BSI Journal - Online Archive


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 five classes of membership: Annual, $3.50; Foreign, $4.00; Sustaining, $5.00; Fellowship, $10.00; Life $150.00. All memberships start with January of the current year. For membership information, write to Mrs. Jeanne Woodbury, 1811 Edgecliff Drive, Los Angeles 26, California. Please submit all manuscripts for publication to the editor, 647 South Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles 49, California.

PresidentDavid Barry, Jr. Editorial SecretaryVictoria Padilla
Vice PresidentFrank Overton Membership SecretaryJeanne Woodbury
TreasurerJack M. Roth Art EditorMorris Henry Hobbs

Honorary Vice-Presidents
E. H. Palmer, President, Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society
Lawrence Hiscock, President, Louisiana Bromeliad Society
Jack M. Roth, President, Southern California Bromeliad Society
Robert Wilson, President, South Florida Bromeliad Society
Board of Directors
David Barry, Jr.
Ladislaus Cutak
Ralph Davis
Nat. J. De Leon
E. W. Ensign
Mulford B. Foster
James N. Giridlian
Wyndham Hayward
Henry M. Hobbs
Eric Knoblock
Fritz Kubisch
Julian Nally
Frank Overton
Victoria Padilla
E. H. Palmer
Benjamin Rees
Jack M. Roth
Dr. Russell Seibert
O. E. Van Hyning
Wilbur G. Wood
Jeanne Woodbury
Honorary Trustees
Mrs. Adda Abendroth
Teresopolis, Brazil

Dr. Alberto Castellanos
Buenos Aires, Argentina

Monsieur Charles Chevalier
Esneux, Belgium

Mulford B. Foster
Orlando, Florida

A. B. Graf
E. Rutherford, New Jersey

Charles Hodgson
Victoria, Australia

Charles H. Lankester
Cartago, Costa Rica

Harold Martin
Auckland, New Zealand

W. Morris
Warners Bay, Australia

P. Raulino Reitz
Itajai, Brasil

Walter Richter
Crimmitschau, East Germany

Dr. Lyman B. Smith
Washington. D. C.

Henry Teuscher
Montreal, Canada

A blooming specimen of GUZMANIA VITTATA, recently re-discovered in Columbia, also reported from Brazil. A handsome, crossbanded variety with thin, curled leaves strongly marked with deep green on the undersides of the leaves, even showing on the upper surfaces. The inflorescence is not very colorful, with pale green bracts spotted with purple, while the flowers are white. The drawing shows the plant at approximately one half full size.

No article appearing in this bulletin may be reproduced without the permission of the editor.



HE SURVEY MADE OF THE SOCIETY LAST SUMMER (returns are still coming in) revealed a number of interesting facts, some of which might be of interest to the membership at large. The Bromeliad Society is a truly international organization, having members in twenty-eight countries. In Asia and the South Pacific there are active growers in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Ceylon. In Africa there are members in the Congo Republic, South Africa, and Southern Rhodesia. In Europe there are members scattered throughout England, Ireland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium, Germany and Austria. In the western hemisphere, members reside in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, the Canal Zone, Trinidad, the Dominican Republic, Brazil, Argentina, and Chile.

Australia and New Zealand head the list for overseas members; California, Florida, and Louisiana lead in membership in the States. There are four affiliated societies in the United States: The Bromeliad Guild in Los Angeles, the Louisiana Bromeliad Society in New Orleans, the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society in St. Petersburg, and the South Florida Bromeliad Society in Miami. There is a highly successful Round Robin formed by the members.

The members have been growing bromeliads for a varying period of years—from six months to forty years (in Belgium), the average length of time being six years. Approximately 50 per cent of the members have fewer than 100 plants; 20 per cent have fewer than 50. Those having the largest collections are naturally the commercial growers, such as Flandria in Belgium, W. Morris in Australia, Julius Roehrs in New Jersey, and Mulford B. Foster, Julian Nally, Bob Wilson and Jack O. Holmes in Florida. About 20 per cent of the members, who have been growing bromeliads for over a period of ten years, have over one thousand plants. These are those who live in temperate climates where many plants can be kept outdoors the year around.

How do the members grow their bromeliads? About 60 per cent have greenhouses, about 25 per cent grow their plants in lath houses or outdoors, and about 15 per cent grow their plants in their own homes. A number of members are so blest that they can grow their plants both indoors and outdoors. Many kinds of growing media are used, the most popular being osmunda, fir bark, tan bark, tree fern, leaf mold, etc. The majority of members, however, grow their plants in a combination of materials, such as a mixture of sand, fir bark, peat, and vermiculite. Over 90 per cent of the members fertilize. About 50 per cent have tried their hand at raising seed, and of this number about 80 per cent said that they had been moderately successful.

The plants which the members find the easiest to grow are Aechmeas, Billbergias, and Neoregelias. Most difficulty is encountered with the growing of Vrieseas, Guzmanias, Cryptanthus, and those plants from high altitudes. Favorite bromeliads, as expected, are Aechmea fasciata, Vriesea splendens, and Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor.

Problems are many and diversified — from alkaline water to snails and rabbits. Unfortunately, most of these problems have to be solved by the individual grower, as the problems are usually localized ones.

The general plea seems to be for more articles from the members — everyone seems to want an exchange of ideas as to growing, fertilizing, raising from seed. In this issue we are pleased to present two such articles from members who write of their personal experiences. It is sincerely hoped that others will follow suit in this regard. Please let us hear from you.

— V. P.



HE FLOWERS OF THE BROMELIACEAE are considered perfect, each possessing male and female organs. "An exception," writes Mulford B. Foster, "appeared during January, 1942, when I observed that in several of the species of the Cryptanthus the flowers were not monoecious, but dioecious, for there were separate male and female flowers in the same plant. This condition of separate sex flowers has apparently not been noted before, as there seems to be no record of it in the literature."

Photo by Chevalier   
Full view of Hechtia podantha showing flower spike and plant.

The learned director of our Society will permit me to point out to him that there has been one. There existed before the war in the Botanical Garden of Liege, a species of Hechtia, the tragic history of which might interest the reader. I say "existed," for the plant was killed in 1944 by a violent German bombardment which destroyed at the same time the large hot houses of the garden and caused the death of a whole neighboring family.

At this time, when I was in charge of the Botanical Garden, there lived in our hot house a vigorous specimen of bromeliad labeled Hechtia cordylinoides Bak. which had never bloomed This name was obviously incorrect since it is associated as synonymous with a different species which we also possessed, and named Hechtia stenopetala Kl. But due to the absence of flowers it was impossible to verify its identity.

The plant which had been planted in open ground in a temperate cold green-house in 1928 developed in Sept., 1935 a strong floral stem. Examination of the flowers proved immediately that the flower belonged to the genus Hechtia, but the determination of the species presented some difficulties. It appeared as an intermediate H. suaveolens Ed Morr. and H. podantha Mez but very closely related if not completely identical to the later. However, certain characteristics did not resemble with complete exactness to the description which Mez gave the species. The author who created H. podantha, after an herbarium specimen, says especially that the petals of the male flowers are very slightly fused at the bases (basi minute cohaerentibus) while they are completely free in our plant. The dimensions of the leaves, of the floral stem, etc., are also larger in our species but these differences might find their origin in a difference in vigor.

   Photo by Foster
Close-up showing detail of flowering branch of Hechtia podantha with flowers in which only the male parts (stamens) are functioning.

The examinations of H. suaveolens Ed. Morr. existing in the herbarium of our Institute proved that this hypothesis of an identity with this species must be discarded. There remained to compare our plant with H. podantha Mez of the Herbarium of Natural History Museum of Vienna, the specimen of which had been used by Mez at the time of the determination of the species.

Mr. Monoyer, professor of systematic botany at the Institute, obtained the loan of this herbarium specimen, and the comparative study which we made with ours made apparent at once their complete identity. The examinations of the flowers of the Austrian specimen made under microscope of Prof. Monoyer demonstrated also that the fusion (or coherence) which Mez had pointed out as very slight is not sufficiently apparent to be made an issue of.

I have given in Revue Horticole (Paris, July, 1936, p. 265 ) a botanical description of this species which I concluded as follows: "Hechtia podantha Mez is very rare and this species living in the Botanical Garden in Liege is, (was) probably unique to culture. Its origin is unknown and the species is probably native of Mexico as other Hechtias. Curious fact it would seem that only one sex is known. The plant in Liege, as that of the specimen in Vienna, is of the male sex and strictly dioecious by atrophy of the female organ. This might, in a certain degree, explain its rarity."

It would be interesting to know if the completely dioecious habit is found in other species of Hechtia.

— 12 Rue des Combattants, Esneux, Belgium.



The quotation as noted in the first paragraph above is taken from my paper, "The Bromeliads of Brazil," from the Smithsonian report for 1942, pages 351-366. As I now read it over again I find that my statement: "The flowers were not monoecious, but dioecious, for there were separate male and female flowers in the same plant," was not clearly stated (which I regret). What I wished to state was that most of the species of Cryptanthus have both male flowers (one sex only) as well as perfect flowers (with both sexes) in the same plant.

My statement should have read, " . . . in several of the species of Cryptanthus the plants were monoesciously polygamous for there were two kinds of flowers on the same plant, some perfect with both male and female parts and some, imperfect, with only male parts. This condition of having two different kinds of flowers on the same plant has apparently not been noted before as there seems to be no record of it in the literature."

We have known for many years that the Hechtias are monoecious as all of the flowers have both sexes, although they are functionally dioecious as one of the sexes is aborted. In other words, on plants which we term as the male plant, the flowers have both sexes, but the stigma is aborted; and on another plant which we may term the female plant, this plant also has both sexual parts but the stamens are aborted and do not function. This same condition as above is also found in the flowers of some of the different species of Catopsis. Otherwise, we have no authentic records in any of the other genera where the flowers depart from the usual pattern of only perfect flowers, whether or not both parts are functional.

To sum up again the whole situation: the only exception to all flowers being perfect in the bromeliad family is in the instance of separate male flowers found in most of the species of Cryptanthus. And these plants are described as monoeciously polygamous because they have both perfect and imperfect flowers occurring on the same plant.

M. Chevalier then proceeds to show that there has been a Hechtia species that has separate sexes and cites his experience with the species H. podantha, stating "the plant . . . is of the male sex and strictly dioecious by atrophy of the female organ." I would not call this a strictly dioecious plant if it has both sexes functioning or not. If the formation of the two organs is there, although one may be aborted, the plant still is monoecious even though functionally dioecious.

— Rt. 2, Box 491. Orlando, Florida


Mrs. Lucy R. Rosing, secretary of the Bromeliad Society of South Florida, 1355 N. E. 148th St., North Miami, Florida, wants some ideas for bromeliad programs. Can anyone help her?

Mr. James Nesbitt, Rt. 1, Box 257, Homestead, Florida, is desirous of obtaining a copy of the Jan.-Feb. 1959 Bulletin. Does anyone have an extra copy?

Mr. S. Watt, 2 Raleigh Ave., Caringbah, N. S. W., Australia, would like to correspond with other members.



ANY YEARS AGO, long before the bromeliad bug had grown from a passing interest into a full-time disease, we came into possession of a spike of ripe Aechmea bracteata seeds. These we casually spread in the mossy edges of a greenhouse bench, an area which fortunately was always wet from the drainage of the peaty bench. In a matter of days the seeds had germinated en masse and were subsequently potted and flatted in whatever soil happened to be handy. Some of these same seedlings are now four feet across and grace the palms in our yard, throwing their flamboyant spiny spikes in wild off-center directions through the summer. This was our first experience with growing bromels from seed.

Later, after the bromel bug was well entrenched and we had discovered that propagation by pups was reliable but very slow, we decided to try again. The first experience had been so gratifying that little fear existed. And thus we launched into a second episode. A fellow collector had a spike of Vriesea splendens seeds, and these were passed on to us to see what we could do with them. The time demands of our vocation were such that we doubted that we would ever manage to remember them at all times and that they would dry out, so we spread a layer of German or Michigan peat in the bottom of four screw top bottles, dampened well, drained off the excess and the seeds were divided in groups and pushed down on this wet peat surface with a pencil. They were not wet, as they were held up in the air by the dry silky plumes. Resort to an atomizer filled with water did the trick and within three weeks we could see swelling seeds and the first green of the seed leaf.

A full year later, the seedlings had grown to a point where they were a little more than visible, and we tackled the job of transplanting them into one large shallow community pot. The soil mixture was more peat with perlite added. In another six months some of the seedlings had grown to a size that we felt individual small pots were in order, and so the largest were moved up a notch. The soil was the same but with the addition of an indeterminate amount of dried sheep manure. This was a matter of a couple of four-inch pots of the dried manure mixed in with a half bushel of peat and perlite. Today, perhaps two years from the beginning, the largest Vriesea seedlings are starting to show a little of the character of the parent plant. Needless to say, this is far from as fast or as efficiently as this particular plant can be grown, but it does show how a pure novice can manage growing seeds on a kitchen windowsill.

Our third experience was with seeds which we obtained from our hybrid forms of Neoregelia spectabilis and Neoregelia marmorata. Two-inch square plastic pots were selected and filled with peat and perlite and the seed scattered on top. The pots were watered from the bottom by standing them in a tray of water. We went to much trouble washing these Neoregelia seeds free of the natural pulp and "goo" of the baccate fruit, an effort we no longer bother with, having encountered no difficulty with mold. That is not to say that we have not had mold, but in our experience we find that the mold that attacks the "goo" has not bothered the seed or the young seedlings at all.

Through forgetfulness on more than one occasion we have left the pots of seed and young seedlings standing in water for days, but there wasn't the least damage to either seed or seedlings, and as long as there was water in the tray we never had trouble with drying out, which is a problem with seedlings. We have found that if seedlings have their growth checked for any reason, they seem to be a long time coming back.

We now have two window sash under one of the benches in the lath house. These are set horizontally on building blocks level enough so that water fills the areas between the mullions. The sash are well puttied small panes, and with the wood wet from the standing water they do not leak. Thereby we have a series of compartments that are a half-inch deep in water in which after the sowing, the seed pots are placed and ignored, except for occasional observation, until the seedlings are large enough to transplant. I should add that there is ample light from both sides of the bench so that the seedlings do not etiolate and get grassy. Germination takes place in excellent light, especially with a couple of hours of morning sun.

We have found that as soon as the seedlings are large enough to move, which to us is two leaves and still quite small, that they transplant readily with virtually no root damage and no check in growth. If we overlook a batch until they get their first root too deep in the seed pot and get entangled with the neighboring seedlings, then we have to tear them apart in order to space them in flats with the result that there is inevitable loss from mechanical damage. We have found that with some Aechmeas, however, (Ae. tillandsioides, mexicana, lueddemanniana, nudicaulis) that deep planting seems to be an advantage, as adventitious roots soon appear well up the seedling stem and nice full rosettes develop right at ground level. Some of these types if they do not have enough light get too tall and floppy and are hard to manage not only in transplanting but in later care, as they are so willowy that a strong blast from the hose will tie them in knots. We have found in transplanting Acanthostachys strobilacea that even when all the roots are broken off, the seedlings will develop a new set with not too great a set back. So, if by chance you break off the roots of some plant that you consider choice, don't despair; just plant it and take a little extra care with watering. The plant will probably survive.

This sub-irrigation method has side line advantages that are worth mentioning. In our area the presence of roaches in a greenhouse is seemingly unavoidable, and they have a particular appetite for succulent seedlings. The water barrier of the water tray deters them to the point that we have very little damage from that source. Slugs here do not seem to swim, either, and unless we inadvertently let the water go dry or introduce the slugs with the seed soil, we have no slug damage. There is the ever-present possibility that some moth or butterfly will select a seed pot for egg laying and the little larvae can raise havoc if not detected soon enough. We exercise daily vigilance for just such a contingency, manual removal being used rather than sprays or baits for these "beasties." All in all, our results have been so good that we do not plan any change in our methods, and we currently are delighted with two thousand Ae. chantinii seedlings, more of the invincible Ae. bracteata, and three or four hundred Neoregelia zonatus and N. × fosteriana seedlings, all of which are growing well and uniformly.

We have developed another idea which we use on seeds having a particularly sticky coat of glue that makes sowing very difficult. We had tried washing these seeds but always ended up with more glue than we started with, the substance being hygroscopic, adsorbing or absorbing extra water. Seeds so washed become a mass of slime, and when they finally dried they were stuck fast to the paper we dried them on. In their native habitat this is undoubtedly the means nature has developed to hold the seeds in place on bark and branch. To simplify the sowing of such seeds, we now take a pinch of very dry fine sand (common in Florida!) and gently roll the sticky seed mass and sand together between our fingers. The sand lightly coats the individual seeds with a coat which keeps each seed free from the other. We then can sprinkle the seeds onto the potting soil with ease. When they germinate, we find they are much easier to separate for transplanting.

We have not had enough experience to offer this as a generalization, but we found that it is not essential that the seed of Aechmea chantinii be fully ripe to germinate well. In fact, we have had seed which was not ripe germinate in three days. We have found that Aechmea bracteata seed if sown directly after picking will germinate in four days, but if washed and dried would take as much as fourteen days for germination.

We early accepted the dictum that seed needed light for germination, so we have never done more than spread the seed on top of the seed pans. Our concern has been to get germination, and if the seed germinates well without covering, we see no point in spreading anything over it.

What disappointments we have had come under the following circumstances: Seedlings that were left in the seed pans too long were lost to damping-off organisms. If transplanting was fairly soon after germination, there was no such loss. This damping off might have been the result of lack of air circulation about the close seedlings, too wet a substrate with our subirrigation method, or attack from the mold which did grow on the "goo" from the fruit which earlier had not bothered either seed or seedlings. Mass damage also resulted from tiny larvae which apparently arrived from some flying moth or butterfly on the congested seed pots. Although we have some of the same damage after transplanting, it is not so extensive as before transplanting, and isolated cases may be easily spotted and the chomping culprit disposed of. We have encountered some loss from mechanical damage in transplanting seedlings which were all grown together from too thick a sowing — but this was before we learned to separate seeds with a sand coating.

All in all, we find growing seedlings of bromeliads a very gratifying experience. True, the time from seed to flower is longer than with the usual annuals that most people grow from seed; but if sowings every now and then are made of different species, then the wait on any particular group does not seem so long.

Some seed is larger than others, and the developing seedlings are proportionately large or small. Billbergias and Aechmeas seem to us to be the fastest growing, whereas Vrieseas seem to be the slowest, but one must take into consideration that our experience is limited.

Virtually no plant that we grow from seed, bromeliad or otherwise, is homozygous genetically (therefore does not breed true in all characters), so we expect some genetic segregation in our first generation seedlings. These genetic segregations offer each of us a number of possible desirable items. Mulford Foster has expressed the thesis that variegations appear as seedlings more often than as sports; thus it is wise to examine all seedlings for such a lucky possibility. In transplanting seedlings not only the largest and healthiest ones should be saved, but the smaller ones as well, as they may have a tendency for dwarfness, a characteristic which could be quite desirable for those growers who are forced by climate to grow under glass where space is at a premium most of the year.

There are various evidences as to the beneficence of fertilizers for seedlings. We have killed many a flat by overdoing, and we have seen evidence in the growing of others which indicates that we should fertilize to gain time in the transition from seedlings to flowering sized plant. We have found that the more fertilizer we use, the higher should be our light intensities so that our plants can use the raw materials we are supplying.

This is written by a novice for other novices. We have encountered none of the problems of growing which would indicate that we needed sterilized soil, sterilized pots, or any other aseptic conditions.

— Box 1355, Ormond Beach, Florida.



Photos by Foster

Two outstanding
Billbergia hybrids
by Mulford Foster

Billbergia × Gerda
(B. horrida × B. Amoena)


Billbergia × Muriel Waterman
(B. horrida ×B. euphemiae
var. rubra)

HE ORIGINAL PURPOSE OF THIS PAPER was to present a descriptive list of the Billbergia hybrids most commonly found in cultivation in the United States. It did not take the writer long, however, to find this an impossible task, or at least one beyond her time and energy to pursue. No systematic attempt, it would seem, has ever been made to put these plants into any kind of order. Billbergias happen to be the one member of the Bromeliad family easy to hybridize and to propagate; hence, they have been crossed indiscriminately, with little endeavor being made to keep a record of the cross or to determine whether such a cross has been made previously. Many of us are growing hybrid Billbergias whose parents are unknown; in fact many Billbergias are sold in commercial establishments with no label of any kind. What these Billbergias are and where they came from no one knows. Not a few are attractive plants, worthy to be recognized and given an identifying name, but their background is a dark secret and probably will remain forever so.

Some Billbergias found in nurseries do have names, however; but, unfortunately, many of these are erroneous. For example, some of us have a Billbergia known as B. × "Albertii." Its origin is uncertain, and Mulford Foster insists that there is no such plant. Perhaps this Billbergia is a distachia cross, but we do not know. It is a stocky, broad-leaved tubular plant with dull green leaves suffused with light purple and creamy-white spots, then dusted over with a fine white powder. Regardless of its doubtful origin, this is an attractive Billbergia.

There are two hybrid Billbergias grown in Southern California gardens which have been favorites for many years. The one known as B. × 'Theodore L. Mead' (so named by J. N. Giridlian who thought the plant should have some kind of appellation) was first distributed by E. O. Orpet of Santa Barbara who had received it from the hybridizer himself — Theodore L. Mead of Florida. No record was kept of its parentage. It is a lovely Billbergia — a luxuriant grower with low spreading soft green leaves and a drooping inflorescence with large rose bracts and green and blue flowers. A generous plant both as to flowers and to offshoots, this Billbergia is best when grown in a hanging basket and given a place where it can be enjoyed the year round, for the plant is seldom without flowers.

The other popular Billbergia hybrid is known simply as B. × thyrsoidea. B. thyrsoidea is a synonym for B. pyramidalis, and the parentage is very evident in this plant, as the inflorescence is upright and the leaves tend to form a rosette rather than a tube. The other parent is obviously B. amoena. This is a particularly attractive plant whether in bloom or not, for if grown in sufficient light, the leaves become a beautiful rosy bronze shade. In bloom, this Billbergia can hold its own with any other member of the Bromeliad family.

James N. Giridlian, of Oakhurst Gardens in Arcadia, California, has made a number of noteworthy Billbergia crosses. One of his first is B. × 'Elvenia Slosson', named in honor of a prominent garden club leader. This is an exceedingly graceful Billbergia, with very long, strap-shaped deep green leaves, which turn purplish bronze in the sun. The attractive inflorescence with its bright red bracts and deep purple flowers may measure from 24 to 36 inches. This Billbergia makes a handsome pot plant.

Photo by Padilla   
B × "Theodore L. Mead"

B. × 'Thelma Darling Hodge' is also a Giridlian cross, being named for a prominent bromeliad collector residing in California. This is a large urn-shaped plant, resembling B. porteana in size and shape. The long hanging flower stem bears rose bracts and yellowish green reflexed flowers. This is a hand-some plant, which Mr. Giridlian considers the best of his hybrids. Another of his recent crosses, which is also very attractive, he has labeled simply B. × 'Violet Beauty.' The striking blue-green foliage makes a fine foil for the rose bracts and large, wide open violet flowers. A clump of this Billbergia will have flowers throughout the year.

One of the most popular of Billbergia crosses was made several years ago by Mulford B. Foster. This is his B. × 'Fantasia,' a beautiful cross between B. saundersii and B. pyramidalis. This hybrid very obviously combines the best of both parents and when well grown never fails to attract attention.

The broad leaves prominently blotched with white, green, and rose make this an outstanding foliage plant and an inflorescence hardly seems necessary. However, when the arching spike with its scarlet bracts and blue tipped flowers appears, this Billbergia becomes even more beautiful, and all we can say is, "Thank you, Mr. Foster."

Another stunning Foster hybrid is B. × 'Muriel Waterman,' named in honor of the late trustee from New Zealand. B. horrida var. tigrina crossed with B. euphemiae var. purpurea made this lovely plant. It is a very striking Billbergia whether in flower or not, the rose-maroon leaves with silver grey bands and inflorescence of pink bracts and steel blue flowers making a delightful combination. Also worthy of note is B. × 'Henry Teuscher,' named for the director of the Montreal Botanic Garden. It is a cross between B. pyramidalis and B. venezuelana and is a very robust plant resembling B. pyramidalis more than its other parent.

A number of Billbergia crosses have been made in Europe, but the only one that is easily procurable in this country is B. × 'windii', a cross between B. decora and B. nutans made in 1882. It is a very nice small plant with narrow, sword-shaped green leaves, tending to rose in good light, and a pretty nodding inflorescence with bright red bracts.



ELOW IS AN ACCOUNT OF MY EXPERIENCES growing Pitcairnias in a steam-heated apartment, which may be of interest to some readers. I have two specimens of a large Pitcairnia; I do not know the species. The original plant was given to me in south Florida about eight years ago. Its leaves are a beautiful bright, shiny green topside, greenish-white underneath. The leaves are fairly stiff, but they usually bend somewhere past the middle of the length and droop somewhat gracefully, reaching three or nearly four feet in length if straightened out, and an inch or less in width. The leaves have very small spines the entire length, but near the base there are real barbs.

The past September one of them produced its spike. When first coming up, it was curved around like the coiled frond of a large tree fern and was very interesting to observe. Rapidly it shot up, formed numerous pink buds, eight branches, and finally attained about four feet in height. It was most attractive with these long pink buds, and I was expecting many colorful flowers. However, all of these buds blasted a day or so before they were due to open. This was most disappointing. Everyone said that this was probably caused from overwatering, so I cut down on the water, but since this particular plant was in dirt that consisted mostly of humus and seemed to stay damp for several days after watering, nothing stopped the blasting till all the buds had fallen.

In October, the second plant shot its coiled spike up, and I watered it only once a week. Even so, its buds started blasting, but finally it did produce some blooms. I placed this plant in front of the window which gets the most sun and light (west exposure), and the side of the bloom stem and branches which faced the sun turned a ruddy reddish-brown, and the sepals were dark pink with whitish splotches, very pretty. The petals were red. When this plant started blasting, I moved it back to the window which gets only a little sun in the morning. In a few days, the blooming stem and branches were a pale green only, and the sepals pale pink. Finally, some of the buds stayed on long enough to open; several times there were seven or eight open in one day. Only the ends opened a little, and gave a fringed effect with yellow pollen grains. The tubular flowers were between three and four inches in length, the sepals being a bit over an inch long, the petals protruding from them about two inches more.

I recommend Pitcairnias for foliage plants in steam-heated apartments. The only drawback is their rather large size, but even so the common Pandanus grown in houses is just as large, and in fact quite similar in appearance. (most people who saw these assumed they were Pandanus). No doubt they need more sun for the best development of the flowers.

—176 Thompson St., Apt. 5D, New York City 12.



HE BROMELIAD COLLECTION of the Auckland, New Zealand, Parks Department is part of the rare plant collection owned by the local city council. The bromeliads at present number about four hundred plants, seventy species or varieties in thirteen genera. The plants are mainly used in glasshouse display work, though we are establishing a small outdoor selection as well. The climate is subtropic with dry summers and wet winters. The emphasis is on decorative value; one must be able to put these plants across to the public; those species grown must compete successfully in eye appeal with orchids, begonias and numerous other ornamental plants. Of the varieties grown about fifteen have relatively good display value, and we are concentrating on these. In studying display value, we consider the following factors:

  1. Colorfulness The proportion of color to the area of green plant; anything striking in the shape of the plant, or markings on normal foliage.
  2. Reliability Plants in a limited collection must be those which can be expected to flower regularly and grow fairly easily.
  3. Period of interest Plants which are colorful for a long period of time have more value than those such as Billbergias which are often lovely but last in flower only a day or two.
  4. Botanical interest A number of species are grown as part of a representative collection, but their only value is for comparative purposes.

This collection is not yet in a balanced state; many of the varieties are still immature plants, and we have not yet obtained many of the more striking species. The display covers an area of four square yards and there are usually about forty plants on display. In twelve months we hope to double this without increasing the area of stock in the propagating house. The basis of the collection is a variation desirable for maximum display. This aim will of course be modified as more is found out about the group here. Put in terms of glass house space, we have at present 20 square yards of propagating space to four of plants on show. This could be reduced in the next twelve months to 12 square yards for four of display, though we would like to have space for experimenting with some new varieties all the time.

In New Zealand, interest in bromeliads has grown slowly. A few species were known here by the end of the war, but most of the present activity has come indirectly from the United States, and from the work of the late Mrs. Muriel Waterman in creating a master collection in this country. Another factor has been the interest of other specialist groups, notably those interested in cacti and succulents. Most bromeliads will grow outside in our mild humid climate, which is aiding the cult. One species, Billbergia nutans, is commonly sold as a cut flower.

Limitations to the spread of bromeliad cultivation is the slowness in propagation, which makes most of these plants relatively expensive, and the fact that a number of species of little merit have been put on the market, which has reduced public interest in the rest of the group. Nevertheless, in the next ten years, as more bromeliads be-come widely known and as more uses are found for them in horticulture, cultivation of them may be expected to expand considerably in this country, and this collection if managed correctly should add to that development.

Plants used for basic display —NumberPeriod of Display
Aechmea fasciata66 months
Aechmea miniata discolor66
Ananas comosus66
Neoregelia concentrica plutonis  66
Neoregelia pineliana66
Neoregelia carolinae66
Nidularium fulgens36
Tillandsia lindenii123
Tillandsia usneoidesclump12
Vriesea carinata204
Vriesea hieroglyphica312
Vriesea splendens major1212
Interesting species with less display value, these either have a short flowering period or are not so eye catching, but they provide variety.
Aechmea × 'Foster's Favorite'66
Aechmea orlandiana312
Billbergia calophylla33 weeks
Billbergia meadii33
Billbergia rosea32
Billbergia saundersii33
Billbergia × pyramidalis33
Of the fifty species of botanical interest we keep one or two plants of each.



HAT UNCOMPLIMENTARY THOUGHTS WE HARBOR and even give voice to upon discovering invaders growing in the top soil of bromeliad pots in our glasshouses! Where these come from is often a puzzle. Among such invaders one finds weeds and also harmless ferns, lichens, etc. If we are drastic in pulling out the weeds, we could be sympathetic with the harmless things and even give consideration to them.

No matter how carefully we water a greenhouse, there are always those pots, sheltered by overhanging leaves from another plant, or those on high shelves which miss out on their drink. These bromeliads may not show any set back for a long time, but are slowly dying from the roots, and a bromel doing this does not usually survive, especially young plants.

This is where the invaders, mentioned above, come in. If we draft the good from the bad, and the little plants are allowed to grow and overhang the pots, we can be sure that the plant is getting its needed watering if we see these happily growing and indicating that water in the pot mix is present. If there are no mosses, etc., these could be put in deliberately, and they could even enhance the look of a lovely bromeliad, though care should be used to see that no seeding types are used.

It has been the writer's experience to find a large bromeliad in a large pot with the pot mix bone dry. This was amazing and could not be accounted for, as the glasshouse was carefully (?) watered every day.

If a small foreign plant had been there and was flourishing, this could not have happened.

— The Jungle Bromeliadium, Mt. Tomah, Bilpin, N. S. W., Australia.



Photo by Mel Greene
Bromeliads on display by Mrs. Herman Heinlein of Homestead, Florida

IV. Ready to Show

No matter what horticultural specimen or specimens one may have, if there is the least element of the unusual or excellence and if there is evidence of careful culture—the person cannot escape the desire to have others see and enjoy his plants It is this urge to share his plants with others that has led to the formation of garden clubs and the many societies for particular forms of plant life.

Bromeliads have long attracted attention at public horticultural displays. To quote from the Bromeliad Society Cultural Handbook, "Mrs. Arnold Harrison of Liverpool (England) introduced Cryptanthus undulatus in 1827." And bromeliads of most varieties have been "on display" ever since. So, what about your plant or plants? You have cultivated, tended, given pest protection, and now have a fine specimen or two, and besides enjoying them yourself and having a few friends see them, you wish others to see and enjoy them and perhaps get a lovely blue ribbon!

Assuming then that you have a fine plant, now look it over carefully. If you wish to clean the leaves, wash them with a little absorbent cotton that has been soaked in tepid, clear water or, better still, water that has a little fat-free dry milk added to it. Do not use any oil or "shine" of any kind on bromeliads. The natural gloss of Aechmea × 'Foster's Favorite,' for instance, is not enhanced by any artificial preparation and such treatment may harm the plant. Do not trim any of the leaves if there is a tendency to browning at the tips. Should one leaf or two on a large plant show some wilt or discoloration, slip your finger down inside the leaf to one corner where the leaf joins the stem of the plant and the leaf can then be easily removed. If the leaf should be a broad one, such as on some Neoregelias slit the leaf down the middle and separate the leaf from the trunk from the middle of the leaf outward.

Mel Greene
Bromeliads on display at Holmes Nurseries, Tampa, Florida

Are you finished now? By no means. Have you a clearly written (printed is better) correct botanical name on a small tag attached to your plant? Time and time again the writer has seen plants brought to shows with incorrect names and sometimes with just the word Bromeliad. Do not use such terms as "Painted Feather," "Flaming Sword," or "Queen's Tears," except if you wish, in small print below the full botanical name and then in quotation marks.

Then, do look at the pot. The container is not supposed to count for or against any points the judges may wish to allocate to the plant, but a dirty pot or one covered with slimy algae is not welcome at a show, even though it may later be enclosed in decorative material. Just a few minutes with a little water, perhaps a little kitchen cleanser, and a little elbow grease, and you have a pot fit for the plant it holds.

After a good many years of putting bromeliads on display both personally and in conjunction with our area society, I am still amazed at the number of people who casually walk into a show with a beautiful specimen in a filthy pot and a carelessly written label. As one member put it quite recently: "If you have some fine children you would not think of sending them to Sunday school in an untidy or dirty condition. Why, then, take your bromeliads to a show without full and proper grooming?"

There is something about bromeliads that calls for something different, greater personal attention, perhaps the real t. 1. c. (tender, loving care) often referred to.

True, if you wish, you can let them, within reason, fend for themselves. You can neglect them and give them the old "root hog or die" treatment, and they will still surprise you with their adaptability and tenacity of living. On the other hand, their responsiveness to conditions imposed upon them is remarkable.

Take a Tillandsia lindenii bought from a nurseryman quite a few years ago. It was in osmunda fiber in a pot. For a year or two it sat, showing no growth. More light? Less light? It was moved here and there. One day the realization suddenly came that it loved the tree tops. It was immediately hung in the highest spot in the greenhouse near an air vent, and in a surprisingly short time growth was apparent. Conditions in individual homes, greenhouse, shade or slat houses may vary sufficiently so that a change in situation may make all the difference in a plant.

As stated before, one must not allow instructions from a large grower to influence him completely. These suggestions should serve rather as a guide. Such growers must adopt methods that keep costs down as much as possible and yet produce mature plants as quickly as possible. You, as an individual, can afford to take more time and give more attention to each individual plant. You can experiment and give each bromeliad a chance to show what it can do in the way of maturing into a true show-worthy plant.

And, as you seek to understand the requirements of your bromeliads and as you learn to grow and groom and display really fine specimens, you will not only become known as a fine bromeliad hobbyist or grower, but you will have also vastly augmented your knowledge of horticulture and have become a better all-round gardener. This is from one who knows! —



A little care and attention to the packing of bromeliads for transport — whether by air, sea, or rail — would save many people from disappointment upon receipt of the package.

Weight and the consequent heavy costs for freight must be avoided, and to this end the plants must be removed from their pots, the potting mixture taken off, and the roots wrapped in damp moss or some similar material. Many bromeliads can then be arranged in a close bundle by carefully intertwining the leaves until the lot are tightly held together by an elastic band.

The next step is to take a cardboard carton, crumble paper which retains its buoyancy, round the edges of the inside, and make a "bird's nest." Now drop into the center of this nest the bundle of plants and lightly cover the top with pieces of crumbled paper working it carefully among the leaves and more loosely over the top, and then close the lid. This will assure the safe arrival of the plants without the leaves being kinked. Of the many packages which have arrived here, never have we received a plant in perfect order, mainly because the plants have been individually wrapped with the leaves closed.

If the "bird's nest" method is used, the carton can be quite roughly handled, a common occurrence in transport of any kind, and the plants will remain in perfect condition. Kinked leaves mar a beautiful bromeliad for its lifetime.

—The Jungle Bromeliadium, Mt. Tomah, Bilpin, N. S. W. Australia.



I have been growing bromeliads for approximately six years and have about eighty plants. I grow many varieties of tropical foliage plants which add so much warmth and color to our otherwise rather grey climate, but bromeliads are with me a special interest and one cannot get too much knowledge or information about them.

I am unable to grow bromeliads well when compared with plants that have received adequate light; nevertheless they afford me endless delight with their wealth of color and texture and present a constant challenge to provide them with the best conditions one can. I believe they have an enormous future as a house plant, but as yet the commercial growers in England have overlooked their potentiality.

I have found after many experiments with many potting media that the following gives me the best results.

Living Sphagnum moss1/4 bushel
Leaf soil1/12   "
Granulated peat1/12   "
Washed river grit (1/8" to 1/4")   1/12   "
Hoof and horn meal3/4 oz. by weight
Dolomite lime3/4 oz.     "
Calcium carbonate1/2 oz.     "

This mix has a PH of about 6, and I find that almost all plants grow well in it. I pot very firmly and use an organic fertilizer solution in the plant vase and use a chemical fertilizer at the roots — a weak solution in both cases about twice a month from March to October.

Many of the plants are removed from the greenhouse (where they grow with a wide selection of other tropical foliage plants) at the end of April and placed in cold frames where they remain until the end of October or the beginning of November if the weather remains mild enough. When the night minimum temperature reaches 40° F., they are returned to the greenhouse. From November to April the more tender Vrieseas have a minimum night temperature of 60° F. while most of the other genera have about 45° F. as a minimum night temperature.

I often import from Europe, mainly France, Germany, and Belgium; many of the growers in these countries get quite a number of their plants from Brazil. There is only one reasonably large commercial grower of bromeliads known to me in England, and they have only grown them on any scale for the past three years and their varieties are very limited. It is through the great generosity of perhaps the finest amateur grower of these and many other plants in England, Mr. L. Maurice Mason, that I have obtained many of the plants in my collection. Often these plants were collected by Mr. Mason on his travels to the countries of their origin.

44 Acacia Rd., Acton, London W. E. England.


Phytologia for February, 1962, contains another interesting study on bromeliads by Dr. Lyman B. Smith. In this issue new species of Gravisias, Tillandsias, Pitcairnias, and Vrieseas are identified. This valuable little bulletin may be obtained by sending one dollar to H. N. Moldenke, 15 Glenbrook Ave., Yonkers 5, New York.

The members of several garden clubs of Florida have published a 69-page booklet entitled Florida's List of Protected Plants. This would be an interesting handbook for the traveler to Florida to take in order that he might identify the many unusual plants to be found growing there. Twelve bromeliads are described and sketched. Although the sketches are not too accurate, they still would help in identification of the plants.

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