Club News.

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

October 2014

Aechmea ‘Aussie Ruby’

- 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.

Carol Carthew, Graham Bevan, June Smith, Gloria Purdon
Feb. 2015
Suzanne Burrows, Les Thain, Colleen Claydon, Fred Mirande

Visits to three gardens have been planned for Saturday, November 15, starting out at Ann and Noel Kennon’s in Dapto at 10.00 am, where morning tea will kindly be provided. Next on to Sandra Southwell’s garden (where her garden club is also visiting and holding some sales) and then to Beverley and Laurie Irvine’s home where it will be a BYO lunch, but tea and coffee will be provided. I have been speaking with Max and he is looking into teeing up another garden visit or workshop for January—but details about that will come later. There is a separate handout giving address and contact details for these gardens.

Our Christmas in July turned into a very special event this year when Rena arranged with John Toolan to bring along his singing group to entertain us. It was lovely and everyone I am sure enjoyed hearing some of the old songs and singing along with them. Thank you very much John and the other members of the Wollongong Men’s Barbershop Chorus.

This year’s Christmas party will again be held at our usual meeting venue and will be a catered affair. Cost for members will be $17 ($27 non-members) and will include a choice of carved meats, salads and desserts. The Society will supply punch but wine and beer will be on a BYO basis. We will have access to the Laurel Room from 11.30 am on Saturday, 6th December and so after time for setting up, the festivities should begin around 11.45 am with lunch served at 12.30 pm. As in past years please bring a small gift for sharing (value up to $10)—with men bringing presents suitable for men and women bringing presents suitable for women, and bromeliads always welcome! Sue will need to have numbers and monies in by our November 1 meeting—and/or numbers by November 10 at the latest!

This will be hosted by The Bromeliad Society of Australia who have invited 5 international speakers to take part as well as some well known Aussies and so this promises to be a conference which one would hate to miss! Aussies include our own Laurie Dorfer, as well as Peter Tristram of Forest Drive Nursery near Coffs Harbour, an avid collector and importer of rare bromeliads; Nigel Thomson, who with his wife Rosalie, own Dandaloo Nursery near Brisbane (Nigel grows his bromeliads to perfection and is an amusing and informative speaker); Bruce Dunstan, a widely published and respected grower; and Doug Cross, a hybridizer of note and the Director of the Cryptanthus Society International. From the USA Dennis Cathcart—of Tropiflora Nursery in Florida--and Pamela Koide Hyatt of Bird Rock Tropicals nursery in southern California have both done extensive exploration and collecting in central and South America and are sought-after speakers; Dr Theresa Bert, a specialist in bromeliad botany, ecology and evolution; and Andy Siekkenen—scientist, explorer, and tour guide, has spent the past several years discovering and mapping tillandsia habitat in Mexico. I had the pleasure of hearing Andy speak and seeing his wonderful photographs at the recent conference in Honolulu (these included bromeliads growing among the cacti and succulents of the area which I found fascinating).

I sometimes wonder if people mightn’t be a bit nervous about signing up to attend a conference—thinking perhaps that it might be a bit over their head. But I was hooked at the first conference which I attended in Perth in 1997 as it’s the people you meet there—and look forward to catching up with again in the next two years--as much as the speakers and their presentations, often with accompanying beautiful photographs of trips and explorations--that make conferences so enjoyable.

I do hope that you might give some thought to attending this local Conference—lots of work and planning are going into it to make it a very special event. Early bird registration to January 31, $280—after January $300. Registration includes a Welcome Cocktail Hour, morning and afternoon teas and lunches, a Sunday Banquet, speaker sessions and a Proceedings Book. Further details regarding registration, accommodation, etc. are on the Australian Society’s website at:
Or direct to the BROMSMATTA page ...

*Notes from Ian Hook, BSA President, ph:0408-202-269....
I can also heartily recommend the Saturday tour for delegates and partners. Excellent value at $70 each.
Also, on the Friday night, I hope you all come to a get together at a local Italian licensed/restaurant/Pizza.


Nov. 16
HARPER’S MANSION GARDEN & PLANT FAIR, 9 Wilkinson Street, BERRIMA. An 1834 Heritage Listed House with a two-acre garden and a Maze. Entry $5 for both the house and garden. Guest speakers, Devonshire teas, sausage sizzle.
April 11 - 12
COLLECTORS’ PLANT FAIR – HAWKESBURY RACE CLUB, CLARENDON Saturday 8.00am – 4.00pm/Sunday 9.00am – 4.00 pm. $12 Saturday/$10 pre-booked; $10 Sunday/$8 pre-booked and $12 for weekend if pre-booked. Phone: (02) 4567 2026;
April 16 - 19
Early Bird Registration before January 31, 2015 $280 pp. then $300. Registration Form available on

July 5, 2014 PLANT RESULTS
1st = Jørgen Jakobsen = Billbergia ‘Hallelujah’
2nd = Yvonne Perinotti = Neoregelia ‘Amazing Grace’
3rd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Guzmania wittmackii
3rd = Yvonne Perinotti = Vriesea
3rd = Suzanne Burrows = Aechmea weilbachii var. pendula

1st = Beverley Irvine = Aechmea orlandiana ‘Wairoa’
2nd = Max Williams = Vriesea ‘Speckles’
3rd = Max Williams = Vriesea ‘Mauna Kea’

1st = Jørgen Jakobsen = Tillandsia mallemontii
2nd = Noel Kennon = Tillandsia butzii

August 2, 2014 PLANT RESULTS
1st = Jørgen Jakobsen = Guzmania Symphonie ‘Encore’
2nd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Vriesea fosteriana ‘Red Chestnut’
3rd = Yvonne Perinotti = Vriesea ‘Angela’

1st = John Toolan = Billbergia ‘Hoelscheriana’
2nd = Glenrae Barker = Billbergia distachia
3rd = John Toolan = Billbergia vittata

1st = Graham Bevan = Tillandsia polystachia

September 6, 2014 PLANT RESULTS
1st = Noel Kennon = xNeophytum ‘Galactic Warrior’
2nd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Vriesea hieroglyphica
3rd = Noel Kennon = Vriesea ospinae
3rd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Billbergia ‘Hallelujah’

1st = John Toolan = Aechmea recurvata
2nd = John Toolan = Aechmea distichantha
3rd = John Toolan = Quesnelia liboniana
3rd = Glenrae Barker = Cryptanthus

1st = Steven Wain = Tillandsia kautskyi
2nd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Tillandsia bergeri
3rd = Noel Kennon = Tillandsia latifolia var. divaricata

October 4, 2014 PLANT RESULTS
1st = Noel Kennon = Neoregelia ‘Granada’ X pauciflora
2nd = Noel Kennon = Aechmea distichantha var. glaziovii
3rd = Noel Kennon = Cryptanthus ‘Ruby’
3rd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Quesnelia ‘Farro’ (formerly Q. testudo Variegated)
3rd = Nina Rehak = Aechmea recurvata

1st = Lydia Chinnok = Aechmea recurvata
2nd = Beth Clague = Neoregelia ‘Heatwave’
2nd = Max Williams = Vriesea ‘Forrest’
3rd = Lydia Chinnock = Billbergia hybrid

1st = Graham Bevan = Tillandsia recurvifolia
2nd = Lydia Chinnock = Tillandsia ionantha
3rd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Tillandsia ionantha var. stricta


Catherine Wainwright = Billbergia ‘Hallelujah’

Carol Carthew = Neoregelia ‘Bountiful Tiger’

Catherine Wainwright = Tillandsia tectorum

Elizabeth Bevan = Basket of Bromeliads


Class A – Aechmea (13 entries)
1st = Nina and Jarka Rehak = Aechmea weilbachii
2nd = Nina and Jarka Rehak = Aechmea ‘Ensign’
3rd = Freda Kennedy = Aechmea recurvata

Class B – Billbergia (13 entries)
1st = Catherine Wainwright = Billbergia ‘Hallelujah’
2nd = Neville Wood = Billbergia ‘Golden Joy’
3rd = Neville Wood = Billbergia ‘Stephen Stone’

Class C – Neoregelia (29 entries)
1st = Neville Wood = Neoregelia ‘Dunmore Ruby’
2nd = Neville Wood = Neoregelia ‘Manoa Beauty’
3rd = Neville Wood = Neoregelia ‘Rosea Striata’

Class D – Neoregelia Miniature (12 entries)
1st = Neville Wood = Neoregelia ‘Aurora’
2nd = Neville Wood = Neoregelia ‘Dinkum’
3rd = Neville Wood = Neoregelia ‘Turmoil’

Class E – Tillandsia (21 entries)
1st = Catherine Wainwright = Tillandsia tectorum
2nd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Tillandsia bergeri
3rd = Catherine Wainwright = Tillandsia butzii

Class F – Vriesea/Guzmania (13 entries)
1st = Catherine Wainwright = Vriesea ospinae var. gruberi
2nd = Maria Jakobsen = Vriesea fosteriana ‘Red Chestnut’
3rd = Maria Jakobsen = Vriesea ‘Angela’

Class G – Other Bromeliad (13 entries)
1st = Catherine Wainwright = Dyckia
2nd = Catherine Wainwright = xNeophytum ‘Galactic Warrior’
3rd = Catherine Wainwright = xNeophytum ‘Galactic Warrior’


Class H – Aechmea (1 entry)
1st = Beverley Irvine = Aechmea orlandiana

Class I – Billbergia (1 entry)
1st = Carol Carthew = Billbergia ‘Hallelujah’

Class J – Neoregelia (8 entries)
1st = Carol Carthew = Neoregelia ‘Bountiful Tiger’
2nd = Carol Carthew = Neoregelia ‘Blushing Tiger’
3rd = Carol Carthew = Neoregelia ‘Bobby Dazzler’

Class K – Neoregelia Miniature (4 entries)
1st = June Casey = Neoregelia ‘Palmares’
2nd = Rhonda Grant = Neoregelia hybrid
3rd = Jørgen Jakobsen = Neoregelia ‘Fireball’

Class M – Vriesea/Guzmania (1 entry)
1st = Barbara Jones-Beverstock = Vriesea ospinae

Class N – Other Bromeliad (2 entries)
1st = Sandra Carnie = xNeophytum ‘Galactic Warrior’
2nd = Sandra Carnie = xNeophytum ‘Galactic Warrior’


Class O – Colony of Multiple or Clump Plants (17 entries)
1st = Ted Clare = Neoregelia ‘Cayenne’
2nd = Freda Kennedy = Guzmania ‘Sheila’
3rd = Neville Wood = Neoregelia ‘Blushing Tiger’

Class P – Mounted Tillandsias (4 entries)
1st = Catherine Wainwright = Tillandsia fuchsia
2nd = Catherine Wainwright = Tillandsia aeranthos X gardneri
3rd = Catherine Wainwright = Tillandsia ionantha

Class Q – Mounted Bromeliad(s) (2 entries)
1st = John Toolan = Timber base – multiple bromeliads
2nd = John Toolan = Billbergia ‘Hoelscheriana’


Class R – Basket or Decorative Container (5 entries)
1st = Elizabeth Bevan = Basket of Bromeliads
2nd = Catherine Wainwright = Small Basket of Tillandsia bergeri
3rd = Jørgen Jakobsen = A Green Basket

Class S – Bromeliad Garden (3 entries)
1st = Lydia Chinnock = Shoe Garden
2nd = Lydia Chinnock = Glass Bowl Garden
3rd = Stephen Astill = Bromeliad Garden

Class T – Artistic Arrangement (8 entries)
1st = Elizabeth Bevan = Table Decoration
2nd = Elizabeth Bevan = Bouquet
3rd = Elizabeth Bevan = Autumn Colours

18th Show
113 entries
16 competitors
19th Show
151 entries
20 competitors
20th Show
154 entries
15 competitors
21st Show
158 entries
19 competitors
22nd Show
170 entries
17 competitors

FEATURE IN THE TREE GARDEN: Acanthostachys strobilacea (Schultes f.) Klotzsch
By Racine Foster. (Reprinted from The Bromeliad Society Bulletin, July-August, 1955 Vol. V{4})

Perhaps we can more easily visualize cascades of ferns or rhipsalis on a tree or palm than we can cascading bromeliads. What is a cascading bromeliad? The Acanthostachys strobililacea (means spiny spike with cone-like fruit, only member of this genus {there is now a second species, A. pitcairnioides - Ed.} is a delightful bromeliad with cascading attributes that can add unusual charm, grace or interest to a tree garden or an inside hanging-basket.

A genus first named by Klotzsch in 1841 (see Mez. p. 101) went into several taxonomic changes such as Hohenbergia strobilacea and Ananas strobilacea. Many of the early botanists whose names are associated with bromels, such as Glaziou, Riedel, Sellow, Regnell, St. Hilaire, and Burchell, all collected it in several states in Central Brazil. My husband and I collected it in the states of Espirito Santo, Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Parano on our first trip to Brazil in 1939; it was a joyous find and we have had it in cultivation ever since. In 1937 Carl Mez (in Das Phlanzenreich) stated that it was not in cultivation; however, it has been reported in many botanical gardens among their rare bromeliads.

It is an odd bromeliad with long, thin, terete {having a cylindrical shape that tapers at each end}, spiny leaves from a stoloniferous caudex. The inflorescence coming out of the terete leaves is like a tiny pineapple, being hard and composed of stiff red bracts. Whereas a pineapple has purple flowers, this has tiny yellow flowers.

The stringy cylindrical leaves are olive-green with dim whitish spots which add to its attraction, but the whole mass of sprouting, stiff leaves bursting out of a tree or palm trunk, enlivened by the red heads of the pseudo-cone, make the plant excitingly attractive and irresistible. As a decoration for a tree garden in frost-free areas it has the contour, the colorfulness, the massed effectiveness, as well as the sparse openness of a cascading fern.

Give it plenty of acid leaf mould or fern fibre and ample water—then you can have a joyous touch of charm. 718 Magnolia Ave., Orlando, Fla

By Bernard Stonor, Margaret River, Western Australia. (Reprinted from BSI Journal 1977, Vol.27{1})

In a sense it might be said that the majority of bromeliads are easy to grow, provided, of course, that we understand the plants and their needs.

It takes quite a long time to understand the requirements of the many types of plants included in the family, and comparatively new growers are often bewildered by even the commonest types. There is a natural tendency for articles on bromeliads to describe the rare and unusual varieties, most of which are unknown to the ordinary amateur growers and not available anyway. Many of the plants which the established grower takes for granted, perhaps even neglects in favor of the more unusual species, are still novelties to the new grower and also may be among the most attractive species when well grown. By taking a little trouble over such old favorites as Aechmea luddemaniana it is not hard to produce a really beautiful plant which can compare favorably with many of the expensive and elusive rarities.

Most, if not all, beginners will be growing their first Aechmea fasciata, but how seldom does one see any reference to the requirements of this species. In my experience the plants do best in a fairly shady position and should not be over-fertilized, as this may lead to burning of the leaf tips. All kinds of composts are recommended for this and other species, but it seems to make little difference to the plants what particular mix is used, provided that it is very well drained and open. After all, most of our plants are epiphytes, so it is necessary to provide some air around the roots. A most important point to remember is that the plants must not be planted too deeply, just sitting on top of the compost is usually best.

Another requirement for success is, I think, a good air circulation in the glasshouse, whether it be cold or heated. It is also best to keep the glasshouse well filled with plants—they seem to like company. If bromeliads are not available in sufficient numbers, other plants with similar requirements as to temperature and light are equally suitable and will inevitably by replaced by bromeliads as time goes by.

A question which all new growers ask is what fertilizer to use. This is not a question which can be given a simple answer. Most species will grow very nicely without any regular dosing with fertilizer, and perhaps this is the safest way if there is any doubt about what to use. After all, when growing in their natural habitat it is unlikely that the plants will be visited by some philanthropist with a watering can filled with suitable nourishment. They simply have to take what comes their way and generally do quite well without any artificial help. There is also the question of whether the plants are being grown as epiphytes feeding through their leaves or as terrestrials feeding through their roots. A large number of species undoubtedly do make better plants when grown as terrestrials, either in large pots or in the open ground. If the compost is rich, then little fertilizer should be needed for the months following repotting or planting out. When a fertilizer is used, my own preference, after trying a variety of different types, is for one having a high proportion of nitrogen. This will naturally be applied while the plants are in active growth; the slow and stately progression of a bromeliad can be called active. I really think, however, that the feeding of his plants is a matter to be worked out by each grower to suit his own climate and growing methods.

Most people start off with the idea that bromeliads are strange, difficult plants needing all sorts of curious treatments. Some of them are no doubt difficult, but these can be left to the experts and real enthusiast. For most of us there are plenty of easy ones which we can grow in the garden in the same way as any other perennial. The billbergias are most adaptable, and species such as B. zebrine and B. sanderiana are an asset to any garden. Billbergia vittata is one species which is likely to be among one’s first plants and will outlive many others. In my garden this hardy variety grows very well in full shade throughout the year and flowers earlier and just as freely as plants grown in good light with some sun. Plants which thrive in full shade are always welcome in most gardens.

The aechmeas include a number of really hardy plants for inside or outside planting. Some of the most spikey ones may be a problem to handle in the glasshouse and are far better planted in a safe spot in the garden where they cannot attack unwary visitors with their needle-pointed leaves. Aechmea ornata is one of these and grows well here in a sunny position, looking a little yellow after an exceptionally hot spell but soon recovering when the weather improves. It has not yet flowered, but I believe I am not the only grower who has had a long wait for this one to flower. Aechmea distichantha is another excellent all-weather species, provided one keeps well away from its arsenal of spikes and spines. This one, too, requires patience before the flowers are enjoyed.

At one time it was one of my ambitions to grow and flower Aechmea pineliana. There was a plant in my glasshouse, where it certainly grew and made a nice foliage plant but was most unwilling to flower. In the end this plant was added to a number of other species growing in the ground. This, it seems, was what it was waiting for. It grew very well in all kinds of weather, soon forming a clump some three feet cross, and now, in early winter, it is pushing up at least four flower spikes. The soil is just an ordinary sandy loam, mostly sand, and the treatment the same as for any other plant in the garden.

Aechmea nudicaulis and its varieties are useful plants which grow well on the branch of a tree, rather than in the ground. Some hybrids of A. recurvata are also good subjects for tree planting.

One of the easiest plants to grow here is Quesnelia liboniana. No pot is necessary, although the plants will of course grow nicely in a pot. The offshoots, being formed on fairly long stolons, soon form a compact system of interconnected plants which rest on the surface of the ground, with a few roots foraging among the dead leaves, etc. on the surface. Some time ago a piece of this plant, consisting of three growths still connected by the stolons, was placed on the branch of an apricot tree, not even tied on. During a very long hot summer the plants received an occasional watering when the hose happened to come that way, unless they were forgotten as sometimes happened. At the present time each growth is producing a strong offshoot and looking very healthy in spite of having hardly any roots. I hope this note will be read by some of the people who say they have nowhere to grow bromeliads. You don’t really need anywhere for a plant like this: it just grows.

The neoregelias have proved a very satisfactory genus here, easily grown and ornamental. The only real complaint I have about them is that they are difficult to identify. I consider them to be glasshouse plants for the most part, though there are some very hardy species such as concentrica which will thrive out in the garden. A suitable compost for these and many other bromeliads is a simple mixture of coarse sand and leaf mould. The sand must be coarse to insure good drainage and the leaf mould should consist of partly rotted leaves, twigs, etc., collected from under dense scrub. On top of this mixture it is helpful to place a layer, not too thick, of green moss. The moss in this district grows on rocks and can be peeled off in quite large sheets. When potting new offshoots, often without roots, a layer of this moss can be placed on top of the compost, and the plant inserted into a hole in the moss. This helps to hold the plant in place and roots very soon form, growing into the moss rather than the compost.

A similar system has proved useful for vrieseas, and I am now growing tillandsias in coconut fibre (extracted from an old mattress) with a layer of the living moss on top. This seems to work quite well, and I am at last able to grow a few respectable tillandsias such as T. lindenii, T. cyanea, and similar types. The more strongly epiphytic species are undoubtedly best grown on fibre, wood, or whatever support is handy.

There are likely to be a few cryptanthus in most collections, and some growers find these plants rather difficult. This may be a matter of an unsuitable climate, wrong compost, overwatering and fertilizing, or even unsuitable water. My plants are improving, after a few tragedies, due I believe to some substance in the water supply. A rather poor compost of coarse sand, charcoal or brick with a little humus has proved successful here, but the plants do not seem to produce many roots, so care must be taken to keep the compost well drained and rather dry. I grow mine in a glasshouse with a little heat in winter, as they do not appear to be as hardy as their stiff leaves suggest.

The terrestrial species are also interesting and hardy plants though not so well known as they might be. Some of the dyckias soon make very colorful foliage plants, and the tall spikes with their bright orange or yellow flowers are most ornamental. Plenty of light seems to be the chief need of these plants, most of which are reasonably hardy. Here, some have proved susceptible to damage from hailstones, particularly D. brevifolia. It would be hard to find an easier plant to grow than some of the hechtias, in a mild climate at least, and their unusual appearance always fascinates people.

With so many species and hybrids available it is often a problem to know which plants to buy, and there are so many easily grown species that the difficult ones - guzmanias and the like - can be left until the grower has the experience and the facilities to succeed with them. Of course, if you have an air-conditioned hot house, electronically controlled, it is a different story, but not all of us can afford such luxuries, and it is really far more satisfactory to grow the plants without any more artificial aids than are essential.

By Grant Tychonenko, Central Coast Bromeliad Society newsletter, August 2001

Some growers may claim that their bromeliads may grow well because of their personally blended potting mix, or their strict fertilizing regime or even because of the love they give to their plants.

I have found that although the above contribute they play nowhere near a major role in the optimum growth of a bromeliad as light does. One of the major reasons bromeliads need light is to produce the colour in the leaves. Hechtia texensis, if grown in shade, stays green throughout the year; however, if it is grown in full sun it will take on a deep, blood-red colour. This usually applies to most neoregelia species as well. Neoregelia cruenta, if grown in full sun, will have shortish, fat leaves and great colouring as well; when it is grown in the shade it has long green leaves and less colour. (It is up to the individual on how he or she would like to grow this plant. Ed.)

The bromeliad species that have visible scales - such as Orthophytum gurkenii and Dyckia marnier-lapostollei - should be grown in bright light. If they were, the scales would be much more dense than if they were grown in shade, as some growers think they should be because of the fact that they are highly ornamental. To find out which bromeliads can be grown in full sun ask any members (because isn’t that what the Society is all about?) or borrow books from our library (this is the reason why it’s there - for research).

But books only generally tell us one place where a certain species grows in the wild. But this may not always be where they would grow to their full potential. The best way to find out is, if you have two plants of that species, to put one out in three-quarters sunlight and the other in shade, in amongst other plants (for shelter) and see which does best. If the plant in the three-quarters sun does best (say over a 6 to 12 month period) slowly increase the light level until it grows to its optimum level. This is something that not many growers do - experiment. Let’s face it, it’s the only way if you can’t find out from another grower or book.

Overall, I seem to think that light is the most important factor in the growth of bromeliads due to the fact that in two light extremes a bromeliad can either be knocking on heaven’s door or flourishing.

So, go on, get the light level for bromeliads just right - it could help you take out Grand Champion at our next show. You never know!

By A. Abendroth, Teresopolis, Rio, Brazil. (Reprinted from The Bromeliad Society Bulletin, May-June 1957, Vol. VII No. 3)

The February 1957 issue of the German Nature Magazine “Kosmos” brings a notice by Dr. D. Aichele on an article published in another German periodical, “Die Naturwissenschaften” (42nd year of publication, p. 611, 1955), by H. v. Witsch and J. Sieber, on above subject.

The author of the notice points out that it is often stated that in Bromeliaceae the function of absorbing food is completely taken over by the leaves, and that the roots of these epiphytes serve only to hold the plant to its support.

He goes on to say that the scientists H. v. Witsch and J. Sieber disproved this. They raised bromeliads from seed experimentally and found that young plants of Nidularium innocentii even died if the roots were not kept in an atmosphere almost saturated with moisture, although water was being sprinkled freely onto the leaves. Their plantlets of Nidularium innocentii and of other bromeliads grew normally though when the only means of obtaining nourishment was through the roots. A combination method of fertilizing both for leaf and root absorption gave best growth results. In the course of their experiments the investigators found further that nitrogen gets more readily absorbed through the leaves, while phosphoric acid and Kali (Kaliumoxyd) enters better by way of the roots.

In support of the assertion that bromeliads absorb nutrients by way of roots, I wish to say that I once found an adult Aechmea fasciata on the forest floor where it had fallen off a tree, with its stem piercing the leaf-mould. The portion of the stem that was under the dead leaves had issued tiny white roots covered with short hairs. I took the aechmea home, but postponed planting it until next day. By then the rootlets had shriveled and the hairs were gone.

When planted in soil, at home, my aechmeas, billbergias, nidulariums, neoregelias and quesnelias grow a dense mass of thin but strong, branched roots. When tied to a branch, aechmeas, billbergias and Quesnelia liboniana develop roots only of the holding type - brownish, hard and lustrous, splitting up in thin, short sections at their ends, and that cling tightly to the support. The plants do this also on rocks in the wilds.

In Nature young plants seem to survive only when they happen to start out on a tree or on a rock but not on the ground. Percentage of survival apparently is extremely low.

Perhaps bromels, at least some of them, possess an innate ability to put forth roots of different kinds, responding to environment. In some cases it certainly looks as if nutrition is left wholly to the leaves.

A collection of cultural ideas from members of the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society, St.Petersburg, Florida.
Reprinted from The Bromeliad Society Bulletin, 1956, Vol. VI No. 5.

• To increase billbergias, aechmeas, etc. plant them in osmundine, gravel or other porous material at a slight angle to the vertical. Remove the shoots when they have leaves as tall as the top of the rosette of the old plant and more will follow.
• When plants are first moved under fiberglass do not fertilize for several weeks and reduce watering a bit as they will grow softer at first.
• In preparing any soluble fertilizer, a dash of vinegar or a small amount of sphagnum or peat should be added to the water before the fertilizer; this will acidify the water and increase its ability to dissolve the fertilizer.
• A little trace of peat added to the water in bromel cups will benefit them.
• In planting bromeliads in beds, unless the ground is exceptionally well-drained, prepare the surface so that it is an inch to several inches above the surrounding level. It is also wise to dig down a foot or more and make a layer of broken crock or brick, replacing the soil over it with a sterilized layer of prepared growing mixture.
• Copper wire or staples are injurious to bromeliad tissue.


During the past year or so, some concerns have been raised regarding why the competition part of our Show must comply with certain rules. Most of these concerns have to do with why our Schedule is written to follow the directives contained in the American publication, the Handbook for Judges, Exhibitors, & Affiliates. However, on reading through some old minutes {dating back to 1991} I found the following: “It is agreed that, given the time, effort and input given in formulating the American Judges Handbook (in the revised form), that this book should be the bible with amendments to suit our local conditions.”

From copies of the Minutes and correspondence that I have (initiated by the Bromeliad Society of New South Wales) it appears that in mid 1991 that Society, having already conducted close to 25 competitive shows since their formation in 1983 when they called upon three of the most experienced growers in New South Wales to judge these events, felt that in order to safeguard the supply of judges, and to have a form of standardized judging for these, looked into the possibility of initiating a series of judging schools along the lines recommended in the Handbook for Judges, Exhibitors and Affiliates, and to invite the other four societies that are located within a 100 mile radius of Sydney to participate if they so desired. And in mid 1994 it was advised that a provisional school had been formed, which was to be headed by Mr. Bill Morris and Mr. Bob Larnach.

Getting replies to their queries was frustratingly slow and correspondence between the two organizations dragged on for around 3 years, until, at last “Over the last few years we have been steadily {albeit slowly} laying the groundwork to safeguard our future bromeliad judging needs. Members will be aware that in October, 1991 a resolution was passed unanimously adopting the BSI Judging Handbook as a reference guide to judging at our competitive shows. We subsequently appointed our two most oft used judges, Messrs Bil Morris and Bob Larnach, as ‘accredited’ judges, qualified by their many years of experience to conduct a teaching programme relative to bromeliad judging.

We are pleased to announce that a provisional teaching programme will commence on Sunday 25th September 1994 at our regular meeting place in Five Dock.”

The year seems to be racing away and we have just over two months to prepare for our Show. We have always been blessed with willing and enthusiastic support from our members for this event and we will put out our call for volunteers at our August and September meetings, but at this time I would like to go into a little more detail concerning our Show Schedule and plant entries into the competition. I have been prompted to do this because after attending a Show earlier in the year {2004}, where all but one of the plants in the Tillandsia section had been disqualified because they did not conform to the judge’s interpretation of the Schedule, I thought that I must work to clarify our Schedule so that similar things do not happen to us in the future.

Because of our affiliation with the international organization, The Bromeliad Society International (headquartered in the USA), we are required to fit as closely as possible within the requirements as set out in their Handbook for Judges, Exhibitors, & Affiliates. Although in Australia we cannot adhere strictly to their requirements, we must try to follow their guidelines as closely as possible when it comes to the drawing up and following of the Schedule. Some leeway is permissible, to suit particular circumstances, and it may be altered from year to year. However, once drawn up, it becomes the LAW OF THE SHOW. As the ‘Handbook’ tells us, “It forms a bridge of communication between the judge, the {Society}, the exhibitor, and often the public. For that reason it must be precise, specific, and comprehensive.”

At the Show in question the major stumbling block seemed to be the use of the wording, ‘Pot of’ which apparently dedicates the entry to fit within the category, “Individual Specimen Plant” - i.e., a single plant which may include only immature offsets too small to survive if removed from the mother plant. Thus, in the class which listed “Pot or mounted Tillandsia with Spike”, and included some beautiful Tillandsia cyaneas with multiple spikes and a Tillandsia tectorum with multiple plants, these were disqualified because they did not fit the Schedule as written.

Also not considered in the judging were some beautiful billbergias (also scheduled as “Pot of Billbergia”), because they were mothers with pup(s) large enough to have been removed and so did not fit the criteria. As billbergias such as ‘Domingos Martins’ and ‘Hallelujah’ can look lovely when pups are allowed to remain with the mother, I have decided to change our Schedule this year to allow for multiples in the Billbergia and Tillandsia categories, and also in classes (g) and (m) “Other Bromeliad” for similar reasons. Class ‘h’ - Stoloniferous Colony’ will still allow for larger, stoloniferous clumps.

Also, to comply with the rules as set out in The Handbook, in Sections 1 and 2 mounted plants must show evidence of actually growing on the mount - i.e., there must be root attachment. However, there is an exception, and this is because some tillandsias never show root attachment and when this is the case the plant(s) must look established, and not recently attached. In Section 3 (Creative), however, plants may be placed onto the wood, etc. right up until entries close, and still be acceptable.

• The accompanying Schedule sets out the rules for our Show more fully.

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

Updated 11/11/14