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Growing Tips for Beginners

For our recent 2011 Fiesta Show and Sale in Auckland the committee prepared an information flyer for those 'new to broms', outlining basic cultivation information for the common genera, information about Society and an invitation to attend a Society meeting for a free practical demonstration on 'Growing Bromeliads'. We had fifteen people come along to the meeting, with all attendees learning something, and with most subsequently joining the Society.

I thought it would be useful to publish this cultivation information, in the Bromeliad Journal, in three parts. I've expanded a little on the beginner's growing tips presented at the meeting demonstration.

Getting to know your new bromeliads

The first step to growing great bromeliads is to identify what type (genus) of bromeliad you have, as some types require specific treatment and position in the garden or greenhouse to flourish and look their best. Below are some groups of the common genera available in New Zealand and what conditions they generally like.

NOTE: This is a general guide, so if possible always ask the seller or an experienced Bromeliad Society member what conditions your specific plant likes and stick to them, as there are some variations to these rules for specific plants. It's also good to research online.

Neoregelia/Aechmea/Billbergia/Quesnelia/Wittrockia/Portea


• Thick, stiff, spiny, darker or deep red coloured leaves = generally will handle very bright light/minimal shade to full sun.
• Soft, thin leaves, small/no spines = generally requires dappled/semi shade, protection from midday summer sun.
• Free draining mix, very minimal or no fertilizer for best colour, keep centre cup and leaves and soil well watered in warmer months, drier in colder months. Many types are frost hardy, though overhead protection is advised to prevent marking.
• Generally like bright light, much better suited to outdoors than indoors. Most types suitable for epiphytic tree mounting.

 Neoregelia

Vriesea/Alcantarea/Tillandsia


(Green Leaf Forms)
• Stiff or plain green/grey/dark red colouring to leaves = generally will handle very bright light/minimal shade to full sun.
• Patterned leaves = generally requires dappled/semi shade, protection from midday summer sun.
• Free draining mix, fertilize in warmer months for larger size, keep centre cup and leaves and soil well watered in warmer months, drier in colder months. Keep roots moist, not dry or soaking wet (cause of browning lower leaves and leaf tips).• Generally like bright light, better suited to outdoors than indoors. Vriesea and Tillandsia suitable for epiphytic tree mounting if desired, Alcantarea best planted in the ground or on / around rocks. All must have frost protection.
Tillandsia (Grey Leaf Forms – ‘Air Plants’)
• Do not plant in soil – should be glued to driftwood/cork/trees/rocks/hanging baskets etc. (not tanalised fences).
• Many do not require any specific watering/fertilizing to grow – good air movement, rain and humidity is enough. However, some are sensitive to cold and DO require regular spray misting and/or feeding. Information from the seller and research is advised for all varieties. Most types are suitable for both indoors and outdoors.

 Vriesea

Tillandsias

Nidularium/Guzmania/ Cryptanthus


• Soft, thin leaves, small/no spines = requires dappled/semi or full shade and protection from direct summer sun.
• Free draining mix, fertilize in warmer months for larger size, keep centre cup and leaves and soil well watered in warmer months, drier in colder months. Keep roots moist, not dry or soaking wet (cause of browning lower leaves and leaf tips).
• Suitable for both indoors and outdoors. Generally not recommended for epiphytic tree mounting.

 Nidularium

Dyckia/Orthophytum/Puya


• Stiff, spiky leaves, most will handle full sun and frost.
• Like very free draining mix and large pots. Fertilize in warmer months for larger size, and keep soil well watered in warmer months, drier in colder months. Keep roots moist, not dry or soaking wet (cause of browning lower leaves and leaf tips)
• Must have very bright/direct light for best colour, better suited to outdoors than indoors.

 Dyckia

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