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Australian and New Zealand Gardening: Bromeliads for novices and Addicts - Dec 2012, 4 by splinter1804

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

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Photo of Bromeliads for novices and Addicts - Dec 2012
splinter1804 wrote:
Hi all – Well, here we are again another weekend; gee it'll soon be next year and then Easter and then Christmas again and I still won't have all of my work done. I spent yesterday morning watching my youngest grandson (2yr.old) having his third swimming lesson. It was great to see someone so young learning to swim and enjoying it.

I spent the afternoon “dead leafing” Neo's in the main shade house and was shocked to find pups on everything and almost large enough to take off. Just when I thought I'd caught up with all of the de-pupping and potting up I'm back to square one once again. It looks like I'll have to have a large clearance sale to clear out some excess plants and gain a bit of bench space.

I hope those who have been unwell are now well and truly on the road to recovery and will be sparking on all cylinders in 2013.

Jean - Nice to see you posting and putting up pic's again. It's good to see you taking an interest in Vrieseas; a lot of growers tend to think of them as delicate plants which are difficult to grow and flower but I have found just the opposite. A few years back when we copped a heat wave on New Years Day, most of the plants in the garden were badly burnt and the Neo's suffered the worst of all. Surprisingly the few Vrieseas I had planted among the Neo's only had a few burnt leaf tips and some bleaching which was far less than the Neo's had.

I had always thought of Vrieseas as a much weaker plant than Neoregelias mainly based on the fact that their leaves were thinner and they somehow just appeared to be more delicate. Since that heatwave I have found this to be far from the truth and I have had them in the garden without protection right through the summer and winter and they only sustained minimal damage and much less than some of the other brom's growing under the same conditions.

The bonus of course is that there are two main types; the “patterned leaf type” which are grown for their coloured patterned foliage and the “plain leaf types” which are grown for their flowers. This second type can be bought indoors when in flower and they last for a month or two providing colour in the house for far less expense than cut flowers would cost for the same period, so all in all they are a good investment for either the garden or in the house when flowering. Another method of culture you don't often see with Vrieseas is that they also do well mounted on trees.

I have mine growing with my Guzmanias beneath shade cloth on the southern side of the house which is a 'less than ideal” aspect as it's very shady in the winter time, however they seem to handle the lower light OK which can be another benefit. In fact I was cleaning up that part of the yard last week and was surprised to see just how many are putting up flower spikes. I must admit I had neglected them a bit over the last few years but this year I decided to start feeding them a bit (like the Guzmanias they like more feeding than Neo's and Aechmeas) and the results have been very pleasing. I'll take a few pic's and post them tomorrow.

Your two plants in the last pic look like vrieseas to me, and judging by the banding on the leaves, probably Vr. Splendriet. They could also be either Vr. Splendens or Vr. Splendide, but Vr. Splendriet is my bet as it's commercially grown in the thousands and the most common of the three. Both of these have a brilliant orange/red sword like inflorescence which is quite spectacular.

The downside of these however is that they are a bit cold sensitive so give them a bit of protection during the colder months, especially down in your area. I had a plant which was so severely damaged by the cold a few years back I almost tossed it in the green bin, but I gave it a reprieve and it rewarded me with three nice pups all of which flowered (see Pic.1) when they matured and I have never had a plant do this before or since. I think it was so near death with all of the cold damage that "Mother Nature" stepped in and helped it put in one last mammoth effort to reproduce itself before it died; firstly in the form of pups, then flowers, and later seed.

Sue – A lot of the Thai growers import their plants from America, Hawaii and Australia as well as hybridising their own. There are a couple of very experienced hybridisers doing some great things with their plants over there but I don't have a contact address for them and I'm reluctant to post pic's without their permission.

What you say about the stacks of leaves and minimal pups is very true and there was quite a long thread about this very subject some time back on the Garden Web. Basically the reasons given were: In Thailand, a Neo usually won't pup until after it flowers. The climate there is responsible for the growth of multiple leaves and because these plants continue to stack on leaves, they do so at the expense of flowers, hence not many pups. I used to get brom's from a lady up on the hinterland inland from Cairns and the micro climate there often did similar things to her Neo's, and although she grew beautiful plants with multiple leaves, she was envious of me being able to produce multiple pups quickly and easily although I could never replicate the leaf stacking. So I guess in our climate, we can't grow multiple stacks of leaves but we can produce many pups but in Thailand they have the complete reverse and they would like to see more pups; I guess you just can't have your cake and eat it too.

I understand completely what you're saying about some of these “so called” gardeners. Just after I had my back operation and wasn't allowed to do any bending, we got a young bloke in (a supposed gardener) to tidy up the brom gardens in the back yard. Some of the plants near the garden edge had the leaves overhanging, and he just clipped them off with the hedge clippers (I must say it was a nice straight cut). Needless to say he only lasted 25 minutes, it's the same with the young bloke who cuts the grass, a couple of weeks back one of the Neo's near the garden edge had toppled onto the grass and instead of picking it up, he just “whipper snippered” right through all of the leaves. Apparently he just knew how to cut grass and anything else which required a bit of common sense just wasn't an option, so he got the arse also. I laugh about it now but I wasn't laughing at the time I can tell you.

Sue your NOID Aechmea could be Ae. Ramosa Festiva. My plant in (Pic 2) was grown beneath 75% beige shade cloth and had finished flowering with just the berries left when this pic was taken. Your Nidularium NOID I think is Nid Innocentii Var. Striatum. It seems very similar to my plant in (Pic.3) and the difference in colour could be due to light variations as mine was grown beneath 75% green shade cloth in a shady area of the garden.

Your Edmundoa plants in your Pic.4 show a good example of the advantages of fertilising, OK when you have a large area to grow in like you do, but if all we grew them that large we would need more space and then the overcrowding starts all over again. As for your “little bloke” in Pic.5, I think he's had a visit from and been contaminated by the “Men from Mars”.

Shirley – Like your weather, ours has been pretty good lately also with the odd shower at night to freshen things up. Although I've spent a bit of time in the garden, I'm not getting as much done as I would like. This morning is taken up, as I'm off to watch my little grandson learning to swim again and as I see it, I only get one chance to see this sort of thing as once he grows up there's no going back so I have to make the best of it while I can; the garden will still be there when I get back to it.

I have my doubts about the name of your Neo. 'Bold Streak' x McWilliamsii as it's very different to mine and there are a lot of plants around with similar markings and colour.. I got my plant from Jen see Pic.4 which is Jen's pic of her own plant which she has posted previously and which looks like it has had the benefit of the good Queensland light. My plant in Pic.5 doesn't have the rich colour of Jen's but it was initially grown in lower light. The pups from my plant grown are now growing in bright light and are the same colour as Jen's plant. The markings on your plant seems quite different as well as the colour so what do others think?

As for the plant of Neo.'Gunpowder', I can't comment as I only have a small pup to compare with it but all I can say is that I hope my pup turns out like your plant as it's a great looking well grown plant with terrific colour.

Wendy – Like the rest of us I'm so sorry to hear the news of Max's passing. My thoughts are with you both at this very sad and emotional time and I know exactly what you're feeling, having just recently been through the same sad situation myself. Rest assured he had a very good life with the love and care you and Johnny gave him.

I'll finish now with the pictures mentioned above and wish you all the best, Nev

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