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A few questions please?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I am doomed. I have been reading and sightseeing about the Broms, Cryptanthus, Dyckias, etc.

Tell me what types of these plants you grow please?

I want to hear your recommendations on what type of planting medium you use for which of these plants?

How difficult is it to root offsets (unrooted plantlets)?

What is your prefered way to root the offsets?

What type of fertilizer do you use?

What schedule to fertilize them?

Any other information that you think a novice might need to know?

I am afraid I am doomed... Kristi

Thumbnail by podster
Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

What you have may be a crypanthus. I gow mostly the neo. bromeliads. I do have one crypanthus that I have in fast draining soil with lots of peat. I do not ferterlize my Broms. I don't claim to be an expert just a hobbist that likes to dabble in all plants. If you go to the Brom. Society's website, you can get lots of information.

My crypanthus grows on neglect and not saturated wet soil. I keep it on the dry side. It will make pups, but my pup fell off when I bumped into it. I prefer them all in one pot instead of one plant in one pot. I stuck the pup in a pot of mostly peat and spray it with water. I water lightly and it's now on it own.

Good luck.

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Yes, that one is a Cryptanthus. I also have a few others right now.

This one in particular needs repotting as most of the medium has fallen out of the pot when mishandled. You plant in peat only?

Tell me ~ as you are in zone 8b, how do you overwinter your Bromeliads?

I like the various web sites on Broms but they leave me asking more questions.
I have found more concise information on some of the retail sites.
But that is what gets me in trouble ~ lol. Kristi

Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

I add a little potting soil I have on hand with peat and perlite making sure it drains well and fast. I don't water again until the soil is dry to the touch. For Neo's I keep water in the cup at all times. Neos do very well when you shoot them with water from the hose and rinse them real well. The put fresh water in the cup.

I take my broms indoors (greenhouse) when the temp begins to reach 45 degrees. Some broms will take colder weather, but I don't want any of them damaged. Once a leaf is damaged, the plant does not grow another in its place. I too am in zone 8b/9a. The problem is my GH is over crowed with other plants as well.

Check out ebay for Broms on bid. I have never purchased any there or on line, but they are lovely to see. has the most gorgeous plants I have ever seen. I purchase most of mine from Home Depot or Lowes or I trade with friends. I do attend the BR Brom Sale every June. They have starter pups and are well priced lower than the stores. There are so many different Broms. I too am still learning more about different varieties.

Good Luck!

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Absolutely! I agree with all the beautiful bromeliads on all the different sites. I actually have two coming from ebay sellers. Yep ~ only two. lol

I have also found lots of care information on the sites that actually sell the Broms. Far more information than on the various Bromeliad society sites (although maybe I get sidetracked when there). I guess they think I know what I'm doing by the time I go to their sites. NOT!

Anyway, I am glad to know you are able to overwinter these indoors in your zone. I have a GH and am able to maintain temps, now I just need to make room. Some of these plants can become huge so plant size is what I am looking at too. From what I've read they still need to be in filtered winter light so as not to damage the leaves? That shouldn't be a problem either.

Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge. Merry Christmas ~ Kristi

Springfield, MO(Zone 6a)

You are not doomed! Most Bromeliads are epiphytic, i.e they grow up in the trees using the leaves to absorb moisture and nutrients. But there are quite a few terrestrial Bromeliads, and Cryptanthus are more terrestrial than epiphytic. If I had to guess on yours (there a many hybrids so it's difficult) I'd say it might be C. Marion Oppenheimer.

Cryptanthus are native to Brazil where it's generally warm and moist (though not always wet). Your plant, being variegated, gives a good indicator of how much light it wants. Notice the pinkish coloring on the topleaf in the picture. If the plant had a bit more light all the white parts would be pink. During Winter they can take all the sun I can give them (though maybe not in Texas) and I move them from 40% to 55% shade from Spring into Summer. I fertilize about every two months with a weak balanced formulation (weaker in Winter - stronger in Summer).

Cryptanthus are extremely easy to root and the offsets are easily separated by hand. Most of them can survive a long time without being rooted so I suppose their leaves can absorb some moisture if the conditions are humid enough. I use an equal mix of peat moss, vermiculite (medium), and perlite (medium) for most of my Bromeliads. For the larger terrestrials (like the pineapple, Ananas comosus) I add compost. Some growers also use small bark chips in their mix. The exceptions are the atmospherics (mostly Tillandsias) that I grow on bark or wood branches.

The Bromeliad Society has good cultural information.

Good luck

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Once again I am thanking you, Dave for your knowledge and assistance.
I recently acquired that Cryptanthus and I've noticed it becoming more pink in the GH.
Thanks too for the ID on it. I will go research it by that name.

I am also deliberating on where and how I will place these plants outside in summer.
Do you use shade cloth to attain the 40% to 55% shade?
I wondered if one could arrange that by partial sunlight positioning in the shade also.

Thanks for mentioning your fertilization schedule.
Is there any special fertilizer solution you prefer for these plants?

I appreciate you sharing your potting media blend.
I am sorting through the various potting blends for the Bromeliads and Cryptanthus.
Tillandsias are one I haven't tackled yet.

These are beautiful plants and after the incredible drought we have seen I am charmed that they are fairly drought tolerant also.
Decorative as well as practical ~ that is a good thing. Thanks much, Kristi

Springfield, MO(Zone 6a)

I do use shade cloth. The 40% goes on around April 1, off around Oct 1; and the 55% on around June 1 and off around Sept 15.

You definately can use tree shade to your advantage. I have large trees on either side about 20' away. The leaves provide additional shade and they come off all by themselves.

I have a good friend who has done considerable experimentation with Bromeliad fertilization. Based on his findings I use GROW MORE Bromeliad Tillandsia 17-8-22 (not because of the name but because it's close to what he likes). I think anything close to this will be fine. I use about 1 tablespoon per 5 gallons in Summer and somewhat less the rest of the year. I've tried Osmocote but I find it a pain to try to get all the little pellets to stay in the pots and out of the cups where it might do some damage (not really sure). I always mix in a systemic insecticide (Merit = Imidacloprid) whenever I fertilize. You never want scale to get a foothold in a greenhouse. It's very difficult to fully eradicate. I also spray the leftover fertilizer/imidacloprid mixture on the mounted Tillandsias and on the foliage of all the other Bromeliads. Of course you have to be careful not to use the Imidacloprid on anything edible as it's a systemic and will find its way into the leaves and fruit. I also grow Bananas and other tropical fruits.

The European bulk growers in Belgium and Holland have this culture down to a science and can produce blooming plants from meristems in an incredibly short time. Guzmanias and Vrieseas in particular seem to really respond to more intense fertilization. Many Neoregelia growers are however, very cautious about going easy on the nitrogen as they believe it can compromise short, broad leaf conformation. I don't have the intense long-day sun (except in Summer where it can burn almost anything) and high Summer humidity to grow them well.

If you're close to or get to Houston, there is a very active Bromeliad Society chapter there. Find them at

Good luck and keep the southern wind headed this way. (I'm in SW Missouri)


Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Bananas, Bromeliads and other tropical fruits in SW Missouri? You need to move further south... lol

I do hope it is a mild winter there. We see cold and freezes but I know each one brings us closer to summer. And nope, I wasn't one of those that whined about our 100 temps last summer.

I have used a form on Imidacloprid on my succulents primarily for mealies. Yours is an interesting way to apply the insecticide with fertilizer. Did I understand that you do so with every watering?

One of the brom growers from Australia will use osmocote or other pelletized fertilizer when a brom is pupping. Knowing it is going to die anyway, they put a pellet in the leaf junctures. In theory, it generates more pups. I have a dying Guzmania which is pupping. I am trying that now.

So, you made the mistake of mentioning scale. Have you ever had to fight it? How does it spread? Does the Imidacloprid work for scale also? I know I can spray a dilute solution on succulents for mealies. Could that also be applied to broms for scale? Asking as I received an Aechmea with flyspeck scale. I think I have removed all of it but am watching it closely.

Thanks for the Bromeliad links. I am about three hours from Houston, still too far to travel to play when I work for a living. Perhaps someday.

Sending some balmy winter days your way. Kristi

Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

I fought scale one summer/spring. I wash off my brom with soapy water. With lightweight gloves I scraped as much of the scale off every couple of days. It worked but needed constant attention. I was advised to toss the plant out. I now know to watch for scale, and stay on top of it.

Enjoyed the info. I too am a Brom lover.

Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

Dave, your list of broms available are linked to:

This does not work for me. Have you made a change?

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Plantsforpeg ~ tell me do you only remove the scale manually when found?

Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

I remove the scale manually and continue washing the plant in soapy water for a couple of months. I know this is not the recommended method, but I didn't want to invest in products when I had only 1 or 2 broms at that time.
Remember to get everything in the throat and next to the "trunk" of the plant on both sides of leaves.

This message was edited Jan 8, 2012 9:04 AM

Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Thanks for the scale information. I can see with a lot of plants scale would be horrible to control.

Although the Cryptanthus photo on the first post wasn't ID'd when I purchased it, I don't think it is Marian Oppenhiemer.
I'm thinking (from perusing different sites) that it is Starlite which is fine... I like them ALL!!!

Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

I am of no help in identifying Cryptanthus. Good Luck.

Springfield, MO(Zone 6a)

Wow - lots of activity here!

I try to respond to all of the questions - I don't have all the answers.

I apply Imidacloprid just along with the regular fertilizing schedule. Since I am retired, I do use Peg's manual scale eradication methodology. The scale invariably persists in areas of the greenhouse that are poorly ventilated, especailly when plants are smooshed togehter (i.e. every Winter) and usually on the undersides of the leaf an in the axils. I believe this allows the scale crawlers to more easily spread around.

Several years ago during a temporary loss of interest, I let the scale get out-of-control and it took several years to get back to normal. Normal doesn't mean eradicated for me, just well under control. Every so often I'll find a plant with a few survivors. I don't put many Bromeliads outside in the Summer - too many bad things can happen - scale, hail, dogs, the list goes on...

I moved the family web site to a new host and all the links here were indeed broken. I've update them - here's my list (way out of date as it is) Don't put much faith in the "Pups available" column. I have been propagating madly this Winter getting ready for a big plant sale in the Spring.

I don't know about the Osmocote in the leaf axils.

I'd move to Florida in an instant (my oldestdaughter is there) but my wife loves the change of seasons, and I must confess I love the Spring with it's bulbs and shrubs in all their glory.


Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

OK ~ now I want to go out and move the plants farther apart. I do have the one that had scale separated from the rest. I also keep a slow ceiling fan on all the time for air movement. Mainly to circulate the warm rising air though.

After looking at your phenomenal list of tropicals, I can see that it would be easy to let scale get out of control. Note to self... not to let it get out of hand. (Yeah ~ right!) But you do have an amazing list of plants.

In summer, I have to move plants out of the GH. It is positioned wrong, receiving the evening sun. I've seen temps in excess of 125. Even with shadecloth up, the heat will blister plants. I couldn't keep them watered often enough.

Thanks for taking the time and sharing your knowledge. Kristi

Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

I have hung my Broms in trees during the spring, but when the summer comes along I had to move them.

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Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

That is a very pretty way to display them.
In summer did you move them to full shade?

Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

Some broms require filtered sun to obtain desired color. I read up on those I had and found a couple that needed light sun. The others were moved to full shade.

Miami, FL(Zone 10a)

there is some great info here. thanks. i don t even know how many bromeliads i have. all of mine are in the ground or attached to trees. i don't have alot of sun so they don t bloom as often as i would like. i use osmocote but never put granular fertilizer in the well part. i have killed quite a few one year by just spreading it everywhere. the ones without spines generally need shade but the ones with spines can get quite a bit of sun. you definately need gloves and long sleeve shirt to split them up or you will look like you got in a fight with a ferral cat.

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Miami, FL(Zone 10a)

these get quite a bit of sun in the winter because the royal poinciana looses all its leaves until may.

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Miami, FL(Zone 10a)

you have to rinse out the well so mosquitos dont breed in them, and after they flower it will die and never flower again. you will get a couple of new pups from the bottom. i usually dont cut them away from the mother until they are at least a third the size of the mother and have at least 5 leavesor more.

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Miami, FL(Zone 10a)

i actually got alot of mine from someone here on daves who lived near me. he passed away a couple of years ago and i inherited alot of his bromeliads. they all bring back great memories of shopping for them with him. if you look up bromeliads in plant files chances are you will see his pictures posted. his name was giancarlo.

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Miami, FL(Zone 10a)

Cryptanthus i put in hanging baskets or coconuts. as long as they touch something they will grow.

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Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Candela ~ thanks for taking the time to post the beautiful photos!

I have seen quite a few of Giancarlos' photos of these lovely plants. I'm sure you learned a lot from him as well as receiving some of his gorgeous plants. We always wonder what will happen to our plants should we die and I know he was delighted to have a friend to care for and enjoy them.

I love the color on your second to last photo. I find I lean toward the darker Broms and that is beautiful.

after they flower it will die and never flower again
I wonder how many folks don't realize that and buy a flowering Bromeliad. Then, when it begans to die, they just toss it without researching it.

I appreciate you sharing your experience and knowledge ~ thanks. Kristi

Miami, FL(Zone 10a)

kristi you have no idea how many bromeliads and even orchids i find in people's garbage. i got this huge ball of orchids on a neighbors garbage pile, of course they werent flowering then so i am sure they thought they were dead.

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Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Targets of opportunity... lol
or their loss is your gain.

It seems we are a disposable society in all things. Sad isn't it.

Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

Candela, beautiful collection and orchids too. If you are up to a trade in the future, I would be interested. Right now mine are in the Ghouse, but perform better outdoors in the spring. These are a couple I purchased last summer at the Brom Society sale. No babies yet, but I am still waiting.

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Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Some beautiful broms in your pics here - Candela that one with the purple in the middle is spectacular!

Kristi, just wanted to chime in that of all the plants in my garden the broms are by far the easiest and most satisfying. I've found if I can find a good spot in the garden (under my 3 massive oak trees) I can leave them to their own devices and they grow, bloom, and spread wonderfully. Maybe a spritz with the hose occasionally when the weather's dry, and a few grains of pelleted fert if I'm passing by with the bag is all I do for mine. Oh, except if you let them get too crowded, they do stop blooming. I had a clump last fall that was all crowded. Looked beautiful but no blooms, so I picked it apart, sent about 8 starts to various DG friends, threw a few pieces down in a nearby bed. All immediately bloomed, and proceeded to make pups, now I have two big, healthy clumps!

If I try to keep them in pots and control their environment, that's the only time they don't do well. As Dave said, most are epiphytes which means they nurture themselves very well. This one's been in the tree since before we bought the house 4 years ago. Nothing done for it at all, not even water! I finally dragged a few pieces out of the clump and stuck them in the garden nearby. (see next pic 0

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Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

Leaves have more stripes and more color with a little more water and some leafy, duffy soil around the plant.

Can't wait to see what the flower is like!

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Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

Those are gorgeous. Thanks for the insight on caring for these pretty plants.

I just can't attach them to trees in this climate. I'd lose them to freezes in the winter but that is certainly beautiful.

Thanks for posting the photos and information.

Sarasota, FL(Zone 9b)

You could probably plant them outside under trees for the warm weather, though. Then, when the first freeze threatens, take the best divisions of your clumps, pot them up and protect them for the winter. They have so little in the way of roots, you just lift them up, hose them off and plunk them into pots.

Easy way to grow and enjoy them without stressing over them.

Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

I enjoy them out doors as well.

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Deep East Texas, TX(Zone 8a)

I love that combination of colors, plantsforpeg.

An immature Aechmea nudicalis

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Ventress, LA(Zone 8b)

Most of mine are looking kinda ratty right now, mostly to neglect.

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