Hechtia tillandsioides (Andre) Showing flowering plant and part of inflorescence.
(Illustration first appearing in Professor Werner Rauh’s 2- volume work, “Bromelien”)
A very warm welcome to the eight new members who have joined our Society since Newslink last went to press: Shirley Dowse, Dick Jamieson, Barry Kill, Christine Okoniowski and Jenny Taylor who joined in July; Noel Pearce and Loreen Whiddett who joined in August; and Bob Stephens who signed up at our Show in September.
NEW COMMITTEE MEMBERS:
Our committee welcomes John Carthew as its newest member, along with Neville Wood, 2nd Vice President, who were elected at our August AGM.
MONTHLY RAFFLE PRIZE ROSTER: (2 plants/prizes from each person on the list - thanks!)
SHOW RAFFLE PRIZES:
The raffle was a great success, again thanks to very generous donations. Heartfelt thanks to David for another of his wonderful carved heads, to Ailsa for the beautiful crocheted throw rug, to Nina, Steve and Neville for the plants, and to Elok Interiors for the three lovely matching platters. Elok also loaned some of the animal carvings and other decorations for our display, which came in for lots of attention, as did the beautiful fish, brought along by members of the Koi Society of Australia.
The first workshop--and what is hoped will become a more regular event--for newer members (and for any other members interested) will be held on Thursday, November 1, from 10.00 am until 2.00 pm at Sharyn Baraldi’s home at 25 Antrim Avenue, Warilla (Phone: 4296 2166). It will cover removal of pups, potting mixtures, potting up, etc. Bring your lunch—tea and coffee will be supplied.
NOVEMBER MEETING - CHANGE OF ROOM:
Just for November, our meeting will be held in the Scribbly Gum Room of the Dapto Ribbonwood Centre. It is located to the right of the main entry—see map included in the January 2007 Newslink.
This year our celebrations will be held in the Sinclair Room of the Dapto Leagues Club. The Society will subsidise the luncheon so that members and their partners will pay only $15 each (drinks, however, will be at your own expense). Festivities will begin at 11.00 am—bring a small present to share. The Club is located on Bong Bong Road (access via Station Street) and the phone number is: (02) 4261 1333. To find it, from Fowler Street, heading north take the second street left from the Princes Highway (Bong Bong Road) and then the second street right (Station Street). Elizabeth needs to have money and firm numbers attending by our November meeting date.
VALE: DOREEN DUNWOODIE:
It was with a great deal of sadness that we learned of the death of Doreen who had been a member of our Society for just on ten years. In recent years hers was the welcoming face at the front desk, helping with the selling of raffle tickets and making sure that we were all wearing our name tags (and returning them at the end of the meeting!).
However, as it is so often the way with giving people, we never find out about all of the warmth and kindnesses until they have gone. And so it was with Doreen, who was a foundation member of Lifeline in the Illawarra and had worked with them for 37 years, giving much of herself. She died just three weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She is sadly missed.
|BERRY GARDENS FESTIVAL - 7 garden visits.|
|BROMELIAD SOCIETY OF NEW SOUTH WALES - SPRING SHOW, Wellbank St, CONCORD|
|‘BROMELIADS DOWNUNDER’ - The 18th World Bromeliad Conference, CAIRNS, QLD. Visit the Web Site at: www.bromeliadsdownunder.com for both the 2007 and 2008 Conferences.|
PLANT RESULTS - July 7th, 2007
|Neville Wood||Billbergia sanderiana|
|Alan Kirkby||Neoregelia Rubra|
|Neville Wood||<Aechmea orlandiana|
|John Carthew||Aechmea Primera|
|John Carthew||Guzmania Hybrid|
|Nina Rehak||Tillandsia gardneri|
|Sue Burrows||Tillandsia juncea|
PLANT RESULTS - August 4th, 2007
|Neville Wood||Billbergia amoena|
|Neville Wood||Guzmania Sunny Time|
|Neville Wood||Aechmea pineliana var. minuta|
|John Carthew||Guzmania wittmackii orange|
|Rhonda Patterson||Neoregelia concentrica|
|Rhonda Patterson||Aechmea winkleri|
|Graham Bevan||Tillandsia cacticola|
|Graham Bevan||Tillandsia jucunda|
|Suzanne Burrows||Tillandsia stricta|
PLANT RESULTS - September 1st, 2007
|Neville Wood||Billbergia Hallelujah|
|Dick Jamieson||Aechmea hoppii|
|Neville Wood||Aechmea Peek-A-Boo|
|John Carthew||Guzmania wittmackii orange|
|Coral Baldwin||Vriesea Asahi|
|John Carthew||Vriesea Red Chestnut|
|Rena Wainwright||Tillandsia tenuifolia|
|Graham Bevan||Tillandsia cacticola|
|Steve Morgan||Tillandsia fasciculata (yellow from Mexico)|
AUSTRALIAN HYBRIDISER GRACE GOODE CELEBRATES HER 90TH BIRTHDAY !
Below, some notes from Graham, who, with Elizabeth, attended the celebrations.
After arriving home from organizing and attending Elizabeth’s father’s 85th birthday, I was contacted by Patricia Perratt and Sheryl Waite who were organizing a surprise 90th birthday party for Grace Goode. Elizabeth and I were invited to attend as representatives of our Society which was instrumental in obtaining the Order of Australia for Grace.
The party was held at the local Community Centre, and Grace arrived in a Stretch Limo. Her family told her that at 90 years of age she should celebrate by jumping out of an aeroplane, and that was where she thought she was going, so she was a bit nervous when she arrived.
The guests at the party were a mix of bromeliad people and friends and neighbours. There were Bob and Gleness Larnach, and Len and Olive Trevor who assisted me in obtaining the O.A. for Grace, also brom people Alan Ladd, Shane Zaghini, and others I did not know by name. We met Mal and Rhonda Symonds from Bundaberg who are members of our Society and live in the same area as Maureen and Mark Wheeler. Also I met the Garden Clubs of Australia’s Zone Director, Mrs. Glenys Bruun, who I’ve talked to on many occasions on the phone but have never met. Glenys lives in Nambour and is in the local Bromeliad Society with Grace. There was an excellent display of bromeliads which featured broms that Grace had hybridized—photos of the display were passed around at our September meeting—and also Sheryl Waite is going to send us a video/DVD of the party. A good time was had by all and many stories were told of Grace’s early life.
We were fortunate that we could stay with my son and his family for a few days while up there, and on returning home we called into Pine Grove Bromeliad Nursery at Wardell where we managed to squeeze in a few broms purchased from Ross Little.
|A GREAT TIP — passed on by Sue Burrows who heard it on an ABC radio programme. For cleaning pots ready for Show/competition, or just to get them looking better, use an old stocking, dampened with plain water, Also handy for cleaning around bathroom taps, as it can be see-sawed to clean off any grime or mould. [Actually when I tried it, using old pantyhose, it worked wonders on textured glass, fly wire screens, removing mould from wood-panelled bathroom walls, etc. etc. It really works!-Ed.]|
In those early attempts I had to use many genera, as I did not have a big collection—aechmeas, billbergias, neoregelias, nidulariums, vrieseas, all in together. What a motley crew they were, but still lovely in those modest beginnings under a calliandra tree. The tree was not large at the time, but now stretches almost from one side of the fence to the other fence, adorned with aechmea. Because of our very wet monsoon season in the autumn I have found I can grow Aechmea fasciata, chantinii, orlandiana, and the like, only in the trees, as they rot at ground level. I dreamed of the day when I could landscape with neoregelias, hundreds of them, flaunting their blushing hearts, in a bed of their own.
Now, the dream has come true and I can reject flowering neoregelias which don’t approach the high standard demanded for the main display bed. I don’t get time to feel lonely and there are always members calling, neighbours bringing in their friends, and the occasional busload of people from garden clubs. I am a willing captive of my garden. In sharing it with others, the pleasure is multiplied. “Paradise” as my New Zealand friends call it, and “Fairyland” the South Australians call it. So that is how Bromania began, an exercise in beauty, a retreat from the world.
When I first fell in love with bromeliads back in the 1960s, there were not many species and numbers were limited. The gassing of imported plants deterred would-be importers and most plants were obtained from seed from the Americas. The hardy “earth stars”, that genus closest to my heart, were a notable exception to the gassing problem. I have not lost a cryptanthus to gassing yet. The neoregelias on the local scene were: concentrica, spectabilis, farinosa, marmorata, chlorosticta, ampullacea-types, and numerous carolinae hybrids, so-called, but never carolinae—why, I wondered? This was the material the hybridist had to use and, limited as it was, some lively hybrids were obtained.
In 1975 I attended the Silver Anniversary of the Society in Los Angeles, feeling like a zombie for the whole ten days I stayed there because the seventeen-hour trip (my first flight) had left me with jet lag. The Los Angeles members were most generous with their plants, giving me those which were still rare. I brought back to Australia new blood—a hybridist’s dream. I lost about six in quarantine, but exhorted the remaining flock to grow quickly so that I could wield the magic wand to enrich the Australian bromeliad population.
In the initial stages, the budding enthusiast pollinates everything which is blooming, mainly because of lack of plants. With thousands of plants in flower, the experienced hybridist studies the desired qualities before dashing out with brush in hand. When sleep evades me, I think of potentialities of plants: size, form, colour, texture of leaves, resistance to heat and cold. But how many failures there are. One crossing came close to the heart’s desire. This was Neoregelia marmorata with chlorosticta. I wanted the size and formation of marmorata and the colour of chlorosticta and so N. ‘Charm’ was born in 1978 (and there is a photo of it in Victoria Padilla’s book The Colorful Bromeliads).
Pleased with this success, I did the cross again and what a miserable lot they were. An elongated form of chlorosticta with few leaves, insipid in colouring, and not showing much influence of marmorata. Evin Wurthmann is correct, in my opinion, when he says it all depends on which parent is dominant at time of mating. It is a matter of chance: you can get an Einstein or a moron.
I managed to obtain a plant of N. cyanea from George Anderson in 1980 when I attended the Orlando Conference. What a wonderful plant to use in hybridizing. George is thrice blessed in my book. I crossed it with chlorosticta and I dare to think it is superior to ‘Fireball’. I love the latter, particularly for landscaping, but its leaves are too soft, suffering in our mild winters and burning in our summers. My hybrid, which I have called ‘Born of Fire’, has short, stiff, pointed leaves, the colour is deep wine red, the size is that of ‘Fireball’. It offsets generously and is indifferent to cold or heat. A wonderful landscape subject.
In hybridising I do not like to wander far from the species. My personal choice is species crossed with hybrids or vice versa. I have no love for hybrids crossed with hybrids, particularly hybrids selfed. They inherit all the weaknesses of their forebears: a big tendency to quill, and sensitivity to the cold. Granted, the grower can get a few super plants of outstanding quality, but I consider it not worth the time or space to grow a hundred or so seedlings to get a super plant. Most of all I prefer to use a variety of a species as the seed plant, as a variety has already varied from the species and has the seeds of change within its genes. In using a parent like this the progeny show amazing diversity in form and colour and many good hybrids can be obtained.
According to my “stud” book, I have done twelve Billbergia crosses, thirty-seven crosses in Cryptanthus, seventy-five crosses in Neoregelia, six bigeneric, and a few Aechmea. My most famous would be Neoregelia ‘Amazing Grace’, a variant from the ‘Sheer Joy’ grex, which has lime colour with red stripes.
The greatest fulfilment I have received from a named cross was Billbergia amoena var. minor crossed with horrida var. tigrina. Six days before my sister died from cancer, I told her I was going to call a plant after her: Billbergia ‘Jean Black’. Her wan smile and, “I’d love that, Grace,” were the greatest rewards ever for me in the field of hybridising.
My experience in crossing bromeliads makes me believe that two highly coloured parents produce nondescript offspring, lacking the colour of the parents, cancelling each other out, as it were.
I think N. olens is a wonderful plant for hybridising, imparting its bright centre to its progeny, but, alas, also dominating with the sparse leaves! Oh! for a ‘Fireball’ with the bright centre of olens. But who knows? Maybe some hybridist in the future will accomplish this.
Finally my days of hybridising are coming to a close. Most of my plants are grown terrestrially and peering into the innards of neoregelias at ground level is anathema to my back—the years are taking their toll. I sometimes think I must resemble a witch, crouching over my plants, muttering incantations. Oh, well! Perhaps there is some magic in it.
Alexandra Headlands, Queensland
(The Bromeliad Society of Australia, in 1982, honoured Grace Goode with life membership for her work in the field of hybridizing.)
(Grace was awarded the Order of Australia Medal in the 2004 Australia Day Honours List for “Service to Horticulture through the culture and hybridization of bromeliads”. At that time she was internationally recognised for creating more than 800 bromeliad hybrids. Ed)
CHAMPION BROMELIAD: OPEN
Lucas Morgan - Tillandsia xerographica
CHAMPION BROMELIAD: NOVICE
Lucas Morgan - Vriesea gigantea
Russell Dixon - Deuterocohnia brevifolia
DULCIE DOONAN MEMORIAL AWARD:
Janine Varley - Artistic Creation: Wood arrangement
SECTION 1: OPEN
Class a - Aechmea (7 entries)
SECTION 2: NOVICE
Class j - Aechmea (2 entries)
SECTION 3: CREATIVE
Class o - Mounted Tillandsias (3 entries)
BROMELIADS ON THE ROCKS
By Charles A. Wiley, 4036 Via Solano, Palos Verdes Estates, California 90275
(Reprinted from The Bromeliad Society Bulletin, September-October, 1966 Vol. XVI No. 5)
A further qualification is frequently noted, such as – sandstone mountains – or, granite terrain – and again, quartzite ridges. It isn’t clear that the type of rock has any particular advantage. Xerophytic or epiphytic requirement on the part of the plant seems to be the necessary element.
To anchor bromeliads on rocks to be used in the home is one way to tame these wild plants from some far off sandstone mountain. Sculptured rocks with mounted bromeliads are attractive decorative pieces. My interest in using rocks, however, is to experiment in an effort to establish a friendly environment to promote vigorous growth.
Many bromeliads are very much at home growing on rocks. Some of the plants that respond in a very satisfactory way are found in their natural state perched on rocks. Others that are usually found in trees adapt very readily to this way of life. Still others don’t seem to care for rocks and become very unhappy about it. When this happens I usually return them to a pot. Actually, some of these that didn’t seem to work out very well at first were very successful on the second attempt at a later date. My first attempt was probably terminated too soon because I had only one plant of that particular variety and was fearful of losing it. The second attempt was made with an offshoot and only when I had at least one other plant to fall back on if the one on the rock died. Some plants that I have never brought to bloom in a pot come into spike regularly every year on their rock. Others that never color up very much become brilliant when they put their roots down into their rock home.
I started out with Aechmea Bert, A. recurvata var. ortgiesii, A. triangularis, A. pineliana var. minuta, Quesnelia marmorata, and Tillandsia juncea. These all take full sun except A. Bert and A. pineliana, which need a little protection in my locality during the middle of the day for best color.
Aechmea Bert immediately put its roots down and sent out two stolons. These stolons followed the surface of the rock very closely. During the three years since mounting the plant, seven more have started and the network of stolons is well on its way to wrapping completely around the rock. During the four coldest months of the year, starting with January, growth is very slow and practically comes to a standstill. The temperature drops to the low 40s (Fahrenheit) nearly every night during this period and infrequently takes a dive into the 30Fs. One offshoot from Aechmea Bert planted in a pot didn’t show any action and eventually was found to be dead.
Aechmea recurvata had clumped up nicely in the ground. One of the offshoots was taken and mounted into its new home. An electric drill with a stone bit was used to drill a hole about 2 inches deep, oblong about ½ inch by 1½ inches. The proportions depend upon the particular plant. An oblong cavity makes it possible to drive sphagnum moss on two sides to hold the plant solid. The following spring, and again a year later, the comparison of the plants in the ground and on the rock was very pronounced. In the ground the plants grew along very nicely to about 14 inches. In the spring the spike extended above the top of the plant about two or three inches, a nice red. The leaves were mostly green with some red. On the rock the plant also grew very nicely but was much more compact and only about 7 or 8 inches high. It came into spike two months before the one in the ground. The inflorescence extended well out of the leaves but no further. The entire plant turned a beautiful blazing red.
Aechmea triangularis was mounted on a rock and placed under a tree. Through some carelessness the rock with the plant found its way to a spot in full sun. This proved to be a happy accident. Year after year new offshoots become beautiful plants with a magnificent inflorescence. Before I had mounted A. triangularis, it had never bloomed for me.
Aechmea pineliana var. minuta clumps up beautifully on a rock. It likes lots of light and will take full sun, but optimum conditions call for some protection in the summer during the middle of the day. This plant will grow well almost any place: in the ground, in a pot with hapuu, or on a branch in a tree. On a rock, the sculpturing of the leaves, the proportions of the plant, and the brilliance of the red put to shame every other plant not grown this way.
Quesnelia marmorata is another plant which behaves like A. Bert. Its stolons reach out and if they don’t find something to wrap around, you won’t have a happy plant. On several occasions I have tried Q. marmorata in a pot and in the ground. Immediately it began to sulk. Back on a rock in full sun it rewarded me with a more beautifully proportioned shape and more gorgeously colored leaves than ever.
Tillandsia juncea sat in its pot for two years doing nothing. Then I mounted it on a rock. It immediately sent out offshoots and has bloomed regularly each spring. Three years later thirty-five spikes glistened in the sun.
More recent experiments with rocks include Vrieseas, Tillandsias, Neoregelias, and Pitcairnias. Some of the soft leaves plants of Vriesea and Pitcairnia adapt much better if mounted on the surface of the rock rather than in a hole drilled for mounting. When mounting on a surface, small holes are drilled in the rock and ¼-inch diameter pieces of bamboo are driven in the holes, allowed to protrude an inch or two, and the plant is fastened to these posts. Sheet moss is propagated around the base to provide a condition for the roots to grow. Spring is the best time to start plants this way. Watering must be frequent enough to keep the moss growing, and by fall the moss and the plant are well enough established to go through the winter without much water.
The plants that I have mounted on rocks are all hardy and weather the winters in this locality very gracefully. The small pieces are brought into the house only when in bloom.
The rock that I use is “tuffa”, a volcanic rock with considerable porosity. Analysis shows the presence of almost any element, in at least trace quantities. The pH is very acid when the drillings from one of the holes are analyzed. This is probably from the sulphur that is present. Any possible adverse effect from this acid condition may be avoided by weathering the rock for a few days in the sun after drilling but before mounting the plants.
There is a certain fascination to growing bromeliads on rocks. There is something solid and enduring about them. The way some of the plants cling to them is certainly proof that they love their rock, so that is “WHY ROCKS?”
FLY SPECK SCALE:
Two cases of fly speck scale were noticed on bromeliads at our September Show. As the name implies, this pest does have the appearance of fly specks and is easily transferred from plant to plant. We will have an article available for our January Newslink on controlling this type of scale—but meanwhile you may need to check your bromeliads to see that they have not been affected.
USING TIMBER WHICH HAS BEEN TREATED WITH PRODUCTS CONTAINING COPPER
By Neville Wood - Illawarra Bromeliad Society.
I have been asked to write this article about the problems I encountered when I built my shade house from timber treated with products containing copper. Hopefully it will save other members, especially the newer members from falling into the same traps that I did.
When I first became interested in growing broms I decided to renovate an old shade house that I had grown orchids in many years before. Originally I had built the shade house framework from galvanised pipe which I thought would last forever. However, I underestimated the effects of salt air on steel (even galvanised steel) and living only one street back from the ocean, after a couple of years corrosion soon became apparent. By the time I was ready to start growing broms, the framework needed totally rebuilding and I decided to use CCA treated pine for the framework as it was guaranteed to withstand weather and insect damage for 20-30 years, plus it was easy to work with.
With my shade house finally renovated, I began collecting bromeliads from various places and watched my collection slowly grow until finally the shade house was housing a reasonable collection which I was quite proud of. All went well until one day I noticed one of my neoregelias had rotted in the centre of the cup. I didn’t worry too much as I had extras of that variety and accepted that everyone lost a plant or two occasionally. A week or two went by and I noticed another had leaves which were starting to die and looked like a severe case of sunburn. Again I didn’t worry too much as we had a very hot summer at that time and I thought maybe it was a case of too much sun as I only use 50% shade cloth.
After a few weeks we had two or three thunder storms with very heavy rain and when I next went to the shade house (probably a week later) I had at least one dozen very sick plants showing advanced rot at the base of the leaves. On removing the outside leaves I found the rot had travelled right through all the layers of the leaves beneath, making the plant impossible to save.
On examining my other plants, all appeared healthy with none showing any signs of rot. The other thing that puzzled me was that all of the affected plants were in a straight line on the same bench. In my previous job I had been taught to always “look up and down and all around” when assessing the scene of an accident and remembering this I immediately looked up. The possible cause of my problem was staring me right in the eye, because one of the roof timbers was in a straight line directly above the line of damaged plants. It didn’t take too much guessing to realise that something had dripped onto the plants from the timber above and caused the damage, but what had it been?
I moved the plants from immediately below the timber and months went by with no further problems. It was many months later when I purchased a copy of “Bromeliads for the Contemporary Garden” by Andrew Steens (This is also in our library). When I read a section on problems on page 186, it was mentioned that bromeliads should never be planted in shade houses constructed of timber treated with copper- or boron-based preservatives as these chemicals can leach out of the timber and onto the plants, causing serious damage. I now knew the damage was caused by copper leaching from the overhead timbers in my shade house and this was further re-enforced when I read an article in our Newslink warning of the same problems.
WHAT CAN BE DONE TO RECTIFY THE ABOVE PROBLEM IF IT HAPPENS TO YOU?
1. You can demolish your shade house and rebuild with materials not containing copper or boron based preservatives. VERY COSTLY BUT EFFECTIVE
2. You can provide a “gutter” to catch the water containing residue from the overhead treated timber and divert it to an area where it cannot cause any harm. CHEAP AND EFFECTIVE
3. You can seal the chemicals within the timber with an appropriate paint thus preventing leaching of toxic substances with your plants. EFFECTIVE BUT SHADE CLOTH MUST BE REMOVED FIRST SO THAT ALL SIDES OF THE TIMBER CAN BE PAINTED WHICH DOES TAKE A BIT OF TIME
4. You can either paint or fix some type of barrier to vertical surfaces to prevent leaf contact with the treated timber. CHEAP & EFFECTIVE – USE ANYTHING FROM PAINT TO PLASTIC WRAP OR EVEN PAPER BARK.
WARNING: Don’t make the mistake of assuming that because treated timber is old, the toxins will no longer be active. I have CCA treated pine logs as garden edging and they have been in place for at least thirty years. In one garden I have a number of echmea recurvata and if a leaf comes in contact with the treated pine edging, the leaf will start to die, so the toxins are still very much active after all that time.
WHAT ABOUT “WAX WOOD”?
I enquired about a new treated timber product called “Wax Wood” and was informed that although the chemicals used are different to those used in the CCA treatment, the major chemical used is still copper. The chemicals, together with wax, are pumped into the timber under pressure at the same time and although the external surface of the timber has a wax coating, assurances can’t be given that a certain amount of copper still isn’t present.
I have read where acrylic paint can be used successfully, but on discussing this with a sales rep. from a large paint company, I was advised that the paint used should be oil based.
He went on to say that acrylic paint can be painted over a damp surface--i.e. brickwork, fibro etc.--and the surface will dry from the inside out. This means the moisture trapped beneath can pass through the acrylic paint to the outside. He didn’t see why the same wouldn’t occur with the copper in treated timber products. Oil based paints on the other hand would offer much better protection and he suggested an oil based primer first, followed by an oil based undercoat and two coats of an oil based enamel. Admittedly this method would be more expensive and time consuming than using a couple of coats of acrylic paint but I think the protection it offers would make it worthwhile.
It’s also possible that an oil based primer followed by an oil based undercoat may seal the timber sufficiently so that it could then be covered with a couple of coats of acrylic paint. Whatever method you choose, make sure all cracks are properly sealed with the primer and undercoat before the finishing coats are applied. If you decide on a new structure using treated timber which has been painted, remember to paint any cut ends or cut outs before assembling to ensure that all surfaces are adequately sealed.
Like CCA treated timber products, “Wax Wood” can also be painted as described above to prevent leaching of chemicals.
MAKING A DIVERSION GUTTER
Making a gutter to divert any water containing toxins from overhead timbers is a relatively simple and cheap job as the most common sizes for shade house roof timbers are 3” X 2” (75mm X 50mm) or 4” X 2” (100mm X 50mm) which corresponds with the size of the material which the gutter is to be made from.
Purchase a length of normal 100mm X 50mm PVC stormwater downpipe of the same length or longer than the roof timber concerned.
Cut one of the 50mm sides out of the down pipe so that you are left with a “U” section with two 100mm sides and a 50mm bottom. By slightly spreading the sides of the open top, the plastic gutter can now be pushed up to enclose the timber, thereby forming a gutter to run off any water that may drip from it. It can be fastened in place with a couple of 25mm galvanised clouts on each side (toward the top of the gutter) at both ends.
(Note: Normal steel nails will quickly corrode if used to fasten treated timber products so any fastenings must either be copper or galvanised steel. As we already know the damage copper will cause to bromeliads, galvanised nails should be the ones of choice.)
AIR AND POTTED BROMELIADS
John Catlan (Bromeliad Society of Queensland’s Bromeliaceae, March/April 2005, Vol. XXXIX)
The plants we love to grow love air. Epiphytic bromeliads have both their roots and foliage exposed to air movement. Tillandsias, growing in wave-like clumps on the desert sands, receive moisture laden in-shore breezes.
The terrestrial bromelia, ananas, dyckia and hechtia are exposed to the elements. The puya of the mountains have their share of strong winds. Bromeliads growing on cliff faces and steep mountains are subject to updraughts. The catchy phrase “air plants” does not seem far from the truth.
The emphasis of this article will be on the air content of the soil mix used in pot culture. But remember that is should not be considered in isolation as all the physical properties interact to produce an optimum mix. A potting medium must supply air, water, and nutrients and these are referred to as physical properties. Once a plant has been potted, the physical properties are stable, except for decomposition and settling of the mix: both reduce the air content in the mix.
The following summary of different nursery soils encountered when purchasing plants will give you a rough understanding of the air content in the pot:
- Potting mix which has 0-5% air. Suitable for plants that like water-logged conditions; is very heavy especially when wet and has a tendency for water to pool on top of the mix when watering. Rarely encountered now from production nurseries, but regularly observed in flea market “amateur potted” plants.
- Potting mix which has 5-15% air. This is the minimum aimed for in nursery mixes, and is used for trees and shrubs destined to be planted in the garden.
- Potting mix which has 15-20% air. An ideal indoor plant mix but leads to difficulties for trees and shrubs which, when planted in the garden, need more watering than most people realise. This level of air is the minimum required for terrestrial bromeliads.
- Potting mix which has more than 20% air. This is a mix that requires frequent watering and is suitable for indoor plants and cymbidium orchids, and is the minimum required for epiphytic bromeliads. After watering a plant container and the water has finished draining, the residual water content is described as “container capacity”—i.e., the amount of water that the soil in that container will hold.
Brom growers like to use squat pots for stability of the plants but this results in a decrease in the air content percent, as the height of the pot is reduced. Placing drainage in the bottom of pots eliminates this problem but has gone out of vogue with increased labour costs and the use of potting machines. For amateurs interested in the quality and survival of irreplaceable plants, the extra time taken is worth the effort.
Broken clay pots are now at a premium for use as a drainage medium, and the only real choices freely available are gravel and chopped up styrene foam. For more stable pots use more gravel than styrene foam. River washed stones (round ones) are preferred to crushed gravel, as the latter has a tendency to pack down. The drainage method used has the disadvantage that it provides an excellent home for slugs and snails.
RECYCLING – Is Not So Green After All!
(Article by Don Burke extracted from Burke’s Backyard magazine, July 2007 edition)
Don Burke says a new report backs up what he has been telling people for ages—some forms of recycling are actually bad for the environment!
“For many years now we have said that we think that most recycling is a waste of time—and probably bad for the environment. Aluminium cans are fine, but we have challenged industry and the Federal Government to provide an environmental audit to support plastic, paper and glass recycling. We never got these results. We asked plastics manufacturers to let us see and photograph plastic products being made from recycled plastics. In the end they admitted that they were not using recycled plastic at all.
New details from the US, UK and China have clarified the position. In ‘New Scientist’ magazine (May 12, 2007) they stated that: “Whenever you throw a used plastic bottle into your recycling bin, you feel a virtuous glow—yet, however good your intentions, plastic recycling is less green than you might imagine.”
When plastic is recycled it becomes a second-grade plastic unsuitable for use in food or drink packaging. Thus the United Kingdom and the United States send the plastic to China and Vietnam for recycling. Think of all the fossil fuels burnt by all the truck and boat trips! With lax environmental laws in Asia, the recycling plants allow pollution of local rivers. Conventional recycling plants use a lot of water for cleaning and processing PET containers. They add surfactants and other nasty chemicals to the water and this is discharged into rivers or sewerage systems.
A new process is being developed that could make the process much better. But how come we are never told these basic truths about recycling?
The future of our planet is placed at risk by feel-good manipulators of good people. We need full accountability from our industries and politicians.”
THOUGHTS ON ROOTING DIFFICULT BROMELIADS
Dutch Vandervort – Ventura, California
For years I have had a terrible time getting offsets from some of my choicest plants to root. I have tried all kinds of variations of mix, pH, wetness, dryness, wet/dry cycle, rooting hormone, Superthrive, super phosphate, balanced fertilizers, and every other variable I could think of. In spite of this it regularly takes a year or more to get roots on the likes of Orthophytum navioides.
Just to prove it could be done, I once grew a hard-core terrestrial bromeliad, Hechtia tillandsioides in water. It grew well for about three years until my normally tolerant and accommodating wife got tired of having it on her kitchen counter and made me plant it in the garden.
About a month ago, while planting up some Orthophytum navioides pups, I reflected on the time it would take to get them rooted. The Hechtia experience came to mind and I decided to try one of the Orthophytum navioides pups in water.
The pup was about two inches tall. I stripped off six or eight of the basal leaves, dipped it in rooting hormone, let it dry, and propped it up in a narrow-mouthed mustard jar (the label is gone, and I can’t remember the brand), which I filled with clear water and a drop of Superthrive. That was it! The result was beyond belief. In less than a month my plant produced a fair mass of mature, branching roots. Sibling pups potted at the same time have yet to form their first visible root.
Does this mean that hydroponics is the wave of the future for bromeliads? Only time and experimentation will tell ....