BSI Journal - Online Archive

Journal of the Bromeliad Society
Copyright 1986 by the Bromeliad Society, Inc.

Vol. 36, No. 3May—June 1986

Editor: Thomas U. Lineham, Jr., 1508 Lake Shore Drive, Orlando, Florida 32803
Editorial Advisory Board: David H. Benzing, Racine S. Foster, Sue Gardner, Harry E. Luther, Victoria Padilla, Robert W. Read.

Cover Photographs. Front: A series of crosses based on an Oeser chlorosticta hybrid eventually produced a nice red that did not require excessive light to develop. George H. Anderson,s account of his experiences in hybridizing begins on page 99. Photograph by the author. Back: A specimen of Glomeropitcairnia penduliflora found on the island of Dominica by Dr. Amy J. Gilmartin. Her discussion begins on page 104. Photograph by Dr. Gilmartin.
99Hybrids by Design and by Chance George H. Anderson
104Glomeropitcairnia, an Enigmatic Tillandsioid Genus A. J. Gilmartin and G. K. Brown
107(Liquid) Nail Them On Herb Plever
110Questions & Answers
113Bromeliad Internship at Selby Gardens for 1986 is Announced Harry E. Luther
114Brazilian Reports, No. 1 Elton M.C. Leme
117Tillandsia pamelae, A Striking, New, Big Species From Mexico Werner Rauh
119Icones Bromeliacearum I Robert W. Read
126Bromeliad Flower Arrangements, No. 7: Vriesea imperialis leaves, Chinese fan palm, and Aechmea mulfordii dry inflorescences May A. Moir
127Book Review: Rainbow Gardens Bookshop Catalog
128Regional Reflections
129Hydroponic Growing of Bromeliads (concluded) Klaus Sasse; translated by Harvey Kendall

The Journal, ISSN 0090-8738, is published bimonthly at Orlando, Florida by the Bromeliad Society, Inc. Articles and photo-graphs are earnestly solicited. Closing date is 60 days before month of issue. Advertising rates are listed in the advertising section. Permission is granted to reprint articles in the Journal, in whole or in part, when credit is given to the author and to the Bromeliad Society, Inc.

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Back issues: Order 1984 and 1985 issues from the editor @ $3.25 for U.S., $4.00 for all other addresses; 1976-1983, $15.00 U.S., $20.00, international, per volume, from H. W. Wiedman, Dept. of Biological Sciences, Calif. State University-Sacramento, Sacramento, CA 95819. All orders postpaid. Make checks payable to B.S.I.

Printed by: Robinsons Inc., Orlando, Florida.

Typography by: New Horizons Phototypesetting, Inc., Orlando, Florida.

Hybrids by Design and by Chance
George H. Anderson

ow did we ever get in this awful predicament? This is the question my wife and I ask each other every fall when we start winterizing our plant collection. It all began innocently enough some twenty years ago with the purchase of two Tillandsia fasciculata plants. Having visited Florida we knew they grew on trees so we fastened them to a cypress stake with insulation tape. With the approach of winter we stored them on a book shelf and forgot about them. They both survived and by spring one had started a bloom spike. This display of toughness impressed me and I began trying to find out more about bromeliads in general.

That spring the now inactive Louisiana Bromeliad Society put on a first-class display in the lobby of a downtown bank. I was fascinated by the tremendous diversity of these plants and spent hours studying them. We decided to start a collection of our own, but they were so scarce we managed to acquire only fourteen species the first year. We wintered these in the garage and lost two of them.

The next year we built a greenhouse from a kit and had more bench space than we could ever use—or so we thought. We became acquainted with Eric Knobloch and he told us about Mulford Foster in Florida. This triggered our first buying trip. In typical fashion, Mulford made us pass a test before agreeing to let us visit. We had to assure him we had a greenhouse and would be able to care for the plants properly. We also had to promise to join the B.S.I. Before selling us any plants he checked our car to make sure we hadn't bought any bromeliads from someone else before coming to see him. Mr. Foster quite properly had no intention of being second choice.

Mr. Foster sold us twenty-eight plants. We turned down a nice specimen of Neoregelia cruenta because of its size and as we were about to leave he gave us a half dozen seed pods from one of the cruentas and suggested that we might like to try growing the plant from seed even though we didn't want to buy one. We were almost too successful with the cruenta seeds. Our friends and the raffle table were the eventual dubious beneficiaries. Having found out how easy it was to grow bromeliads from seed we were encouraged to try a couple of billbergia hybrids and a cryptanthus cross. Fortunately for bromeliad collectors the billbergia crosses are now extinct and we have the only surviving descendants of the cryptanthus hybrid.

For several years the list of desirable plants available to collectors was quite limited. This lack induced us to try producing our own hybrids. Neoregelias are the most popular genus in this area so we concentrated on them. Our records of crosses during this period are sketchy or nonexistent. Very often the cross-pollination was done in the morning while I was waiting for my car pool. The selection process consisted of pollinating whatever happened to be in bloom. When the seeds ripened I collected a few pods from the more attractive plants and planted the seeds. The hybrids were referenced to the seed parent. My only concern was the development of new and more attractive plants. During this period the B.S.I. became increasingly alarmed over the explosive increase in bromeliad hybrids of unknown parentage and responded by emphasizing the need for scientific records and providing a formal procedure for registration. We began keeping better records, but many of our plants will have to be registered as cultivars because of our early sins.

Fig. 1. A complex hybrid based on Neo. 'Fairy Paint', one of the Andersons' hybrids by design, a pure bright red.

Our propagation methods are quite simple. The seeds are squeezed into an Old Fashioned glass and washed by decanting. The wet seeds are dried on a paper towel and packaged in unsealed envelopes which are stored in the refrigerator. The growing medium is a commercial potting mix (Growers Choice) that has been thoroughly saturated with a wide spectrum fungicide (BanRot). We use little terrariums made from plastic two liter soft drink bottles and these are kept under lights. If necessary these terrariums can be watered from underneath by setting them in a shallow pan of water.

When the seedlings are an inch or more in height the top of the terrarium is removed and the plants are given a week or so to become acclimated to the open air. They are then transplanted into flats. For this purpose we use disposable aluminum foil roasting pans. Periodically, plants which show early promise are removed and potted in two-inch plastic pots. The best of these are eventually transplanted into four- or five-inch pots. The selection process continues as the plants mature. Only the very best are kept. The rest are destroyed. Doing this hurts, but it is absolutely necessary.

The family tree of most of our neoregelia hybrids includes one or more of the following : 'Fairy Paint', 'Morris Henry Hobbs', an Oeser chlorosticta hybrid, concentrica proserpinae, and princeps. These five plants have desirable features which they are quite often able to transmit to their hybrid descendants through several generations. Many other plants have been introduced into our hybridizing on a limited basis, but have not made a significant positive contribution.

'Fairy Paint' hybrids and their descendants often inherit from that parent its pleasing shape, yellow foliage, bright pink leaf tips and occasional small dots or spots. 'Morris Henry Hobbs' transmits a solid red, an upright rosette, and sometimes nice bright fingernails. The dominant characteristics of the Oeser chlorosticta hybrid are a clear red color, small compact shape and yellow dots.

Fig. 2. Another example of a hybrid designed for a specific effect, in this case, dark, almost black foliage.

Concentrica proserpinae is a robust plant with well marked leaves and these features commonly show up in its hybrid descendants. Our clone of princeps has excellent color that shows up to great advantage in its hybrids.

We have been fairly successful in attaining many of our goals with neoregelia hybrids. Our want list included plants with yellow, lavender, pure bright red (fig. 1), pink, dark red, and dark, almost black foliage (fig. 2). We also tried for bright red blotches and red striations.

In our try for red striations we used 'Rosea Striata', 'Amazing Grace',1 and 'Peppermint Candy' in various combinations. 'Rosea Striata' yielded the most consistent results. 'Peppermint Candy' despite its prominent red stripes seemed unable to pass on this characteristic although it produced a number of solid red plants. 'Rosea Striata' is handicapped by having relatively stubby leaves that are few in number. A cross with 'Amazing Grace' overcame this deficiency and produced nice full rosettes and yellow leaves with good red striations. I was very surprised to find that 'Rosea Striata' crossed with concentrica yielded big robust plants with red striations. I had expected the concentrica to be dominant enough to wipe out the red striations.

Some very nice hybrids are simply the product of good luck. This is certainly the case when one unique and highly desirable plant turns up in an otherwise lackluster group of hybrid seedlings. This was our experience in crossing 'Morris Henry Hobbs' with 'Fairy Paint'. Most of the seedlings exhibited some variation of the red coloration of 'Morris Henry Hobbs', but were not spectacular. One plant inherited the good features of 'Fairy Paint', a nice rosette, yellow foliage, and prominent red fingernails. The only trace of 'Hobbs' was a pink blush when the plant was grown in strong light. This plant won the award for the Best Amateur Hybridizer's Plant in our 1984 show and will be named for my wife when it is registered. All of the other plants from this cross were eventually destroyed.

Our best example of a "designed plant" is a cross of cruenta broadleaf rubra with 'Morris Henry Hobbs'. This form of cruenta is a large plant that has a loose rosette, sparse broad leaves and an unexciting color. By crossing it with 'Hobbs' we hoped to tighten up the rosette, increase the number of leaves and improve the color. We were depending on the cruenta to furnish impressive size and broad leaves. As it turned out we got almost exactly what we wanted: a combination of the most desirable characteristics of both parents.

Many red neoregelias are either dark maroon or a dull brick red that I don't particularly care for. These shades of red look even worse under artificial light and judges at bromeliad shows penalize them for their poor color. We started a program to develop a pure bright red. We made a series of crosses based on our Oeser chlorosticta hybrid. Eventually we got a nice red that did not require excessive light to develop. One of these plants is shown on the front cover. It was chosen the Best Amateur Hybridizer's Plant in our 1985 show.

Our experience with neoregelias indicates two approaches to producing desirable hybrids. You can rely on either chance or design. Using parent plants which are complex hybrids (the product of multiple crosses) increases the diversity and unpredictability of the offspring. It enhances the chance of obtaining a dynamite plant that is quite different from either parent. The hybrids made by crossing two species or one species and a simple hybrid will usually exhibit less diversity and increase your chances of getting plants which resemble the image or design that you had in mind when the cross was made.

I have always been interested in bigeneric hybrids although many of them rate higher as oddities than as show stoppers. Notable exceptions are many of the neophytums made with Orthophytum navioides. When our navioides finally bloomed I tried a series of crosses with various neoregelias. Initially we had about eighty seedlings, but attrition and culling greatly reduced the total. The only variegated seedling started out weak and eventually died. The survivors are quite variable. One of the best came from a cross with the Oeser chlorosticta hybrid. This plant has a rich dark red color and is more sturdy and robust than many neophytums. I regret that to date it has neither bloomed nor made any offsets.

Our most recent effort to produce bigenerics has centered on Deuterocohnia schreiteri. This plant has bloomed each of the last four years from the same stalk. The production of flowers goes on for several weeks so it is often available when something else comes into bloom. We have crossed it with Dyckia fosteriana, Puya laxa and Hechtia glomerata.

We used a small form of Dyckia fosteriana to make the dyckcohnias. Both parents produced seed. The offspring were variable and ranged from bright silver to maroon. Two plants are yellow and several are green. They are all bigger than fosteriana, but smaller than schreiteri. The spines are soft like those of fosteriana. They also resemble Dyckia fosteriana in their tendency to divide at the top. So far none of them has bloomed so I don't know if they have inherited the Deuterocohnia schreiteri ability to bloom more than once from the same stalk.

The puycohnias (Puya laxa × Deuterocohnia schreiteri) have a form that is midway between that of the parents. The greenish-gray leaves are longer than those of either parent and they are less downy than Puya laxa. Offsets develop on the base of the plant and are numerous.

Deuterocohnia schreiteri × Hechtia glomerata, the bigeneric hechcohnia, produced plants that were more delicate than either plant. They have an upright form and, unlike their parents, have rather delicate spines. Their color ranges from green to a light rose and some plants develop a maroon margin on the leaves. None has bloomed.

In conclusion, hybridizing is a fascinating aspect of the bromeliad hobby, but it requires considerable time and space. The quest for the best-ever hybrid continues indefinitely. Hybridizing is like opening packages on Christmas morning—there is always the hope for something really wonderful. Also, it inflates one's ego to possess the world's entire supply of a particularly outstanding plant and to be able to respond in an offhand manner when asked about it, "Oh yes, that is one of our crosses."

1. See 36(1):5.

Metairie, Louisiana

Glomeropitcairnia, an Enigmatic Tillandsioid Genus
A. J. Gilmartin1 and G. K. Brown2

mong the largest, though by no means the most beautiful, members of subfamily Tillandsioideae are Glomeropitcairnia erectiflora Mez and G. penduliflora (Griesebach) Mez. These two are the only known species in this genus, a relative of the better known genera of the subfamily which includes Catopsis (19 species), Guzmania (126 species), Mezobromelia (4 species), Tillandsia (402 species), and Vriesea (249 species).

Dr. Gilmartin
Fig. 3 A good place to examine the astonishing G. penduliflora perched high on host trees
is on the moist slopes near Castle Bruce Road, Dominica.

Glomeropitcairnia remains an enigma and is of interest to phylogeneticists because at least three of its features, recognized by early workers such as Mez (1935), are not found in other members of the subfamily: seeds appendaged at both ends, capsules partially indehiscent, and ovary partly inferior. On the other hand, certain characteristics of the two "glomeros," including floral and leaf morphologies and foliar scale anatomy are typical of Tillandsioideae.

The sheer size of these plants and their appearance merit some pretty strong adjectives. Astonishing, came to mind in August, 1985 when I (AJG) first saw a plant of G. penduliflora on soggy Chances Peak on the island of Montserrat. Later, I was able to photograph them on Dominica where this species has been collected thus far four times by various people (1888, 1959, 1965, and 1967). In the back cover photograph, Dominican workers are shown displaying an individual attached to the severed stem of a tree fern on which it is growing epiphytically.

The two species are each known from a very few localities. Glomeropitcairnia erectiflora is known from Trinidad and Isla Margarita, Venezuela. G. penduliflora, the largest of the two is known from Dominica, Guadeloupe, Martinique, and Montserrat. The first and last islands are part of the British West Indies, while Guadeloupe and Martinique are in the French West Indies. Because of their limited distribution, if for no other reason, these appear to merit their status of endangered or threatened species. They are difficult to propagate either from seed or from field-collected plants (Luther). They do not seem to set pups, at least among hundreds of G. penduliflora no offshoots were found.

A good place to examine the astonishing G. penduliflora is on the moist slopes near Castle Bruce Road, Dominica. Frequently, individual glomeros are perched high on host trees (fig. 3). The enormous size was noted by Picado (1913) who experimentally determined that the plants could retain up to 20 liters of water within the leaf rosette. Their rosettes are unlike those of any other members of subfamily Tillandsioideae that we have seen in terms of size and number of leaves (at least 60) and the longevity of the old leaves. The inner leaves of the rosette are green surrounded by several layers of apparently dead leaves. There was no indication that these leaves were unhealthy, they simply retain the old leaves upright around the periphery of the rosette.

According to Mez, and Smith and Downs (1977), seed of tillandsioids other than Glomeropitcairnia all have a plumose appendage that is either apical (Catopsis) or basal (Guzmania, Mezobromelia, Tillandsia, and Vriesea). Seed appendages of Glomeropitcairnia are not particularly plumose and extend both basally and apically on the seed. The appendages of G. penduliflora give the appearance of being immature even though the seed itself seems to be fully developed. They resemble seeds from immature capsules of Tillandsia in that appendages are little divided, i.e. not plumose. This feature, in combination with the incomplete dehiscence typical of the Glomeropitcairnia capsule (another possible immature feature), suggests seed neoteny. Neoteny, the expression of juvenile traits in conjunction with an otherwise mature plant, can happen when something biochemically or genetically suppresses the normal course of development. In this case, perhaps, seed (which is the first stage of the new generation of the plant) is able to mature while the surrounding appendage and capsule tissue retain juvenile traits. More important, neotenous development may be maintained in the lineage generation after generation, that is, it may be incorporated into the heredity of the species.

We have no way of knowing if this is an accurate description of the evolution of the development processes that resulted in some of the unusual features of the capsule and seed in Glomeropitcairnia. The answers will require comparative studies of developmental morphology of ovules in Glomeropitcairnia and in other bromeliads, in particular, Tillandsioideae and Pitcairnioideae.

Even if this explanation should turn out to be accurate, it does not explain the adaptive significance, if any, or phylogeny of the unusual appendages at both ends of the seeds, nor does it explain the partially inferior ovary of Glomeropitcairnia, a character almost unique in the subfamily. Awaiting further data are the answers to questions of phylogenetic reconstructions and correct placement of this unusual genus. Is it at the end of an evolutionary branch, or is it close to the ancestor of the subfamily?

1. Marion Ownby Herbarium, Washington State University, Pullman.
2. Dept. of Botany, University of Wyoming, Laramie.

Literature Cited:

Luther, H.E. Letter to A.J. Gilmartin. Undated.

Mez, D. Bromeliaceae. Das Pflanzenreich 4 (32): 161-667; 1935.

Picado, C. Les bromeliacées epiphytes considerées comme milieu biologique. Bull. Sci. France et Belg. Ser. 7 (47): 215-360; 1913.

Smith, L.B.; Downs, R.J. Bromeliaceae (Tillandsioideae). Flora Neotropica. Monograph no. 14, part 2. New York: Hafner; 1977.

(Liquid) Nail Them On
Herb Plever

hose of us who grow tillandsias indoors or in the greenhouse have long been preoccupied with devising safe and effective methods of mounting them. It is pretty clear that there is something in the Tillandsia personality that makes them want and need to be held fast. They are not happy if they are loosely mounted and can jiggle around. Outdoors in the humid South or in the moist Pacific breezes of the California coast, tillandsias have no trouble putting out lots of roots to grab onto the tree or plaque they are tied to. With proper humidity and watering in the greenhouse, good rooting is also generally easy to obtain. But this is more difficult to achieve indoors unless you do a lot of soaking.

Outdoors or indoors we still have the problem of how to stabilize the plants before they make new roots. We are constantly experimenting with new products to use for mounting, and we have recently come across a new one that, finally, may be the near perfect material to mount tillandsias indoors, outside, or in the greenhouse. We have made this statement in the past, however, and a review of that history gives us pause to moderate our claims.

When I first started playing with the strange, fuzzy things some 20 years ago, we used to tie them onto cork or tree fern slabs with strips cut from nylon stockings. Then we heard that people in Florida were gluing tillandsias onto tree branches with model airplane dope, so we tried that. Our indoor-grown tillandsias didn't like the airplane glue at all. We figured that in Florida whatever toxic material there was in the dope maybe got dissipated in the fresh air outside.

Then we tried to use other glues. Silicone rubber cement was even deadlier than the model dope. Duco Cement didn't kill the plants but they really hated it. When a tillandsia would send out roots, they would arch up in the air an inch above the Duco to get past it before touching down onto the plain cork. We used Elmer's glue to mount tillandsias without ill-effect, but the stuff seems to be water soluble and breaks down after awhile. It works fine if your plants will rapidly put out a root system before that happens.

So we went back to tying the plants, but instead of using nylon strips, which tend to stretch out and loosen too soon, we used plastic ties. We drilled or punched a hole through the cork on both sides of the base of the plant and inserted a plastic "twist-em" around the base and tied it tightly on the back side of the cork. However, the plastic ties also tended to stretch and loosen and had to be tightened periodically. Large plants needed to be interlaced with several ties to be firmly stabilized.

Then we started using insulated telephone wire instead of plastic ties because it did not stretch so easily and could be tied tighter without breaking. This material worked well for many plants, but it could not be used for very small or tender plants, and even the wire needed occasional tightening.

When we heard about hot glue, it seemed to be the answer we had been searching for. It was easy to use and would permanently and firmly bond our tillandsias to the cork—or so we thought. I bought a glue gun and began mounting and remounting my Tillandsia collection. For some time most of my plants seemed to have accepted the new mounting technique without apparent injury. A few suffered damage to their bases because I had pushed them into the glue while it was still too hot. After awhile, some more plants seemed to have succumbed. Others became shaky because their outer leaves had died and dried off from the hot glue.

So I went back to the more tedious but safer method of tying the tillandsias to the cork. This time I tried using a heavy-duty staple gun to bind criss-crossed telephone wire over the bases of the plants. Then came the news of a new product.

At a meeting of the New York Bromeliad Society last spring, Phyllis Harrison reported that she had been mounting her tillandsias with "Liquid Nails All-Purpose Adhesive" for about six months with great success. She stated that there had been absolutely no adverse reactions to the adhesive and that once it set, it permanently bonded the plants to the cork no matter how large or heavy they were. Phyllis grows fine bromeliads in her greenhouse and she showed us a Tillandsia capitata she had mounted with Liquid Nails. The plant was a crisp, robust, perfectly grown specimen with many roots running onto and all over the adhesive.

I have been using the stuff for four months and can confirm that so far it has had no deleterious effect at all and it strongly bonds the plants to the cork. I mounted a close-to-mature Tillandsia xerographica on a small cork plaque with Liquid Nails and it is hanging onto it without any other support.

Liquid Nails is made by Macco, a division of SCM Corp., Wickliffe, Ohio, and it can be purchased in hardware stores. It comes in a 4-ounce tube ($1.79) or a 10-ounce caulking gun cartridge ($1.29). It also comes in a quart can which costs about $4.50, but this might be messy and difficult to use.

The squeeze tube has a well-fitting screw cap so that it doesn't dry out and stick between applications. The caulking gun cartridge is more economical, but you will have to take care to cover the nozzle with plastic wrap tightly tied with a rubber band to prevent the material at the tip from hardening. The instructions recommend waiting five to eight minutes after applying the adhesive before fixing the material to the surface. I have found that it doesn't get good and tacky until 15 to 20 minutes (depending on the size of the glob) and then it really grabs the plant when you press it into the stuff.

For a heavy plant like T. xerographica it is a good idea to tie it temporarily to the plaque while the adhesive sets and to keep the plant horizontal on top of the cork for 18 to 24 hours before hanging it vertically. Liquid Nails is especially useful in mounting tiny, tender plants which can't be tied down. It is pale brown in color and blends nicely with the cork.

We have been finding and then discarding the "perfect" mounting material for many years, but maybe—just maybe—this is it.

New York, New York

Questions & Answers

With this issue of the Journal we revive a Question & Answer section after nearly thirty years. It is intended to give a direct response to questions about growing bromeliads as a hobby. Questions about plant identification must continue to be sent to Harry Luther at the M.B. Foster Bromeliad Identification Center.

Just send your questions by postcard or letter, handwritten or typed, to the editor at 1508 Lake Shore Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, and be sure to include your address. We shall refer your questions to people who are experienced, ask them to answer you directly and quickly, and publish some of those questions and answers for the benefit of everybody else (you may specify "no name, please").

Don't hesitate because you think that your questions have already been asked and answered. Repetition is a good thing because it may show whoever is writing the answer that there may be complexities not thought about earlier. It will help readers who missed the earlier exchange, also.

For a while the questions and answers will be some gathered here and there by volunteers. If you would like to volunteer to be part of the answering service, tell me. If you disagree with any answer tell me why and your answer will become part of this exchange.

Just think, you won't have to compete with anybody to get attention. You won't have to stand up in public and say your name and ask your question. Just keep those cards and letters coming and we shall all become a lot smarter.


Q. Some of my bromeliad leaves develop ridges or lengthwise crinkles. Why, and what can I do to eliminate this?

A. In some plants this is believed to be a genetic defect, as it seems that it is passed on from generation to generation. In some neoregelias it can be a cultural defect produced by growing in high light, little water, and with no or very little fertilizer. In either instance, it could be a nutritional deficiency. As an experiment, try feeding with a very low nitrogen, high phosphate and potassium fertilizer that contains trace elements, such as Peters 10-30-20. Be sure to adjust the pH to about 6.25 after dissolving the fertilizer (more on adjusting pH soon). This is important as trace elements are only absorbed when the pH is between 6.0 and 6.5. If the problem is purely genetic this will not help and, perhaps, you should trash these plants.

Q. I suspect that some of the plants I purchase have dead roots. Can this be determined, short of knocking them out of the pot? Can older plants be rerooted?

A. It would be wise to unpot all new plants, examine and wash the roots before repotting in your own mix. Even if the roots are not healthy there should be no difficulty if you foliar feed. This is the normal method for most bromeliads. Given fresh mix and a little time the roots should reestablish themselves. The most important thing a bromeliad asks of a pot is stability. We have rerooted several plants that have developed long, unsightly caudexes. The caudex (trunk) should be cut about three inches below the bottom leaves, dusted with Rootone, allowed to harden for two days, then repotted and fed with phosphate while being kept in a shady area about ten weeks.

Q. What is the best way to give bromeliads enough air circulation? Is it too much to have a fan blow on them?

A. The importance of circulation cannot be over-emphasized. In many greenhouses there are two kinds of fans, exhaust and circulating. Frequently the exhaust fans are controlled by a thermostat, while the circulating fans blow continuously. They are usually not directed on the plants as this may produce rapid drying and thus, the need for excessive watering. They are usually directed so as to produce general circulation. This helps to promote an even evaporation and drying cycle, maintain even humidity, and prevent the growth of fungus and mildew. This is even more important in winter when the exhaust fans are running only occasionally or not at all.

Q. What bromeliads are best to grow in the house? All my neoregelias turn green.

A. All bromeliads require some light. Another problem encountered in the house is low humidity. Neoregelias require high light so they will probably never be successful under most home conditions. They will, however, tolerate about a week at a time in the house before being returned to better conditions. Guzmania, Nidularium and Vriesea would probably be the genera of choice. Some Cryptanthus are grown in terrariums, but the results are usually not spectacular. Culture within the home is more difficult than greenhouses or shade houses, yet many people have no other choice and are successful. They keep their collections close to an east or south window and provide some means of raising the humidity of the surrounding area. Many tillandsias will do well under these conditions.

Q. How can I tell by looking at a bromeliad how much light it should have?

A. Simply impossible. Anyone who says they can is just not taking into account their knowledge of the requirements of the various genera and species within the genera. Study and learn the habitat of many species, not forgetting the microclimates within any growing area; the level at which the plants occur on trees; whether they thrive in a ravine or on the top of a hill; on an east or west cliff. The more scurf on a plant, the dryer it will probably grow, but this is not necessarily an indicate that it will thrive in full sun. Your best bet is to observe where your source has been growing the plant. Don't bother to ask as you will probably be told, "Oh, just out in the shade house with the rest of the plants." Within that shade house are a dozen microclimates. Is it high on the pole? Is it where the morning sun shines in under shade cloth? Is it shaded by a hanging basket? Is the shade cloth 58% or 73%? There are so many variables. Any good grower will make an educated guess, then observe the plant and not be afraid to experiment. Just refrain from big, sudden changes as this is an invitation to disaster.

Q. Why do bloom spikes sometimes come right out of the potting medium instead of up on the plant? Have the parent plants been treated to bloom, causing the pups to freak for generations later?

A. It is hard to see how this condition could pass down over several generations. The bloom formation is triggered by certain hormones, either natural or artificial. In talking to Mr. Harry Luther, he suggests the following explanation. Since most bromeliads bloom from a terminal tip, I assume that your bloom came from one of the eyes, or immature offsets that occur at the base of every leaf. Of course, when the old leaf dies and falls off, the eye remains, provided it was not injured. If the plant is chemically treated as to overload it with hormones, then it is possible that one of these vestigial eyes could bypass the formation of a new plant and simply supply a terminal tip to produce an inflorescence. Another possibility could result from the destruction of a very immature inflorescence leaving the plant full of natural hormones, thus triggering the same response. In any case, these hormones should become non-functional and deteriorate after a few weeks or months.

Q. The mix that was recommended to me does not dry out quickly enough when we have heavy rains. What modifications should I make to correct this?

A. Experiment. Reduce the amount of peat moss, compost, soil or any other material that has a tendency to pack. Increase the amount of material that will keep the mix open, such as lava rock, perlite, shredded tree fern and bark. Vermiculite has a tendency to collapse in time or, rapidly, if you pack it too firmly when potting.

Bromeliad Internship at Selby Gardens for 1986 is Announced
Harry E. Luther, Director, Bromeliad Identification Center

he Bromeliad Society, Inc. in cooperation with the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens announces the creation of an internship involving intensive study of bromeliads for the summer of 1986. Selby Gardens operates an intern program for college-level students who have demonstrated an interest in pursuing a career in horticulture, botany, or a related field. Interns are trained in various specialties each year at the Gardens. Applications are solicited from interested students. The Gardens and BSI representatives will screen the applications for this work and study program consisting of 14 40-hour weeks. The successful candidate will be awarded a stipend of $10.00 per day and living quarters.

The work portion will be assigned and supervised by the director of the Bromeliad Identification Center. The study portion will be devoted to a project mutually agreed upon by the intern and the director of BIC. The study proposal will accompany, normally, each application, and must be approved within the first two weeks of the program.

In order to complete the program satisfactorily, the intern is expected to complete a project report of general interest and of satisfactory quality. The report will be forwarded to the Journal editor for possible publication.

The director of the Bromeliad Identification Center welcomes suggestions from BSI members for relevant projects. Continuation of the program will be considered by the BSI Board of Directors annually.

811 South Palm Avenue, Sarasota, Florida 33577

HARRY E. LUTHER, DIRECTOR OF THE M.B. FOSTER BROMELIAD IDENTIFICATION CENTER has agreed to become a member of the Journal editorial advisory board. The members, who are endowed with the spirit of generosity, represent many kinds of experience and serve indefinite tours. Their rewards include the admiration and thanks of the editor.


Brazilian Reports, No. 1
Elton M.C. Leme

n the last few years there have been numerous discoveries of new species of bromeliads in Brazil, but obtaining such species for horticultural or conservation purposes is becoming increasingly difficult for reasons such as the following:

The purpose of this series is to present information about some of these new discoveries and little-known species in the hope of stimulating interest in their preservation. This first report includes three such candidates.

Fig. 4. Aechmea gurkeniana is a close relative of Ae. fosteriana, differing at first sight with totally green leaves and a brighter inflorescence.

Fig. 5. Orthophytum lemei was found growing on stony ground in the most arid part of Chapada Diamantina, now a
Brazilian national park.

Aechmea gurkeniana Pereira & Moutinho was published in 19811 on the basis of the specimen collected by the brothers Luiz Carlos and Sergio Gurken in Caravelas, State of Bahia. This interesting species is closely related to A. fosteriana L.B. Smith, differing at first sight as to the totally green leaves and as to the inflorescence with a brighter and more attractive color. Like A. fosteriana, it is epiphytic. The best way of growing it here in Brazil is on logs or on live trees. In a relatively short time it takes root and forms a handsome cluster with its stolons. As far as known, all specimens cultivated in Rio de Janeiro are descendants of the type-plant including the one in figure 4.

Neoregelia marcelli Pereira & Moutinho is another little-known species. It was collected by Marcelo Correia de Araujo in the Visconde de Maud region, State of Rio de Janeiro. According to its authors,2,3 it is related to N. fosteriana L.B. Smith, but differs in the edges of the leaves, in the peculiar floral bracts and the sepals, and in the white petals. Recently, in an excursion in the same region, we found N. marcelli in places above 1,000 meters in altitude. It occurs sometimes in big formations on the soil or on rocks, always in the shadow of the Atlantic forest. It is interesting to observe that this species has flowers with well developed pedicels (up to 10 mm long), which certainly authorized its inclusion in the genus Neoregelia. Yet, in view of the characters such as the slightly raised inflorescence, the colorful primary bracts, and the fimbriate scales of the inflorescence we can state that N. marcelli shows a transitional position in relation to both the genus Neoregelia and to the subgenus Canistropsis of Nidularium. The latter now consists of 10 species according to the proposal of Pereira & Leme.4 In addition to these recently collected specimens there is information about specimens of the same population of the type-plant being kept in cultivation.

In January 1983, we took part in an excursion sponsored by Jeffrey Kent and R.L. Frasier, with Maggie Kent and the botanist Luiz A.M. Silva, now curator of the herbarium of CEPEC. We collected unusual bromeliads like Neoregelia longisepala Pereira & Penna, Nidularium weberi Pereira & Leme, Vriesea recurvata Gaud., and others. We also found a new Orthophytum, O. lemei Pereira & Penna (fig. 5).5 This new species was collected in the most arid part of the neighborhood of "Chapada Diamantina," now a National Park of Chapada Diamantina where the shrubby and dry vegetation is known as "caatinga." The O. lemei, which grows on stony soil is like O. sanctum L.B. Smith and O. disjunctum L.B. Smith, but differs in the leaf blade and the primary bracts which are densely covered on both sides with white scales, with the upper primary bracts very much shorter than the branches, and with the floral bracts and sepals being of small size.

It is unfortunate that the specimens brought for cultivation in the city of Rio de Janeiro could not bear the hot and excessively damp climate of the local summer.


  1. Bradea 3(27):209-210.
  2. Bradea 3(12):89-90; 1980.
  3. Also reported in J. Bromel. Soc. 34(2):78; 1984 with color photograph. The author notes, however, that the plant in this photograph has a different appearance from the typical N. marcelli and suggests comparing the descriptions.
  4. Contribuicão ao Estudo do Genera Nidularium Lemaire, Part I: Subgênero Canistropsis Mez. Bradea, 1985.
  5. Bulletin of the Municipal Museum of Curitiba (62):3-8; 1985.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Tillandsia pamelae, A Striking, New, Big Species From Mexico
Werner Rauh

uring my last visit to California to attend the convention of the U.S. Cactus and Succulent Society held in San Diego in June, 1985, I had the opportunity to visit Bird Rock Tropicals, the bromeliad nursery of Pamela Koide in Chula Vista. There I saw a Mexican tillandsia which she had collected (fig. 6). With its big rosette of ligulate, yellow-green, chalk-white leaves, the pendant inflorescence, the decurved spikes, and the dark violet flowers it looked so unusual that I thought the plant was related to the South American Tillandsia clavigera. Since it is not possible to determine the plant, it shall be described as a new species, T. pamelae, dedicated to Pamela Koide. The description follows:

Tillandsia pamelae, Rauh, sp. nov.

Planta acaulis, sed rhizomate brevi crasso, flores usque ad 80 cm alta, inflorescentia pendula. Folia numerosa rosulam infundibuliformem magnam erectam 80-100 cm altam, 60 cm diamentientem formantia. Vaginae indistinctae, late ovales, 12 cm longae, 9 cm latae, utrimque dense appresso-lepidotae, basim versus olivaceae, membranaceo-limbatae. Laminae usque ad 60 cm longae, ligulatae in apicem acutum excurrentes, supra vaginam 7 cm latae (in loco crescentis) flavescenti-virides limbo angusto albo membranaceo, utrimque disperse lepidotae, supra glabrescentes albo-cretaceae. Scapus erectus in trienti superiore deorsum curvatus, dense phyllis scapi subfoliatis circumcinctis, dense imbricates rhachidem obtectis, basalia virescenti-lutea, superiora vagina rosea erecta et lamina divaricata flavescenti-viridi, albo-cretaceae. Inflorescentia deorsum curvata, 80-100 cm longa, laxe bipinnata, spicis 5-8 deorsum curvatis. Bracteae primariae lanceolato-triangulo-acuminatae, longiores quam pars basalis sterilis bracteata 3 cm longa spicarum deorsum curvata. Spicae ensiformes acuminatae utrimque planae vel leviter convexae, sub anthesi usque ad 15 cm longae, post anthesin se valde elongantes, 3 cm latae multiflorae. Rhachis inflorescentiae modice flexuosa, angulata, applanata, refuscenti-viridis, albo-cretacea. Bracteae ftorales dense imbricatae, post anthesin laxae, oblongo-lanceolatae, usque ad 4 cm longae, 2 cm latae, acuminatae, carinatae limbo membranaceo, lucenti-carmineae, senectute albescenti-pallescentes, ante anthesin virescenti-brunnescentes apice rubrae, primo cretaceo-albae sepala paulum superantes. Flores breviter stipitati, sub anthesi usque ad 8 cm longi. Sepala oblongo-lanceolata, acuminata usque ad 3.5-3.8 cm longa, 1.5 cm lata solida limbo hyalino, disperse lepidota posteriora carinata libera, pallide rufescentia basim versus brunnescentia in sicco leviter nervata. Petala lingulata usque ad 7 cm longa, 5 mm lata, erecta apicibus leviter divaricatis profunde atroviolacea basim versus albescentia. Stamina longe exserta antheris luteis et filamentis albis a stylo violaceo longe superata. Fructus ignoti.

Pamela Koide
Fig. 6. Tillandsia pamelae, was dedicated by Dr. Rauh to Pamela Koide who found it in the State of Jalisco, Mexico.

Holotypus: B.G.H. 66 869, leg. Pamela Koide, Chula Vista, California (Maius 1984), in herb. inst. bot. system. univ. heidelbergensi (HEID).

Patria et distributio: in parietibus arduis rupium apud 1800 msm juxta viam ad Talpa de Allende (Ayutla, Jalisco, Mexico).

Plant stemless, but with a thick, rhizomatous base, flowering up to 80-100 cm high. Leaves numerous, forming an erect funnelform rosette up to 80 cm high and 60 cm in diameter. Sheaths indistinct, broad-ovate, 12 cm long, 9 cm wide, densely pale brown lepidote on both sides, only somewhat contrasting with the blades; these up to 60 cm long, 7 cm wide (above the sheath), ligulate, acuminate, with a narrow hyaline margin, yellowish-green (in habitat), cretaceous, obscurely lepidote, becoming glabrous above. Scape shorter than the leaves, erect at base, decurved in the upper third, thick, green to reddish. Scape bracts subfoliaceous, densely imbricate, the basal ones yellowish-green, cretaceous, the upper ones with erect, rose sheath and spreading, triangular, yellowish-green cretaceous blade. Inflorescence pendant, 80-100 cm long, laxly bipinnate with 5-8 spreading-to-decurved spikes (fig. 6). Primary bracts lanceolate, acute, much exceeding the short (3 cm), sterile, bracteate base of the spikes, the lower ones with big red sheath and yellow-green blade, the upper ones bladeless, acute, carmine-red, cretaceous. Spikes complanate up to slightly convex, at anthesis up to 15 cm long and 3 cm wide, with 20-25 flowers arranged in distichous manner. Floral bracts at anthesis densely imbricate, concealing the quadrangular, slightly flexuous, glabrous, cretaceous, red rachis, lanceolate, acute, carinate, up to 4 cm long, 2 cm wide, with a narrow, hyaline margin, obscurely lepidote, at anthesis bright carmine-red, cretaceous (postfloral white), exceeding the sepals, fresh even, but strongly nerved when dry. Flowers up to 8 cm long, erect, contiguous, subsessile. Sepals lanceolate, acute 3.5-3.8 cm long. 1.5 cm wide, coriaceous, the posterior carinate, free, obscurely lepidote, pale-red, brownish at the base and cretaceous, nerved when dry. Petals narrow-lingulate, up to 7 cm long, 0.5 cm wide, erect, spreading at the tips, deep violet, whitish toward the base. Stamens 1 cm long exserted, with white filaments and yellow anthers. Style exceeding the stamens, with violet stigmas.

Type. Pamela Koide (without coll. no., May 1984), in herb. Inst. Syst. Bot. Univ. Heidelberg (HEID). Herbarium number B.G.H. 66 869.

Distribution. Saxicolous in steep rock cliffs, 1800 m alt., near the road Talpar de Allende (Ayutla, Jalisco, Mexico).

Tillandsia pamelae with its cretaceous, lingulate, nearly glabrous leaves, hanging inflorescences and long exserted stamens does not resemble any other Mexican Tillandsia. It does resemble, as already mentioned, the South American T. clavigera Mez, which also has reflexed inflorescences and spikes, but these are long-stipitate and the stamens equal the petals. It belongs, therefore, in the subgenus Tillandsia.

Like many other saxicolous tillandsias, T. pamelae also dies after fruiting, but it produces offshoots at the rhizomatic stembase before flowering. Another characteristic of T. pamelae is that the fertile organs lose their color in the postfloral state, becoming pure white; further, the spikes begin to elongate so that the inflorescence rachis becomes visible.

Heidelberg, West Germany

Icones Bromeliacearum I.
Robert W. Read

uring the heyday of the flower painters in the seventeenth century, when there was a great demand for picture books of flowers and garden subjects, and following the period of the herbals, there evolved a trend from the simply illustrative rendition of a useful herb toward the artistically beautiful and the colorful horticultural subject for the sake of beauty. With the development of scientific botany the artist's portrayal of plants ranged from the simple fact of something new to something lovely growing in one of the great gardens of the time. Throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries botanical artists were busy filling the pages of folios, journals of horticulture, and scientific works of great magnitude and beauty. More recently the photograph has largely usurped the place of the botanical artist although for truly scientific illustration there is still a great need for the talented botanical illustrator.1

Many processes of reproduction have been used at one time or another for botanical illustration: woodcuts, etching, and metal-engraving; aquatint, mezzo-tint, and stipple with or without color, and finally, lithography, with hand-colored engravings or etching. Oils, which are fine for floral portraits, were not very satisfactory for botanical representation which responded best to water colors and this medium proved to be the most popular for the many works we will present in the present series; pen and ink reproduced by etching, and engraving for the rest.

One of the most celebrated flower painters of his day was Pierre Joseph Redouté, a contemporary of John James Audubon. A bromeliad was portrayed in 1789, as part of his collaboration with Charles Louis L'Héritier de Brutelle, one of the great botanists of the day. This portrayal of Pitcairnia bromeliifolia L'Héritier, in fact, established the basis for the genus. The generic name Pitcairnia L'Héritier is conserved by the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature based on Pitcairnia bromeliifolia L'Héritier of Jamaica. The illustration (fig. 7) by Redouté, which accompanied the original description in L'Héritier's famous Sertum Anglicum, is the type for the species since no herbarium voucher was cited or is known to exist.

Four more illustrations of Pitcairnia, these in full color,2 were published by Redouté in his beautiful folio Les Liliacées in 1804 with the text by the famous botanist A.P. de Candolle. Two are reproduced in figures 8 and 9. It seems the plate numbers were reversed, at least in the copy I examined sometime back. Plate 75, P. bromeliifolia is cited in the index as pl. 76 and, indeed, it is located following pl. 76 which was labeled as P. angustifolia. The latter is cited as pl. 75 in the index. The copy I saw was renumbered in pencil on the lower right of the plate to correspond with the index. These plates were published using stipple engraving with color. The original set of Redouté watercolors on vellum (ca. 19 × 13½ inches) was originally commissioned by the Empress Josephine, and acquired from Pierre-Joseph Redouté for somewhere between 25,000 and 84,000 francs. Sotheby's in New York recently prepared a catalog containing reproductions of most of the paintings in full color and sold the set for a phenomenal price.

Fig. 7. Pitcairnia bromeliifolia, by Pierre Joseph Redouté.

Fig. 8. Pitcairnia bifrons (Lindley) R. W. Read. No. 73 of Redouté's Les Liliacées in which identified as P. latifolia. A photograph of the original watercolor on vellum commissioned by the Empress Josephine.

Fig. 9. Pitcairnia angustifolia not of Solander in Aiton. One of two plates, nos. 75 and 76, that may be the basis of P. redouteana.

A Belgian by birth, Redouté left home at the age of 13 to work as a decorator, his family's ancestral trade. He soon joined his brother who was a stage and scene designer in Paris. It was there that he met the great French botanist L'Héritier de Brutelle and the flower painter Gérard van Spaendonck. After spending considerable time in the Jardin du Roi drawing flowers, he was commissioned eventually to assist with the vélins du Museum d'Histoire Naturelle (vélins du Roi). Soon after that he was appointed drawing master to Marie Antoinette.

The Empress Josephine, the most important of Redouté's patrons, wished to record for posterity the flowers of Malmaison and, naturally, turned to Redouté in 1798 to paint a series of watercolors for her bedroom. He next made the drawings for Ventenat's two-volume Jardin de la Malmaison, and a further record of Josephine Bonaparte's collection of plants in Bonpland's Déscription des Plantes Rares Cultivées a Malmaison et a Navarre.

Following Josephine's divorce from Napoleon, Redouté became drawing master to the Empress Marie-Louise. His most famous work, Les Roses, while inspired by the Empress Josephine's marvelous rose collection, was not published until three years after her death.


P. 120. Dr. Read is curator of the Dept. of Botany, Smithsonian Institution.

P. 119. The title page of this article was adapted from F. Antoine, Jr. Phyto-Inconographie der Bromeliaceen... (folio title page), 1884, by Dr. Regina O. Hughes, volunteer artist-illustrator in the Dept. of Botany, Smithsonian Institution.

1. See R.W. Read, J. Brom. Soc. 33(1):13-16; 1983.

2. The color transparencies for figures 8 and 9 were supplied by and reprinted with the kind permission of Sotheby's.

Washington, D. C.

Bromeliad Flower Arrangement, No. 7:
Vriesea imperialis leaves, Chinese fan palm,
and Aechmea mulfordii dry inflorescences

May A. Moir

Robert Chinn, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Fig. 10. Dry leaves of Vriesea imperialis arranged with
Chinese fan palm and Aechmea mulfordii.

ur Vriesea imperialis was acquired as a small keiki from the plant shown in a container on page 105 in Victoria Padilla's book Bromeliads. After growing it in the garden for almost 20 years it made five keikis which were removed and potted. The first keiki is now a foot across and has been planted alongside the mother plant. When the mother started making keikis it seemed to stop growing and in 1984 it finally bloomed. This is an impressive sight at all stages of development. Its large flowers are fragrant and they all seemed to produce seed capsules. It was decided that the plant should just die off naturally and maybe make more keikis which it is still doing. There were so many large dry leaves that I decided to pull some of them off to give more sunshine to the trunk. I quickly saw that there was a certain beauty to these large dry leaves and felt I should keep them. I used a stiff brush to remove the garden debris and in so doing they took on a sheen. In March this year, I was pressed to find something to use in the large niches at the Honolulu Academy of Arts so I brought out the V. imperialis leaves and looked to see what else would combine with them. I had the butt ends of Chinese fan palm, a beautiful terra cotta color. I had also saved the dry inflorescences of Aechmea mulfordii. Each item had a different shape, color and texture.

To build an arrangement of this size (fig. 10) one needs a banana stalk well pounded into a kenzan (needle holder). The V. imperialis leaves in the topmost section were pinned in an upright position and the rest were used upside down. As one cannot pin into the fan palm stems one has to have long enough stems to go into the container and be braced with rocks. The A. mulfordii were pinned to the banana. An arrangement of this type should last at least three weeks provided the banana is fresh and people do not poke into the arrangement to see how it is constructed.

Some extra leaves of the V. imperialis were used in a table arrangement along with A. mulfordii and again the leaves were used both erect and upside down. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of this arrangement.

Honolulu, Hawaii


Rainbow Gardens Bookshop Catalog. P.O. Box 721, 1574 Dorothea Rd . , La Habra, CA 90366-0721. 1986. 14 pages. Write for free copy.

One of the many pleasures of the bromeliad hobby is the literature which ranges from picture catalogs to the most authoritative technical compilations by taxonomists for those who will make the effort. The Rainbow Gardens Bookshop has been operating for ten years according to the owner and specializes in books on bromeliads, cacti, succulents, wildflowers, related magazines, and stationery. They offer a free search service and that is something to keep in mind. The little (22 cm), blue catalog listing 26 annotated bromeliad titles has been carefully prepared and printed. The prices are reasonable in terms of my recent experience and the cost of the catalog can't be improved on. Recommended for consideration by acquisition librarians, societies, and individuals. Visits to the bookroom may be arranged by appointment. Telephone (213) 697-1488.



Father's Day Present

Karel Bergmann

One can be fortunate to have bright children or bright blooming bromeliads. The combination of both in cool Calgary, Alberta, is a great bonus. My seven-year-old son Philip had a choice of exotic flowers in our little winter garden for his surprise. He picked a bromeliad and when his dad saw his picture, there was no doubt about identity of the plant. There is nothing rare about Portea petropolitana extensa, except the rendering of a seven-year-old. The magnificence of Mr. Moir's garden porteas cannot be rivaled (if seen by you), but the coaxing of two 5½' tall inflorescences from a single six-inch pot in our arctic conditions makes us feel proud.

I must have over 50 kinds of bromeliads in my possession, most of them bloomed and recorded on film; however, they would be common to the readership of the Journal, especially in the south of the United States.

Happy Father's Day

Calgary, Alberta

Hydroponic Growing of Bromeliads
[Continued from Vol. 36, No. 2, March-April 1986]
Klaus Sasse; translated by Harvey Kendall

Repotting, Propagating from Pups

Unlike cultivation in soils with organic components, in hydroponics there is no such thing as exhausting the planting medium … Bromeliads in hydroponic culture are usually repotted only when any clone has multiplied to such an extent that its water consumption is more than the watering intervals can accommodate, meaning that a larger surrounding container is necessary, or that you just want to divide a clump.

It goes without saying that you must proceed with care when repotting in order to protect the roots. Often it is necessary to cut up the pot with sturdy scissors because the mass of roots and clay will not let loose any other way. Plants that have not formed a tight root mass in the pot can be removed from the pot while wet and immediately repotted. To do this, you should fill a large tub with lukewarm water high enough so that the pot can be submerged almost completely. Since the expanded clay now has become almost weightless, the plant can be removed easily. In this way you can also pot up the plant while giving complete protection to the roots. This method has been especially effective when potting up seedlings and when potting pups that are being planted temporarily in margarine tubs with holes punched in the bottom.

If a plant in its individual container is to be placed with others in a tub, it is not necessary to remove it from its pot. Only if the pot is so low that it would have to be boosted a great deal with expanded clay should you repot the plant into a taller pot or plant it openly, since then the feeding of the roots would be better assured.

If you want to separate a clump, you proceed essentially the same as in soil culture. After the division, you should rinse the remaining root ball in order to remove any possibly remaining fragments or torn roots, since these can be a starting point for rot. It is superfluous to disinfect them ... if the root system is healthy. In the first few days after dividing, the centers of the plants must be watched with special care and regularly filled with water or nutrient solution until the roots are again completely functioning.

Pups appear in some bromeliads at the base and in others in the leaf rosette. An example of the former is Aechmea fasciata. Such pups can be separated easily with a sharp, clean knife. You should, however, wait until the daughter plant has a functioning center and if possible has its own roots. Early separation of pups leads in many cases to the mother plant's developing more buds and forming more pups. On the other hand, pups left on the mother plant will become mature plants much more quickly. Thus, in the course of several generations you can get a very nice collection of plants. Unattractive rosettes of fading mother plants can be removed from the cluster simply by cutting them off somewhat above the clay with a sharp knife or scissors. The cut should be carried out at an angle, so that water will run off the remaining stump.

In many plants, especially in vrieseas and tillandsias, pups appear in the rosette. To remove these pups with the intention of causing more pups to form, is often risky. It is better to wait until the outer leaves of the mother rosette have deteriorated enough to allow the clump to be divided safely.

Propagation by Seed

There are sufficient instructions for proper seed growing in the current literature, e.g. in Gugenhan (1983), Rauh (1981), Richter (1978) and especially thorough in Motschenbach/Zechel (1983). Let us here say only that the seeds of many bromeliads loose their viability very quickly. Unnecessary storing of bromeliad seeds should therefore be avoided. If you must store seeds temporarily, they should be kept in the refrigerator.

For sowing seeds, fresh inorganic media have the advantage over soil that they usually do not have harmful fungi or bacteria. The usual sterilization by steaming or by chemicals necessary in soil media can be dispensed with for that reason. But one should not neglect to sterilize the seeds, however, since they often harbor fungus spores. Sterilization can be done dry with a sterilizing agent or wet with a solution of Chinosol (1 g/l) in which the seeds are allowed to soak for 10 to 20 minutes, or with which they are sprayed.

The question of the best inorganic medium for seed growing for the various groups of bromeliads has not been answered satisfactorily since there has not been enough experience in this field. To some degree the information collected for cacti can be applied to bromeliads, especially for the group of terrestrial, xerophytic Bromelioideae and Pitcairnioideae (some aechmeas, fernseeas, dyckias, hechtias, puyas, etc.). Very fine-grain material is not suitable, since it hinders rooting. On the other hand, if the medium is too coarse, there is a danger that it will dry out too quickly on the surface, [a condition] which can injure the germinating seed. A good compromise for sowing of cacti and similarly cultivated bromeliad seed seems to be a mixture of expanded clay, pumice, or lava rock with grains 0.5 to 3 mm with perlite or vermiculite.

Perlite is aluminum silicate puffed by heating. Vermiculite is produced by extreme heating of natural mica (aluminium-iron-magnesium-silicate). Both materials can store large amounts of water or nutrient solution in their pores. According to Kohlein (1980), vermiculite contains a limited amount of nutrition, especially nitrogen, which must be taken into consideration when figuring the nutrient needs of the seedlings. I do not know whether perlite contains any nutrients in significant amounts.

This same mixture is also suitable for sowing seeds of plants from the groups of epiphytic bromeliads (aechmeas, billbergias, neoregelias, nidulariums, and many others). Schmitt (1982) reports good results from sowing seed of Billbergia rosea on a very fine expanded clay without any other additive, and my own effort with Canistrum fosterianum on a pumice-vermiculite mixture was also successful.

The containers used for sowing seeds must have holes in the bottom. You should fill them about two-thirds full with coarse material, and use a finer mixture for the top layer. Since bromeliad germination is dependent on light, the seeds are not covered. After sowing, the containers are set in a dish with water until the soil has become saturated, then they are covered with plastic foil or a plate of glass so high humidity is created. If necessary a heating mechanism must be used to bring the temperature up to 20 to 25 °C.

You can prevent alga and fungus growth by removing the cover occasionally. Any occurrence of fungus can be treated with a spray of Chinosol solution. Sometimes, however, this treatment proves to be insufficient. The fungicide Orthocid is more effective but it may prevent good germination. The powder form of Orthocid is dissolved in water and sprayed over the planting. This can be accomplished quite economically and accurately with a one-way sprayer. It is easier, though, but not as accurate, to powder the bed with Orthocid. The powder can be put into a jar over which one or two pieces of nylon stocking is stretched.

If you want to use liquid or granular fertilizer, the first application can take place at the time of sowing. But you can also wait until the seeds have germinated. Use only half the strength that you would for adult plants, i.e. a conductivity of about 400 to 800 μS/cm. It is simpler and safer to fertilize with the ion-exchange fertilizer Lewatit HD 5 … using about a half teaspoonful mixed with the planting medium at the time of sowing. This nutrient material also has the advantage that it cannot be overdone. Of course, very hard tap water should be diluted with rain water or distilled water in order to avoid high concentrations of salts. Since Lewatit contains relatively little calcium, an additional application of calcium would be appropriate after a few months, e.g. in the form of a pure calcium fertilizer or with a bloom fertilizer heavy in potassium and calcium such as Hortal.

Once the seedlings have passed the germination stage, i.e. when the second and third leaves appear, you can remove the transparent cover gradually and eventually leave it off once the plants have hardened off.

For transferring the young plantlets, refer again to the method already described in the preceding section regarding submerged repotting. You must use a somewhat coarser medium than that used for sowing. After the first transplanting, cover the plants for several days with plastic or glass in order to encourage new roots and to protect plants with injured roots. The plants themselves, however, should not be wet when they are covered, since they would not be able to dry.

Motschenback/Zechel (1983) have investigated systematically several materials commonly used for sowing bromeliad seeds. For all plants suitable for hydroponic culture, they recommend especially peat or a mixture of peat and sand (ratio 3:1) whose pH value is not below 5. The problem with peat, however, in terms of hydroponics is that it is difficult to remove from the plant roots. The use of filter paper and fine-pore foamed plastic (the material often used as cut-flower frogs, for example Moosy, is better. This method is also recommended by Motschenbach/Zenchel. The foamed plastic has proven especially suitable for sowing of Tillandsioideae that like moisture (vrieseas, some green-leaf tillandsias), which form the third group of bromeliads suitable for hydroponic culture.

Filter paper (you could substitute blotter paper) is placed damp into flat glass or plastic trays. The seeds are distributed on it and sprayed with Chinosol solution. Then you should cover the trays singly or in groups with transparent covering as described above. It is a bit difficult to keep the paper properly wet. This is best done by spraying with water or a weak fertilizer solution. The fine-pore foamed plastic is cut into slices about three centimeters thick and then treated just like the filter paper. Water from the bottom, i.e. in the saucer, to which some Lewatit can also be added. The water rises by capillary action into the foam.

Cactus growers sometimes use a method referred to as the Fleischer process, in which the sowing takes place much as with orchid seeds under completely sterile conditions in flasks that are closed off from the air. The process is a bit cumbersome but is said to get good results with species that are otherwise difficult. I do not know of any use of this method with bromeliad seeds, but it may be assumed that it would also get good results. Jurzitza (1982) describes an "inorganic" variation of the Fleischer process.

Comprehensive, systematic experiments on the influence of light, temperature, seed age, and storage temperature on germination of various bromeliads have been carried out by Zimmer (1967, 1969, 1973). He also gives additional references on this subject.

Pests and Diseases

It has been my observation that bromeliads grown hydroponically are not only easier to grow but also are less subject to pests especially root scale which sometimes occurs in great numbers on Aechmea fasciata and Billbergia nutans when grown in soil... Presumably this is because of the regular watering.

Mass instances of plant pests are almost always a result of culture mistakes. We then speak of debilitating parasites. Plants that are properly grown can protect themselves from damaging pests by their own defense mechanisms … An exception may be an attack by a pest that is not present in the natural habitat in this or any similar form and against which the plant has not developed any defense mechanisms in the course of its evolution. Another exception may be monocultures that offer the pest far more favorable conditions than do mixed cultures.

Individual appearances of pests in an otherwise healthy collection should be seen as perfectly normal and not immediately as a cause for treating the whole collection with a powerful insecticide (against insects), acaricide (against mites), or fungicide (against fungus). Any "preventive" application of plant-care material should be rejected purely for ecological reasons. The danger of creating resistant pests is a further argument against regular treatment with these materials, not to mention the danger to the person who applies them. With massive attacks by a pest, you should first check to see whether a mistake of cultivation may be the cause and how this might be corrected. Regarding errors in hydroponic technique, I have been able to identify the cause of heavy attacks by pests as a lack of nutrients or too much moisture on the roots (as a result of the water level being too high, the pots being too low, or the medium being too fine). Also, overfertilizing or having the nutrient solution too cold can lead to a weakening of the plant and consequently to attacks from pests. Other common cultural mistakes, which also occur with plants in soil, are too much or too little light, too low or too high temperatures or humidity, too little air movement, or drafts.

Some plants are naturally more sensitive than others. Many bromeliads can be designated as distinctly robust, but there are exceptions. My Guzmania lindenii, for example, does quite well in hydroponic cultivation, but two or three times a year I must treat it for scale. It appears that the plant is not entirely happy with its place on the window sill.

Direct treatment of pests on plants in inorganic media is essentially not different from treating plants in other media. In order not to endanger yourself and in order not to unduly burden the environment, you should use materials that are environmentally safe and less poisonous to mammals … Treatment of individual plants can be done with greater effectiveness and less odor and danger to the environment if you put a plastic bag over the plants, spray the pesticide under the bag, and then close it. For very large plants you can use large bags from the dry cleaner.

In especially stubborn cases, inorganic media make it easy to use systemic treatments such as Metasystox and Rogor to fight insects and red spider, or you can use the fungicide Benomyl. Systemics are absorbed by the plants through their roots and the epidermis and poison the whole plant. As they are needed, these substances are applied to the plant for several days in a solution of the prescribed strength, or you can use such a solution to flood the medium. This process is quite effective and the distinct advantage that no mist settles on the user's skin and very little vapor is inhaled. Highly poisonous substances such as Metasystox and Rogor should never be used in the home or in spaces where animals are kept.

Closing Remarks

Among the nearly 20 vase-shaped bromeliads that I have grown hydroponically in the last several years are standard plants such as Aechmea fasciata, Billbergia nutans, Tillandsia cyanea, T. flabellata, Nidularium and Guzmania hybrids, as well as Aechmea chantinii, A. calyculata, Vriesea fenestralis, and Wittrockia amazonica. All of these have bloomed in hydroponic culture, some several times. I have not yet brought Ananas comosus variegatus, Canistrum × leopardinum, or Guzmania lindenii into bloom, but these plants are all thriving. The cause for the lack of bloom I assume to be insufficient light or lack of maturity.

Using the flooding process I have been growing for several years along with notocacti and gymnocalyciums an abromeitiella, a hechtia and diverse dyckias and puyas. Several plants of other genera have recently been added and are doing well in the inorganic medium.

My experience shows that soilless growing of bromeliads (with the exception of atmospheric tillandsias, of course) has distinct advantages. Especially noteworthy are the distinctly greater intervals between watering and the possibility that the plants can be left for three or four weeks during vacation times. I have done this several times without any noticeable harm.


Benzing, D.H.; Renfrow, A. The mineral nutrition of Bromeliaceae. Botanical Gazette 135:281-288; 1974.
Gugenhan, E . Bromelien: Anzucht — Pflege — Verwendung (Bromeliads: Cultivation—care —use). Stuttgart: Franckh; 1983.
Jurzitza, G. Eine Abwandlung des Verfahrens von Fleischer zur sterilen Aufzucht von Kakteen (A variation on the Fleischer process for sterile growing of cacti). Kakteen und andere Sukkulenten. 33 (1982); 10-11; vol. 1.
Kämpf, Atelene Normann. Untersuchungen zu Düngung und Wachstum von zisternen-bildenden Bromelien (Experiments on fertilizing and growth of vase-shaped bromeliads). Munich: Technical Univ., Dept. of Agriculture and Ornamental Horticulture; 1982. Diss.
Kohlein, F. Vermiculite nicht nur zur Anzucht (Vermiculite not only for cultivating). Gartenpraxis 6 (1980) 12:542-543.
Motschenbach, W.; Zechel, J.C. Bromelien. Lebensweise, Anzucht, Pflege und Verwendung (Bromeliads. Growing habits, cultivation, care and use). Minden: Philler; 1983.
Rauh, W. Bromelien. Tillandsien und andere kulturwürdige Arten (Bromeliads. Tillandsias and other desirable species). Stuttgart: Ulmer; 1981.
Richter, W. Zimmerpflanzen von heute und morgen: Bromeliaceen (Houseplants of today and tomorrow: Bromeliaceae). 4th ed., rev. Melsungen: Neumann-Neudamm; 1978.
Schmitt, W. Aussaat von Bromelien auf Hydrokultur (Sowing of seeds of bromeliads in hydroponic culture). Die Bromelie 3 (1982) 3:173-174.
Strube, R.; Breidbach, O. Bemerkungen zur Morphologie und Funktion von Bromelientrichomen (Notes on the morphology and function of bromeliad trichomes). Die Bromelie 4 (1983):43-51.
Zimmer, Karl. Über die Keimung von Neoregelia carolinae (On the germination of Neoregelia carolinae). Gartenbauwissenschaft 32 (1967):353-358.
Zimmer, Karl. Über die Keimung von Vriesea splendens (on the germination of Vriesea splendens). Gartenbauwissenschaft 34 (1969):87-93.
Zimmer, Karl. Untersuchungen zur Keimung von Bromelien (Experiments on the germination of bromeliads). Gartenbauwissenschaft 38 (1973):171-177.

Recommended reading:

Batchelor, S.R. Orchid culture. American Orchid Soc. Bull. 50:1087-1091, 1207-1212; 1981.

Aeskulapweg 26, D-4630 Bochum 1
Federal Republic of Germany

I found a source of the materials mentioned in the installments of this article but he is a newly established wholesaler with outlets only in the Detroit, Michigan, area. If members who know where such products can be obtained will give me that information I will print it here as soon as possible. Ed.

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Affiliate shows: Charlien Rose, 4933 Weeping Willow, Houston, TX 77092.
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Dr. A. J. Gilmartin

Dominican workers display a specimen of Glomeropitcairnia penduliflora. The sheer size of these plants and their appearance merit some pretty strong adjectives. The authors begin their description on page 104.

Calendar of Shows

May 17-18Bromeliad Society of South Florida 9th Annual Show & Sale. Fairchild Tropical Gardens. Old Cutler Rd., Miami, FL. 9:30-4:30 daily. Trisha Frank (305) 655-5349.
May 21-25 1986World Bromeliad Conference, New Orleans, LA. Shirley Grubb (504) 737-8420.
June 6-8Atlanta Bromeliad Society 8th Annual Show & Sale. Northlake Mall (Exit I-285 at La Vista Rd.), Atlanta, GA. Charles Hilbers (404) 429-8993.
June 7-8Bromeliad Society of Houston 18th Annual Show & Sale. Houston Garden Center, Hermann Park, 15 Hermann Ave. Sat. 2:00-6:00 P.M., Sun. 11:00 A.M.-4:00 P.M. Deanne Erdman, 6930 Middlefield, Pasadena, TX 77505.
July 5-6Bromeliad Society of Greater Chicago, 2nd Annual Show and Sale. Chicago Botanic Garden, Lake-Cook Road and Edens Expressway, Glencoe, IL. Kevin O'Grady (312) 835-5440, ext. 35.

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