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Ok, so I have seen a lot of posts over the course of the last few months with questions and comments about bromeliads and care. I have seen a ton of wonderful advise along with a bunch on completely wrong advice. Please note I am not an "expert" but I have 5 years of growing bromeliads under my belt and I am best friends with one of the largest growers of bromeliads in the world. The below information will be for care of the genus neoregelia and not all bromeliads.




Bromeliad care: Outdoor
For outdoor growth most bromeliads will tolerate cold temps to around 32 degrees but it is best to keep them above 50 and below 90. Light is very important in keeping healthy bromeliads. A rule for most Neoregelia is to have 70% shade when growing outside. Now
this means you can have dappled light under a tree or grow under a shade cover if grown in a shade house or in a backyard.

It is important to keep potted bromeliads off the ground. Not only will this help with air flow it will also lessen the chances of getting nematodes in the soil.

A nice light mix of soil is important. I use a mix of 1/3 perlite, 1/3 peat moss and 1/3 small pine chips. Other orchid type mixes work great as well. Try to never use 100% peat as this will aid in the rotting process.

One thing that is never really mentioned is pot size. Pot size is very relative when it comes to rotting of the bromeliad. You want to use the rule of what the plant will finish to in size. For example mini neos will do best in 4" pots while medium should be planted in 4.5 to 5" pots, and so on and so forth. At the time of potting a good time release fertilizer works great. You can go with any off the shelf type fertilizer like osmocote or organic fertilizer. Something with a ratio of 13-13-13 will work just fine.

Watering is probably the most important part of out door growth. If you live in a humid environment like Florida you can get away with watering 1-2 times per week in the winter and not at all in the summer. If you live inn the north you will most likely need to water more often. Keep the axils filled with water and once the soil dries out it is time to water again. Water quality is also very important. If you have hard water you may want to consider getting a softener system or even an RO system.

Pups or offsets as a rule should be cut off the mother plant at a 1/3 grown. Now with smaller neos it is best to be close to full grown. If you have a small plant like small fry for example 1/3 grown would be only 1" in size. So the larger the bromeliad the sooner you can cut the pups or offset.





Terrarium Growing:
First off, bromeliads need air flow! I can't tell you enough that just placing a bromeliad in a terrarium without some air flow will most likely rot out your brom. Since it is so humid in a terrarium, most neos will do fine being watered once a week if the axils have water in them. Do not over water them as they do need to dry out some from time to time.

Lighting is also very important. To keep up color you will want to have a light output of 6500k or higher. This will keep the colors up on the broms. I doesn't matter if you use fluorescent or led but the kelvin rating does. Wattage is not important at all and is just the rating on how much the bulb consumes in energy and not the light it omits.

Fertilizer in the terrarium is not important, with the animals running around and urinating and deficating on the plants.

Positioning of bromeliads in the terrarium is well worth noting. As stated above it does stay very humid so planting bromeliads is not the best idea. Neos will do best if grown epiphytically in your terrarium. You can mount them on a background or just place them in the little nooks. I like to mount them on driftwood or just jam them in cracks.





Shipping:
This is a very important part of the mix. Since most people do not live near a bromeliad nursery, you will most likely have to have them shipped. Shipping is very easy and safe if done right.

Plants need to dry before being shipped. As many of you may have noticed, you received a bromeliad in the mail and it has spots in the leaves. It looks like burn and most likely is. Bromeliad leaves will burn each other if wrapped tight when wet. This happens a lot in the summer. I personally wash and then dry plants for 24 hours before shipping. Dry bromeliads are good!

Once your bromeliads arrive they should be unwrapped. They look dry? This happens all the time and the best thing to do is soak them in a bucket of water for a couple hours. Drying out in shipping is very common, especially in the winter. This happens due to the lack of humidity in the winter months as well as the cold. After a day or two they will look just as good as the day they were shipped. It is also a good idea to wash all new plants with a mild 5% bleach solution. This will help kill any foreign contaminants.





Common terms:

Pups vs. Offsets:
Most people believe the use of pup means your going to get a tiny plant, but if you buy an offset it will be larger. This is not true! The use of both terms is standard in the bromeliad industry and refers to the cutting of a brom from a mother plant. You can cut an offset of any mother plant and it can be bigger then the mother and still be considered a pup.

Axil:
This is the "cup" part of the leaf that holds the water.

Stolon:
This is the wood like base of the bromeliad which grows from the mother plant. Some neos like pauciflora have long stolons up to a foot long while others are very short and just extend far enough from the mother for the new plant to grow.

Zap:
You probably never heard of this and it is not all that common. Zap is known as an atmospheric anomaly that just happens. It looks just like burn and probably is. It is not known as of yet what causes this, but may explain burned leaves from time to time.

Scurf:
Scurf is a powder type protection on leaves of bromeliads. It is a natural occurring part of some neos but not that many. It is mostly found on other genus in the bromeliad family.
It can be washed off but if it is it will not come back.

Trichomes:
Trichomes are a hair like growth that naturally occurs is some bromeliads and all tillandsias. These hair like growths collect the moisture out of the air and aid in watering the plant. Most plants in the tillandsia family only have to be misted once a week due to the trichomes.





Pests:

Scale:
Scale is a pest! Hands down the most feared of all the bromeliad pests. There are two basic types dealt with. White scale which is about a 1/16", tends to live on the underside of leaves and deep in the axils. These can be killed with a number of different pesticides or just rubbed off if you have just a couple. Black scale is much harder to spot and is about the size of a pen tip. They are extremely hard to remove and will do best if just treated. Both of these common types of scale feed on the plant and do minimal harm if kept under control.

Spider Mites:
Spider mites are tiny and can be seen based off the damage they do. They will do damage that looks very close to burn on the leaves. They can be wiped off the leaf but will need to be treated as well.

Snails:
Snails are not as much of a problems as the above pests. A quick and easy way to kill them is to spray them with beer. Snails can also be treated with iron but I think the beer is less harmful and makes for a good time killing.

Mealy Bugs:
These are a pain as well. They are small white insects that get to be around 1/8" in size. They do feed on plants and are not usually a problem for bromeliads.






Non problematic insects:

Spider Eggs:
There is a bug which I was told are spider eggs that looks a lot like scale. They are about 1/8" diameter round and live all over bromeliad leaves. If you can look at them and they fall off(not literally) then this is what I am talking about. These bugs are not harmful to your bromeliads.

Algae:
There are two types of common algae that form on bromeliads, green and white. Both can be just washed from the leaves. The white is harder to remove but still comes off with ease.

Silver eggs or algae?:
These are tiny silver/grey spots that form as small cluster, usually in the axils or undersides of leaves. Easily removed, just wipe them off.





Once again I am no expert. I hope this is a help and please do not hesitate contacting me with any questions. Also, please let me know if I left anything out.
Jason
 

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Great write up. Excellent to point out that damage incurred during shipping may not physically manifest itself for some time.

Turface makes a pretty damn good outdoor bromeliad potting medium. I also use rockwool cubes and pumice. Anything free draining that promotes airflow
 

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To answer your question.....no. Flowering CAN be induced with the addition of ethylene gas. But remember that all bromeliads are determinate bloomers, and that once the plant flowers, its on a downward spiral. Pupping CAN be induced by heavier fertilization( in the form of osmocote) in the root zone of your broms. HOWEVER, fertilizing broms causes an unpleasant "leggy" look to your broms.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
To answer your question.....no. Flowering CAN be induced with the addition of ethylene gas. But remember that all bromeliads are determinate bloomers, and that once the plant flowers, its on a downward spiral. Pupping CAN be induced by heavier fertilization( in the form of osmocote) in the root zone of your broms. HOWEVER, fertilizing broms causes an unpleasant "leggy" look to your broms.
There is actually another way Jason. You can stab the center of the plant where the flowers would be with a knife. This makes the brom "think" it has bloomed and starts the pupping process.
Jason
 

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Discussion Starter #10
My leaf cutters are long so its not an issue for me. But something long with a sharp end will work. Just push it down a half inch in the center and then twist a few times. That's all it takes.
Jason
 

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I do a soak 10 min lukewarm water, then a 10 minute soak in 10% bleach, then a water rinse off, then another 10 minutes lukewarm water soak
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Can you please clarify on how long to wash the broms in the bleach solution?
I would make a bucket and dip it in it a couple times and you should be good.

Thanks for he write-Up.

What are your thoughts on mounting the stolon with hot glue to driftwood?
I wouldn't use hot glue at all in a terrarium. I use U shaped wire that I bend myself for backgrounds.
Jason
 

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I soak them totally submerged in a 10% bleach solution for 15 mins, most broms seem to be able to handle it, then rinse them in water a couple of times til the bleach smell is just about gone, then let them dry.

Seems like mounting them to cork bark/tubes works a lot better than anything else, the cork stays dry so rotting is WAY reduced compared to stuff like tree fern or wood.
 
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