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Australian and New Zealand Gardening: Bromeliads for novices and Addicts - Dec 2012, 1 by splinter1804

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In reply to: Bromeliads for novices and Addicts - Dec 2012

Forum: Australian and New Zealand Gardening

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splinter1804 wrote:
Hi everyone – Santa will be here tonight if you've all been good boys and girls, and if you've been really good he may even bring you a nice brom or some brom growing accessories.

A big "Cherrio" to anyone on the sick list or anyone who just hasn't had the time to post recently and hopefully we'll see more of you all in the New Year.

Ian – It sounds like your already getting bored with your relaxing break. It seems you're like me and need to be doing something all the time. Even yesterday although we had a nice day with family and friends, during the quiet periods after lunch my mind was still wandering back to the garden and thinking how I should prioritise things and what I should do next.

Nice of you to think of us all and mention the Vr. Hieroglyphica pups, I'm sure we all appreciate your thoughtfulness and there will be some who will contact you for further details.

It looks like there's no one to talk to today so to fill up a bit of space I'll fill in with a short article I once wrote for our Bromeliad Society Newsletter.

Neville Wood – 2009

Up until recently I had about six or more Guzmanias in my shade house which I had accumulated over a few years having previously purchased them in flower at markets. I really never saw myself as a Guzmania grower, but thought of them more as a substitute for a bunch of flowers to brighten up the inside of the home. When you consider that a reasonable bunch of flowers costs a minimum of $30 these days, and any I’ve ever bought seldom lasted more than a week; a flowering Guzmania which could be bought for around $20 and often lasted in flower for 2-3 months was a much better financial proposition, don’t you think?

After they had finished flowering and the old inflorescence was removed, they were relegated to an unused corner of the shade-house and allowed to just do “their own thing”, as I really didn’t have much interest in them as a plant. They were never fed and only watered when I watered the other brom’s. They continued to grow and occasionally would put up a pretty ordinary looking inflorescence which was never anywhere near as spectacular as the one on the original plant had been. I simply put this down to a couple of things, either I just couldn’t grow them or my conditions didn’t suit them or maybe it was a combination of both.

A couple of years back I read an article in (I think) a back issue of a BSI journal. It was by a Guzmania grower in the US and gave details of his methods of culture and included a picture of him standing up to his waist in the centre of a group of beautiful flowering Guzmanias.  These beautiful plants were the best looking Guzmanias I had ever seen with their healthy green leaves and beautiful large inflorescences. What he said was basically, never let them dry out completely, grow them in lower light to Neo's, Aechmeas etc, give them a warm environment with good air circulation, and the bit that really caught my attention, FEED THEM AS OFTEN AS YOU FEED YOURSELF! This man only grew Guzmanias and was known by local growers as somewhat of an expert with a nickname of "Mr. Guzmania".

Until I read that article I treated my few Guzmanias in a similar manner to my Neo's. The plants never really looked "happy" and I only ever got the occasional inflorescence of average quality. My success was such that I threatened to toss the plants out if they didn't perform better the following year. The plants were moved to another area on the southern, shadier side of our house beneath 75% green shade cloth. This area is in a higher part of the yard and is protected from winds by the house on the north side and re-cycled charcoal coloured Laser Light on the walls of the other three sides. Because it is so protected from the elements and is a bit higher than their previous location it also appears to be slightly warmer in the cold weather.

After being moved to their new location, all were re-potted using a mix of six parts of Brunnings Cymbidium Orchid Mix to one part of fine Coco Peat. During re-potting when the pot was about 3/4 full of mix, I added Osmocote at the rate of 1 level teaspoon to a 5" pot, plus some Blood and Bone at the same rate, making sure the fertilizers didn’t directly contact any part of the plants. Sufficient mix was then added to come up almost to the top of the pot and they were then thoroughly watered until the water flowed from the bottom of the pot.

I foliar fed these plants each two weeks, alternating between Manutec and Phostrogen right throughout the whole year along with a monthly application of Seasol. The results were amazing; the plants picked up and grew beautifully and this year I had a better show of flowers than I could have ever imagined. There's only two things which could have caused such a dramatic improvement; and that was the new location with extra fertilizer or the threat to "bin them" if they didn't perform better. As I don't think the Guzmanias heard the threat “to bin them”, I think it had to be the change of location and the increase in feeding.

I'll finish with a nice pic of some Guzmanias which was taken in the Noong Nooch Tropical Botanical Gardens in Thailand by my “Brom Friend” Chanin Thurot.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all, Nev.

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