Wholesale Bromeliads of Australia

Newsletter No 10 - August 2011

by Wholesale Bromeliads 24. August 2011 06:33

We've had a relatively mild Winter - cold nights but many lovely warm days with the temperature reaching 27 degrees recently. Still glad that Spring is around the corner when the bromeliads will start to grow & look lively again.

Lots of people are now coming to visit us & we really enjoy the time out to 'brom chat' as we look through the nursery. We love having visitors - just remember to ring to arrange a suitable time.

Bob found a beautiful small frog among the vrieseas that we haven't seen before - see photo below. If anyone can identify it we would be very grateful.

EVENTS: The Oasis Orchid & Garden Expo was held at Broadbeach, Surfer's Paradise on 21-22 May. We had a very successful day & were pleased to meet some of our Newsletter subscribers there.


27-28 August: The Orchid & Foliage Show is being held by the Gold Coast District Orchid Society at the new Community Centre Hall, Lawson Street, Southport. Sat 9-4  Sund 9-2

17 September: The Gold Coast Succulent & Bromeliad Society Annual Show at the Carrara Community Centre, Nielsens Road, Carrara, QLD. 9-3

15-16 October: Wavell Heights Bromeliad Extravaganza at the Wavell Heights Community Hall, Edinburgh Castle Road, Wavell Heights, Brisbane. Sat 8-3   Sund 9-2.  Refreshments available & off street parking.

5-6 November: Gold Coast - Tweed Orchid Fair at the Civic Centre, cnr Wharf & Brett Streets, Tweed Heads, Northern NSW. Sat 8.30 - 4  Sund 8.30 - 2

For those who are close enough, we hope to see you at some of these events - lots of bromeliads & other plants for sale plus beautiful show & display plants.

SPECIALS: We have some great specials for Spring including Aechmea 'Del Mar', Neoregelia Mini 'Inca Fire' & a list of Neoregelias. Refer to our Price Lists for details.

FEATURED BROMELIAD:  Aechmea 'J.C. Superstar' is a beautiful larger growing Aechmea which was hybridised by Hawaiian Howard Yamamoto (see photo below). It's pink tinted leaves have paler barring & the inflorescence is large & branched. We have half grown plants for sale for $18.

PRICE LISTS:  We are now putting the sizes & prices of Neoregelias for sale on our Price Lists to make ordering easier & quicker. 


The genus was recognised by botanists in 1843 & named by the English botanist John Lindley (1799-1865) after the Dutch botanist & physician Dr. Willem Hendrik de Vriese (1806-1862).  Even before that date Vriesea splendens was introduced into Europe from the Guyanas (South America) in 1840. Taxonomically Vrieseas are closely related to Tillandsias. The distinguishing botanical difference is subtle. Vrieseas have a small wing or flap at the base of the flower petals (called a ligule) which Tillandsias don't have. 

SUBFAMILY: They belong to the Tillandsioides subfamily & have spineless leaves which has made them popular with plant enthusiasts. They have winged seeds ('parachute' seeds) which are usually dispersed by breezes. The feathery plumes also help the seed to stick to a suitable epiphytic surface for germination.

HABITAT: There are approximately 260 species which live in moist tropical & sub-tropical shady conditions. They inhabit the tropical zones of Mexico, Central America & South America with the majority of species being native to Brazil. They have adapted to a range of altitudes ranging from sea level to 3500 metres. Most thrive in the shade at a high humidity in mists or rain forests. They are epiphytic on bushes & trees (majority) as well as being terrestrial in permeable humus ground.

FORM: Most are rosette types with 'tanks' formed by their central leaves which store water. Water & nutrients are absorbed through the leaves since the roots mainly serve as adhesive organs. However when the plants are grown in containers & the roots are exposed to a moist potting medium, the roots also aid in the absorption of water & nutrients - an important fact when considering a watering & fertiliser programme. 

INFLORESCENCE: The colour of the simple (single) or branched inflorescence varies between yellow, orange, pink, red, purple, green, speckled or a combination of colours. The bract colours last for several months. The flowers are white, green, yellow or bluish violet. Some species, in particular the night flowerers, are noteworthy for the striking mosaics, banded patterns or speckles of the rosettes & are commonly known as foliage vrieseas. The inflorescences of many night flowerers produce large bell shaped flowers whose fruit like perfume & sweet secretions attract bats & moths for the purpose of pollination. They open late in the evening & are withered by the following morning.

GROUPS: Besides the many species, there are also a great number of hybrid vrieseas, many of which are not formally registered. Vrieseas can be put into three broad groups & their cultivation will be outlined in these groups:

  • Foliage or pattern leaf vrieseas
  • Flowering vrieseas
  • Silver tillandsia-type vrieseas 
1840 - Vriesea splendens was introduced into Europe following the 'New World' exploration.

1880-1920 - Edouard Morren (1833-1886) who was curator of the Botanical Garden of Leige, Belgium (& who specialised in bromeliads) introduced many vriesea species into Europe. He also started a period in which growers began to produce their own hybrids. His first hybridisation was performed in 1879 (V. psittacina x V. carinata which produced V. 'Morreniana'). Vrieseas became popular with plants lovers due to their spineless leaves & attractive inflorescence & they were suitable as house plants.

During the following 40 years, breeders in Belgium, France & The Netherlands started hybridising vrieseas for the wholesale trade. Many exotic varieties were produced up until World War 1 which halted the breeding programmes & led to the loss of some species.

Two important early vriesea hybridists were Jos Marechal of Belgium & Leon Duval (V. 'Poelmannii') of France. Others were Edouard Morren, J Chevalier & J M Closen from Belgium, MA Truffaut from France, Kittel from Germany & Witte from The Netherlands.

The early hybrids nearly all had a simple (not branched) inflorescence.  The species mainly used were V. psittacina var. rubrobracteata, V. psittacina, V. duvaliana, V. fenestralis, V. incurvata. V. barilletii & V. splendens.  Attempts were made to produce branched inflorescences. One of the first was V. 'Kitteliana' (1890) from Kittel (barilletii x saundersii). Another was V. 'Vigeri' (1894) from Duval (rodigasiana x 'Cardinalis').


1918-1945 Hybridisation slowed down after World War 1. The economic crisis of the 1930s was followed by World War 2. However, Louis Dutrie of Belgium did produce many hybrids during this period. Also during this period there was interest in Belgium in hybridising with foliage vrieseas & one example is V. 'Intermedia' (1930s) from M R Morobe (hieroglyphica x 'Viminalis Rex').

1945 ON - Vriesea hybridisation began increasing again after the Second World War. Dutrie died in 1948 & most of his hybrids were lost as his establishment was destroyed in the bombing of 1944. The new breed of hybridisers found it difficult to find vriesea species or hybrids to use. Noteworthy vriesea hybridists from Belgium of this period are Carlos Broeckaert, Hendrik de Meyer, Albert Deroose & his son Reginald who now runs the family business.

Broeckaert produced the first variegated hybrid V. 'Madam Carlos Broeckaert' (< 1945) which was not very stable (cv. of V.'Poelmannii). After years of selection Albert Deroose produced a stable cultivar which is now sold as V. 'White Line.

Deroose Senior made his first vriesea crosses in the 1950s. The hybrids of Deroose & others are now produced by tissue culture & sold all over the world. The supply through to Australia now comes to us from Shanghai.

Others who have made a significant contribution to the modern hybridisation of vrieseas are: Marnier-Lapostolle from France, Richter & Pinckert from Germany, Cornelius Bak from The Netherlands, & Nat De Leon, Herbert Hill & John Arden from America. The modern pioneers of hybrid foliage vrieseas include David Shiigi from Hawaii, Andrew Maloy from New Zealand & of course our own Jack Koning from Australia.

NEXT: Vriesea cultivation

Happy growing,

Bob & True Grant


Aechmea 'J.C. Superstar'


Unknown frog