Climbing the Family Tree

Climbing the Family Tree

 Climbing the Family Tree


    The end of June has brought another migration of bromeliads to Calvert's greenhouse.  With colors so bright and fresh, they make a perfect accent to your home or office.  Some types can also go outside to your deck in a semi-sunny spot, only to become larger and more colorful as they bask in the sun.  Some will last longer if kept inside, in a cooler environment.  And these "babies" would love to introduce themselves to you.  In fact, I heard a few would love to sing...

    It's just like Christmas when the new bromeliads arrive. (ooh look! Here's a new color, isn't she gorgeous!)  At this time of the year, it's brutally hot in the greenhouse, and all those beautiful plants are cooped up in their boxes, just dying to get out.  They like good air circulation and moderate temperatures with good humidity to look their best.  It's possible, if you were to become a bromeliad addict, to grow these babies year after year, letting them grow "children", and repotting when necessary.  But for most plant shoppers, the goal is to find that perfect colorful accent to set off an arrangement, giving you months of good-looking color without a lot of fuss.

    So how do you take care of these beauties in your home?  It's really easy.  They'll do well in a wide range of light, as long as your goal is just to make them last a season inside a home or office. The first and most important thing to remember is you have to ignore a bit of plant care advice that is commonly shared about bromeliads.  DON'T keep the central cup or vase of the plant filled with water indoors!  Without the good air circulation and brighter light found outdoors, the plant will soon most likely rot.  I found out the hard way that what you learn in an indoor horticulture class does not necessarily hold true in all circumstances.  The easiest way to keep your bromeliad looking good indoors, is to stage your well-watered plant in another pretty pot, keeping it in its grow-pot.  If covered with decorative moss, that plant will go around a month without needing a drink.  Then when the soil has become almost dry (feel the top of the soil under that moss), give it a thorough drink and it'll be good for another month.  Now, if you want to make use of your bromeliad outdoors in a semi-shady spot, then by all means give them a shower now and then, and fill and flush out the central cup.

    In my last blog, I told you there are many species of bromeliads, even within the many families.  I was curious as to how all those cool colors within a family come to be.  Plant breeders (remember, these guys are the ones who watch their plants make love, and name the offspring after their mothers), would seem to make use of two or three species of a bromeliad to come up with a dazzling offspring.  Then things get kinky.  "Hilda", one of our regulars who hang out in the greenhouse, has a form of guzmania lingulata as a mother, and guz. wittmachii as a father.  But "Luna", another regular, has guz. wittmachii purple form as a mother and lingulata as the daddy.  Hmmm.  All this climbing of the family tree led me to discover that one of our newest "babies", a neoregelia named "Puppy Love", has "Lila" for a mother and "Cranberry" for a father.  "Lila" hangs out in Calverts greenhouse regularly.  How sweet!  Mother and daughter.  But daddy "Cranberry" is not available.  And one of my favorite colors of neos, "Purple Star", is a love child (cultivar of unknown parentage).  How typical in today's society.  Tsk tsk.  I know none of this matters a twit when you come to pick out your favorite color, but why not climb a few rungs of the family tree?

It's family portrait time.  So sit back, admire these beauties, and then come in to grab one for your very own! 

Hi!  My name is Alerta.  Wake up to my bright pink bracts in the morning!

Greetings, I"m Nancy.  Sometimes I'm told I look like my sister, Alerta.

We're the Kapoho twins.  That's me, Kapoho Orange on the left, and Red on the right.  Aren't we different?

In the mood for passion?  Well, that's my name!  You can never have too much of me!

Need a couple of fellows that work hard for your money?  I"m Ostara on the left , and my brother Rana on the right.  Some people think we are identical twins, but if you look closely you'll see I have a little orange tint and have yellow florets and my brother Rana has white.  We are known to last a good long time in your pot.

Hi, um, I"m a little shy and petite, but I'm neat and sweet.  I look my best in cooler temperatures.  I"m Sophie.

I'm Viola, and I can't wait to get out of this hot box!  People look at me and admire my colorful leaves that match my flower.

Hello!  My name is Switch.  I'm tall, handsome, burgandy, and have striking yellow florets.  I'm the Michael Jordan of the guzmanias. 

    So far you've met a few guzmanias.  but our neoregelias are anxious to introduce themselves too.

Me first.  I"m Ardie, and as you can see, I"m pregnant.  Most people think I'm a diva.  I am rather stunning, don't you think?

My name is Deb.  People love me at Christmas, but hey, I can look good anytime!

I'm Tangerine.  Don't get me confused with Deb.  I"m a much richer shade of orange-red, and as you can see, my green center really sets off my bright coloring.

HI!  My name is Voodoo Doll, and I absolutely love being outside in a pot in your garden.  If you put me in dappled light, I"ll become entirely purple.  I"m luscious!

I"m Orange Crush, and when people first see me, they exclaim "holy cow"!  They must be bowled over by my awesomeness!

Hi!  I'm the newest and coolest to grace Calverts' floor.  My name is Puppy Love, and I know who my parents are!  You'll get to meet them next.

My name is Lila, and if you like pink lipstick, you'll like me.  And by the way, Puppy Love is my daughter!

Yes, it's true.  I don't hang out at Calverts, but I'm Puppy Love's daddy. Ahh, such memories...a steamy night after a gentle rain, Lila in the moonlight, in flower, soft music from a guitarist on a faraway veranda, plant breeders peeking out from behind the wall ....

    Well, those are not the only bromeliads at Calverts, but they must be the most social.  Actually, 3 of the guzmanias have formed a musical trio and insisted on introducing themselves via song.

My name is Michael, I'm a guzmania.  Most people like me, you know that it's true.  I'm tall and bright orange, that makes me Michael.  Why don't you just take me home with you?

My name is Hilda, I"m friends with Michael.  My disposition is sunny and bright.  My flower's Nordic yellow, that's why I'm Hilda, I'll brighten your vase by day or by night.

My name is Luna, I'm tall, dark and mysterious.  Me and Michael make a lively pair.  My flower's dusky purple, they call me Luna, pair me with my Michael-love if you dare!

Wait!  Hey guys, I"m Hasta La Vista, baby!

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