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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

PresidentDavid Barry, Jr. Editorial SecretaryVictoria Padilla
Vice PresidentFritz Kubisch Membership EditorJeanne Woodbury
Treasurer           Jack M. Roth

Board of Directors
Warren Cottingham
Ralph Davis
Nat De Leon
James N. Giridlian
J. G. Milstein
Julian Nally
W. R. Paylen
O. E. Van Hyning
Charles A. Wiley
Wilbur G. Wood
Dr. Russell Seibert

Honorary Trustees
Adda Abendroth, Brazil
W. B. Charley, Australia
Charles Chevalier, Belgium
Mulford B. Foster, U.S.A.
C. H. Lankester, Costa Rica
Harold Martin, New Zealand
Richard Oeser, Germany
Prof. Dr. W. Rauh
Raulino Reitz, Brasil
Walter Richter, Germany
Dr. L. B. Smith, U.S.A.
Marcel Lecoufle

Guzmania zahnii coming into flower in the apartment of Dr. George Milstein. In the background is the skyline of Manhattan. Photo by Dr. Milstein.

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.



Photo by H. H. Plever   
In 1962 the writer, an enthusiastic grower of bromeliads in his home, thought of an idea on how to get together with other bromeliad enthusiasts. The International Flower Show, to be held in the New York Coliseum in March, 1963, was prevailed upon to grant space to stage a bromeliad exhibit. Although the display was not professional, the spectacular beauty of the bromeliads attracted over 200 people to sign their names in a register in order to form a local society. In October of that year, the writer contacted all those who had signed up and invited them to a meeting at his home. Over 75 people crammed into his small Manhattan apartment, and over 30 signed up to form the Greater New York Chapter. From the first meeting, a publication was contemplated, and this was named The Bromeliana. The GNYCBS was the first affiliate of the Bromeliad Society to be located in a northern area. With a few exceptions, all the members grow all their plants indoors on window sills or under lights. How they grow their plants and the successes they have achieved make up the pages of this issue of the Bulletin.



Photo by Author

The air around us was hot and humid. Sunlight filtered down in flickering shafts through the thick overhanging foliage, and as we walked, we heard the 'music of the bamboo', the eerie, whining reed-like sound made by the tall thin trees as they gently swayed to the rhythm of the trade winds. It was as if we had been transported back through time to the era of the primordial rain forest.

We had been transported, all right, but not via a time machine. Our vehicle was a modern Boeing 707, and we had simply stepped aboard in New York and landed in Puerto Rico, the most easterly island in the chain known as the Greater Antilles. Now we were standing in a vast and magnificent jungle. In this ideal setting, plants thrive and flourish as they have done for thousands of years with neither the aid nor the hindrance of modern agricultural methods. Giant tree ferns, mountain palms, epiphytic orchids, bromeliads and peperomias, to name just a few, grow in great profusion on the northern slopes of the Sierra Luquillo. We had come to Puerto Rico expressly to visit this area and to collect new additions to our bromeliad collection in New York. It was very exciting to see the plants that we had known only through descriptions and pictures in various plant books.

At the outset of our journey, traveling along the coast of Puerto Rico where it is relatively dry, we found Tillandsia fasciculata growing in profusion on branches, tree trunks, and even telephone poles. As we ascended the mountain, we found different species growing at different levels. At the lower elevations, we saw Guzmania lingulata major and minor, and, a few Tillandsias. These were all growing epiphytically, and most of the plants ranged from light to dark green in color. These varieties seem to thrive best at the lower elevations, because of the shade that the protective layers of foliage overhead provide. These species would be burned by the intense heat and light if they grew higher in the trees. We collected several of these plants, including Catopsis nutans with an initiated inflorescence.

On the higher slopes, we discovered the magnificent mahogany-colored Vriesea sintenisii, growing high in the trees where it is able to obtain direct sunlight. Guzmania berteroniana also thrives at this level. On the drier Caribbean side of the mountain; we found Guzmania monostachia growing both terrestrially and epiphytically. After we had collected our plants, we carefully cleaned all of them and filled their cups. We had no trouble clearing the Department of Agriculture in Puerto Rico; and as the plants were soil free, they required no spraying or dipping.

Immediately upon our return to New York we began potting our specimens. The Tillandsias were potted in osmunda fibre. The rest were potted in either Black Magic house plant mix or in a mixture of German peat moss, leaf mold, humus, and perlite. The only exceptions were a clump of Guzmania lingulata var. minor, which we attached to a tree slab, and an unidentified Guzmania growing on a small branch to which it was originally anchored.

In our apartment the plants are placed in a specifically designed cabinet which is at window level and is eleven feet long. The pots stand on a wire mesh above a layer of vermiculite, which is used to increase humidity. Since we have a southeast exposure, the plants get direct sunlight from about one hour after sunrise until one o'clock in the afternoon. There is also an open area in the bottom of the cabinet which plants are grown under four 20-watt Optima bulbs.

Nearly a year has elapsed since our trip to Puerto Rico and the subsequent transplantation, and it is possible to evaluate the growth of the plants fairly well. All have weathered the journey, some, of course, doing better than others. A few, such as a clump of Guzmania lingulata var. minor growing on tree fern were damaged, but it has sent off pups and is doing nicely. All the Vriesea sintenisii lost the mahogany color on the top sides of the leaves, but retained the color underneath. One, placed under fluorescence, lost its color completely, but when replaced in direct sunlight, it regained color on the undersides of the leaves. In fact, one of these has just produced a showy inflorescence, blood red in color, rising more than 9 inches above the cup. This plant appears to be similar to Vriesea splendens, in that it produces a single pup from the center of the cup.

The Catopsis nutans, which was collected in spike, flowered a month later, the small yellowish-white flowering opening one by one. Curiously, the mother plant died almost immediately after the seeds burst from their pods. Its only pup is now sending up an inflorescence. The plant which was left on its original branch has proven to be the most difficult to cultivate. Many leaves wilted and growth has been slow. Perhaps the low humidity of our home is the cause. The remainder of the plants, all Guzmanias, have done well, showing obvious growth. None of this species has bloomed, except for G. monostachia, and this was of short duration. They appear to do just as well under bulbs as under natural light. After an initial period of slow growth, during which the outer leaves wilted, these plants not only revived but began to flourish.

On the whole, we can genuinely attest to the proposition that plants, not native to our climate—in this case bromeliads, can safely make the transition from jungle to house-plant culture with little or no severe damage. The most rewarding aspect of this translocation lies in the fact that not only are these plants thriving, but that we had the pleasure of gathering them ourselves.



Photo by Author

When the culture of bromeliads is discussed, a number of factors are generally considered: light, potting medium, temperature, humidity, watering and fertilizing. When you grow bromeliads in a New York apartment, each of these factors involves special problems and therefore special handling is required. I have found a few techniques that I think are successful; perhaps others could adapt these methods for their own use.

Light, or rather the lack of light is a serious problem in any apartment. I have a pair of west windows, so, of course, some sunlight is available. The amount of sunlight, however, is far from sufficient except directly on the window sill, and, consequently, the light has to be "amplified." I do this by the use of Optima tubes operated by a timer that puts them on at 6:30 a.m. and off at 10:00 p.m. On one wall I have built two shelves 48 inches long and 20 inches wide. Above each of these shelves are supported the fluorescent tubes, with the underside of the top shelf supporting the lights for the lower shelf.

In front of the windows I have a two-shelf "Flora-cart." Each shelf is 48 inches long, and both are illuminated with the same fluorescent tubes. This combination of daylight and artificial light seems to be the correct combination, for my bromeliads are flourishing. Incidentally, with the New York smog and the windows that can't be washed too often, I have yet to be able to give any plant too much sun! That situation just does not exist here!

The potting mix that I have found successful is the most porous collection of ingredients that I can find. I concoct a mixture of German peat moss, leaf mold, sand, gravel, charcoal, fir bark chips, chopped osmunda fiber, and perlite. I use clay pots because I like the added weight; they do not topple over as easily as plastic pots, especially since I use only the 5-inch size for even the larger bromeliads. I have found that bromeliads do not like being loose in the pot, so Herb Plever and I have devised a method of using a criss-cross of plastic tape to keep the young plants rigid. The tape is put across the top of the pot like the number sign "#" with the plant snug in the center. By doubling the tape against itself in the part that touches the plant, we can keep the adhesive "goo" off the plant. Our plants seem to like this support.

The temperature at which I grow my bromeliads is not too easy to control. Part of my apartment is air conditioned, but the plant room is not. In the summer it can get hot in New York; but I guess if I can take it, the plants can too. The winter is another matter entirely.

When you grow bromeliads on a New York apartment window sill, what do you do when the outdoor temperature drops to zero? This problem bothered me for a number of years, and I tried many ways to overcome it. First, I turned on the steam heat in my "plant room." This was disastrous. Why do architects always locate the radiator directly under the window? The heat cooks the leaves that hang over the edge of the sill—so steam heat cannot be used in that room. The room can be kept at a reasonable temperature on these zero degree days if the rest of the apartment is kept warm. The unheated room will be maintained at 60° to 65°, but not the window sill. There it can really be frigid. It seems modern buildings have window frames that appear to be designed for ventilation when closed!

When I had only a few plants I used to remove them from the sill when the temperature dropped, but I now have more that I would care to move. I have therefore devised a method that solves this problem. I have bought some heavy gauge clear plastic, which I use to cover the lower half of my window by taping the plastic to the jamb, the glass, and the sill, all in one piece. This creates an air pocket between the window and the plastic. With this shield, the temperature on the sill on those zero degree nights is maintained at 42° to 45°. It also prevents those leaves that arch out to the window from touching the cold glass. Now no frozen leaf tips. I keep this area quite humid, and on cold nights the window steams up and frost forms on the glass. Ice forms on the glass above the plastic, but not in the protected area. This method has worked for me, and I no longer worry about "cold snaps.

The problem of keeping the humidity at a high enough level for bromeliads is not a simple one in a steam-heated apartment, but it can be solved. My Flora-cart and the shelves I built have trays that are 1½" high. I also have trays on the window sills. These trays are filled with coarse builder's Vermiculite, which is kept wet at all times. A layer of charcoal on the bottom helps to keep it "sweet." The trays can hold gallons of water. I used to put the pots directly on the Vermiculite, but this kept the mix too wet; so I covered the tops of the trays with a metal grillwork which gives a firm footing for the pots and keeps them just above the wet Vermiculite. This keeps the area around the plants quite humid. I also use a small cold-water humidifier near the plants and that can put a few gallons of water a day into the air. It keeps the room about 70% to 75% humidity even in the steam-heated winter. I also use an 8-inch oscillating fan to circulate the air in the plant area. This may be too humid for my wife's hair-do, but the plants love it!

One of the reasons that I'm so fond of bromeliads is the fact they do not require daily care or watering. I do, of course, look at them daily and mist them once a day, just to keep the leaves clean; but I do not have the time to devote more than a few hours a week to this project. And that has to be Sunday morning. I keep a ten-gallon plastic tub with water in it "ageing" in the room at all times. This eliminates the chlorine that our New York tap water is treated with, and this aged water is used to give all my plants a weekly soaking. All excess water drains into the Vermiculite and keeps it wet. On Wednesday mornings I refill any of the cups that need water and give a little water to the few plants that I "feel" need more than the weekly dose. Cryptanthus and Nidularium seem to like the extra drink.

Once a month (I pick the first of the month so I can't forget the date) I add a diluted feeding to my watering routine. I use any water soluble plant food at 1/3 to 1/2 of the manufacturer's recommendation. The week that I feed my bromeliads, I take special care to refill the cups on Wednesday morning. I found that if I let the cups dryout, the fertilizer salts would crystallize in the cups and this could burn and damage the growing point. Therefore, this is the week to watch!

These are the cultural methods I have found successful: Add artificial light, keep the mix porous, give the maximum humidity you can, water well but not more than once a week, and feed sparingly — and even a New York apartment can be the home of beautiful bromeliads!

Photos by Author

Figure 1. Above —
Growing Tillandsias on hapuu slabs in front of window.

Figure 2. Left — "Floral Cart"
The three tray shelves are all at different distances. The unit holds more than 100 plants.



Of all the Bromeliaceae, my favorite is the Tillandsia, because of the challenge and fascination these odd plants hold for me. The many ways in which various members of this group must be cultivated has kept me busy inventing methods to permit my little beauties to survive. I am amply rewarded by the bloom and fine foliage that the Tillandsias have returned to me for my efforts. Who can fail to be moved by the stunning sight of Tillandsia cyanea or T. lindenii with its huge heavenly blue flowers emerging from the brilliant bright pink sword-like inflorescences, or the vision of T. ionantha or T. brachycaulos with the riotous color combinations of dazzling red leaves with yellow stamened bright blue flowers peeping out anew each day? But enough of this descriptive emotionalism; let me get down to the practical solutions to the problems posed by growing Tillandsias in the home.

As with all plants, lighting, humidity, growing medium, ventilation, watering, and feeding must be carefully observed. In the home, especially in the colder temperate region in which I live, these growing factors are difficult to achieve perfectly, and sometimes it takes the plants several years before they become adapted to the less-than-optimum conditions and bloom and produce offsets. However, once acclimated, Tillandsias will usually do very well for the home grower. It is only fair to add another factor that is necessary—the grower's patience. As a help in finding the proper growing conditions for Tillandsias, I have arbitrarily invented a crude taxonomy to determine the variety of growing methods that I use.

  1. Species with a covering of dense, almost hairy scales, such as T. seleriana, T. caput-medusae.

  2. Species with hard smooth, greyish scale-covered leaves, such as T. fasciculata, T. streptophylla.

  3. Almost like the above species, but differing in that the leaves have a triangular cross-section instead of the broad flat tongue shape of the preceding species, as represented by T. ionantha, T. brachycaulos.

  4. Species with a smooth, almost succulent type of leaves, formed into a pseudo-bulbous shape, such as T. butzii, T. bulbosa.

  5. Species with a hard smooth fibrous leaf with a triangular cross-section, such as T. cyanea, T. lindenii.

  6. Species with soft, green leaves that are usually but not always tongue shaped. These leaves are usually comparatively thin and delicate to the feel. Examples are T. lieboldiana, T. deppeana.

It is important to observe the different needs of each group in order to avoid losing the plants.

Lighting — Once, this factor was the greatest stumbling block; now, as Herbert Plever writes in another article in this issue, a new type of fluorescent tube, called either "Optima" or "Naturescent" is now obtainable to supply light that is not available naturally. However, with Tillandsias in Groups 1 and 2, and in some cases 3 and 4, nothing can succeed as natural sunlight. The plants in these groups are usually attached to slabs of hapuu and hung from hooks fastened to the top of the frame in my living room window. (Figure 1) The window, which is almost 20 feet across, has a western exposure, so that much sunlight shines on the plants. However, sunlight in the New York City vicinity is not so intense as it is in other areas because of the ever-present pollution and haze. There is no danger of burning the leaves of Tillandsias by strong sun rays as might be expected under normal circumstances. The Tillandsias in Groups 3 and 4 and in 5 and 6 are grown under fluorescent lights.

Figure 3.
The unit on the left is a high humidity planter lit by two circular fluorescent fixtures and completely enveloped in heavy gauge vinyl plastic.

As an aid in growing the various types, I have three different light set-ups. Figure 2 shows a "Floral Cart" with 3 shelves, each one 20 inches by 5 feet, and each one is lit by 4 forty-watt "Optima" fluorescent tubes. As can be seen in the picture, each shelf is a different distance from the lights. This permits different light intensities in supplying the varied needs of the different plants. The plants that are small and require extremely strong light are put in the lower shelf where they are very close to the lighting. In Figure 3 are illustrated two other lighting arrangements. The one on the left (my own invention) is lighted by two circular fixtures, each of which holds a 22-watt round fluorescent bulb inside of a 32-watt bulb. Since the unit is 26 inches by 16 inches high, there are 108 watts of concentrated light for the taller Tillandsias. The lighting unit on the right holds 2 twenty-watt fluorescent tubes and is used for those plants which do not require a very concentrated light. All three lighting units are located near windows. The "Floral Cart" is near the western exposure window and the other two units have a northern exposure, so that the plants get the effect of natural light also. All light fixtures are connected to timing devices which automatically turn the lights on and off; they function for about 14 to 15 hours a day.

Humidity — This is as important as light for the successful growing of bromeliads. For a long time it was even more difficult for me to achieve proper humidity than good lighting. It was necessary to invent various set-ups, and with the inventive genius of my wife, I think all humidity problems have been solved. The shelves of the "Floral Cart" are really trays made of fiber glass, about 2 inches deep. Each of these is filled with coarse perlite for 1½ inches. Water is kept at about the 1 inch level, and the evaporation of this water keeps a constant envelope of moisture around the plants. Also the spillage from watering helps to replenish the water supply. In the planting unit with the circular fixtures, I have succeeded in achieving a very humid atmosphere. The planting base, about 4 inches high, is filled with coarse German peat moss, humus, perlite, and charcoal chunks. The entire structure of the unit is in a sheath of heavy clear vinyl plastic. At the base of the planting box is a soil-heating cable with a thermostatic device to keep it a constant 70°. Here go the plants which need constant warmth and extreme humid conditions. The other lighting box gets no added humidity help except from my cold-mist humidifier. Each of the two rooms in which I grow bromeliads has a cold-mist humidifier going all night. Each throws off about 2 gallons of water in the 8 or 9 hours in which it operates. With the other water evaporation, this seems to be sufficient to keep the plants happy.

The watering and humidifying of the Tillandsias grown epiphytically had always presented a great problem. In the past, I was always forced to soak the tree fern slabs with the plants growing on them in my bathroom and then to carry them back in a dripping trail to the living room window. Then they would hang and drip huge puddles on the window sill and floor. I almost had to give up growing Tillandsias this way, when my wife had a brilliant idea. She figured that since mothers use waterproof panties on babies to keep them from wetting their clothes, why not use the same principle to keep these dripping plants from ruining our home. Using clear plastic vinyl of a very heavy gauge, she made a box-like container folded to fit over the bottom part of the fern slab. The container is held in place with two strap like suspenders and is so made as to allow at least an inch of space under the tree fern (depending on the size of the slab). Now the slabs are soaked in the washtub once a week or so, depending on the size of the slab. After a good soaking, the plastic protector is put on and the plant is hung in place and the container is filled with water. In a few days, the water is usually all soaked up into the slab, but there is still an inch or so that has not been taken. This evaporates and creates a humid atmosphere around the place.

Additional watering is accomplished by filling the tanks or cups of the broad-leaved Tillandsias with water as often as necessary, depending on the size of the plant. The planting medium of the potted plants is watered regularly, but it is extremely important that the medium be allowed to dry thoroughly before the next watering. Every morning in warm weather, I use a fine mist hand sprayer and cover the leaves of all plants with a nice damp coat of water. In the spring the plants are forced to undergo a partial rest by less frequent watering. At the same time I also cut down on the amount of light the plants receive by setting the timer to give them two hours less of artificial light. This seems to help the plants set buds and send off inflorescences in the following season.

Growing medium — This must have one important characteristic, and that is porosity or the ability to drain off excess water almost immediately. The Tillandsias in Groups 1, 2, and sometimes 3 are mounted on hapuu (Hawaiian tree fern). I use the following methods to attach the plants. The actual tying of the specimens on the tree fern is done with a soft black iron wire or strips of lady's nylon stocking. The roots of the plant are covered with a wad of sphagnum moss. Sometimes I first sandwich the Tillandsia between two thin slices of hapuu and then plant it in a pot for a few weeks. This helps the new roots to form and penetrate the fiber. The sandwiched plant is then attached to a tree fern slab and the roots will continue to grow and penetrate the slab. Another method of fastening onto tree fern is to fashion a diagonal downward hole in the hapuu by cutting or boring. The plant is inserted in this hole and moss is packed around the roots to keep the plant from moving. Eventually the roots will also penetrate the slab.

The mixture I use for potted plants in Groups 4, 5, and 6 is a commercial mix sold under the name of "Black Magic." This mixture contains no soil, and I have found it excellent for growing all sorts of bromeliads, as it is porous, slightly acid, highly nutritive, and never turns sour. Incidentally, the offsets from the Tillandsias in Groups 4, 5, and 6 can be rooted very easily by planting directly in the coarse German peat moss mixture which is in the base of the high humidity planting unit. After they produce a dense mass of roots, they are transferred to a pot. Another method of growing Tillandsias, which is also very decorative, is to stuff a piece of cholla cactus skeleton with osmunda or sphagnum moss and to fasten the plants to it. Eventually the roots of the Tillandsias will penetrate the moss or fiber.

Air — All plants need an ample amount of fresh carbon dioxide in order to survive and thrive. When plants are grown in the house in the Northeast, windows are often kept tightly closed in the winter. Sometimes the air gets stagnant, which can harm bromeliads, which at this time of year are putting on their greatest growth. Good air circulation can be accomplished in various ways. The simplest is to open a window in another room. This causes air movement without lowering the temperature too much. The cold mist vaporizer works by means of a fan and this causes a fine circulation while distributing the water vapor. A small slow moving fan can also circulate the air. On mild days in the winter I sometimes open the windows in the rooms that house the plants. I use my own comfort to determine how long to keep the windows open.

Feeding — Dr. Oeser once wrote in Bromeliana that he believes Tillandsias have the ability to extract various nutritive metallic and organic compounds from the air where they are present in ionic form. I agree with this premise, and a great deal of the feeding of my bromeliads is done through the addition of a small amount of a complete liquid fertilizer (about two teaspoonfuls to each gallon of water) in my cold-mist humidifier. The product I usually prefer is called "Shultz's" and can be purchased at the dime store. It dissolves readily and has no burning effect on the foliage of the plants. Powder fertilizers or plant foods (tablets also) have a tendency of not dissolving completely and usually leave a residue. Since I frequently add a few drops into the water in the cups of the large Tillandsias, this powdery residue cannot only be unsightly but in some cases is even harmful. I believe that "the better the growing conditions, the more fertilizer can be used." Since the best conditions are impossible to obtain in growing plants in the house, I feed rather infrequently. I also believe the bromeliads feed through their roots as well as the scales on the leaves; therefore I water the potting medium as well as place food in the water contained in the plastic protectors.

I am a great believer in the use of bloom stimulants, so I frequently use "Omaflora" to bring my Tillandsias into bloom. I do this by mixing a regular solution of "Omaflora" and by means of a fine mist sprayer and treating the Tillandsias with it. If the plants have a cup formation, then I add a little of the solution in the cup. Tillandsias take longer to bloom by the use of Omaflora than any of the other genera that I have experimented with.



As the title implies, bromeliads can be successfully grown indoors under artificial light. For the past two years the writer and three other members of the New York Chapter have grown many hundreds of bromeliads under the new Optima fluorescent tubes (sold commercially by the Duro Lite Co. under the name NATUR-ESCENT). Our experiences indicate that the problem of providing light of sufficient intensity and of the broad spectral quality necessary for successful indoor growth has been solved with Optima. This is in marked contrast to our previous efforts with GroLux and ordinary fluorescent tubes.

Optima is reputed to have 92% of the spectrum of average mid-afternoon daylight and a color temperature of 5500 degrees Kelvin. This is close enough to the temperature of daylight to fool your camera loaded with daylight type color film. It also "fools" the bromeliads!

Thus Optima can be an excellent source of supplementary light where your plants are grown some distance from the window or for north or east exposures. Optima can also be used as a primary light source by increasing the number of tubes over the growing area and/or decreasing the distance between the tubes and the tops of the plants. Of course, the various species of bromels may have markedly different light requirements, and it is therefore necessary to determine by trial and error the optimum distance from the tubes for each plant. Before citing some specific results, some generalizations may be of interest:

  1. Except where only minimal supplementary light is needed, most single or double tube commercial fixtures do not provide sufficient (light intensity or wide enough coverage for the really vigorous growth of most bromels. If you must use these fixtures as a primary light source, you should grow the plants very close (3" to 5") to the tubes. You can make your own fixtures of plywood or pine at nominal cost. Rapid Start components should be used as the wiring is relatively simple and the parts can be obtained from most electrical supply stores. The ballast transformers should be remoted, if possible (especially when the fixture is to be mounted on a wall) to eliminate the damaging heat which tends to collect underneath the fixture. Ballasts may be safely remoted up to about 15 feet from the tubes. A non-glossy white contact adhesive paper makes an excellent and cheap reflecting surface.

  2. The more light intensity available from your fixture, the more flexible will be your arrangement and placement of plants. If you make your own fixture, you can sharply increase the intensity and coverage of the light by mounting the tubes 2" apart. You will thus obtain maximum, uniform coverage over the entire plant tray and can get interesting esthetic effects for decorative display by varying the height of different plants. Maximizing the intensity and coverage is essential where the fixture is the primary source of light.

  3. Depending on the species, a range of three to twelve inches from the tops of the plants to the tubes appear to be the "safe" limits of spread for most plants. Guzmanias, Nidulariums, and most Vrieseas require less light than do Aechmeas, Neoregelias or Billbergias.

  4. The lights should be kept on for a period of 15 to 16 hours a day and can easily be controlled by an electric timer.

With respect to specific results, in no case did we fail to grow our plants with at least moderate success. In most cases our bromels developed and maintained good color and compact shape, and ultimately infloresced (sometimes with an assist from B.O.H.). This result was anticipated with regard to Guzmanias, Nidulariums, and Vrieseas, but we have done surprisingly well with Aechmeas, Cryptanthus, Neoregelias, and even Billbergias under Optima. For instance:

  1. Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor develops an intense red blush under Optima at least equal to that obtained in a sunny south window.

  2. Billbergia × 'Fantasia' not only takes on its characteristic white blotching, but the usual green areas turn red on the underside of the leaves under Optima.

  3. Aechmea orlandiana kept its dark brown-black leaf mottling with a whitish-pink haze and its orange-red inflorescence stayed in color for 3 months.

  4. Neoregelia marmorata develops and retains brilliant red "Painted fingernail" leaf tips.

  5. Billbergia × 'Muriel Waterman' grows a bright, plum-red color with vivid barring.

  6. Cryptanthus fosterianus retains its red-brown color, but must be grown close to the tubes.

  7. Cryptanthus × 'It' likewise shows its rose-red stripes if grown close.

  8. Nidularium innocentii var. lineatum developed more vivid, milk-white strips and a smaller, more compact shape than when grown on a window sill, and it flowers just as easily every early spring.

  9. Vriesea malzinii keeps a deep red leaf glow and infloresces without difficulty.

Hundreds of examples could be added to the foregoing list, but the latter should suffice to prove the point. However, some aspects of Optima horticulture remain to be clarified. It is not yet clear whether short photo-period plants, such as Billbergias and some Aechmeas, will consistently flower under Optima without chemical help. For mature plants with naturally short photo-periods which do not seem to be able to flower without stimulation, it may be helpful to transfer them to a window sill where they can get longer periods of darkness.

Another aspect that needs investigation is the question of the increased fall-off of light intensity from the tubes the longer they are used. This problem is characteristic in all fluorescent tubes and is just another strong reason for you to mount the maximum number of tubes on your fixture. This may cost you more money at the outset, but you will be compensated by the Optima guaranty of 20,000 hours of use (or about 3¾ years at 15 hours a day.) The guaranty applies to typical home use, however, so that you should change the tubes every 1½ years for best horticultural results. We have no accurate statistics on the rate of fall-off of intensity, but the manufacturer's representative advises that fall-off of about 15% can be expected in 1 to 1½ years. You can use the tubes even longer if you grow your bromels very close. It also helps to clean the tubes and reflecting surface periodically.

I hope the foregoing will encourage bromeliad enthusiasts to beautify their homes by setting up indoor arrangements under lights. These are especially attractive when mounted on driftwood.



In the January-February, 1960, issue of The Bromeliad Society Bulletin, I described my first attempt to grow bromeliads under lights in what may be termed in an indoor greenhouse in our basement. At that time I had 100 bromeliads. In August, 1964, we moved into an apartment in Manhattan. A precondition for the move was my wife's allowing me to convert what was intended as the dining room into an indoor greenhouse. The apartment building was in process of construction when we signed the lease, and part of the agreement was that the builder would undertake to build the benches, install water, special electrical outlets, tile the floor, water proof the walls and ceiling, and to install my humidifier with humidistat control and all the lighting fixtures.

My new greenhouse measures 10 by 12 feet with benches on three sides and can accommodate 300 plants. I have 288 bromeliads comprising 121 varieties covering some 20 different species. Besides the greenhouse, we have a sizable living room planter and a bedroom planter growing bromeliads under lights. Again, the objective of always having several bromeliads in bloom in the living room has not been too difficult to achieve. At the moment, on display in the living room are Vriesea splendens major with a double inflorescence, Pitcairnia pinalatum, Vriesea poelmannii, Aechmea recurvata var. benrathii, Neoregelia carolinae var. tricolor, Neoregelia carolinae, and Aechmea × 'Royal Wine'.

The top bench in the greenhouse has a four-channel, four-foot fixture facing a double window with eastern exposure; there is a four-channel, eight-foot fixture facing an outer wall; the bench facing the interior wall combines a four-channel, four-foot fixture plus a two-foot Floralite type of fixture with two 20-watt fluorescents and two 15-watt incandescents. Thus, there is a total of 710 watts of artificial light illuminating the top bench on a 15-hour cycle. Since the benches are almost three feet deep, there is approximately 50 square feet of effective potting space on the top benches. The bottom bench has just one four-channel, eight-foot fixture plus one four-channel, four-foot fixture, making a total of 480 watts and about 35 square feet of effective potting space. The bottom bench is on a 12-hour cycle and houses Billbergias and other relatively short light plants. The bench space is adequate for over 300 plants, and I find that a number of warm-loving orchids, such as cattleyas and phalaenopsis, do relatively well. In addition, there is always a steady supply of herbs grown from seed for the kitchen.

The fourth side of the greenhouse consists of the door, with a glass cut out at eye level, a workbench on which rests a fan that is controlled by a timer (five minutes off and five minutes on throughout the day and night), and a closet containing supplies.

The basic potting materials are kept in garbage pails under the window bench in front of the air conditioning unit. The heat is turned off throughout the year, so that in winter and in summer (when the air-conditioning is on) night-time temperature is usually around 60 degrees. The highest temperature in summer is about 80 degrees. In addition, there is a window fan on a thermostat which aids in providing relatively good ventilation. I am still using the same Walton humidifier, although I have run through a couple of humidistats since my initial installation almost ten years ago.

Photo by Author
Bedroom planter, which also houses several cacti.

Photo by Author
Partial view of top bench of greenhouse showing humidifier and hanging plants.

The living room planter faces south and houses large plants, as well as bromeliads and orchids in bloom. Both the living room and the bedroom planters have a fairly thick layer of perlite, which greatly aids humidity. Due to the location of the bedroom planter, the lights are on an eleven-hour cycle. Tillandsias and other bromeliads that prefer cooler nights do very well here.

For the past two years I have used exclusively the Optima fluorescent bulbs. These are far superior to any I have used before and not only improve coloring but have produced far more flowering plants than other means of artificial light. From time to time mature plants are treated with Omaflora with relatively good results. The apple treatment also yields goods results but is too time consuming for more than a few plants. One parenthetic note on Omaflora: of about 40 or more plants that have infloresced, four or five have experienced arrested inflorescences (mostly Guzmanias), but the plants appear healthy and have produced the usual number of offshoots.

Watering is done about every three days in the greenhouse with a hose, whereas the plants in the living room and bedroom are watered once a week. Generally, the plants appear to be able to go without watering for about two weeks without any serious effects. In fact, because watering the greenhouse is done very rapidly and without any real individual attention, those plants in small pots tend to suffer as they are frequently hidden by the larger ones. It is interesting to note that the six or seven plants that I hang near the humidifier are thriving.

During our first summer in the apartment, I thought I would continue my previous practice of summering some of the plants outside on a small terrace, since previously such outdoor treatment caused only the weakest bromeliads to fall by the wayside. The results were disastrous; bromeliads cannot take the polluted air of New York City. In addition, the winds at the height of the 32nd floor are just too much. The only plants that now spend the summer outside are a few cacti and other succulents.

Over the years, I find that I kill about ten percent of my plants each year because of uneven watering. The greenhouse is sprayed every two or three weeks with malathion or equivalent plus a mild fertilizer. Thus I doubt that plants are lost because of scale or natural diseases. I have kept fairly accurate records since the start of my bromeliad collecting, and of 94 varieties that have been lost, well in excess of half have been Tillandsias and Vrieseas, inferentially supporting my belief that unsound watering practices are mainly responsible. Anyway, losing 30 or 40 plants a year gives one an opportunity to replace the lost ones with some new varieties. The plant population is now at its maximum for this set-up, as my wife has vetoed any more planters.

The cost of maintenance is not high; in fact the only notable feature is that the electrical bill runs about twice what it would without the plants. This includes three incandescent spots in the living room in addition to all the fluorescents. My experience certainly reinforces the conclusion that (with just a handful of exceptions) almost any bromeliad can be properly grown in an apartment.



Without communication all knowledge would be tied into useless bundles. Once a society is established for the study of a special group of plants and for the dissemination of related accumulating knowledge, its usefulness and expansion is dependent on two kinds of communication—visual and oral. In our society, The Bromeliad Society Bulletin, now in its nineteenth year, is our central fountain-head of visual communication. The impressive use of color photos points up the fact there is nothing so instant-communicative to a plant lover as a good color reproduction of one of the plants of his interest.

It is when meetings are held or when members speak among themselves or others that oral communication is involved. In a specialized society like ours the use of the technical botanical names becomes a matter of necessity. As long as the name is in cold print, everything is fine, but because of the wholesale lack of information on how to reproduce Latin names, the "Tower of Babel" is almost a reality. There are rules and reasons for pronouncing Latin and Latinized names—the pronouncing of these names is covered by a system. It is only by conforming to these rules that oral communication can function for the pleasure and profit of all.

That this lack of knowledge is so broadcast even among professional botanists is one of the amazing unscientific aspects of a scientific world. Advanced college textbooks, as well as those less advanced, all neglect to discuss the pronunciation of Latin names in botany. A number of reference works give only the accented syllable with no indication of what sounds to employ. The result is that even botanists often pronounce a Latin or Latinized name new to them "the way it looks," without any clue as to figuring out just how it should be pronounced.

Note that I speak in part of Latinized names. A great many genera and some species are practically pure Greek. Take the Greek word aechme, which means point (to describe the sepal tips), and add an a, and you have the genus name Aechmea. Cryptanthus has the Greek stem crypt, meaning hidden, with anthus for flower added. The Greeks had a character for short o which the Romans changed to a short u when they adapted Greek words in their literature, so that the Greek word anthos became anthus. Billbergia is pure Swedish plus an ia. The same goes for Tillandsia. Vriesea is pure Dutch with an a added.

For a specific name, take hieroglyphica. It is pure Greek except that the Romans used a c instead of a k. Hier meant sacred, and glyphs were the chiseled letters on ancient tablets. Another same is leptopoda in Billbergia leptopoda. The Greek stems here are lept for slender and pod for foot. However, the great majority of descriptive names are of Latin or neo-Latin origin. Interestingly, the same meaning is sometimes conveyed by either a Latin or Greek name, the one used being the choice of the naming botanist. Micro phyllus means small-leaved in Greek; parvifolius the same in Latin.

Let us call the polyglot Latin system of naming plants (and animals) nomenclatural Latin. Now, when it comes to the question of how to pronounce the nomenclatural names, we are confronted with a universal problem. The aim of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature is to reduce each species to one name for all works in all languages, and this effort proceeds apace, taking years to attain. To the eye, that "valid" name looks the same the world over, but it is not pronounced the same the world over. It is colored according to the language background of the individual scientist pronouncing the name. Probably no two botanists of different language backgrounds pronounce all the words the same. In other words, there is an ideal for written names, but no universal standard for pronunciation. A friend of mine, Richard Hunt, tells me that when a German choir sings in Latin, it differs from a French choir singing the same hymns or prayers, and that both will differ from an Italian choir.

The pronunciation of botanical nomenclature in English-speaking countries has some strong features that sets it off from the others. We may be accused by Europeans of continental Europe that we do not speak Latin correctly, but, then who does? The Latin pronunciation we Americans and other English-speaking peoples use is a heritage that goes back to the times when modern English was evolving from Middle English. The same changes that were going on in the pronunciation of English words were similarly applied to Latin words. The most radical changes were in the values of the vowels a, e, i, and y. For a clue, in Chaucer's time the a in the word make was pronounced ah, and the e was not silent, .so that it was pronounced pretty close to the way Germans still pronounce (ich) mach—which means (I) make.

These were the changes in vowels:

Old Modern
long a ah ā
long e ā ē
long i ē ī

Note that this minimizes the ah sound of the continental languages and Latin that is so fundamental to them. We Americans tend to go further and eliminate the continental a still more.

Webster's Dictionary, Unabridged Second Edition, has a number of botanical genera included and is an excellent reference for pronunciation. It is remarkably consistent in presenting the English style of nomenclatural pronunciation. This is also the style employed by books written in English specializing in botanical pronunciation; for example, A Gardener's Book of Plant Names by A. W. Smith. (This book also gives meanings.) Another is Home Gardener's Pronouncing Dictionary by Alfred Carl Hottes. In fact, there is probably no other system used in any book written in English dealing at length with the matter of pronouncing nomenclatural Latin.

Now, what is alien to this system is the feeling that botanical names should be pronounced according to what we learned in high school about pronouncing Latin. Practically everyone who studied Latin has forgotten all the rules in the grammar as time went by, except he does remember that the a is pronounced as ah. The pronunciation of nomenclatural names for English-speaking is so remote from the Latin grammar rules, that one should forget all he ever learned about what the book says. Forget the rules, including the pronunciation for a.

Take, for instance, the genus name Geranium. According to the Latin grammar, you should say, pronouncing the g as in go, gay-rah-nee-um. Do you say North Carolina, or Carleena? Do you say Pennsylvania, or Pennsylvahnia? Annapolis, or Annahpolis? Carolina and Pennsylvania are Latin, but we pronounce them according to the English system. Annapolis, Indianopolis, etc., are Greek but pronounced according to the same system. If you were to pronounce the name Virginia according to the Latin grammar, you would say it with the g as in go, not as jin. So, throw the Latin grammar out of the window and listen to a few rules. In addition to the vowels a, e, and i given above, remember the following:

The dipthongs
ae = ē
au = aw
oe = ē
ei = ī
ie = ē
ch = k (usually)
c before a, o, and u = k
c before e, i, and y = s
g before a, o, and u = as in go
g before i, and y = j

All letters are pronounced, none are silent. Final e, i, and o are long: final a is short.

Besides the sounds of letters, an important feature in pronunciation is accent. One syllable in each gets a special stress or emphasis. Here there are but few problems. The accented syllable for a given name is the same the world over for all botanists. The rules are few—those of classical Latin. The accent goes to the second last syllable if it is a "long" syllable, otherwise to the previous syllable, the third last syllable. The last syllable is never accented. One kind of long syllable is one containing a long vowel or a diphthong. Referring to any Latin dictionary one can see that all vowels are given marks above them, indicating a long or short value. For instance, we find that the Romans pronounced "senator" on the second last syllable since the a was long; whereas, when we adopted that word in English, the accent was placed on the third last syllable.

How do we know whether a vowel was long or short for the Romans? Well, they had an extensive literature in poetry, and the meter can show us whether a syllable was accented or not. Again, the Romans adopted a number of words from the Greek, simply substituting Roman characters for the Greek characters, and it happened that the Greeks had separate characters for a long e and a short e, for a long o and a short o. The vowel i in Greek was short. Therefore, knowing what the original Greek word was gives us the information as to the value of the vowels.

Some common words have come to us in English bodily from the Greek and Latin with the original accent. We pronounce hippopotamus on the third last syllable, because a is short. Similarly, rhinoceros on the third last syllable—the e is short. On the other hand, October is pronounced on the second last syllable because the o in that syllable is long. A syllable is long when the vowel, although short, is followed by two or more consonants. For instance, disticantha is accented on the second last syllable because nth follows the a in that syllable. Similarly, Cryptanthus. And, in another example, Catopsis. the ps causes the second last syllable to be accented.

In Latin words, but not in Greek, the first vowel, when one immediately follows another, is short. Example: victori-an-a.

A monstrous situation arises in the use of commemorative names given to genera and species. When the names that end in -ii sound well according to the rules, the solution can be simple—for instance, glaziovii=glazio'vee-i. But if the accent according to the rules make the name sound awkward to ears of English-speaking people, it is best to pronounce the personal name as we ordinarily would. For example: saundersii is better pronounced saun'dersii than saunder'sii. When the commemorative name ends in -ianus, -iana or -ianum, the personal name takes its regular apparent sound, plus the suffix, which has a long a after the i, and therefore the botanical name is regularly accented. For example: fosteriā'na.

(To be continued)

Photo by G. Milstein

The name of Rodney Jones is well known to orchid growers throughout the world, as he has one of the largest orchid collections in the United States and is the former head of the American Orchid Society. Although his dozen or so greenhouses are devoted to orchids, he houses his bromeliads in a beautiful conservatory off his living room. Here he grows his bromeliads to perfection, as evidenced by the Neoregelia pictured above. His estate is called "Broadview"—a name also used to designate an especially fine plant emanating from his estate. For example—Guzmania lingulata var. broadview. (See Vol. XVII, No. 4 for picture.)

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