Atlantic rain forest, in swampy areas near sea level and on slopes up to 600 m. Also found further north in sandy coastal plain forest of the Guaibim region (Bahia).
· Neoregelia subgenus Longipetalopsis. Found in the southeast region of Brazil (Espirito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and in the state of Bahia. Seventy percent of the species are restricted to mountain ridges above 800 m.
Leme, E.M.C. (1997) In: Canistrum: Bromeliads of the Atlantic Forest. (Ed.) Marcos da Veiga Pereira, Salamandra Consultoria Editorial Ltda, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Leme, E.M.C. (1998) In: Canistropsis: Bromeliads of the Atlantic Forest. (Ed.) Andréa Carneiro Jakobsson, GMT Edotores Ltda, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.
Robinson, P. (1999) The Nidularioid Complex: Description of Genera and Subgenera and a Key to the Nidularioid Complex, Newslink, April and October 1999
Leme, E.M.C. (2004) Neoregelia: An Overview. In: Report on Proceedings, Bromeliad Conference, Auckland, March 2003.
Butcher, D.R. (2005) Neoregelia . Bromeliad Gazette (Brom Soc. Of SA, Inc.), Vol. 29(2)
Smith, L.B. and Downs, R.J. (1979) Subgenus Hylaeaicum Ule, In: Flora Neotropica Monograph 14 Pt. 3, The New York Botanic Garden, New York, p1538.

(Article taken from the Bromeliad Society of Queensland Inc.’s January/February 2004 issue of their journal, Bromeliaceae, Volume XXXVII – No. 1)
As I grow a large number of different varieties of tillandsias and live on a small suburban block of land, I find I need to utilize any space I have available. While most of my plants are growing under 50% and 70% shade cloth, the plants I describe here are tillandsias that are grown outside the shade cloth areas. Some of these plants receive direct sun from early morning to midday all summer and winter. Usually, plants that have heavy silver foliage will take more sun than other plants. The best time to introduce the plants to full sun is mid winter, as this gives the plants the best opportunity to adapt to the brighter conditions.
After growing tillandsias for a number of years, I have found some varieties need bright light to grow well and colour up at flowering time. One plant that needs good light to bring out the best is T. ionantha. I grow this variable species in a number of different locations; the majority of these plants receive sun up to about 11 am. This is alright in winter, but in summer, I spread a thin layer of T. usneoides over the plants for a light shade.
· T. albida. This is a caulescent plant that I grow in a very exposed position. It would receive more sun than many of my other plants. I find this plant grows better in this open position.
· T. tectorum. I grow a number of different clones of this species and find that it grows better out in the open where it receives full sun and plenty of air movement. The plants dry out quickly in this position.
· T. duratii is another tillandsia that I grow in the open. I have tried growing duratii seedlings in the shade house and found they were rather weak. When put outside, they grew into a much better plant.
· T. latifolia and all its variations is another tillandsia which grows well where it receives some direct sun. The inflorescence develops a very intense colour when grown in bright light.
· T. palacea is another species that will grow well when it is exposed to full sun for part of the day. T. juncea will colour a dark red when it is grown where it gets full sun for part of the day. T. schiedeana can be grown out in the sun and will grow almost anywhere it gets enough water. These plants will be stronger with brighter colours in the flower scapes.

I find that many of the small tillandsias, such as bandensis, tricholepsis, capillaris, bryoides, myosura, funebris and loliacea, grow better where they get some sun for part of the day.
I am writing from my own experiences here. Always be careful when trying out this culture.

(Extracted from a report prepared by Bob Reilly on a talk given by Nev Ryan at a Field Day of the Bromeliad Society of Queensland held on April 27, 2002—and appearing in the July/August 2002 issue of Bromeliaceae, Vol. XXXV(4) .)
· Some Tillandsias, for example certain varieties of latifolia, produce offsets at the end of their flower spikes (as well as other locations on the plant). Such offsets can be detached from the flower spike by using secateurs.
· Other Tillandsias, for example geminiflora and gardneri, only produce one offset. As this is located near the plant’s base, and very near to its “growing point”, the best approach is to leave the offset on the mother plant. Over time, the mother plant will “shrink” in size, and eventually “disappear” into the growing offset.
· Many Tillandsias, for example butzii and caput-medusae, readily form clumps. While these can be separated by “teasing” the plants apart, such species often look their best when grown as clumps.
· Some Tillandsias produce offsets near the plant’s base. Unlike the first category of Tillandsias described above, these offsets can be removed by gently easing them away from the plant. An example is T. ionantha.
· A number of Tillandsias grow on long stems (this is known as a “caulescent” growth habit). Offsets occur along these stems and can be removed with secateurs. An example of such a Tillandsia is bergeri.
· Some Tillandsias, for example T. disticha, produce offsets at the end of stolons. They can be removed by cutting the stolon, with secateurs, about 2 cm from the offset’s base.

(The hints listed below all appeared in the Bromeliad Society of Queensland Inc.’s July/August 2002 issue of its journal Bromeliaceae, Vol. XXXV No. 4.)
· You may have, or know of, a large palm tree, similar to a Cocos palm, which is being removed. If you can obtain 1-metre-long sections of the palm tree, cut them length-wise and remove the soft material which formed the palm’s centre. Replace with tree fern, staghorn, or elkhorn fibre, or similar material. Place some of the smaller-growing grey-leafed Tillandsias in the fibre. Hang the Tillandsia log from a support in the shade house by means of a loop of plastic-covered galvanized wire around both ends of the log. Tillandsias grow well in the log which will last for up to seven years.
· If you have a large dead tree fern, consider cutting the stem into pieces about 0.5 to 1 metre long. Then cut the pieces length-wise, and fix some of the smaller-growing grey-leafed Tillandsias to their rounded sides. These miniature “logs” can then be placed on benches in a shade house. They will last for at least five years if they’re cut from near the base of the tree fern.
· Experiments have shown that epiphytic bromeliads - e.g., most Vrieseas, Guzmanias and Tillandsias - can obtain between 70% and 100% of their nutrients through their leaves. Regular use of liquid fertilizer on these plants results in increased growth, better flowering and more offsets.
· Tillandsias respond well to liquid fertilizers with a chemical composition similar to Phostrogen or those used on African violets. Apply the fertilizer at fortnightly intervals, at the concentration recommended by the manufacturer for indoor plants, all year round.
· Keep Tillandsias clean by removing old leaves from them. This helps to minimize potential problems with pests such as mealy bugs, and reduce the likelihood of plant rot in sustained wet weather. This practice is particularly important for Tillandsias grown in clumps.
· While there is a range of views on how best to grow bromeliads from seed, one piece of advice is common to all procedures. Bromeliad seeds require exposure to light to initiate germination. Never cover seeds with soil or other material once you have sown them.


· To my complaint in the January 2005 issue regarding tillandsias falling from their mounts when the glue had given way, Ted told us of his success in using “Shoe Goo”.
· When Neville Wood realized that water dripping from the treated pine beams in his shade house was leaching sufficient copper to poison his bromeliads, he solved the problem by using sections of square plastic down pipe. With one side of the down pipe removed, he attached the U-shaped lengths under the beams to channel the water to drain beyond the shade house via extensions of the pipe.

I have an interesting bromeliad story from a faraway land.
I was in Turkey recently working on a film. I spent a week or so in Istanbul, the great city that rests astride the join of Europe and Asia. It is an exciting and cosmopolitan city. But it is a place that is only now really beginning to get some sort of introduction to the world of bromeliads. They are rarely seen and the general public has no experience of them. They are an utterly exotic plant for the average Turk.
I was walking along one busy road in the Sultanahmet area when I was sure that I spied a brom across the road! I did a double take and crossed the road to check out the plant that was positioned carefully on a hawker’s mobile trundle. The hawker was doing a roaring trade with his mate, a Vriesea Belgian hybrid in full spike. Istanbul was only just releasing itself from winter and its snow. I was mildly in awe of the horticultural feats of this hawker. He had nursed her through the winter and she didn’t have a blemish. I was fascinated and about to revise my whole opinion of Turkish horticultural horizons when I took a closer look at his wares.
Hang on a second! There was clearly something fishy going down! My star brom grower was flogging bulbs. They looked like small onions. It only took me a moment to realise from the waving arms and pointing fingers that this hawker was selling bromeliad bulbs! Somehow my Istanbuli hawker had discovered a new species of bulb bromeliad/Vriesea. He held up a white bulb and pointed to the noble plant on the trundle. The quiet Vriesea did her part: she looked good. The hawker made the connection, and people parted with their cash. It was the most interesting bromeliad transaction I had ever witnessed. I considered saying something but decided that the entrepreneur and his willing subjects were better left to their own experiences. I had long ago learned to remain a simple observer whilst in a foreign country. Never interfere in the lives of local people was a motto I had learned the hard way. They all seemed happy to buy a bulb or two and perhaps the hawker had a family who needed feeding tucked away somewhere.
I did return to Istanbul a month later and found another hawker doing a similar thing. In a moment of cheekiness I did say something to him about the brom and bulb connection. He barely batted an eyelid and merely pressed on with attempting to sell me a bromeliad bulb. But, having been discovered, he was prepared to sell me the bulb at a fifty percent discount! At this very moment, perched on warm balconies in Istanbul, there are hundreds of bromeliad bulbs being studiously watered. Perhaps one of them will prove me a cynic--but I doubt it!

(Article taken from the Journal of The Bromeliad Society, March-April 2002, Vol. 52(2) .)
Growers are sometimes given conflicting advice on the best time of the day to water atmospheric, or gray-leafed, tillandsias. The conflicting advice centres on whether or not to time your watering so the plants are dry at night.
One issue to consider in this debate is when these tillandsias actively absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. In turn, this enables them to produce the stored energy (mainly in the form of starches) that they need to survive.
Carbon dioxide is absorbed through tiny pores (stomata) in the plants’ leaves. However, if the leaves are wet, the stomata are closed and the plants cannot absorb carbon dioxide. Unlike most other bromeliads, the grey-leafed tillandsias absorb carbon dioxide at night. A detailed explanation of this phenomenon is given in Flower (2001).
So what does this mean for watering atmospheric tillandsias?
First, these plants sometimes experience rainfall or misty conditions which last all night in nature. Obviously they can sometimes be wet all night without suffering any adverse effects.
Second, as long as the plants’ leaves are dry for most of the night, they can absorb the carbon dioxide they need. Based on my experience, a nighttime temperature likely to exceed 15 degrees Celsius (590F), combined with a humidity of less than 70%, will enable the plants to dry out from a late afternoon watering, by mid evening.
If these weather conditions are unlikely to exist, it may be best to avoid late afternoon waterings. (This will also minimize the chance of rot occurring.)
Flower, A. (2001), Vampires, Tillandsias … Things That Go Suck In The Night, Bromeliad Society International Website BSI.ORG.


[Article taken from The Hunter District Bromeliad Society’s Web page at: http:/>
Well I have searched and searched and found little, so I will relate as to what has been happening in my shade/glass house for the last 12 months or so.
I have been foliar feeding my bromeliads at a rate of 60 ml water soluble granular fertilizer per 60 litres of water, with a product that has Total Nitrogen (N) 15%, (Urea content of 8.2% and ammonium content of 6.8% ), Total Phosphorus (P) 13.1%, and Total Potassium (K) 12.4%. This amount of Nitrogen is high when using this product as a foliar fertilizer at normal strength; it is extremely high when you then use it twice a week. All I can say is that the Guzmanias and Vrieseas loved it. Neoregelias as well, with big, strong, fast- growing plants (not with strappy leaves as some will say because of the high Nitrogen). The Urea content is of concern when foliar feeding as it can and will cause leaf burn.
I started to find the odd bromeliad with some spotting, like rust spots and dry tips on the leaves, so stopped the feeding immediately. About 5 to 6 weeks later it was noticed that growth had also slowed considerably.
A new water-to-fertilizer ratio was worked out using 15 ml of fertilizer to 60 litres of water, applied at a rate of twice a week.
The bromeliads’ foliage is sprayed (see photo of the pump setup) with a watering rose/shower-type spray until it is wet. Note: You then need to go back and spray under the plant to wet the potting mix, as larger bromeliads hold a lot of water and have an umbrella effect that keeps the underneath potting mix dry, and watering the top may not wet the potting mix.
Currently a new product is being tried that has Total Nitrogen (N) 3%, Total Phosphorus (P) 8%, and Total Potassium (K) 25%. This may be great for Neoregelias and variegated plants as they do not need a lot of nitrogen. Also available is a product that has Total Nitrogen (N) 7% (Urea content is 2.7%), Total Phosphorus (P) 9.7%, and Total Potassium (K) 20.8%. This is the product that is to be used on my Vrieseas and Guzmanias in the future.

Foliar or soil application--which is better?
From Western Fertiliser Technology Pty Ltd + Technical Questions
The leaves and green parts of stems of plants is where photosynthesis, or the manufacture of the basic food, glucose, occurs. The plant makes use of the major nutrients, trace elements, water, carbon dioxide and the energy from the sun to synthesise glucose. Glucose is then converted to proteins, enzymes, vitamins, hormones, complex sugars, fats, starch and cellulose as needed during key growth stages. Foliar or direct feeding of leaves is therefore a most efficient way of supplying nutrients to a crop when needed.
Liquid and foliar fertilisers are much more economical than granular fertilisers as they utilise a high efficiency ratio of approximately 7:1 compared to soil applied fertilisers (Source: Michigan State University). This is due to balanced formulation and chelation, precise timing, even coverage and more efficient uptake.
Nutrients, especially phosphate, potassium and trace elements dispersed in the soil can become fixed through interactions, and unavailable to plants. By applying nutrients directly to leaves, the plant is able to manufacture sugar, starch, proteins and other complex foods and transport them to the roots where they are needed. Around the fine root hairs, microbes are fed this food, and in return they are able to mineralise soil phosphate, potash and other nutrients for the plant, in a symbiotic relationship.
The best time to foliar feed products is early morning when the plant's stomata are open. Avoid spraying if rain is imminent, or at high temperatures (above 26 degrees C). The amount of water used is important for good results. Plant uptake is improved with greater dilution of liquid fertiliser with water and applied as fine droplets. Avoid excessive misting as drift is increased.
Timing of application is important. Application before flowering prevents deficiencies and flowers from being aborted, increasing yield. Leaves are receptive to nutrients early in the growth cycle, and early-applied nutrients stimulate root growth in cereal crops before the onset of winter cold.
How and why does foliar absorption work? Can I supply all the plant’s nutrient needs through the leaf?
The passage of nutrients through the leaf surface depends on the unique chemistry of water and the surface chemistry of the leaf surface. Water has a bipolar (negative and positive) nature, and so too the constituents making up the surface of the leaf. Water is then able to pass through the surface of the leaf and stomata, and in doing so, carry along the dissolved nutrients. Less energy is needed by the plant to absorb less polar nutrients, so nutrients which has their positive charge reduced by chelating agents are easier absorbed. If the surface of the leaf was completely hydrophobic (non-polar), water would be repelled and foliar absorption would not be possible.
Nutrients are needed in the leaf for the process of photosynthesis. In the long journey from the root surface to the leaf, some of the less mobile nutrients are less likely to reach the leaf surface in sufficient amounts. Direct foliar application of a balanced combination of major and trace nutrient elements, as a fine spray to the surface of the leaf, leads to an enormous increase in the efficiency of photosynthesis (like the fine coating on the surface of a solar heat collector increases its heat absorption). Improved photosynthesis means increased quality and productivity through the formation of quality sugars, carbohydrates and proteins.
It is not possible to supply all of the plant’s nutrient needs through foliar application only. A four-ton per hectare crop of wheat grain, for example, removes approximately 82 kilograms of nitrogen in the grain equivalent to 176 kilograms of urea. This large amount of nitrogen (and other major elements) is best applied through both root absorption (fertigation) and foliar absorption.
It is possible to supply all of the plant’s trace element needs through the foliar process. However, because plants need trace elements too in the early stages of growth, during and soon after germination and establishment, the modern way is to supply some of the trace elements at the time of planting (in, or on-the-furrow injection with liquid fertilisers) and some later through the leaf. Grain analysis shows that for trace elements such as manganese (for photosynthesis), molybdenum (for chlorophyll and nitrogen metabolism) and cobalt (for vitamin B12), approximately 240 grams, 2.6 grams and 0.24 grams are removed respectively by 4 tons of grain per hectare. Applying trace elements directly through the leaf increases fertiliser-use efficiency and yields several-fold. Remember in planning fertiliser programs, all nutrients are linked, and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Grain analysis of cereals, or analysing small fruit for fruit trees, can identify the weakest link.

As part of the
SEPTEMBER 10-11, 2005

The BIG news this year is that earlier on in the year it was voted on by our membership to honour Dulcie for her many, many, contributions to our Society by setting up a “Dulcie Doonan Memorial Trophy”. This award will be presented each year to a winner in the “Creative Section” (classes ‘p’, ‘q’, or ‘r’), whose entry most embodies Dulcie’s love of Cryptanthus, and includes this genus in their arrangement.
So, best of luck, and it could be your chance to be the first winner of this very special award!
As this is our thirteenth annual show, we are no longer newcomers to this event, and so it would be nice, I feel, to show the judges just what we can do! In the July 2004 issue of Newslink I published a list of just what a judge looks for, and perhaps where we can pull up our marks is in the area of ‘Cultural Perfection’. This section covers: a) the container - is it clean/not chipped or cracked/and of the appropriate size? b) Is the mix the right depth and clean? c) Is the plant centred, straight, and the right depth in the container? d) Are there damaged leaves? e/f) Have the leaves been expertly trimmed and/or cleanly removed? h) Is the plant/pot free from water spots/algae/dust/debris? , etc.
I’m sure we can look forward to the same wonderful kind of support that we have been lucky enough to have over the years. But have you thought about making a little pocket money by putting some of your extra plants on the Sales Tables? They would be VERY welcome!
It will be the usual 2.00 pm set up on the Friday, with judging to commence at 9.30 am on the Saturday morning. Please see the accompanying Show Schedule for extra details, and, of course, we will be discussing these at our August/September meetings.

SEPTEMBER 10 AND 11, 2005

Aechmea - Individual specimen plant
Billbergia - Individual or multiple permitted
Neoregelia - Individual specimen plant
Neoregelia - miniature (under 200 mm) - Individual specimen plant
Tillandsia - Individual or multiple permitted - May be potted or mounted
Vriesea/Guzmania - Individual specimen plant
Bromeliad not listed above - Individual or multiple permitted
Established colony

Aechmea - Individual specimen plant
Neoregelia - Individual specimen plant
Tillandsia - Individual or multiple permitted - May be potted or mounted
Vriesea/Guzmania - Individual specimen plant
Bromeliad not listed above - Individual or multiple permitted

Mounted Tillandsias – minimum of three (3) established plants which may be the same or different.
Mounted Bromeliad(s) other than Tillandsias – Established plants which may be the same or different.
P *
Basket or Decorative Container – minimum of three (3) plants which may be the same or different – no embellishments.
Q *
Bromeliad Garden – Any Container – Embellishments may be used.
R *
Artistic Arrangement – to consist of predominantly bromeliad material – Embellishments may be used

* Eligible for “Dulcie Doonan Memorial Trophy”.
· In classes covering “Individual Specimen Plants”, pups are permissible on the adult plant only if they are so small that their removal might jeopardize their survival.
· When allowing for multiple plants the key word is “interconnected” - i.e., they must all originate from a single plant.

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Updated 06/10/05