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Newsletter No 20 - September 2017
By Wholesale Bromeliads
Thursday, December 7, 2017



Recent Changes to Bromeliad Genera

There has been a massive, complicated study (2016) of the Tillandsioideae subfamily which has significantly altered the genera in this group.

 The study was titled ‘Taxonomic Revision of the Bromeliaceae subfam. Tillandsioideae based on a multi-locus DNA sequence phylogeny & morphology’.

Authors were Michael Barfuss (Austria), Walter Till (Austria), Elton Leme (Brazil), Juan Pinzon (Mexico), Jose Manzanares (Ecuador), Heidemarie Halbritter (Austria), Rosabelle Samuel (Austria) & Gregory Brown (USA).

The 2016 Study involved phylogenetic DNA studies ie DNA analysis was used to determine the relationships of these plants in terms of their evolution. In simple terms the species were grouped (in clades) according to their genetic sequencing.  Phylogeny is based on the assumption that more closely related species evolve with similar genetic sequencing & physical characteristics.

Morphological analysis was also used (study of form & structure of the bromeliads) – habitat, habit - leaf formation, central tank formation, & analysis of petals / ovaries / stigma / pollen / seeds.

 In essence – three existing genera (Tillandsia, Vriesea & Mezobromelia) in the Tillandsioideae subfamily have been split into smaller groups.


 The new genera that have been created in the Tillandsioideae subfamily are:

Barfussia Named in honour of Michael Harald Johannes Barfuss from Vienna, Austria who has contributed enormously to the understanding of the DNA of Bromeliaceae, especially of the Tillandsioideae. He was a prime author of the 2016 Paper.

These bromeliads have an unusual stigma type (convolute [rolled up longitudinally] – obconic [inverted cone shaped])

Habitat: Andes – Ecuador to Brazil

Goudaea: Named in honour of Eric John Gouda from Utrecht, The Netherlands who is a long term researcher in bromeliads & one of the authors of the 2016 Paper.

Habitat: Colombia to Central Peru

 Gregbrownia: Named in honour of Gregory K Brown, Professor of Botany at the University of Wyoming, Laramie, USA – one of the authors of the 2016 Paper. He has done much work on stigma structure in the bromeliad family.

Habitat: Andes of northern Peru & Ecuador

 Jagrantia: Named in honour of Jason Grant.

Habitat: Costa Rica to Colombia  

Josemania: Named in honour of Jose Manuel Manzanares Vilaplana from Quito, Ecuador, leading authority of Ecuadorian Bromeliaceae - one of the authors of the 2016 Paper.

Habitat: Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador & Peru.

 Lemeltonia: Named after Elton Martinez Carvalho Leme from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, leading authority on Brazilian bromeliads & one of the authors of the 2016 Paper.

Habitat: Central America to Peru extending to Eastern Venezuela & the Guiana’s.

Lutheria: Named in honour of Harry Edward Luther (1952 - 2012)from Sarasota, Florida, one of the most experienced bromeliophiles in the world & an author of the 2016 Paper.

Habitat: North Eastern South America

 Pseudalcantarea: Named for resembling the flowers of Alcantarea.

Habitat: Mexico to Nicaragua  

StigmatodonThe name of this new genus comes from the Greek word stigmatis plus odon, the latter meaning tooth, in reference to the irregularly denticulate to lacinate ('toothed') stigma lobe margins.

Habitat: South Eastern Brazil

Wallisia: This genus name first showed up in 1870 but was not accepted. These species have an unusual stigma type, identified in the 2016 Study, the only species identified with this type so far.

Habitat: Ecuador & Peru with W. anceps growing in other areas  

Zizkaea: Named in honour of Georg Zizka, Professor of Botany at the Goethe-Universitat, Frankfurt/Main, Germany, who has much contributed to the understanding of the phylogeny of Bromeliaceae.

Habitat: Greater Antilles

Waltillia: Named in honour of Dr Walter Till who is an Austrian botanist & bromeliad specialist at the Vienna University.

*NOTE: These new genera have involved not only the species but also the related cultivars & intergenerics.  Some of the cultivars are now a cross between two different genera & thus have changed to an intergeneric. Some have reversed from an intergeneric to a cultivar & some have changed intergeneric name.


The new genera that have been created in the Bromelioideae subfamily are:

Sincoraea: There has been the re -establishment of the genus Sincoraea in the Bromelioideae subfamily with 11 Orthophytums now Sincoraea. This has also impacted on the x Neophytum many of which are now x Sincoregelia.

Wittmackia: This new genus has also been established in the subfamily Bromelioideae.


Whilst all of this seems very complicated – one of the main tasks we have to undertake as bromeliad growers is to go through the lists detailing the bromeliads that have changed genera & note the bromeliads that we own; note the new genus name; then rename our plants.

 Keep a note on the plant tab of the old genus for reference incl for plants sales.  Most growers will only have a few of the plants listed so the task should not be too onerous. 





Newsletter No 19 - December 2016
Wednesday, December 21, 2016


Involvement in these societies is a great way to socialise with other bromeliad enthusiasts & also a great source of information & sharing of knowledge & experience. Bob & I belong to the Gold Coast Succulent & Bromeliad Society which combines interest in bromeliads & succulents. It meets every 4th Saturday in the month (except December) at the Helensvale Community Centre, 31 Discovery Drive, Helensvale (Gold Coast). You can attend initially as a visitor if you wish. Information is at www.gcsbs.org.au

We also belong to the Bromeliad Society of Queensland but can't get to meetings due to the distance. Their website is bromsqueensland.com.au

A list of Bromeliad Societies in Australia can be seen at www.bromeliad.org.au/Contacts/BromSocs.htm


What is It?

Quilling is a problem many of us face in the cultivation of bromeliads where the inner leaves roll up into a tube. This occurs when the natural gums secreted by the leaves of some bromeliad species is not softened by humidity or washed off by adequate watering or rain. The gum causes the leaves to stick together instead of separating as they grow, resulting in a tight, often wrinkled tubular shape. The genera most susceptible are guzmanias & vrieseas.


Maintain high humidity & regularly flush the plant out with water to thoroughly wash it out.


  • Soak the plant beginning to quill in a dilute solution of liquid detergent & water. Let the mixture remain for half an hour. The soapy water will dissolve the hardened glue substance. Then gently loosen the leaves from outer to inner. A flat, blunt object may help. Remember to rinse the soapy water off afterwards.
  • This recipe is from Len Trotman (Illawarra Bromeliad Society): 500mls of Sunlight Dishwashing Liquid / 200 mls household cloudy ammonia /  100 mls Citronella or Pine-O-Cleen Disinfectant. Mix all of these into container with 5 litres of cold water. As this mixture is very concentrated use only 2-4 tablespoons per litre of water in the spray solution or 1 litre in main 200 litre holding tanks with liquid insecticides, fertilizers or fungicides.
  • Jan Townsend (Central Coast Bromeliad Society) has used Clensel to great effect. The plant is thoroughly watered before being drenched in the Clensel solution (follow the mixing instructions on the bottle). It is also sprayed down the centre of the tightly curled leaves. Some plants respond within 24 hours with leaves relaxed & spread as normal. Other plants responded well after a repeat application. The plants are then thoroughly watered to wash off any remaining Clensel.

Newsletter No 18 - October 2015
By Wholesale Bromeliads
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

QUESNELIA (kwes-nail-ea)

This Genus which belongs to the subfamily Bromelioideae was named after Martin Quesnel, a French Consul at Cayenne, French Guiana, who was responsible for introducing the plants into cultivation in France around 1840. The first was probably Q. arvensis which is the earliest listed of the species.

There are currently 18 species listed & 6 hybrids.


Quesnelias are native to the central coastal regions of Brazil & can be epiphytic, terrestrial or saxicolous.

They can be found in the mountains bordering the coastal plains up to 1500 metres.

Closer to the coast in swampy lowlands, with some tree cover, are the larger species with rosette shape & tanks to hold water.

Growing in the tropical sun in view of the ocean are species somewhere between the two. Growing in fine, white sand over thin layers of leaf mould, these can be found scattered over the dune areas, appearing to be almost indestructible.


The genus is composed of two major groups.

1) The first group is tubular, few leaved, & they resemble Billbergias (examples are: Q. humilis, Q. lateralis, Q. marmorata & Q. liboniana).

2) The second group is composed of large rosette shaped plants with very stiff leaves often grey barred on the underside (examples are: Q. arvensis, Q. quesneliana & Q. testudo).

The spined leaves occur in a variety of rosette forms as above except Q. marmorata which has distichous leaves.

The number of leaves varies from 4 to 40+ & they are green for most species.

The inflorescence is rather fleeting, lasting about two weeks. The forms & colours can be stunning in their beauty & more than make their existence worthwhile.

LIGHT: Bright light to full sun, but will tolerate areas of low light.

WATER: Moderate

TEMPERATURE: Many need warmth & protection from frosts. The higher altitude species are the easiest to grow in areas of definite winters eg Q. liboniana.

POTTING MIX : Free draining

Quesnelia liboniana: This species develops ample stolons & has a narrow, tubular rosette. It can be mounted or grown in a pot/ basket.  If placed at the base of a tree it will slowly climb up its new host. In habitat this species grows low in trees or on rock outcrops.  Its flowers are navy & orange, an exotic combination.

Quesnelia marmorata (below): Is hardy & very adaptable to mounting. It has a tube like form & the leaves are heavily marbled maroon on grey-green. The slightly pendant inflorescence has rose pink bracts & china blue petals.

Quesnelia lateralis (below):  Is named because of the habit of flowering from the base. It likes bright, filtered light, its leaves are green & the inflorescence has flame red bracts & ming blue petals.

Quesnelia humilis (below): Has a tubular form with green foliage. It is easy to grow in medium to bright filtered light. With offsets on stolons, it adapts well to hanging pot or basket, mounting, or grown over rocks in a rockery.  The bracts are brilliant red & the petals are bright cerise.

Quesnelia quesneliana (below): This is the largest member of this genus.  It grows well in bright, filtered light for more compact growth, but adapts well to medium light. In habitat it grows in full tropical sun close to the ocean.  There are decorative white bands on the leaf underside.  The large inflorescence, with no obvious stem, is cylinder shaped & is deep rose to red in colour. The layered bracts appear like crimped crepe paper.  The petals are mauve with white edge, blue or pink.

Quesnelia arvensis (below): Likes the same situation as Q. quesneliana.  In habitat, it grows in moist, swampy areas.  Appearance is similar to Q. quesneliana.

Quesnelia testudo (below): Grows in coastal scrub at sea level & offsets on obvious stolons. It has a less open rosette & more rounded inflorescence on an obvious stem.

Quesnelia indecora (below): Has a flat topped inflorescence with red floral bracts, pink sepals & purple petals.  It clumps well.

Quesnelia edmundoi v. rubrobracteata (below): This moderately large species, which looks like an Aechmea, was only discovered in 1961. When grown in good light – the leaves are an attractive maroon.

Quesnelia ‘Tim Plowman’ (below): Named by Harry Luther in 1983, it’s a cv. of Q. marmorata with recurled leaves.

Quesnelia ‘Farro’ (below): A variegated Q. testudo named by person unknown.

Quesnelia ‘Rafael Oliveira’ (below): Named by Chester Skotak, this variegated form of Q. marmorata was found by Rafael Oliveira de Faria in Brazil in 1995.

Q. arvensis, Q. quesneliana & Q. testudo are similar species & relatively difficult to tell apart. All have a cone like inflorescence with bright pink floral bracts. Here are some differences:

Q. arvensis has heavily textured dark green leaves with more pronounced spines than Q. testudo. The floral bracts have flat & uniform margins & cobwebby covering.

Q. quesneliana has a flower head longer & thinner than the other two.  Its floral bracts are elongated & wrinkled along the edges & the base has a white woolly covering.

Q. testudo has leaves that are more bayonet shaped, an inflorescence that is more rounded & open & spines on the lower scape bracts.

*Many photos are my own - some have been accessed from other sources for educational purposes only.

By Wholesale Bromeliads
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Bromeliad Fair Sydney

Saturday 10th October 10am - 4pm

Sunday 11th October 9am - 12 midday

Venue: Concord Senior Citizens Centre, 9-11 Wellbank Street, Concord NSW 2137

Hundreds of exotic bromeliads from the beautiful to bizarre.

Rare & unusual Tillandsias, colourful Neos & Guzmanias, spectacular Vrieseas, dazzling Aechmeas...

Free entry - bring a box. EFTPOS available.

Contact: Garry Flemming - 02 6553 9868/0413 178 884 or Peter Tristram - peter@bromeliads.com.au


Bromeliad Extravaganza Brisbane

Saturday 31st October 8am - 3pm

Sunday 1st November 9am - 2pm

Venue: Wavell Heights Community Hall, 175 Edinburgh Castle Road, Wavell Heights, Brisbane

500 + varieties of bromeliads for sale including new releases. Bromeliads for the collector & the gardener.

Free entry. EFTPOS available

Contact: Nigel 07 5485 3800

Newsletter No 17 - February 2015
By Wholesale Bromeliads
Sunday, February 1, 2015

Another year had flown by with its highs & lows & challenges. True continues to enjoy the Bromeliad Judges Schools run very efficiently by Narelle Aizlewood in Brisbane. The next one is in fact tomorrow. Bob is still immersed in his foliage vriesea hybridising & a few plants are turning out ok.

The main topic for this newsletter is the genus Nidularium. However first there are a few short notes.

POTTING MIX: We are now adding coal ash as a source of silicon (see Newsletter No 15). So the basics of our mix are now - Pine bark 60%, coco chips 20%, coco peat 10% & coal ash 10%.

ANANUS 'Lava Burst': We brought this brom back from David Fell in Hawaii & was told it was called 'Lava Flow'. However David has now registered this same bromeliad as 'Lava Burst'. So we have changed the name accordingly. Whoever has bought this plant from us will need to do the same.

WAVELL HEIGHTS EXTRAVAGANZA: The next show is being held on Saturday 28th February 2015 (8-3) & Sunday 1st March (9-2) at the Wavell Heights Community Hall, 175 Edinburgh Castle Road, Wavell Heights, Brisbane. Lots of broms for sale for the collector & the gardener. Off street parking & refreshments available. Look forward to seeing those of you who can attend.

EXPLANATION OF BROMELIAD TERMS: We are going to include some meanings in each newsletter. It's quite interesting to know why a bromeliad has a particular name or description. Will only list the more common terms.

albo-marginate: a form of variegation where the edge of the leaf is white

alpestris: growing in mountains; alpine

amoena: beautiful; charming; pleasing

ampullacea: flask or bottle shaped

aquilega: resembling an eagle; aquiline

arvensis: pertaining to cultivated fields

aurantiacum: orange coloured

biflora: two flowered

bituminosa: sticky

bromeliifolia: with leaves like those of the genus

capitata: formed like a head; aggregated into a very dense/compact cluster

capitate: forming a rounded head

carcharodon: with shark like teeth

cordate: heart shaped

crypt-, crypto-: hidden; covered; concealed


These beautiful bromeliads are often overlooked by collectors which is a pity because they are attractive, varied & wonderful for landscaping in shady conditions.

The genus Nidularium belongs to the sub-family Bromelioideae & was named in 1854 by Charles-Antoine Lemaire, a French botanist. The name is taken from the Latin 'nidus' meaning 'nest'.

This is a small genus consisting of around 45 currently recognised species, all native to Eastern Brazil where they grow on the ground or on lower limbs of trees in shadowy, humid rainforests. There are around 54 registered hybrids.

Nidularium usually have a flat to semi-erect rosette with a tank in the plant's centre which stores a limited amount of water. They are compact, medium to large plants with mostly shiny, soft foliage & fine spines. They often have fragile, very soft leaves that are easily damaged by wind, insects or other broms. They vary in colour from lime green to dark purple & can be spotted, striped (longitudinal) or plain green.

A rosette of shortened inner leaves forms before flowering. The inflorescence has large, colourful primary bracts which often rise only slightly above the central leaves (eg Nidularium longiflorum). However the stem can be taller placing it well above the central foliage (eg Nidularium procerum). The small three-petaled flowers nestle in the bracts & are white, red, purple, blue, yellow or rose depending on the species.

Temperature: They are tropical plants whose natural habitat is humid rain forests in Brazil. They prefer temperatures in the range of 12 degrees C to 30 degrees C & need protection in winter, particularly from frosts. They also need good air circulation so don't crowd them in your shade house.

Light: They will tolerate the lowest light conditions of all bromeliads, but don't put them in too dark a spot because the leaves will become strappy. During summer most like to be grown under 90% shadecloth, & 70% for the rest of the year. They adapt well to indoors as long as they get bright indirect light.

Fertiliser: Use a controlled release fertiliser that is higher in potassium for those with coloured leaved (eg Nidularium 'Chantrieri') & a more balanced nitrogen & potassium for those with green leaves. We also use a foliar fertiliser fortnightly that is a little higher in potassium. As with all information re fertiliser, look at the results & adjust as necessary.

Water: Keep the potting mix moist but not soggy. As a guide water thoroughly 2-3 x week in summer & less often in winter. Too much water can rot the plants.

Nidularium procerum

Kind Regards,

Bob & True Grant

Newsletter No 16 - June 2014
By Wholesale Bromeliads
Sunday, June 29, 2014

At last time to formulate another Newsletter. It has been an exceptionally busy six months both on the home front & the nursery. Apologies to those to whom I have been promising this Newsletter for ages.

We've had a very warm start to winter this year - expect to get a cold snap soon. Already can't wait till Spring when the broms will start to grow & look happy again.

True is attending Bromeliad Judge's Schools which are most enjoyable & a great learning experience. Tip for cleaning plastic pots: Scrub any dirt & white salty residue off with a stiff wire brush & then do final clean with baby oil. This brings up the dirtiest of pots.

Fertilising Neoregelias & Aechmeas: We've given up on using controlled release fertiliser on our Minis Neoregelias. Growth is too long & lanky & plants are green. We get better results using a weak dose of very high potassium (very low nitrogen) foliar fertiliser fortnightly & less often in winter. For larger Neoregelias & most Aechmeas we use a small amount of controlled release plus weak high potassium foliar as for the minis. Keep in mind that others use a different regime & it's important to determine what works best for you in your situation.


Pitcairnias are often overlooked because their foliage is usually green & grass like. However during spring into summer their attractive brightly coloured flower spikes create great interest particularly when clumped which is their normal habit. We love them & are building up a collection which we will release as soon as we have enough stock. There are at least 30 species & hybrids cultivated in Australia.

The genus Pitcairnia belongs to the subfamily Pitcairnioideae & was named after Dr William Pitcairn, an English physican & gardener (1711-1791). It ranks as the second most prolific of the bromeliad family after Tillandsia with recorded species numbering well over 300.

Distribution:They are most abundant in Colombia, Peru & Brazil, but can be found in areas from Cuba & Mexico to Argentina. Most are terrestrial (grow in the ground) or saxicolous (grow on rocks & are called lithophytes) & prefer moist, shady areas. However they are occasionally found growing as epiphytes in trees. Pitcairnia includes the only species that is not native to the Americas. Pitcairnia feliciana grows on rocks & cliff faces in tropical French Guinea in West Africa. It is suspected that the plant found its way to Africa via seed dispersal by migratory birds. The species is small with very thin sparse leaves which have a few spines that increase towards the centre of the rosette.

Characteristics: Typically they form a clump that develops underground rhizomes. Pitcairnias have soft, drooping leaves, a few of which have small spines, while most are spineless. The leaves can be quite variable in length & shape. Some have several types of leaves on the one plant eg a deciduous species such as heterophylla. In that species the 'normal' leaves drop off at the start of the dry season to help conserve moisture. The short brown spikes that remain are a primitive type of leaf that contains no chlorophyll.

Pitcairnias send up tall, brightly coloured flower spikes with tubular flowers that project out at right angles. They are mostly pink, red or orange but sometimes yellow & white. While the flowers last only a day, the inflorescence is long lasting.

Propagation: They can be easily propagated from seed or, for many species, by detaching a piece of underground rhizome with roots attached. Other Pitcainia form bulbous like growths that can be broken apart to provide new plants.

Temperature: Pitcairnia are native to generally mild climates & can be found in humid rain forests as well as more arid highlands. So they usually prefer moderate temperatures around 26 degrees C. Some can handle a bit of frost if protection is provided.

Light: They generally prefer moist but well drained, shady conditions, but can do well in dappled shade. They are unlikely to do well in situations that receive the full afternoon sun especially in summer. They can be grown indoors. Pitcairnia grow well under 50% shadecloth in winter & 75% for the rest of the year.

Pots & Potting Mix: They typically like bigger pots for their size than other bromeliads. Pitcairnia require the usual free draining potting mix yet need to be kept moist but not soggy. One suggestion is to put a small amount of sphagnum moss in the base of the pot & cover the surface with mulch, particularly in summer.

Water: Keep moist but not soggy. Water thoroughly at least three times a week in summer. Twice a week in winter should be enough except during periods of low humidity.

Fertiliser: Controlled release in or on top of the potting mix - higher potassium or potassium similar to nitrogen (rate as for indoor plants). We also use foliar with balanced N & K.

Pests: Generally pest free, but can be affected by mealy bug or aphids. Grasshoppers can attack young leaves.

Below is a photo of Pitcairnia hitchcockiana

We hope this stimulates your interest in Pitcairnias if you are not already hooked.

With kind regards,

True & Bob

Newsletter No 15 - November 2013
By Wholesale Bromeliads
Monday, November 18, 2013

At last another newsletter. It has been an exceptionally busy year both in the nursery & personally.

The main topic for this newsletter is about Seasol which is a plant conditioner used by many brom growers. See article below this newsletter.  It's worth reading to become aware of the advantages as well as precautions about its use for bromeliads.

Whilst talking to various brom growers, we are always picking up new information & I would like to share some of this with you:

Mini Neoregelias

We have advocated growing them hard (without fertiliser) as is recommended by Grace Goode & others. We did fertilise our minis on one occasion, with a high potassium controlled release fertiliser, & ended up with green plants & long, green pups which took a generation to grow out. However, I gave a talk about mini neos recently for which I researched information. I learned that Rob & Rosie Kelly (who specialise in neo minis) & Margaret Patterson (well known hybridiser) both fertilise their minis with a tiny amount of controlled release. Margaret says 'otherwise they sit & sulk'. Looking back, we probably used too much fertiliser. We are now trying an 1/8 teaspoon on a few & will monitor results. The bottom line is that if you fertilise your minis, use a very small amount of high potassium formula. * Already I have noticed that Neo Mini Chiquita Linda has gone green - so will be more selective in the future.


We had a wonderful day earlier this year visiting George Stamatis who lives just north of Brisbane. George imports rare bromeliads & has a superb collection. He gave us a great tip for growing pitcairnias which need moist (well drained), shady conditions: Put some sphagnum moss in the bottom of the pot & cover the top with mulch.


George Stamatis also mentioned the importance of supplying silicon for bromeliads whose spines contain this element. As there are reduced amounts of silicon in a soil less potting mix, this can be achieved by adding coal ash (mainly silicon dioxide) or sand (silicon dioxide). Our preference is coal ash which we have now added to our mix, as it is lighter & (we have been advised by our potting mix supplier horticulturalist) breaks down more quickly to supply the absorbable form of silicon which is monosilicic acid. This is taken up by the root system & moves upwards through the plant.

Documented Advantages of Silicon:

  • Strengthens cell walls improving plant strength, health & growth.
  • Increases drought & frost resistance
  • Boots plant's natural pest & disease resistance
  • Improves root mass & density
  • Improves uptake of several macro & micro nutrients
Urea & Bromeliads

Urea is a common source of nitrogen used for fertilsers (both soluble & controlled release) because it is cheaper than other forms. I was recently made aware that using soluble fertilisers with ureic nitrogen as a foliar application is harmful to bromeliads because of the chemical compound biuret that is found in urea. The nitrate form of nitrogen is best for bromeliads as a foliar spray - so check the analysis of any soluble fertiliser you are using. I have also heard reports (unconfirmed by research) that ammonium nitrogen is best for Tillandsias. I would be interested to receive any feedback about this.

I am working with a horticulturalist to formulate a controlled release fertiliser that is suitable for bromeliads & that will have a life of around 12 months. This guy states that ureic nitrogen is ok for absorbtion through the root system. It is only harmful when applied to bromeliad leaves.


We have added information about orthophytums to out website which can be accessed at www.ausbroms.com.au/BromeliadOverview.aspx (Information section of our website).
These interesting bromeliads will grow in bright filtered light or full sun. They look great in the garden adding colour & texture (se photo below for some in our garden - in the foreground). We now have quite a few varieties for sale.

The festive season is nearly here. We wish you all a peaceful, happy & safe Christmas & a prosperous New Year.

True & Bob Grant

By Wholesale Bromeliads
Thursday, October 31, 2013


When I was giving a talk to the Ipswich Bromeliad Society recently, the subject of using Seasol & also of using soluble Calcium for bromeliads came up in discussion. This prompted me to research these topics & to reassess what we are doing in relation to them in our own nursery. I would like to share with you the information I have accessed about Seasol in this article. I will be writing a follow up article on Calcium.



Seasol is a brand name for a 100% organic seaweed extract.  It is made from two species of seaweed – Bull Kelp (Durvillaea potatorum) & Knotted Kelp (Ascophyllum nodosum) both of which are sustainably sourced. The Bull Kelp grows in the clean oceans around King Island & the west coast of Tasmania where it is collected from the shores of remote beaches.  Knotted Kelp grows in shallow intertidal waters.  The base of the plant is left intact so that the kelp re-grows.

Seaweed contains a complex mixture of biochemicals including hormones that regulate plant growth.  An analysis conducted at the Australian National University scientifically identified hormones called cytokinins & auxins.  Cytokinins are known to stimulate cell division & new shoot initiation & have a general effect on shoot growth. Auxins have wide ranging effects on plant growth particularly stimulating the formation of new roots.

Seasol is a plant tonic (conditioner) & is not by definition a fertiliser as it contains only very small amounts of nitrogen & phosphorus.



Nitrogen = .2% (Ammonia & Nitrate form)

Phosphorus = .58%

Potassium = up to 4.3%

Sodium = .9%

Plus many other natural compounds & almost every known trace element

The amount of Potassium is beneficial for bromeliads & the trace elements contribute to overall plant nutrition. Sodium will be discussed later in this article.


SUMMARY of BENEFITS of SEASOL (as listed by the producing company)

*  Increases cell division thereby stimulating plant & root growth

·         *  Enhances cell ‘strength’ resulting in increased tolerance to heat, drought & frost conditions

·         *  The effects of dehydration can be reversed after a single foliar application

·         *  As Seasol contains so little nitrogen & phosphorus, it won’t interfere with other nutritional inputs & it can be used all year round

·         *  Optimised plant health reduces the incidence & severity of some pest & disease problems

·         *  The natural compounds in Seasol also help to increase nutrient uptake, so when fertilisers are applied , they are much more effective



I was advised by an experienced horticultural chemist that Seasol should not be used for bromeliads due to its high sodium content (.9%) & its high pH (10).  High levels of sodium are known to be harmful to bromeliads with leaf tip die back usually one of the first symptoms.  This problem can be experienced with high levels of sodium in the water supply.

We’ve used Seasol in our nursery for years without any signs of damage to the leaves.

I’ve also mainly heard of positive results from other brom growers.  A few people have reported problems (one grower experienced damage to the centre of the plants using full strength dilution in water).

Another grower reported using a stronger dilution than recommended without any damage.

So I rang Seasol & spoke to their Marketing Agronomist. He said that they had not tested Seasol specifically on bromeliads. However they had never received any negative feedback from brom growers.  He was of the opinion that the dilution of the concentrate in water for foliar application reduces the amount of sodium to a non harmful level. He also stated that the pH of leaf surfaces helps to neutralise the high pH.



This is an important issue – will the physical properties of soluble fertilisers remain stable if mixed with Seasol?

The same horticultural chemist as before says no & that Seasol must be applied separately from other fertilisers, insecticides & fungicides.

The Seasol Agronomist said that the main nutrient that causes problems is phosphorous & it is therefore best to avoid mixing Seasol with any phosphorous containing compound.

Seasol has been tested with several insecticides & fungicides & found to be compatible with quite a few. The insecticides commonly used for bromeliads weren’t on the list. The fungicide Mancozeb was listed as ok.

We have decided to apply Seasol separately.



Recommended: 25mls per 9 litres of water every 2-4 weeks

The level of dissolved salts presents in the water supply also affects the dilution that should be used (tank water having the least).

We use ½ strength (12.5mls per 9 litres) as an extra precaution due to the high sodium level & apply every 4 weeks.


*Dilution & how often applied is a personal decision.  Just be aware of the level of sodium & watch carefully for any damage.

*There are other seaweed products on the market which I haven’t researched. The benefits are probably similar, but the information above relates specifically to Seasol.

 *Powerfeed is also made by the same company. It’s a fertiliser with a higher level of nitrogen than potassium (N12%: P 1.4%: K 7%)





Newsletter No 14 - March 2013
By Wholesale Bromeliads
Saturday, March 2, 2013

Many thanks to all those who have been waiting many months for this Newsletter & updated Price List.

Most bromeliads love a stable environment & that's exactly what we haven't had this Spring & Summer. First we had a dry Spring with many in our area buying in water to fill their water tanks. Fortunately we use bore water with a back up from a creek so we were ok.

Then came Australia's hottest summer with 40 degrees plus on many days which scorched a few neos which are usually ok (these included Charm, War Paint, Knockout, Red Gold & Home Fires)

Then along came Oswald late January with it's massive winds & heavy rain & it's rained every day since. We run outside to rejoice & the animals howl & the broms look so happy on the few occasions we have seen blue sky. We are, at the time of writing this newsletter, flooded in once again & I am organising an updated Price List under an umbrella to try to keep the paper work dry.

New Bromeliads on our Price list

We have quite a few new additions to our price list this Autumn - Billbergias, Skotak Mini Neoregelias & Foliage Vrieseas in particular.

Guzmania 'Penny Wise'

This bromeliad is still being sold incorrectly as Guzmania pennellii. It was originally imported into Australia from Jeffery Kent (USA) as Guzmania pennellii however it had been incorrectly identified. It is unlikely that it will be formally described as a new species because there is no collecting data. So Peter Tristram decided to name it 'Penny Wise'. It's a beautiful guzmania which flowers to about 60cm high. We'll have some for sale soon - still building up stock.

Preparing Bromeliads for Competition

For those who love the challenge of showing bromeliads for competition, here are a few guidelines:

  • Use a pot that is undamaged, is the correct size for the particular bromeliad & is sparkling clean.
  • Make sure the pot is not overfull with potting mix (or too low)  & no weeds or rubbish.
  • Ensure the bromeliad is centred in the pot & growing straight / symmetrically. It needs to have been grown on a level surface &, if necessary, moved regularly if growing towards the sun.
  • The leaves should be unmarked & don't leave 'bits of leaf' showing if lower leaves have been removed. Don't overdo this removal.
  • The bromeliad must be perfectly clean & insect free.
  • Try to provide a stable growing environment so that the bromeliad has steady growth (not obvious different stages of growth) & good conformation (appearance) - not always easy.
  • Provide the right amount of fertiliser & light so that the bromeliad is well grown, has good colour & markings, is healthy & is the right size for that particular bromeliad. If over fertilised, it may become long & lanky, lack colour or be too large for that variety.
  • The inflorescence should be undamaged & clear, bright colours. Remove any spent blooms or bracts.
  • It is best to show mature plants but not over mature ('past it').

Fertilising Green Leafed Neoregelias with Coloured Centres

Most neoregelias with green leaves & brightly coloured centres (eg Grant Groves hybrids - Magali; Michi; Puppy Love; Tangerine; Grace / carolinae) do better with more shade than other neos (75-80% in summer) & more fertiliser.

We use a generous teaspoon of controlled release fertiliser (N:P:K - 14:2:15) per 140mm pot.

We still don't foliar fertilise any of our neos - but have heard of one person who uses seasol (which is high in potassium) with good results & will give this a trial run (don't know the dose but will start with full strength & pull back if necessary).

* We still use 1/2 teaspoon of nine months high Potassium controlled release fertiliser on most other neos (administered only once). We don't use any on our marbled, species or mini neos.


This genus name is from the genus Canistrum & the greek 'opsis' (resembling). All 12 species of this genus are endemic to Brazil.

Canistropsis has had a long history. It was created as one of the several subgenera of Nidularium in 1891. The Nidularium genus was reduced to 2 subgenera in 1896 with one plant in Canistropsis = Canistropsis burchellii. In 1935 the Canistropsis subgenus was elevated to a new genus Aregelia (Neoregelia) with 2 species burchellii & microps. These 2 species were moved back to Nidularium in 1955 but with no subgenus ( in the 1979 Smith & Downs monograph, the Canistropsis subgenus returned).

When Elton Leme did the 1986 revision of the Nidularioid Complex of bromeliads in the Atlantic Forest portion of Brazil, Canistropsis returned as genus & included 12 species & some forms.

Characteristics of the Canistropsis Genus are:
  • small to medium sized plants
  • stoloniferous habit
  • spread over the Atlantic Forest
  • Narow or thin leaf rosettes
  • Leaves in a species can be entirely green or green with a wine purple surface
  • Petals are sub erect to spreading as opposed to Nidularium which are always erect.
  • Fruit colour is orange-yellow which is never seen in Nidularium.
There are quite a few cultivars of Canistropsis billbergioides which have a lovely array of colour & have been named after fruits:

APRICOT: Primary bracts deep yellow orange / leaves green
BLOOD ORANGE: Primary bracts reddish orange / leaves green
CITRON (was citrinum): Primary bracts yellow / leaves green
GUAVA: Primary bracts rose / leaves green
LEMON: Primary bracts light yellow / leaves green
MANDARIN: Primary bracts mandarin red / leaves maroon
MULBERRY: Primary bracts dark orange - mulberry / leaves reddish both sides
PERSIMMON: Primary bracts orange / leaves green
PLUM: Primary bracts apricot / leaves maroon both sides
TAMARILLO: Primary bracts orange flushed mulberry / leaves rusty both sides
TUTTI FRUTTI: Primary bracts orange flushed mulberry / leaves green

Temperature: Temperate or subtropical climates. They are quite cold hardy & therefore suitable for the garden as well as indoors.

Light: Heavy shade. Along with Nidulariums, they like more shade than any other genus (summer 90% shade / winter 70% shade).

Fertiliser: We apply 1 teaspoon per 140 mm pot of controlled release fertiliser (N:P: K - 14:2:15) & reapply when run out.

Water: Keep moist but not wet.

Potting Mix: Needs to be free draining

Canistropsis 'Citron'

Canistropsis 'Persimmon'

Happy growing,

Bob & True Grant

Newsletter No 13 - August 2012
By Wholesale Bromeliads
Wednesday, August 8, 2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy growing,
Bob & True Grant

Catopsis compacta      Catopsis aff morreniana below