Wholesale Bromeliads of Australia

Newsletter No 11 - December 2011

by Wholesale Bromeliads 13. December 2011 22:44

Firstly we would like to thank all our customers for their purchases this year. Was great to see new faces among our regulars & we look forward to another successful year in 2012. Times are tough - but a small cost item like a bromeliad can add lots of cheer.

We would also like to welcome our new Newsletter subscribers & thank our 'old' ones for your continued support. We hope you enjoy & benefit from our Newsletter.

Many thanks to all those who emailed about our mystery frog (see newsletter below). It was identified as a Peron's Tree Frog (Litoria peronii), sometimes known as the Maniacal Cackle Frog due to its distinctive call. It's found in Southern QLD through into NSW & VIC.

A Testimonial Section is being set up on our website - we always appreciate your feedback. Thanks to those who agreed to have their comments published. Permission will always be requested & no personal details included (first names only & state).

We are also working on a general 'Overview of Bromeliads' webpage so there is easy access to more general information.

EVENTS: Our local Bromeliad Society (Gold Coast) held their annual Show & Competition in September & we were pleased to do quite well. Most of the broms we entered in the competition got a place. Our Billbergia 'Groovy' won the Billbergia section & we got the judges award for best bromeliad overall with our Vriesea 'Montezuma's Gem'. Some photos of our broms are below.

Vriesea 'Montezuma's Gem'-Judges Award best bromeliad        Billbergia 'Groovy'  - 1st                      Guzmania 'Bernie's Gold' - 2nd

COMING EVENTS:

The next Wavell Heights (Brisbane) Extravaganza will be held on 10th & 11th March 2012.

The Gold Coast - Tweed Orchid Fair will be held 3rd & 4th November 2012 at Tweed Heads (Northern NSW).

SPECIALS: We have some great Summer specials - refer to our Price Lists.

FEATURED BROMELIAD: Aechmea nudicaulis variegated is a colourful medium growing bromeliad with a bright yellow & red inflorescence. It's attractive even when not in flower. It likes dappled sun & is ok with full sun in the cooler parts of the day. We have 3/4 grown plants (double planted) for $15.

Aechmea nudicaulis variegated

PET PYTHON: As well as Millie (small blond Tibetan Spaniel), Beau (big black Labrador) & Ella (Larry's faithful companion) who race out to greet customers - we now have a pet python who does give some visitors a scare.  It quietly moves around from shade house to shade house. It nestled on top of an Alcantarea extensa & then wound around the base of an imperialis Rubra. It's really a beautiful creature. Our thanks to David & Heidi who were here buying broms for the first photo.

Our pet python - we suspect one of quite a few !!!

CULTIVATION FOLIAGE VRIESEAS

POTTING MIX:  As with most bromeliads, vrieseas require an acidic mix that retains some moisture yet drains freely. The roots need aeration & will rot out in a tight or boggy mix. There are many ways to achieve this & different growers all have their favourite mixes. Ingredients commonly used include peat moss, cocopeat, composted pine bark chips (11 - 20 mm in diameter), sand, perlite, charcoal, small pieces of polystyrene foam & 'clinker'. Commonly used mixtures are:

  • 1 part charcoal to 7 parts pine bark
  • 1 part coarse river sand to 1 part cocopeat/peat moss
  • Pine bark chips with some cocopeat/peat moss added
We use 80% composted pine bark chips with 10% cocopeat & 10% polystyrene foam pieces. Ag lime & dolomite are added to reach a pH of 5.5 - 6.0. The pine bark assures good drainage whilst the cocopeat retains fertiliser & moisture. The foam pieces maintain aeration whilst the other ingredients are breaking down. We need large quantities of medium as we are a nursery & our mix is professionally prepared.

If you want to try a mix that is prepared for you -  try a commercial Dendrobium Orchid mix. I was in Bunnings recently & noticed that they now sell bags of potting mix that are for Orchids & Bromeliads.

POTS: Vrieseas do well in pots or planted in the ground as long as they are planted directly into well drained, organically rich garden soil. We think it's a good idea to add some pine bark chips to ensure adequate drainage. As they are mainly epiphytes- they also grow well on logs & trees etc.

FERTILIZER: For foliage vrieseas- add a controlled release fertilizer (normal strength for indoor plants) that is higher in Potassium (K) than Nitrogen (N) - either in the mix or on top. This is often found in fertilisers for flowering plants. We note the expiry date & reapply at this time. Other growers apply controlled release only once. Foliage vrieseas also benefit from weekly feeding with a soluble fertiliser at normal strength for indoor plants. Phostrogen is used by many growers which has an N:P:K of 14:4.4: 22.4 (P = phosphorus). 
We've spoken to two well known hybridists of foliage vrieseas who use a soluble fertilizer that is higher in Nitrogen (N) then Potassium (K) & now use this regime with good results.

LIGHT: Foliage vrieseas do best in bright, indirect light. They are ok with direct sun in the cooler part of the day (especially in Summer) but will bleach & burn if exposed to the Australian midday summer heat.  Beige shade cloth is the best (50% Winter & 70-75% in Summer). 50% black shade cloth is usually ok all year round. If in too much shade, they will go green, & if in too much sun they will yellow & burn. In the words of one experienced Australian hybridist - 'Give them as much light as possible without burning them'.  Some foliage vrieseas tolerate more light then others.

AIR:  All vrieseas like plenty of air movement around them. They do best on benches above the ground if possible. Space the plants so the outer leaves are just touching.

WATER: Vrieseas do not like to dry out. As a guide only - in Summer give a heavy water 2 x week (water drains out of the pot) preferably early am or late pm.  In Winter heavy water 1 x week.  In temperatures over 30 degrees C - dampen the foliage 1 x day.

TEMPERATURE: Vrieseas can survive quite cold conditions. However, as a general rule, they need protection from frosts.  Under the shelter of taller shrubs & trees or shade cloth, where frost isn't going to settle on the foliage, they should tolerate light frosts (-2 degrees C). Note -  Brazilian species & hybrids will tolerate near or slightly below freezing. Central American & Andean vrieseas are less cold tolerant.

PESTS & DISEASES
  • Vrieseas can suffer from Flyspeck Scale - treat with a systemic insecticide such as Folimat or Confidor.
  • Root Rot or Stem Rot through poor drainage can occasionally cause problems especially in periods of persistent rain. Early symptoms are red discolouration of the leaves. Once diagnosed, it's often too late to save the plant. Ensure free draining potting mix or soil.
  • Grasshoppers can be a problem. They are easier to catch in the morning.
PROPAGATION: Vrieseas can be propagated either from pups or seed. The best time to remove pups is from mid September - late November & from mid February - late March. In the tropics it is usually the rainy season. Foliage Vrieseas are night flowering & receptive to pollination at night or early in the morning. You will see a drop of liquid on the stigma.  

VRIESEA HYBRIDIST ANDREW MALOY FROM NEW ZEALAND states that the three main factors affecting the colour & pattern intensity of foliage vrieseas are genetics, age & light.

CULTIVATION of GREEN LEAVED VRIESEAS GROWN FOR THEIR FLOWERS

All of the above is the same except for 1) Fertilizer 2) Light

FERTILISER: We use normal indoor plant strength controlled release fertilizer (replaced at expiry) & weekly soluble fertiliser throughout the year that are both higher in Potassium (K) than Nitrogen (N).  The recommended ratio of N:P:K from the European growers who are experts in flowering Vrieseas is 1:.44: 1.66. I always keep this ratio in mind when assessing the total result of our controlled release & soluble fertilizing program. 

LIGHT: These Vrieseas are like Guzmanias & need shade to do well (80% shade cloth). For this reason they are great for indoors for long lasting colour instead of short lived flowers. They do well in pots on a patio or in the garden in shade. 

TISSUE CULTURE: Most are grown from tissue culture & as such are not sought after by collectors. We are wholesalers & collectors - & use these lovely flowering Vrieseas for colour in our house & garden. Even if you are a serious collector - consider these beautiful bromeliads for colour in your own house & garden.


 

Vriesea 'Vogue'

 

CULTIVATION TILLANDSIA TYPE VRIESEAS - Should be cultivated as Tillandsias

* The above information is offered only as a guide. Talk to other growers & monitor your results to find a regime that is right for you.

 

NEXT TOPIC: Biological terms for bromeliads

Bob, Larry & True send warm wishes for the Festive Season. Have a very Happy Christmas & our best wishes for 2012.

 

Bob & True Grant

Wholesale Bromeliads of Australia