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July 2014

Billbergia ‘Stephen Stone’

Billbergia ‘Allan Ladd’

- 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.


A very warm welcome to our new members Sandra Carnie and Pam Townsend who joined at our February meeting. We wish you both a long and happy association with our Society.


Jan Stammers, Noel Kennon, Rena Wainwright, Carol Kerstholt
Yvonne Perinotti, Ted Clare, Freda Kennedy, Monica De Clouett
Beverley Irvine, Ted Whybrow, Eddy Klavins, Phillip Robinson
Glenrae Barker, Jim Beverstock, Stephen Astill, Vicki Joannou
Carol Carthew, Graham Bevan, June Smith, Gloria Purdon

Our next workshop is scheduled for Saturday, August 9th at Sharyn Baraldi’s home at 25 Antrim Avenue, Warilla [Phone (02) 4296 2166]. While the main discussion will deal with preparing plants for competition, as those familiar with our workshops know, they cover a great deal more, and it is an opportunity to meet with and to chat with other members on a friendly, informal basis in a lovely garden/bush setting. The usual hours apply: from 10.00 am until 2.00 pm and anyone interested (particularly if you are a new member) is invited to attend. Bring your lunch—and something for morning tea would be appreciated—tea and coffee will be supplied.

A reminder that membership fees were due and payable as at June 30th. As discussed during the Working Party deliberations—and agreed to by your committee—an increase has been approved. The new fees will now be $15 for single membership and $25 for family membership, with those family members living at the same address.

Our Annual General Meeting will take place in August with election of officers. As Noel and Ann have indicated that they will be stepping down as President and Minutes Secretary we will be looking for people to replace them. However, all positions are open for re-election. In addition, following on from recommendations made by the Working Party, and outlined by Noel at our June meeting, about a dozen new positions have been created, including Property Officer, Program Officer, and assistants to these and many other existing positions. Nomination forms will be available at our July meeting and we would like you to give some thought as to how you might be able to give your help in some of these areas.

This is coming up in the second week of September and it’s not too early to start looking through your plants to see those that could be contenders for entering into competition. For those newer members who might not know quite what to expect, Neville has very kindly offered to give some tips at our August meeting and there is also the workshop at Sharyn’s on Saturday, August 9 for some more hands-on experience.

One of the bigger changes this year is that we will have the use of the hall from 9.30 am and this has been arranged to make it easier for the people who have to bring in some of the ‘heavy stuff’ and we hope that it will work out well for other members as well.


Aug. 2 - 3
52nd BERRY CAMELLIA & FLORAL SHOW – Berry School of Arts, Alexandra St, Saturday 12 noon – 4 pm; Sunday 10 am – 2 pm. Admission $5; Children under 18 Free. Light lunches available. Phone (02) 4464 2061
Sep. 8 - 14
Sep. 11 - 14
25TH BERRY GARDENS FESTIVAL – 10 am – 4 pm; $20 all 8 gardens valid over the 4 days/$5 individual gardens/Free for children under 18.
Sep. 13 - 14
Oct. 18 - 19
Nov. 8 - 9
BROMELIAD FAIR – Concord Senior Citizens Centre, 9-11 Wellbank Street, CONCORD
April 16 - 19
Early Bird Registration before Jan 31, 2015 $280 pp. Reg.Form available on

April 5, 2014 PLANT RESULTS
1st = Graham Bevan = Aechmea flavorosea
2nd = Yvonne Perinotti = Neoregelia ‘Meyendorffii’
3rd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Guzmania lingulata var. minor
3rd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Guzmania ‘Limones’
3rd = Rhonda Patterson = Neoregelia ‘Stout Fellow’
3rd = Yvonne Perinotti = Neoregelia ‘Sweet Nellie’

1st = Max Williams = Vriesea gigantea var. seideliana
2nd = Freda Kennedy = Neoregelia ‘Bird Rock’
3rd = John Toolan = Neoregelia ‘Royal Burgundy’ Novar

1st = Noel Kennon = Tillandsia flabellata ‘Giant Red’
2nd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Tillandsia cyanea ‘Paradise’
3rd = Graham Bevan = Tillandsia lindenii

1st = Jørgen Jakobsen = Guzmania ‘Limones’
2nd = Nina Rehak = Aechmea fasciata Variegated
3rd = Rhonda Patterson = Vriesea platynema hybrid

1st = John Toolan = Neoregelia carolinae hybrid
2nd = John Toolan = Billbergia vittata
2nd = Pam Townsend = Billbergia nutans
3rd = John Toolan = Neoregelia ‘Painted Desert’

1st = Noel Kennon = Tillandsia
2nd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Tillandsia leiboldiana ‘Purple’
3rd = Suzanne Burrows = Tillandsia aeranthos

June 7, 2014 PLANT RESULTS
1st = Yvonne Perinotti = Neoregelia ‘Shelldance’
2nd = Yvonne Perinotti = Neoregelia hybrid
3rd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Hohenbergia correia-araujoi
3rd = Jan Stammers = Guzmania ‘Etude’

1st = Max Williams = Vriesea ‘Monty Python’
2nd = Max Williams = Vriesea ‘Solar Flare’ X ‘Red Chestnut’
2nd = Sandra Carnie = xCryptbergia ‘Rubra’
3rd = Barbara Jones-Beverstock = Vriesea ‘Splendide’

1st = Noel Kennon = Tillandsia araujei
2nd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Tillandsia


Neoregelia ‘Painted Desert’: This beautiful, medium-sized plant dates back to before 1972, making it one of the earliest neoregelia hybrids recorded. As usual, with a Hummel hybrid, it is of unknown parentage, but resembles N. ‘Fairy Paint’. In good light the leaves are a clear orange-red with undersides spotted with intermittent dashes of green. At anthesis the centre turns a deep red and remains in colour for some months.

Tillandsia secunda: In his book, Tillandsia II, Paul Isley III tells us that this is one of the most interesting species because after it blooms numerous viviparous offsets develop on the spikes of the inflorescence. Some other species, such as T. somnians, produce multiple offsets along the scape, but T. secunda is the only one that normally produces so many offsets in this manner—often giving 15-60 new plants from a spent inflorescence.

Secundus means “turned to one side”, a reference to the flowers that are all borne on the same, dorsal side of the bloom spikes. It is native to Ecuador where it grows at elevations of 2,000-3,500 metres terrestrially and on rocks, although, as Graham mentioned, they just love growing on his bottle brush tree. He also mentioned that he had found them a bit slow to start, but then take off.

At maturity the rosette can reach 30-60 cm in diameter and the leaves have a slightly frosted appearance. When mounted on a rough piece of rock or wood, the roots soon compete with each other for space and when this occurs they simply overlap each other, making plant attachment even more secure.

Vriesea ‘Splendide’: Barbara brought her beautiful plant to our June meeting and as there is sometimes some confusion regarding the identification between the three look-alikes, Vriesea splendens, V. ‘Splenriet and V. ‘Splendide’ I thought that I would reprint the information that appeared in the January 2009 issue of Newslink. Somewhat similar in appearance, with open rosettes, wide, dark banding on the leaves, and beautifully brilliant inflorescences, the two cultivars, as the names suggest, have the species Vriesea splendens in their makeup. However, V. ‘Splendide’ is the larger of the two—most usually branched—and if fed and well grown can reach a height of from 4 to 6 feet. It is also unusual among vrieseas in that its flowers are red (from the V. glutinosa parent); V. ‘Splenriet’, on the other hand, grows only to around 2-1/2 feet tall, has an unbranched inflorescence, and the flowers are yellow. All of these pup from the centre of the plant.
Vriesea ‘Splendide’ is a hybrid of V. splendens and V. glutinosa, made by DeMayer around 1973. It is a large plant with a branched inflorescence, giving a spectacular candelabra effect in flowing brilliant colours of orange-red. There is also a variegated form [V. Splendide ‘Vista’/V. ‘Samurai?] with the patterning on the leaves similar to Vriesea ‘Galaxy’, a cultivar of V. glutinosa.
Vriesea ‘Splenriet’, a cultivar of V. splendens developed by Corn. Bak around 1995, has wide, chocolate-coloured bands on its green foliage—grows to 30 inches tall and 22 inches across. It will stay in bloom for up to 12 weeks. The inflorescence is fiery red and sword-shaped.
Vriesea splendens [splendid, outstanding]—one of the parents of V. ‘Splendide’—grows in Trinidad, Venezuela, Guiana and Surinam in wet, shady levels of the forest, while V. glutinosa [stocky, glutinous]—the other parent—is endemic to Trinidad, where it grows on the misty, perpendicular limestone cliffs near Maracas Falls and also as an epiphyte on trees in wet areas up to an altitude of 1800 feet. Vriesea splendens is a medium-sized plant, with 10-15 dull green leaves—1-1/2 feet long and 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide, marked with very distinct, wide crossbands of purplish black, especially on the undersides. The inflorescence, 1-1/2 to 2 feet high is an intensely brilliant, lance-shaped spike of red to orange bracts from which the small yellow flowers emerge. It is quite commonly known as “flaming sword”. Not often seen in Australia, Nina told me that she had imported it from Kent’s Nursery around 1975. Vriesea splendens is very cold sensitive, however, and even with her TLC, eventually it faded and died.
• The two cultivars, listed above, while somewhat less cold sensitive than Vriesea splendens, do best when grown in areas of shade and high humidity, with the mix being kept moist, but not wet. Care should also be taken to keep these plants out of direct sun, although they need bright, filtered light to maintain the vivid colour of the inflorescence.

Gerry Stansfield. (Extracted from an article “Winter Chores in the Garden and the Greenhouse” which appeared in the Journal of the Bromeliad Society of New Zealand, April 2008, Vol 48(4))

Unlike in the spring and summer months, the dead leaves in the winter can and do start to rot and break down. This can very quickly turn to bacterial and viral infection. You might say, “How does this happen?” Well, actually, we do know quite a lot about rotting vegetation. After all, that’s what composting is all about. However, the important difference between composting and dead leaves lying next to our bromeliads is that in composting we allow the temperature of the compost to rise dramatically which generally kills any pathogenic and viral bacteria, and leaves us with the lovely sweet-smelling compost. This does not happen with our dead bromeliad leaves! How does this bacteria get into our plants? We do know that all bromeliads have trichomes, and we know that these trichomes are there to facilitate the absorption of water from rain and nutrients, and we also know that they are quite capable of absorbing matter from decaying vegetation.

It is well known that vectors (or carriers) such as animals, insects, mites, aphids, nematodes, mealybug, scale and the sucking or chewing types of slugs and snails, etc., are all potential viral disease carriers, and by chewing and sucking at our plants they can and do pass on forms of infection that can attack the stomata pores of the leaves and, of course, also the stem cells. In particular, the sucking and chewing insects, that just love rotting vegetation, are extremely harmful to our beloved bromeliads.

By getting rid of the dead leaves we are helping our bromeliads to continue to grow and stay in a healthy condition.

(The following notes were prepared by Phillip Robinson from a talk given by Nina Rehak and first appeared in our January 1998 Newslink.)

• Wind is the biggest worry for bromeliads, particularly those grown for their foliage. Check the position of plants for winter winds.
• Remove dry leaves and mulch from around the surface that can lead to the rotting off of plants. Also remove dry leaves from the floor of the glasshouse or bush house to reduce pests such as scale carrying over to spring.
• Check that the mixture is not repelling water—watering the foliage only may leave the roots bone dry. Aechmeas have well-developed roots through which water is absorbed. Replace the potting mixture if necessary.
• Water by hand/watering can so that foliage does not get wet/stay wet for long periods of time.
• Water less often and then only when we think the plants are drying out. Water only on fine sunny mornings so that the plants have an opportunity to expel excess water before the night comes.
Vriesea hieroglyphica should be protected from too much direct sun and it should be moved into a position that doesn’t drop below 12C when the night temperature drops to 7-8C elsewhere.
• Foliage vrieseas need more protection that those with green leaves which need excellent air circulation.
• When plants are outside there is a difference between sitting the pot on the ground and sinking the pot in the ground. If the pot is sunk into the ground the plant will be kept warmer and more moist. For example, when [a pot of] V. hieroglyphica was placed on a wire mesh stand outside, the leaves became soft and then dried up probably due to cold air circulation. When it was buried in the garden it did better, even when the weather was colder and windier. This species may do better outside than in a glasshouse.
• Reduce fertilisers. However, one theory suggests that fish emulsion fertilisers [or Seasol] contain cold-damage inhibitors which prepare the plant to withstand the cold much better. Alternate this fertiliser with other types of fertiliser. Nina suggests the use of fish emulsion for vrieseas but not for tillandsias.


By Neville Wood, 2014

I’ve recently registered a billbergia seedling from a crossing of Billbergia ‘Fred Red’ X Billbergia ‘Hallelujah’. The history behind the registration of this particular plant started out a few years back when I swapped a group of six neoregelia seedlings for six billbergia seedlings with a brom-growing friend of mine. We are both amateur hybridisers, with he working mainly with billbergias and I mainly with neoregelias.

My plant started to show a bit of nice colour when it was about half grown and resembled the pollen parent, Billbergia ‘Hallelujah’. During this time I had a visit from my daughter’s brother-in -law, Stephen Stone, who was quite taken by the spotting becoming apparent on this particular seedling. When I showed him what the Billbergia ‘Hallelujah’ parent was like he was even more fascinated and said the markings reminded him of the Aboriginal style of dot painting. Stephen had become interested in this form of art and developed his own technique to include some of the styles of dot painting, particularly storytelling through painting.

By now you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you all of this and what the connection is with me registering a billbergia seedling and my friendship with Stephen. The thing is, a few years ago Stephen was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away shortly thereafter at the age of forty two, leaving a wife and young family. As a tribute to him and the fact that he was so taken by the spotted patterns on the ‘Hallelujah’, and this particular seedling, I’ve registered it as Billbergia ‘Stephen Stone’ in his memory.

The Christmas after Steve's passing his wife presented me with an example of his art in the form of one of his paintings which tells the story of his life using a combination of his own very detailed techniques and the style used by Aboriginal storytellers to record important events. It's a gift I'll always treasure and every time I see it I'm reminded of a young friend taken from us too soon.

By Geoff Lawn, BSI Cultivar Registrar
Reprinted from BSI Journal, July-August 2011, Vol. 61(4)

In early 2007, northern New South Wales breeder Allan Ladd crossed Billbergia pyramidalis var. pyramidalis with reportedly Billbergia ‘Windigig Special’. The resultant mixed seedling batch were attractive, some plain green, some pinkish but others with red leaf reverses and pale cross-banding. By 2009, Allan decided not to keep any of the progeny but selected 3 advanced seedlings each with a few thin pale vertical stripes, one each to go to three Aussie growers, including Ross Little at Pinegrove Nursery, Wardell, New South Wales. At this stage none of the grex had flowered nor been named.

Ross Little got the bulk of the progeny to grow on as stock plants in his nursery garden beds, although some were potted. The eventual blooming en masse showed clonal differences of red, pink and salmon-orange scape bracts, but strong uniform resemblance to the erect, torch-like B. pyramidalis inflorescence, typically short-lived (2-3 weeks) but eye-catching. Ross’ pale-striped single specimen duly flowered, but the few random foliage lines had not improved with maturity, hence its nickname of “Faint Lines”. However, the red leaf reverses with slight silver cross-banding and contrasting green obverses were evident, suggesting Billbergia euphemiae var. purpurea or a hybrid thereof was a more likely pollen parent, although the seed parent B. pyramidalis appeared very dominant. By pure chance the first (and so far only) pup from this one parent plant “Faint Lines” turned out strong, wide, central creamy yellow variegation and showed no sign of reverting or changing pattern as it matured and spiked with the characteristic scarlet torch and purple petals. The next generation of variegated offsets are showing the same stability in foliage markings. Average mature rosette size is 40 cm diameter by 35 cm high, spiking to 50 cm tall. By April, 2011 Ross Little named and registered his clone Billbergia ‘Allan Ladd’ in honour of its breeder. Once in circulation, this choice semi-hardy cultivar surely will rival in popularity such adaptable B. pyramidalis progeny as ‘Kyoto’, ‘Foster’s Striate’ and similar variegates.

(Compiled by Neville Wood, May 2014)

When some growers spot insects on a plant they often go into immediate defensive mode without considering the consequences or even first identifying if the insect is harmful or harmless. They often look for some way of destroying these insects which often results in the particular plant and surrounding plants being sprayed with some sort of insecticide; often an unnecessarily very toxic one. We need to be aware there are both “troublesome” and “beneficial” insects which inhabit our gardens and bromeliad collections, and most commercial insecticides don’t discriminate, they just kill both types.

Firstly try to identify the insects and if it’s found to be one of the beneficial types, there’s nothing more to be done. If it is of the troublesome variety, quite often it’s a simple matter of just picking it off with your fingers if there are just one or two; but if there are more, you should first of all move your affected plant/s away from other plants if possible.

Before any attempt to kill these insects, try and find out what type of insect/s they are as often a natural low toxic chemical is all that is needed--in other words, “you don’t need a sledgehammer to kill an ant.”

Usually it’s only one or two plants that require treatment and it stands to reason, if this is the case, there’s no point in spraying your whole collection unnecessarily as this is just a waste of time and insecticide; besides the more that insects are exposed to a particular insecticide, the greater the risk of them building up an immunity to this product.

If you visit the pest control section of nurseries, garden centres or large department stores the selection of insecticides, fungicides and herbicides is “mind boggling”. In some of the larger stores there are dozens and dozens to choose from. Reading the back of the package doesn’t tell us a lot about the toxicity of the chemicals used in the product as they are often names we have never heard of or in some cases can’t even pronounce! We then revert to studying the whole label and if it shows a picture of the particular insect we wish to kill, then that’s the one we will buy, regardless of the toxicity rating or the fact that it’s often a case of “extreme overkill”; furthermore it’s more than likely most people will only read the instructions for use and forget to read the most important part which should be read first, i.e., “THE SAFETY INSTRUCTIONS”.

There are times when these heavy duty products will be required, but before you use them be sure of the identity of the insect you wish to kill before you rush in. Remember many of these toxic substances will also kill the frogs, lizards and other small harmless garden visitors which are also beneficial insect killers in their own right, and this is besides the harmful effects they may have on any humans.

Also be aware that any drift of the spray can kill the occupants of any nearby frog or fish ponds. This is why I usually move a plant to an isolated area away from the rest of the garden and prefer to “dunk it” in a container full of insecticide rather than spray it.

Everyone has their own ideas on treating insect problems; some growers, especially large commercial growers, will regularly spray their whole collection as a preventative measure; but these are often in large commercial shade or glass houses which are very different to a normal garden environment with perhaps just one small shade house. Unfortunately many hobbyists and small backyard growers accept that because this is what the professionals do, they should follow the same path, and likewise this is the path they choose to take, spraying everything on a regular basis whether they need it or not, and in doing so they are unfortunately killing off many beneficial garden creatures as well.

I would suggest that if you decide that your plants must be sprayed, look at the more natural alternatives with a lower toxicity. They may not kill as quickly and may need more than one application than the highly toxic alternatives, but they are far safer to use. Often these will control the pest you are having a problem with and won’t harm other garden creatures like the more toxic products will.

No matter what treatment you decide on, don’t overuse them and always treat all insecticides, fungicides and herbicides (whether homemade or manufactured commercially) as possibly being harmful to humans and animals and as a precaution always get into the habit of wearing appropriate protective equipment when using them.

To assist you in deciding which treatments are low toxicity, below is a list of products for various applications. I have tried some and find they work and others I have never used and can’t personally comment on:

BT - Also sold as Dipel, this naturally occurring bacteria (Bacillus thuringiensis) controls some types of caterpillars. It has been cultured and is available in a powdered form that is mixed and sprayed onto plants.

CANOLA OIL SPRAY - This is a spray which was made and used by Rob Smythe of Townsville. He gave a talk about its merits as well as the recipe at the Cairns Bromeliad Conference. Many growers have successfully used it including some from our own area. The recipe has been published previously in “Newslink” and can also be found on the internet at For those who don’t have access to a computer and would like a copy, just contact Eileen or myself.

COFFEE GROUNDS – This tip was written by Andrew Devonshire who is a New Zealand grower and hybridiser. It was written in answer to a question on one of the bromeliad forums.
“Coffee is the answer! First of all, nothing can beat the taste of fresh coffee...and that smell of the first morning coffee...what could be better? And, after you've enjoyed your coffee, you get a supply of coffee grounds that can be used in the garden.

I've used coffee grounds in and around bromeliads for the last few years, mainly alcantareas, to deter slugs and snails from nibbling the leaves, and it also wipes out mosquitoes when it's tipped into the cups. Now I guess I've used it in moderation; I just shake out the container of spent coffee grounds over and around the plants. It would be interesting to see just how much could be put into (and left in) the cups of broms before they showed any damage. My recommendation would be to use it, and then, say within the next 24 hours, give the bromeliad a good flush out with fresh water.

As well as bromeliads, palms and cycads can be 'treated' with coffee grounds--this was discussed on the palm talk forum, so I tried it on Dypsis and a few cycads that were covered in scale. The coffee grounds were mixed with a bucket of water and just poured over the plant. No more problems with scale!

And I've recently discovered another use for them. About a month ago, I dug up an area of garden in our patio, added nice fresh garden mix and planted it out with mini mondo grass. Well, the local cats just loved it, digging up my fresh garden mix to use it as their litter box and leaving mini mondos scattered everywhere. After replanting them many times over, I thought about tipping coffee grounds over the area--and it worked! Have not had a single cat visit since. It would be interesting to see if the coffee grounds thing also works with dogs, which seem to love getting into the smelly centre of some broms.
Cheers, Andrew”

CONDY’S CRYSTALS - (Potassium permanganate). Just a few grains in a bucket will turn the water pink. Controls powdery mildew and is used by some gardeners to kill ants in potted plants. It is toxic to worms! May also be used to provide Potash to plants in a liquid form. Just add to water until water is dark pink in colour and apply to the whole plant.

DERRIS DUST - Derris is made from the ground root of the rotenone plant (Derris elliptica). It is used to control chewing insects. While it is allowable under organic growing regimes it is toxic to worms, but some gardeners do use it for lawn grub control. Don’t use where it can come into contact with fish ponds as it is toxic to fish.

DIATOMACEOUS EARTH - Composed of the ground tiny salt-water organisms called diatoms, insecticide grade diatomaceous earth has microscopically sharp edges that desiccate insects on contact or kills them when ingested. The fine grey powder is mixed with water then sprayed onto plants. Please note that the diatomaceous earth used in swimming pool filters is heat treated and cannot be recommended for use in the garden.

FLOWERS OF SULPHUR - According to the Royal Horticulture Society's website, Flowers of Sulphur may be used in the garden to prevent the growth of certain fungi and bacteria that cause plant rot. Sulphur combined with fatty acids also can control powdery mildew growing on roses, house plants and several other varieties of fruit-bearing plants. Growers should be careful not to use sulphur on seedlings and should not allow the vapours to accumulate, as it can kill flowering plants. For many years orchid growers have dusted Flowers of Sulphur on the cut surfaces of orchids after plant division to prevent bacterial and fungal infection and it may be used in the same way for bromeliads.

NEEM OIL - Neem oil has a long history of use in countries like India where it can be found in everything from soap and toothpaste to pest control products. Eco-neem is a naturally-derived botanical insecticide that contains a highly stable and effective extract from the neem tree. Eco-neem is a registered organic insecticide for the control of a broad range of chewing and sucking insects including: caterpillars, curl grubs, aphids, mites, lawn army worm, citrus leaf miner, white fly and fungus gnats in soil. More importantly, it is easy to use and safe for beneficial insects and animals.

SEAWEED SPRAYS - Foliar sprays made from seaweed have been found to be very effective in reducing fungal diseases that affect leaves and flowers. Seaweed extract also increases the microbial activity in the soil. This activity helps to make existing nutrients more available to plants. Seaweed also increases the ability of plants to cope with extremes of temperature including frost and drought.

SOAP SPRAYS - Soap sprays have been used for many years and are believed to have first been found to be useful when a gardener who routinely recycled the “washing up water” by throwing it over a lemon tree found it had other uses. Although initially used just to provide water for the tree, it was also noticed that wherever the water contacted the tree it was always clean and free of scale (a common problem with citrus trees at that time). It has since been found that soap sprays will kill scale by breaking down the waxy layer of the insect exoskeleton causing the insect to dehydrate and die. Be sure to use pure soap and not detergent. Commercially available products include Natrasoap which is now also being used with good results.

Soap sprays are also useful for controlling many insects and more information may be found at:

As a final piece of advice: Always look for the safest product available that will do the job, and wear the recommended personal protective equipment during its use.

Ann sent along this delicious slice for our committee meeting morning tea and it was so delicious that I asked for the recipe which I’ve printed below:

1-1/2 cups rolled oats
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup self raising flour
180 g melted margarine
1/2 cup plain flour
Jam (Ann used Seville orange jam, but any jam would work well; plum is good!) 1 cup brown sugar
Press 2/3 of the mixture in a slab tin (22cm square), cover with jam, sprinkle remaining 1/3 mixture over top and firm down. Bake in 180°C oven for approximately 25 minutes. Cool in tin, cut when cold.

By Jerry Krulik - Reprinted with permission:
Mr Krulik’s online article contained photographs of the spiders and bromeliads mentioned (which, unfortunately, would not translate well to the black and white copy of this reprint), as well as further references — These are available at:

Which of the above comments is more true? Actually, they are both equally true since I will write about an example of a mutual symbiotic association. Two similar ways of life are parasitism and commensalism. For example, a parasite takes from its host, giving nothing in return or even killing its host. Examples might be tapeworms or the flu virus. A commensal association is one in which one partner benefits, while the other partner does not benefit, or at least is not harmed. Examples would be bromeliads and orchids living on the bark of a tree; the epiphytes have a nice place to live, without harming the tree.

Symbiosis is an association between organisms in which both partners benefit. An example is the sea anemone-clownfish association. The sea anemone keeps away predators with its stinging tentacles, and the clownfish keeps it free of parasites. The spider-bromeliad relationship is a symbiotic association. Both species benefit from this way of living. In fact, the spider prefers to live only on certain species of bromeliads.

This is a strange relationship to be sure. Spiders are carnivores. They don’t eat plants; they use them to hold their webs, or to serve as their hunting ground. The biological literature is NOT filled with examples of spiders being restricted to one or a few species of plants. In fact, this first article described the first (but, it turns out, not the only) bromeliad-spider love fest.

Many of the most common spiders are the web spiders. These spin their traps to catch their prey, while waiting passively. I consider them to be almost the equivalent of predatory cows, needing little intelligence to sit and wait. Another group is the tarantulas. These large spiders search out prey, but typically ambush predators (but more later on these). Another large group is the jumping spiders or Salticidae (this comes from a Latin word meaning jumping, not salt). These often brightly-coloured spiders are the wolves of the spider kingdom, and some common types are called wolf spiders and hunting spiders. They are active hunters, using their sight to focus on prey, and their speed to catch them, like wolves.

I have watched many jumping spiders and find them intelligent and fascinating. Once in my Chicago greenhouse, I noticed a common zebra-striped small jumping spider on top of a cactus. As I worked, I saw a large fly lazily doing the rounds. As it came within a few inches of the cactus, I watched the spider watching the fly—jumping spiders usually have 8 eyes, 4 in front and the others arranged to allow them to see in all directions at once! Suddenly the spider jumped into the air, caught the fly, and dropped back on the cactus with its prey larger than itself. Another time as I was resting against a fence in Taiwan, waiting for some equipment to start, I watched a fair-sized jumping spider with a metallic green pattern walking along the fence top. Suddenly a fly landed on the horizontal fence beam, about 6 inches from the spider. It saw the fly and immediately stopped, then moved slowly to the edge of the beam while the fly rested. I watched it carefully move out of sight of the fly, then race down the beam exactly to where the fly was sitting, and immediately race up and over the edge. Unfortunately, it missed the fly but the intelligence and activity it showed was startling in such a tiny animal.

The University of Kentucky has a good web page on these animals. {} Most jumping spiders are less than one inch long.

So, given that these spiders are such active hunters, why would they want to stick with some bromeliad? When we think of bromeliads, most of us think of flowers and leaves. Both can be beautiful and large, or sometimes small and insignificant. Fruits, except for pineapples, are not of great interest.

Occasionally we think on the next level, about how many bromeliads are tank plants, with water-holding reservoirs in their leaf bases. This leads to thoughts of frogs, mosquitoes, water mites, and other normal inhabitants of the water in those leaf bases. If anyone goes even more deeply into things, usually it involves pests of bromeliads. Fortunately, bromeliads are pretty immune to most common garden pests, except sometimes mealybug, scale, and aphids. While many types of beetles attack the body of bromeliads in Central and South America, none seem to have become established in cultivation here.
Some ecological researchers have now found that some types of jumping spiders like certain bromeliads, to the exclusion of other plants. One spider, Psecas chapoda, is pretty much restricted to one species of bromeliad—Bromelia balansae. This is very unusual, to say the least. Very few spiders are associated with any type of plant—unlike insects—since spiders are all carnivorous. Plants usually figure only as a convenient support for webs or hiding and hunting places for spiders {Gustavo Q. Romero, Biotropica, 38(4), pp 522-530, Geographic Range, Habitats, and Host Plants of Bromeliad-Living Jumping Spiders (Salticidae)} {Gustavo Q. Romero and João Vasconcellos-Nato, J Anim Ecology, 74(1), pp 12-21, The Effects of Plant Structure on the Spatial and Microspatial Distribution of a Bromeliad-Living Jumping Spider (Salticidae).}

(The web site shows photographs of Psecas chapoda, with its pretty red abdomen with a white racing stripe, commenting that it looks built for speed, and also several photographs of Bromelia balansae, looking like a cosy place to live.)

But this looks like a classic case of the odd couple. What could the bromeliad and the spider get from each other? In the case of the bromeliad, it gets up to 40% of its nitrogen needs from the spider. The scientists (further references listed on the web site) found that the remains of the prey and, more importantly, the faeces fertilize the bromeliad. The spiders in turn prefer to live in the dried leaves at the base of the plant, laying their eggs there, raising their young, and returning from hunting trips in the surrounding area. The spiders also prefer to live in B. balansae, which grows in grasslands rather than in the forest, as there is more prey in the grasslands. Older spiders prefer the outer layers of the dry leaves, while most of the babies and females with egg sacs lived close to the centre of the dried leaves. This gives the young protection from drying out, and allows them to disperse and hide from each other to prevent cannibalism.

This symbiotic relationship does seem to work. On a one-year field experiment, the plants with spiders had leaves 15% longer than the plants which had the spiders removed. And when three-quarters of the dried leaves were taken off, the spiders left the plant. Curiously, they also desert the plants once they start to elongate and flower.

Evidently, this discovery of commensalism set off a frenzy of new biological research. Soon more examples were found. A new species of jumping spider, Eustiromastix nativo, was collected during inventories of spiders in campos nativos and in restingas—sandy, dry areas with low, scattered vegetation. These new spiders only occurred on Vriesea neoglutinosa and on Aechmea blanchetiana. (The spider itself is described as having a black body with a triangular white patch.)

Further work showed that 9 species of jumping spiders were associated with up to 23 bromeliad species in cerrados (savanna-like vegetation), semi-deciduous and seasonal forests, coastal sand dune vegetation, restingas, inselbergs, highland forests, chacos, and rainforest at 47 localities in Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Argentina. While some species were only found on one bromeliad, others lived in up to 8 bromeliad species.

This brings us to another group of spiders—the Theraphosidae, or tarantulas. Would you believe that there is a tarantula restricted to species of aechmea and hohenbergia bromeliads? This is not a small animal. Pachistopelma rufonigrum has a 6 cm (2.5 inch) body size, with a leg span of 15 cm (6 inches).

The scientists found that this large tarantula only lives in these two species of tank bromeliads, in a white sandy, dry, desert area. They were unable to find these spiders anywhere except in the bromeliads.
Everything from eggs and babies, to the long-lived adults, were found in the plants. They hid deep within the plants in the daytime, but came out to hunt at night. The spider has lowered eyes and a flattened body to allow it to hide between the leaves. So far, no tests have been run to see how each species actually benefits. The authors speculate that the spider receives protection against high temperature and low humidity, and hiding places from their predators. I postulate that they will find that these bromeliads benefit from the much more impressive dung and prey remains from the tarantula, as compared to the small jumping spiders.

I eagerly await further studies and discoveries. Evidently arachnidologists have not been coming bromeliads for unique spiders, but I am sure they will do so now. In the interim, when you re-pot, please don’t squash the spiders!

(Reprinted from Journal of the Bromeliad Society of New Zealand Inc., February 2011, Vol. 51(2), in turn reprinted from Central Coast New South Wales Bromeliad Society ‘Bromelia Post’, May 2006, with amendments to fit BSNZ rules.)

Plant Without Inflorescence
Plant With Inflorescence
Cultural Perfection
Cultural Perfection
Conformation of Plant
Conformation of Plant
Colour and Marking of Plant
Colour and Marking of Plant
The pot should be clean with no salt residue around the base and suitable for the type of plant. It should not be too large or too small. The plant should be in the centre of the pot, free from dust, debris, spider webs, frogs, etc. Ensure that the surface of the potting mix is clean and free from moss, slime, debris or weeds.

An excellent way to clean the plant is to place the pot in a plastic bag and tie it securely around the top of the pot at the base of the plant to keep the plant and mix in place. Now turn it upside down and hose the plant out removing all debris.

Check the lower leaves—remove any tatty or damaged leaves carefully. It may be necessary to remove one or two extra leaves to maintain plant symmetry. However, if too many leaves are removed the plant will appear to have an undesirable “stalk” at the base. Unsightly burn or other marks near the ends of upper leaves may be removed by trimming the leaves. When trimming a leaf, shape it to be the same as the leaf above using sharp scissors or a scalpel. Trimming is best done a few hours prior to judging so that the leaf cut is fresh and not discoloured.

Plants must be healthy and not have any pests such as scale or diseases present.

This is a measure of the extent to which the competing plant complies with the known and ideal characteristics and qualities of its type and class. Points may be lost if the plant is not of a natural shape. Plants may come from different clones and look rather similar, but some clones will be better than others.

A good inflorescence has value but can only be awarded a maximum of 20 out of 100 possible points, so the inflorescence is always of less value than the plant itself.

Do not use leaf polish in an attempt to hide defects. Plant should be at the correct level in the pot. Do not pot it too deeply. Plant should be firmly established in the pot and stand upright. The plant must be thoroughly drained with NO water left in the rosette or any of the lower leaf axils. An extended stalk looks awful. Remove the plant from its pot, cut a little of the root mass from the bottom, replace the plant in the pot and add fresh mix on top to the correct level For a plant to qualify as a single plant (or specimen), any offsets (pups) present MUST be not more than 1/3 (one third) of the size of the parent. Colonies—all plants MUST be interconnected. Remove dead plants. It is accepted that some offsets will be of different ages and sizes to others in the colony. Allowance is made for the older (presentable) plants that make up the colony.

By Connie Johnson and extracted from Bromeliadvisory, February 2000

Trimming brown leaf tips on tillandsias is quite a challenge, since the leaves on many types are rather fleshy. The leaf tips tend to shrivel as they dry. I have found it easier to achieve a more natural appearance on some types by merely pinching or clipping the brown tip off. If cutting is needed, I try to cut only one edge of the leaf, preferably the edge toward the back of the plant so the trimmed edge is as inconspicuous as possible. As you work, use caution not to damage the scurf on the heavily trichomed plants as this type of damage detracts seriously from the appearance of the plant and will definitely result in the loss of some points.

Twenty-first ANNUAL SHOW
September 13 and 14, 2014

Class A - Aechmea - Individual specimen plant
Class B - Billbergia - Individual specimen plant or multiples permitted
Class C - Neoregelia - Individual specimen plant
Class D - Neoregelia - miniature – Individual specimen (Not to exceed 200 mm/8” dia.)
Class E - Tillandsia - Individual or multiples permitted – May be potted or mounted
Class F - Vriesea/Guzmania - Individual specimen plant
Class G - Bromeliad not listed in ‘A’ to ‘F’ - Individual specimen plant or multiple permitted

Class H - Aechmea - Individual specimen plant
Class I - Billbergia - Individual specimen plant or multiples permitted
Class J - Neoregelia - Individual specimen plant
Class K - Neoregelia - miniature – Individual specimen (Not to exceed 200 mm/8” dia.)
Class L - Tillandsia - Individual or multiples permitted – May be potted or mounted
Class M - Vriesea/Guzmania - Individual specimen plant
Class N - Bromeliad not listed in ‘A’ to ‘F’ - Individual specimen plant or multiple permitted

Class O - Colony of Multiple or Clump Plants e.g. Aechmea, Neoregelia, Vriesea
Class P - Mounted Tillandsias – minimum of two (2) established plants which may be the same or different.
Class Q - Mounted Bromeliad(s) other than Tillandsias – Established plant(s) which may be the same or different.

Class R - Basket or Decorative Container – minimum of three (3) plants which may be the same or different – No embellishments.
Class S - Bromeliad Garden – Any Container – Embellishments may be used.
Class T - Artistic Arrangement – to consist of predominantly bromeliad material – Embellishments may be used.

• In horticultural parlance the key word is ‘home’, meaning that this where the plant(s) has been growing in a natural fashion, either potted or mounted.
• 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 have a common root system.
• In Category I individual specimen plants (excepting tillandsias) should be potted, unless otherwise noted.
• Pots for entries in Category I, Divisions I, II and III, must be either black or dark green plastic. However, exceptions are provided for classes ’G’ and ‘N’ where non-decorative terracotta [clay] pots may be used for succulent bromeliads such as dyckias, hechtias, etc. and in Division III, class ‘O’ hanging (non-decorative) baskets are acceptable.
• Novices are eligible to enter all categories/divisions except for Category I: Division I - Open

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Updated 22/07/14