Wholesale Bromeliads of Australia

Newsletter No 13 - August 2012

by Wholesale Bromeliads 9. August 2012 03:06

Can't wait for Spring & warmer weather. We've had quite a few sunny days at last after two years of overcast, rainy weather. The broms are loving it & the neos particularly are getting better colour. 

WAVELL HEIGHTS BROMELIAD EXTRAVAGANZA: Our next show is on 13th & 14th October 2012 at the Wavell Heights Community Hall, 175 Edinburgh Castle Road, Wavell Heights, Brisbane. There will be a large range of bromeliads for sale including new releases. Sat 8-3  Sund 9-2  Refreshments available & off street parking. 

OUR EXPERIENCE FERTILISING MINI NEOS & BILLBERGIAS: We have often been advised to use controlled release fertiliser on our mini neos to produce more pups & to give our billbergias extra for the same reason. So we finally succumbed & put 1/2 teaspoon on our minis & 1 teaspoon on our billbergias. We didn't get any more pups & ended up with green mothers & pups. So will stick with our usual nil for minis (good sized midis are ok with 1/4 teaspoon) & 1/2 teaspoon for billbergias in the future.

N:P:K FERTILISER ANALYSIS - DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AUSTRALIA & THE USA:  There is often confusion when information from American sources advises using a controlled release fertiliser 20:20:20 or similar. The USA has a different formula for this analysis compared to Australia.

  • N always represents the % weight of nitrogen.
  • In Australia, New Zealand & Ireland N:P:K refers to the % weight of the elements.
  • In some European countries & the USA the P (phosphorous) & K (potassium) represent the weight of the available or soluble form of the element = the weight of the equivalent quantity of the oxide (P2O5 & K2O).
  • In order to calculate the elemental weight of P & K in the USA formula (& thus convert to the Australian formula), multiply the P (P2O5) by .44 & the K (K2O) by.83 to compensate for the weight of the oxygen in the molecule.
  • To summarise & simplify, to convert N:P:K % from the USA to Australian formula, multiply the P by .44 & the K by .83. Therefore USA 20:20:20 = Australia 20:8.8:16.6.
  • There is a table with conversions for micronutrients available but I haven't yet been able to access it.
TALK TO THE GOLD COAST BROMELIAD & SUCCULENT SOCIETY: True was privileged to give a talk to our local bromeliad society on the 26th May about our 2009 trip to Hawaii - she shared our experiences as tourists as well as our triumphs & failures importing bromeliads back into Australia.


This genus belongs to the subfamily Tillandsioideae & like all other members has no spines. There are 18 species (some references list 22) & no registered hybrids.

The genus was first described in 1864 by Grise-Bach & 'catopsis' is derived from the Greek word meaning 'view' (probably referring to their natural habitat of growing on trees).

They are chiefly found in Florida, Mexico, the Greater Antilles. the West Indies, Trinidad, Central America & the northern region of South America. *Catopsis berteroniana & Catopsis sessiliflora have been found as far south as Santa Catarina in southern Brazil. They are usually found growing alongside tillandsias & vrieseas as, like these, they are mostly epiphytic. Some are saxicolous (grow on rocks).

Interesting rather than colourful, they are usually small bromeliads & have soft, waxy leaves with frequent scurfing (coating with white powder) especially on the underside. The inflorescences are simple or branched, upright or pendant & the flowers are white, pale green or yellow. The seed capsules of certain species become yellow & orange & may be attractive for quite some time (eg Catopsis berteroniana).

Some catopsis are dioecious which means that a given plant will have either pollen bearing elements or those resulting in seed production - but not both. Some species (eg C. morreniana) are usually dioecious, but have some instances of 'perfect' (that is flowers with both male & female elements). The reverse can also occur (eg C. berteroniana).

Temperature: In their natural habitat there is a medium to warm all year round temperature of 13 degrees to 30 degrees. They are not cold tolerant & need protection from frosts. 

Light: They generally grow in dense shade & less commonly bright filtered light. Some are found in dry forested regions between sea level & 2000 metres altitude. They grow well under 70% shadecloth. *Some will grow in full tropical sun.

Fertiliser: Use a controlled release fertiliser higher in potassium than nitrogen (eg high K Osmocote or Nutricote). Also use a foliar fertiliser weekly or fortnightly that is also higher in potassium (eg Phostrogen) at 1/4 to 1/2 the recommended indoor plant strength.

Water: Catopsis like high humidity & respond well to being watered 3 x week in summer & 2 x week in winter. As they have very thin leaves & don't store much water, they can dry out very quickly. Mist daily in dry periods.

Potting: They can be grown in pots or on mounts similar to those used for most grey leaved tillandsias. Use a coarse, free draining potting mix & pots 110mm to 140mm.

Happy growing,
Bob & True Grant

Catopsis compacta      Catopsis aff morreniana below