THE BROMELIAD SOCIETY BULLETIN|
The Bromeliad Society Bulletin is the official publication
of the Bromeliad Society, a non-profit corporation organized in 1950. The
Bulletin is issued six times a year. Subscription to the Bulletin is included
in the annual membership dues. There are four classes of member-ship: Annual,
$5.00; Sustaining, $7.50; Fellowship, $15.00; and Life $100.00. All
memberships start with January of the current year. For membership
information, write to Mrs. Jeanne Woodbury, 1811 Edgecliffe Drive, Los Angeles,
California 90026. Please submit all manuscripts for publication to the editor,
647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90049
OFFICERS President Charles A. Wiley Editorial Secretary Victoria Padilla First Vice President Jack M. Roth Membership Secretary Jeanne Woodbury Second Vice President Fritz Kubisch Treasurer Virginia Berezin BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Nat DeLeon, Florida
William Dunbar, California
Edward McWilliams, Michigan
Julian Nally, Florida
Russell Seibert, Pennsylvania
Mary Wisdom, Louisiana
Ralph Davis, Florida
George Kalmbacher, New York
Fritz Kubisch, California
W. R. Paylen, California
Ralph Spencer, California
Charles Wiley, California
Wilbur Wood, California
Virginia Berezin, California
George Milstein, New York
Victoria Padilla, California
John Riley, California
Jack M. Roth, California
Jeanne Woodbury, California
Ervin Wurthmann, Florida
Adda Abendroth, Brazil
W. B. Charley, Australia
Charles Chevalier, Belgium
Mulford B. Foster, U.S.A.
Harold Martin, New Zealand
Richard Oeser, Germany
Prof. Dr. W. Rauh, Germany
Raulino Reitz, Brasil
Walter Richter, Germany
Dr. L. B. Smith, U.S.A.
Marcel Lecoufle, France
PICTURE ON THE COVER –
Aechmea fasciata comes in a number of varieties, one of the most beautiful being the variegated form as shown in this photograph by Jack Holmes of Tampa, Florida.
Articles and photographs are earnestly solicited by the editor. Length is no factor. Please mail all copy to the editor, 647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90049.
Tillandsia nuptialis — Ruby Braga et D. Sucre sp. nov.
Loefgrenia 35, 15-VIII-1969
Holotypus: Brazil, Estado do Rio de Janeiro, Montserrat, Pedra Paraibuna IV-1969, leg. P. I. S. Braga 1556 (RB).
Whoever drives along the Rio de Janeiro-Brasilia highway may observe at the left side, shortly before arrival at a small place called Montserrat which limits the States of Rio Janeiro and Minas Gerais, the huge Pedra Paraibuna extending over several kilometers.
The abrupt slope of this rocky ore mountain has its upper half almost entirely covered with a species of Tillandsia, and this is a brief note concerning this bromeliad which at first seemed unreachable to us.
We made our way by entering a poultry farm and walking through a large corn plantation to the base of the mountain. On the ground we found some specimens but they were in very poor condition, with the inflorescences almost already fructified. Nevertheless, they appeared to be something with different characteristics from what we had ever seen before. Workers at the plantation told us that in bad weather lighting frequently strikes on the cliff, and this could perhaps be the reason for our encountering those Tillandsia plants at its base.
So we left the place but with the intention of returning later, prepared to climb the steep mountain face. When we returned, we did succeed, but the climb up the cliff was hard and long. But it was worthwhile, and we brought back a number of plants.
At flowering time, when about twenty specimens were in bloom, a real party happened in our garden and made us sure that we were seeing a brand-new species. The elegant shape of this bromeliad with the blades and upper part of the bracts densely covered with silver scales and the large pure white flowers make one think of a bride, and, thus, it was named Tillandsia nuptialis.
This long-awaited volume certainly fulfills a great need for the bromeliad grower who is ever eager to learn more about his plants. Dr. Werner Rauh, Professor of Botany in the University of Heidelberg and world authority on Tillandsias, in compiling this important study on the sub-family Tillandsioideae, was assisted by Dr. Herbert Lehmann, Director of the Botanic Garden of the University of Heidelberg, and Dr. Richard Oeser, of Stegen, Germany, whose articles on Tillandsias have frequently appeared in the Bulletin.
It is a magnificent book, containing 174 black and white photos, 63 in beautiful color, and 48 fine drawings. The illustrations are all outstanding. The book is in two parts. Part I serves as an introduction to the various bromeliads: it deals with their homeland, their morphology, their living conditions, their cultivation, and those best adapted to cultivation. The second part is about the division of the family, nomenclature, abbreviations, key to determine genera in the sub-family Tillandsioideae, the six genera included in this volume, the principals hybrids in the Tillandsioideae, a key for the Tillandsias, literature, and index.
For the Tillandsia enthusiast this book is especially valuable, for he will get information never before available. There are 144 species described in word and picture, a number being illustrated for the first time. Important, also, are the keys for the identification of the cultivated species.
The other genera covered in this volume are Catopsis, Guzmania, Vriesea, Glomeropitcairnia, and Mezobromelia. Species belonging to the other sub-families will be fully described in Volume II, which will appear in due course.
The book is a highly scholarly one—much material is compacted in its 359 pages, but it is not only a reference volume, it is one to be enjoyed for its pleasing style and the beauty of its illustrations. Even though a person cannot read German, this book is certainly deserving of a place in every horticultural library.
The Society has a limited number of copies for sale. These may be obtained by sending $15.50 to the Editor, 647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles, Calif. 90049.
EDWARD L. McWILLIAMS AND LYMAN B. SMITH
|Fig. 1 Vriesea pabstii bearing seed capsules|
The genus Vriesea includes over 215 species, most of which are epiphytes, belonging to the subfamily Tillandsioideae. The major character which separates the group from the very closely allied and larger genus Tillandsia is the presence of petal scales. Smith (1966) notes that the heavy concentration of species from the three subgenera of Vriesea in the area of Rio de Janeiro indicates that it is in this section of Brazil that the genus originated.
In February 1968, Dr. G. F. J. Pabst generously provided transportation and equipment for a bromeliad collecting trip in southeastern Brazil (McWilliams, 1968). One of the bromeliads found on this expedition was an unrecognized species of Vriesea growing at an altitude of about 1,000 meters at the crest of the serra above the coastal town of Ubatuba, Sao Paulo. This taxon, to be described below as Vriesea pabstii sp. nov, was growing in a rainforest 20 km. northeast of Ubatuba along with V. altodaserra L. B. Smith and Nidularium innocentii Lem. A population of approximately fifteen plants of the new species was observed growing in rich leafmold and bryophytes in deep shade in an area of about one hectare.
Figure 2. Close up of inflorescence showing the densely|
distichous floral bracts and the green, concolorous leaves.
VRIESEA PABSTII McWilliams and Smith, sp. nov. A Vriesea brusquensis Reitz, cui affinis, bracteis omnibus viridibus, bracteis primariis ramorum bases steriles eprophyllatas superantibus, floribus multo densioribus differt.
PLANT flowering 8 dm high. LEAVES rosulate, to 63 cm long, subdensely vestite throughout with minute appressed scales; sheaths subquadrate, scarcely wider than the blades but dark castaneous beneath; blades ligulate, broadly rounded and apiculate, 65 mm wide, green, concolorous. SCAPE erect, 1 cm. in diameter, glabrous; scape-bracts imbricate and wholly covering the scape, green with fine purple spots, the upper elliptic. INFLORESCENCE erect, few-branched, lax, 35 cm long, glabrous; primary bracts broadly ovate, apiculate, covering the short sterile naked bases of the branches; branches spreading with the flowers downwardly divergent-secund, the lateral 14 cm long, the terminal slightly larger. FLORAL BRACTS very densely distichous but not secund, broadly elliptic, apiculate, 4 cm long, sharply carinate, subcoriaceous, somewhat nerved in drying; pedicels cylindric, 1 cm. long. SEPALS narrowly oblong, rounded, 24 mm long, subcoriaceous, nerved; petals unknown. CAPSULE slenderly ovoid, beaked, 35 mm long.
|Figure 3. Squamiform trichome (× 460).|
Figure 4. Epidermal characteristics showing the|
density of the absorbing scales (× 120).
Figure 5. Comparison of stomate and subtending|
cells to an absorbing scale (× 120).
BRAZIL: Sao Paulo: Rainforest, crest of the serra above Ubatuba, 7 February 1968, L. B. Smith and E. L. McWilliams 15424 (Type, MICH: isotypes, HB, US).
Figure 1 shows a mature specimen of V. pabstii bearing seed capsules. Part of an inflorescence and the floral bracts are shown in Figure 2. One of the most distinctive morphological structures in the plant kingdom is the water absorption structure or absorbing trichome of the Bromeliaceae. In the Tillandsioideae, the development of water absorbing scales on the leaves has often been concomitant with a reduction in the absorptive capacity of the root system. Trichomes of the type genus Tillandsia are extremely specialized and include a scale which is usually differentiated into an enclosed central disk with a thick top and asymmetrical wing. Tillandsias are found in both North and South America, and many species grow under extremely xeric conditions. In contrast, the majority of Vrieseas are limited to moist mesophytic conditions and are not found as far north as the United States. The absorbing scales of Vriesea tend to be much less winged than those of Tillandsia and some of them approach radial symmetry as shown in figures 3 and 4. These squamiform trichomes have their bases sunk deep below the level of the epidermis. As seen from above, the shield of V. pabstii consists of 4 right-angled cells in the center, surrounded by a ring of 8 cells and a second ring of about 64 elongate cells forming the wing (Figures 3 and 4).
Figure 4 shows the irregular scalloped cell walls of the epidermis. A comparison of the size and shape of the stomate and an absorbing scale of the abaxil epidermis is shown in Figure 5. The technique for making cuticular imprints developed by Sinclair and Dunn (1961) was used for all slides.
McWilliams, Edward L. 1968 "Natural and Cultivated Bromeliads in Southeastern Brazil" Bromeliad Society Bulletin 18: 123-137.
Sinclair, C. and D. B. Dunn. 1961. "Surface Printing in Plant Leaves for Phylogenetic Studies." Stain Technology 36: 299-304.
Smith, Lyman B. 1966. "Notes on Bromeliaceae, XXXIII: Vriesea, Phytologia 13: 84-140.
—University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, and The Smithsonian Institution, Washington 25, D.C.
that though most people select the discolor form of Aechmea miniata it is the plain green form that has the longer-lasting berries?
that failure to remove spent flowering scapes and allowing them to develop seed will drastically reduce the number of offsets produced?
that Portea petropolitana is loath to flower until a clump is formed, but flowering can be hastened by under-potting?
DR. GEORGE MILSTEINOne of the unique factors that sets the family of BROMELIACEAE apart from all of the other families in the Plant Kingdom is that its members can be forced or stimulated into bloom by chemical means. For this reason, all of us who grow bromeliads as a hobby should pursue all avenues of what occurs when our plants are induced into bloom by other than natural means.
Since Omaflora (BOH) is the newest and probably the most efficient of all bromeliad bloom exciters, the writer feels that in the not-too-distant future, many new things will be discovered about its effects on bromels in addition to stimulating inflorescence. Herb Plever, in his article about the Dutch brand of BOH, (Bromeliad Bulletin, Vol. 19 #1), brought up the point that some researcher should investigate the strange effect that BOH sometimes has on bromeliads by causing them to develop new plants from their centers instead of inflorescences. I agree with him and would like to present photographic evidence of three completely different phenomena which have resulted from the application of Omaflora on some bromeliads in my collection. The writer hopes that other experiments will record the unusual developments of the use of Omaflora and other bloom stimulants on their plants. Who knows? - there may be new sports developed and also new knowledge added to the evolutional development of bromeliad species and hybrids. As these plants which I have photographed develop new generations, I intend to separate at least two off-shoots from each plant and on maturity treat one with Omaflora and permit the other to infloresce in a normal manner without outside stimulation. Perhaps in this way several generations of change can be condensed into only a few.
Unknown Tillandsia species. New blades of inflorescence emerging from peduncle. (arrows)
Vriesea fosteriana. New healthy plant emerging from center of old plant.
Figure 1.: This is an unknown (to the writer) Tillandsia that was received under the name of Tillandsia deppeana var. latifolia. After growing it in the home for about one year, the writer felt it was mature in size. On September 1, 1968, it was given a dose of 0.01% Omaflora solution. In December, it began to infloresce. It was now apparent that the specimen was misnamed. The inflorescence developed from the end of November and eventually 9 blades branched off from the central peduncle. These blades eventually became a bright red color from which blue flowers with yellow stamens eventually came forth. On February 25, 1969, the last flower developed. I had intended to remove the spent inflorescence and send it to Dr. Lyman B. Smith for identification, but I decided to wait until seeds formed. On April 25, 1969, exactly two months to the day, 3 new blades were detected growing out of the base of the peduncle. By this time the older blades of the inflorescence, which had already flowered, had reverted to a white color. The new inflorescence blades are the same bright red as the older ones had been. They will probably begin to flower in about a month. It is the first time, to this writer's knowledge, that a bromeliad continued to infloresce months after it had apparently stopped flowering.
Figure 2.: This Vriesea fosteriana was also dosed with Omaflora on September 1, 1968. At the beginning of 1969, it seemed to be developing a fine healthy inflorescence. As can be seen in the photograph, a new plant developed instead. As of the time of this writing (end of April, 1969) no side offsets have begun to develop. It seems that all of the vigor of the mother plant has been concentrated in the development of this one offspring. As a result, the new plant has grown with amazing rapidity. In fact, it has sprung up with such unbelievable speed that it has attained the height of about 16 inches from the base of the cup in less than 5 months. This is all the more astounding because as a rule, Vrieseas are notoriously slow growers especially in the first year or two of their lives. Though, in the photo, the new plant seems to be elongated and etiolated, such is not the fact. If anything, the new leaves are of a much heavier substance than the parent and the leaf tips are an attractive red color. The traditional leaf markings are much more pronounced and more attractive in the youngster.
Figure 3. Aechmea fasciata. Comparison of two plants
from same clone showing difference of size in habit and inflorescence.|
Figure 3.: Like the above two specimens, these two Aechmea fasciatas were also treated on September 1, 1968, by Omaflora. The plant on the left developed normally and began to infloresce in the middle of December, 1968. It was of normal size and the inflorescence seemed to be normal also. It finally finished flowering in the middle of March, 1969. The plant on the right continued to grow in size and did not show its inflorescence until about the middle of February, 1969. The plant is about 50 percent larger in size than is normal, the leaves are heavier and broader. The inflorescence (which is still flowering at this time of writing as noted above) is not only larger but is also generating more than twice as many flowers. The coloring is a much brighter pink than the plant on the left, even though they were growing under identical conditions.
As has been noted above, all of the plants mentioned in this article were treated on the same day with the same identical solution of 0.01% of Omaflora. The photographs that accompany this article were all taken on the same day—April 28, 1969—about 8 months from the time of treatment. It should be noted that a Vriesea hieroglyphica which had been similarly treated with Omaflora, also developed a new plant, instead of an inflorescence. Perhaps the detailing of these strange phenomena will encourage others to experiment with Omaflora.
—33-33 14th Street, Long Island City, N. Y., 11106.
—Roger K. Taylor.
A very young group, its beginning was described in a recent letter received from Mrs. Alice Newman, one of its founders. She writes: "A little over two years ago a very good friend from another garden group brought to see our garden a young man who was very interested in and enthusiastic over bromeliads. We talked plants and growing for hours. We even talked of getting a group together to begin a society. My husband and I were delighted, and finally in February, 1968, we gathered a group of friends and interested folks together at the garden center and our Houston Society was born with our leader, the very capable Pat Mitchell and his assistant John Nedbalek. My husband served as temporary secretary until the club was formed and officers elected. We all took great pleasure in getting together a group of people who love our plants."
The president is Pat Mitchell, 8211 Helmers, Houston, Texas 77022; secretary is Ann Haden, 5310 Cherokee, Houston 77005. Other officers include Lynn Cook, vice-president and John Nedbalek, treasurer. The editor is Dixie Harris. According to their bulletin, their membership is "growing by leaps and bounds," numbering approximately 80.
The Victorian Branch of the Bromeliad Society of Australia received the highest award at the Autumn Floral Festival staged by the Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria in March. The display was also featured on television.
W. A. Thomas, president of the Victorian Branch was presented with a gold medallion from the Royal Horticultural Society of Victoria for his service to horticulture. Mr. Thomas has been an enthusiastic member of the Bromeliad Society of Australia and has done much to encourage its growth.
In the United States the Bromeliad Society conferred upon Mr. Ed Hummel of Carlsbad, California, a certificate of merit for his outstanding work with bromeliads. Especially noteworthy are his many outstanding Aechmea hybrids, which have become known the world over for their great beauty.
It has just been learned that the New York Bromeliad Society received the New York Horticultural Society Gold Medal for cultural excellence for its exhibit at the International Flower Show held in New York on March.
Those members residing in central California will be interested to learn that a Sacramento Bromeliad Society is in the process of formation. For further particulars contact Evron Ray, 5804 Spruce Avenue, Sacramento 95841.
TOM SEUSSThere are a number of advantages in this method of growing your bromeliads.
1. It is the natural way for most bromeliads to grow, i.e. all except the terrestrials. 2. It provides you with a garden above ground level. 3. They require no repotting.
It would be interesting to make a study of which varieties do best in a living tree, on a log or a tree fern slab, or in the conventional growing mediums. May we suggest that you take two "pups" from the same plant, grow one in a pot with the conventional growing medium and fasten the other to a tree or slab. Keep a record of the growth of the plant, the size of its spread at blooming time, the length and size of the inflorescence, and the lasting quality of the inflorescence.
Perhaps the first question is at what stage in the growth of the plant is the best time to attach it to its perch? It can be done at any time, but perhaps we should consider the growth habit of the plant. This will determine the best time and also the best method to use in attaching the plant. In general bromeliads can be divided into three categories.
1. A ball or short nub at the base of the leaves. Most Guzmanias, Vrieseas, Nidulariums, and Neoregelias fall into this class. The best method of attaching this type of plant is with wire. An advantageous time for this process is when the mother plant is on the decline. Perhaps we would do this after other "pups" had been removed. You can use the old mother to fasten on the tree or log and thus let the "pup" develop naturally. Never, never use copper wire. The best kind is a plastic coated wire.
2. Those plants that grow on a long stolen. Many Aechmeas, some Neoregelias, and others are in this group. These are generally best attached by means of staples or nails. Be sure to use electrician's iron staples and iron nails.
3. Tillandsias. These have been kept in a separate category for a number of reasons. The best method of attaching these is with glue. If the Tillandsia is a large plant, fasten it temporarily with either a wire or string to hold it in place; then apply the glue. Remove the wire or string after the glue is dry. From observation there seems to be something in the glue that promotes root growth. In the case of very small Tillandsias, the glue gives them a boost in growth that makes them out develop those left on the mother plant. Airplane glue is the kind to use.
—Bromeliad Society of South Florida.
Angelo Saia, a farmer in the state of Sao Paulo, Brazil, raises pineapples. For fertilizer, he uses chicken dung, which seems to produce extra large fruit. His largest proved to be a monster weighing 22 pounds.
PROF. DR. W. RAUH
Originally discovered in the Amazonas region of Iquitos, Tillandsia wagneriana was refound by us in the region of Nazareth in the forests along the Rio Ukabamba. It is one of the green Tillandsias and forms rosettes up to 40 - 50 cm. in diameter. The numerous leaves are lanceolate, about 45 cm long, fresh green on the upper face and dull green on the lower face, frequently red-violet. From the center of the rosette rises a branched inflorescence of a height of about 30 - 40 cm. This inflorescence is compound of 4 - 13 spreading spikes which have a length of about 10 cm each and a breadth of up to 2 cm. The most striking aspect of this plant is the color of the bracts. They are bright pink, although their tips will soon dry up to a brown. The flowers are of a medium size; the plates of the petals are very deep blue while their bases are white. The stamens are deeply included in the flower; the greenish filaments are ligamentous broadened. The color of the floral bracts lasts about two months.
This beautiful Tillandsia, which may be of commercial value, also, is easy to grow in pots in pure peat or in a mixture of peat and treefern roots. It grows equally well on a treefern slab or on wood, but it likes plenty of moisture, especially around the roots. In its vegetative state this plant does not need much light, but when the inflorescence is developing, more light will be necessary, otherwise the spikes will be only pale pink.
Raising and Cultivating Tillandsias. (continued)
But if the companions differ in size, the smaller ones will soon be overgrown. A clever plantsman may mount an assembly of plantlets of different sizes and appearance and nurse it as a special show-piece of epiphytic natural plant-life.
Small Tillandsias mounted on a fragment of wood are best left alone for as long as possible. They do not like to be disturbed, especially if their roots are not thoroughly anchored. The collector may indulge in the luxury of leaving them untouched, but the nurseryman's aim is to increase and produce. Still, even in cultivation for ample production the little plants do better in company than each by itself. When the decision to break them up can be postponed no longer, utmost care should be exercised in the transplanting. Harsh treatment can ruin the plants. Plants that have issued new shoots after blooming should be separated only when the pup has hardened; as long as it is soft, survival is doubtful. Therefore, it is better to wait long enough. The cuttings should be mounted on wood as described and judiciously sprayed with a view to avoiding decay while they adapt to the new situation.
Importation of small Tillandsia species is hardly a problem; they weigh so little. Successful importing, however, requires a proficient helper in the homeland, that is in Central or South America—someone who is willing to go to the trouble, of collecting, packing, and mailing the plants. An airy container is necessary. Tightly closed cardboard boxes mean death to the plants because they shut out oxygen. Excess humidity is dangerous, not only for the white, scaly species, which are especially sensitive, but for bromeliads in general, all of them. The best containers are woven baskets or similar cases that permit access of air. The plants may dry up somewhat in transit, but that doesn't matter; they will pick up very soon. Upon receipt of the plants, discard only the parts that are totally spoiled, that is leaves or inflorescences. Then place the new arrivals in a clean box or earthen dish in a moderately warm, airy, and bright location where also the air is dry. During the first two weeks the plants should not receive humidity of any kind. Only when all danger of decay has subsided they may be given a slight spray. That, plus gradually increased air humidity, should coax the newcomers to sprout. Tiny new roots and new leaftips will be the response. The time has arrived to mount them or to plant them in pots.
I have put the most difficult species of the extreme epiphytes at the beginning of the description of my cultivation process. More abundant roots on a plant indicate a species that needs some humus, i.e. Tillandsia lindenii, T. cyanea, T. fasciculata, and many others. They may be planted in pots or in orchid baskets—little cases made of square borders. The voids in between can be filled with moss or coarse plant-mix, as described for Group II. Small containers of various materials, such as cork or other bark, can be made into nice little ornamentals. The amount of scales on the leaves generally indicates what environment the plant comes from and, consequently, its demands.
Tillandsias with a thick coat of scales need much light. If they are used to it, they can even stand direct sun. Temperature should be between 12 and 20°C, not including higher readings in summer. Air humidity should vary in a rather wide range. Constant high air humidity and permanent shade—the genuine glasshouse air—is what they cannot stand. There the plants get green and covered with algae, they will not grow, and you can see how they suffer. Do not be tempted to dip species with a dense scale coat unless you are sure prevailing air conditions allow for quick and through drying. If humidity cannot evaporate within a short time and night falls while the plants are still moist, menace of decay becomes very real. In summer old, well-developed specimens can be placed out in the open to advantage, suspended in a protected niche. Find a warm corner where there is no draft and where natural shadow will provide a certain amount of protection during the hottest hours of the day. On very hot and dry days frequent spraying is essential. Long rainy spells can harm plants that have been put outdoors for a short time and have not yet sufficiently hardened. Look at them to see they don't need some kind of protection. Judicious care of this sort and good climatic conditions propitiate excellent results, especially if enough light promotes flowering.
Species that come from higher altitudes should not be pampered in winter; keep them cool and fairly dry. It means temperature readings between 5 and 10°C, as much light as possible, very little water, and fresh moderately humid air. But even in this case, beware of generalization. For success in cultivation, conditions prevailing in the homeland should be the model to follow. Like epiphytes generally, Tillandsias are easy to adapt.
Rain forest specimens, that is plants with smooth leaves and little or no scales, do not like direct sun. Give them half shade, but near the glass. Species like Tillandsia cyanea, T. anceps, and T. flabellata, which figure here because they are favorites in the trade, need temperatures between 15 and 25°C. More warmth combined with sufficient moisture promotes growth. Growth is also promoted by the addition of a little dry, crushed cow manure to the mix. A link between the two extremes—the rain forest types and the dry epiphytes, are the transition types, but to deal with them here individually would make my story too long. More than once I have pointed out that epiphytes possess exceptional adaptability. If mistakes are made in the cultivation of a plant whose home conditions are not known, they may only affect the plant's looks—its shape or its size—but not its survival.
Once again let me refer to fertilizers. Temptation to try to speed up the extremely slow growth rhythm is ever present. The use of rain water is always recommended. It contains some nutrients, but not enough to nourish the plant adequately. Visualize the delicate structure of the tiny scales in charge of capturing food from the air and passing it on to the plant body and you will readily realize that only a very mall amount can be transmitted in this way. Whatever the scales catch must be totally assimilable, as a deposit from evaporation would put the scales out of commission. The same, of course, holds for sprays. A much diluted infusion of pigeon or cow manure may be used. In the growing period fertilizers can be sprayed daily, as long as nothing turns up to advise against it.
There are probably many growers who desire to possess Tillandsias to cultivate them. For those who so far have had not much experience with bromeliads I would advise that it would be unwise to start their adventure with the difficult members of the family, especially if desire centers on the smaller species with a lot of scales. Tillandsia cyanea, T. flabellata, T. lindenii, and others are not too difficult to cultivate and are fairly easy to procure. Out-of-the-ordinary plants are not easy to get; they are not in the trade. Once in awhile, though, there is a chance to buy one. In the previous chapter I spoke of importing plants directly from their homeland as a means of building up a small collection. Collectors, on the whole, have a knack for discovering ways of securing what they are after for their collection. Why shouldn't the hobbyist also succeed? But there is really no need to commence with the specialties. Other species of small bromeliads will give us a pretty good idea of what tropical epiphytes are like, and later Tillandsias can be added to the collection as the ultimate crown.
How to accommodate epiphytes in the home was described in Lesson III. To cultivate small Tillandsia species suspended indoors and to keep them successfully over a long period is nearly impossible. Our dry indoor air is a tremendous handicap and dust settling on the leaves is another drawback. We have three alternatives to house our plants conveniently. The first is a medium-sized terrarium. It should have glass on all sides. An air regulator above or to one side is needed to balance air humidity. In the bottom goes a shallow layer of gravel, on top of it some coarse leaf-mold and forest-earth, pine-needles and some moss, all in a half-decayed condition. A few pebbles and fragments of roots may be placed here and there to simulate a natural setting. The bottom layer functions as a permanent source of moisture; it should always be evenly humid but not soaking wet. It not only enhances the appearance but is excellent for Cryptanthus. An appropriate section of a rough-barked branch is then placed in a slanting position inside the container, reaching from one of the bottom corners to the opposite corner or from side to side lengthwise. It must be solidly fastened. The branch is to hold Tillandsias. Species that have a root-clump can go in an excavation made in the branch. Plants having few or no roots must be tied on as described.
If the container is to remain in a permanently heated room there is generally no need for extra heat. If daylight is unsatisfactory, install a vacuum tube as explained in Lesson III. One spraying early in the morning is usually sufficient. Humidity rising from the bottom will keep the atmosphere in the container adequate for the day. By late afternoon the plants should all be dry. If the panes are foggy let in dry air from the room.
More space will be needed as collections increase. The second step is a plant-window-case, and the third is a complete plant-window. Basic installation is essentially the same as in Step 1, the terrarium. The subject was discussed in Lessons I and II. As more space becomes available, a single branch will no longer satisfy for mounting plants. You will suspend singles mounted on wood or bark.
During the warmer months my friend Stettler in Bern cultivates nearly all his Tillandsias out on his balcony facing south in an apartment on the tenth floor. Individual plants get hung on the walls. They enjoy plenty of light from the sun and receive 2 or 3 sprayings a day. The plants are in perfect condition, fine and hardy, in no way pampered. The proof is their dense coat of silvery grey scales. I am convinced that it is not impossible to reproduce my Swiss friend's success in Germany despite our slightly rougher climate. A partially glassed-in porch or a similar protected nook would do and incidentally serve to house other bromeliads equally well.
So far, Tillandsia seed can hardly be found on the market except perhaps once in a while in a specialist's store. Yet attempts to grow the seed indoors have been made. I quote from a letter received from a plant-friend:
"My Tillandsia seed bed is showing green. I sowed the seed on November 11; on the 22nd, the kernels exploded at the tip of the parachute end. Today, November 24, all the grains are germinating. I will keep them until germination is complete in a little glass container on the window sill where the temperature is 18-22° C. I have never let the seedlings get totally dry, and I intend to continue this treatment until all the germs are out of their hull. Only then shall I hang the container in the plant-case and alternate dry and moist. For holders I use fresh alder and oak branches. I count on the tannin in this material to counteract formation of algae and moss. In addition I gave the branches a coating of Chinosol 1:1000. A few of the seeds I put on bark in the plant-case; these often got completely dry also while germinating. The result is nearly as good as that of the other treatment."
Another letter reads:
"The Tillandsia seed germinated 100 per cent. So far I see only little green balls. I shall put the next seeds on coarse bark. Being a little thicker, bark seems to hold moisture better than branch fragments. I don't think it is necessary to fasten the seed with thread, because if the bark is wet when the seeds are put on it, they will adhere anyway."
Growing Tillandsias from seeds is a challenge. I can well appreciate the ever-present difficulties of all kinds. But whoever is inclined to engage in activities of this sort will also have the patience necessary to carry on. Patience is essential, because development from seed proceeds very slowly; it will take years. However, if the tiny seedlings have grown enough to show, their mere presence is a pleasure and caring for them is pure joy. The implements needed are extremely simple; no costly apparatus of any kind is needed.
In later steps of cultivation of seedlings, as well as of adult plants, lime-free, very soft water is the most important item. There are so many ways to come by good water that one will surely be at your command. Rain water, water from a pond or brook, or water running through peat will do. Water from the aquarium also serves the purpose and contains a little nourishment. I am stressing the necessity of using the correct kind of water—purity is important. In industrial districts even rain may be so contaminated that it becomes harmful for delicate plants. In the same manner, water coming from a river can be defiled by industrial waste to the point of being unfit, even harmful. The grower must concentrate on building up favorable surroundings for his pets. Only points to ponder can be supplied in this connection and that was done. The most important item, however, is that you use your own observation to find out what helps your plants most. (Pages 166-177)
NEW ZEALAND NEWS AND VIEWSWith summer just around the corner members will be refurbishing their plants, repotting and doing all those things that will benefit their plants. If any re-arranging is being done the following may be of help.
For any Tillandsias with grey leaves covered with fuzzy scales and those that have hard or grey leaves, also grey-green, nearly full sun will suit. The same conditions would apply to many Neoregelias. N. ampullacea, farinosa, marmorata and hybrids, sarmentosa var. chlorosticta, spectabilis, zonatus, carolinae, and carolinae hybrids like strong light. Billbergia leptopoda, × 'Muriel Waterman,' brasiliensis, zebrina, and many others would also be happy under those conditions.
Plenty of light or filtered sunlight would suit some of the Cryptanthus, variegated plants such as N. lineatum var. striatum and lineatum, Aechmea coelestis var. marginata, and the two variegated varieties of A. fasciata.
Many of the red leafed plants do better in a very bright light rather than in full sun. A. × 'Foster's Favorite' and A. × 'Red Vase' are two, also A. × 'Burgundy', though this does well in full sun if grown outside.
Watch your plants if they have been put in a new position, and they will soon show you if they are in the right place. It is not easy to lay down hard and fast rules, as climate plays a big part and so do many other factors. If we grow our plants with understanding and an open mind we can often learn more than books can tell us, for books can be written for one part of the world alone and bromeliads are grown the world over.
This is the best time of year to take offsets. The plantlets then have a full season of warmth and sunshine to get established before next winter. We are often asked what is the best stage to take offsets. If rootlets are showing, you are perfectly safe. If they are not showing, the offset should at least be past the pencil stage. Two or three leaves should be showing adult shape and beginning to fan out at the top.
If you are acquiring small seedlings it is probably better to get them now when they are coming into growth rather than buy them in autumn with six months of cold weather ahead.
Last spring I bought an Aechmea fasciata offset and not having a suitable pot just stuck it in the garden in a shady spot in some light soil. It got hosed about once a week and there it stayed until the first frosts threatened then I lifted it and put it in a pot on the verandah. It is doing quite well. This year I am hoping to do the same with a lot of Nidulariums, Neoregelias, and other Aechmeas.
A tip given at the meeting. If you are troubled with snails amongst your outside bromeliads throw a handful of alum around them. This will do the trick and will not damage the plants. Remember, though, this is only good for ridding the garden of snails. Slugs are not affected by it.
W. B. CHARLEYWe had to know—it was useless making a wild guess. Plant life may require this and that chemical in certain quantities. Some plants require lime in the soil; others are acid loving. We have long known that the pineapple family require a strongly acid soil, but the question is—how much? Acidity is also required in the leaf tanks, but this was easy to test.
With the help of the Agricultural Department, we had the water from our spring tested; the reaction was ph 5.5. This is the water that is hosed over our entire planting of bromeliads. Three days after watering our plants thoroughly, we tested the water that remained in the leaf tanks. This water was carefully poured out of several plants, put in clean sterile bottles—the reading from this was ph 7. This is neutral—within three days the bromeliads had lapped all the acid from the spring water. If acid is not supplied, bromeliads suffer from "wilts," which shows in the kinking of leaves. Instead of the leaves being firm and more or less straight, they become weak and kink.
Some may not understand what ph means; it is very simple really—perhaps the following will make it clear.
The heading in such a test reads "Reaction ph." The figure next to this heading refers to the acidity or alkalinity content of the water. Waters may be classified as follows:
Strongly acid—ph 4.5 and lower
Medium acid — ph 5.3 to 6.5
Slightly acid — ph 6.6 to 6.9
Neutral — ph 7.0
Slightly alkaline — ph 7.1 to 7.5
Medium alkaline — ph 7.6 to 8.2
Strongly alkaline — ph 8.3 to 9.0
Very strongly alkaline — ph 9.1 and higher
If your bromeliads have the wilts and if you wish to test your water yourself, any chemist will probably give you the materials necessary for testing.
Town and city water may go either way according to where the water originated. The catchment area may be of volcanic origin and the water acid, or be of limestone origin and the water therefore alkaline. If your water supply is alkaline, it can be made more usable if some acid is mixed in your spray to use over the bromeliads. Some fertilizers also add acidity.
—Bilpin, N. S. W., Australia.
HENRY E. CHILDSCommon names for plant or animal species often cause confusion. Luckily, with bromeliads, few species are well enough known to have been given generally accepted common names and so the more accurate, if correctly applied, scientific names must suffice. It was a surprise to me to find the common name of "Old Man's Beard" applied to Tillandsia recurvata by the natives in Jamaica. This vernacular name has been used in other areas for the more widely distributed Spanish Moss (T. usneoides).
In addition to the possession of a similar common name, T. recurvata has also invaded a similar and unusual habitat—telephone wires. Both species have the ability to grow on the rather barren and non-nutritious surface of telephone wire insulation! Apparently the wind-blown seeds stick to the rough surface, germinate when moist, and grow into mature pendant plants. Spanish moss, however, although present in Jamaica, was nowhere abundant and was not seen on telephone wires there. T. recurvata was irregularly distributed over the island. It was seen on the wires within a few blocks of the Sheraton-Kingston Hotel. In some places it completely covered the wires between several telephone poles. Yet the plant would not be seen again for many miles, indicating that there are, indeed, demanding requirements of microclimate.
For these two plants, at least, the general statement of non-absorbing roots for bromeliads is undoubtedly true. For other epiphytic and terrestrial species, experimental evidence is needed to demonstrate the functions of the roots. All in all, "Old Man's Beard" is an interesting plant.
—Cerritos College. Norwalk, California.
J. A. STEPHENSTillandsia fasciculata, one of the worthwhile Florida natives, will not abide any suggestion of "wet feet." A drying-off of the rooting medium between waterings seems to be imperative. I have lost plants by tucking them into pots of spent and spongy osmunda fiber vacated by orchid plants, in a misguided effort to save potting time. Perhaps the ideal substrate for this noble species is a vertical slab of tree-fern, which insures perfect drainage.
The offsets of Aechmea chantinii, especially the small ones, when removed and potted up, need extra attention to watering, otherwise they are inclined to shrivel at an alarming rate. Once they have sent out roots in their new pot, there is no further trouble on this score.
Aechmea orlandiana, when grown in pots, has an uncomfortable propensity toward "ingrown toes." By that I mean the tips of the long-necked offsets, when they reach the inner surface of the pot, will often burrow downward instead of upward, as any self-respecting sucker should. The tendency of this species to send its inordinately long rhizomatous internodes downward is well illustrated when it is grown on a tree or log.
Aechmea miniata var. discolor may well be the most agreeable of bromeliads. For one thing, it does not assume the unhealthy mottled-gray pallor that its counterpart, Aechmea fulgens var. discolor, is wont to do when the temperature dips below 45° F. or thereabouts. It is a rapid and easy grower, at least in southeast Florida, producing many sturdy offsets that break off cleanly from the parent plant with the pleasing sound of crisp plant tissue, something like the sound of a stalk of brittle celery being snapped. The inflorescence, a panicle of bright-red berries and blue florets, is held sturdily erect to the height of 10 to 15 inches. In very strong light a maroon midrib appears on the upper surfaces of the leaves, which change from dark green to yellowish-green. The undersurfaces are maroon.
|Aechmea ramosa var. ramosa Mart. 1830|
This stunning Aechmea can often be seen in southern California gardens, for it is not only extraordinarily beautiful, but is perfectly hardy and never fails to bloom. It is native to central Brazil, where it can be seen growing on trees in open woods.
It is a good sized plant; the spreading leaves are 2 to 3 feet long and 2 inches wide. They are minutely toothed. As can be noted in the illustration, there appear to be three distinct color forms with regard to the foliage: one a dark green, one a light yellow-green, and, the loveliest of all, a soft rose. This last needs much light and humidity to bring out the pinkish coloration.
The inflorescence, which rises to about two feet above the leaves, on an orange-red scape, has many branches. The colorful flower head with its greenish-yellow berries and yellow flowers may be likened to a swarm of bees and is attractive for about six months.
This Aechmea has been used as a parent plant for many fine hybrids, but none is any lovelier than the original species when well grown.