Bromeliads*+Neoregelia, Tips on Light cold, heat & More.........

About the life cycle of Neoregelia. 

Most Neoregelia are propagated from offsets or pups to ensure plants are 'true to type'.
Seed raising can be very slow + often results many years later in a bizarre mixture of Neoregelia ranging from [if you are lucky] an exotic new beauty or more commonly, a mixed up 'old mud-pie' created from an unknown cocktail of rogue pollen from plants nearby. When hybridizing pollen needs to be introduced in a controlled environment in order to avoid rogue pollen intruders. More details on seed-raising can be found here.
 Bromeliad Growing,Seed raising,potting mix + more

*Propagation from pup or offset - 
The time taken to reach maturity depends a lot on the variety. Neoregelia for example vary greatly with different varieties & various environmental aspects light nutrients, humidity and temperature. On average in an ideal environment & lightly fed, most Neoregelia varieties will mature within 18-24 months.  However some varieties may take up to 4 years. I have seen one that took 5 years. This however was a large plant growing on timber & had been exposed to very little nutrient. In a different situation the same plant matured in around 2 years.
A well grown Neoregelia as it approaches maturity will intensify in color and begin to show signs of developing centre flowers. At this stage the plant should ideally not be fed anything other than potash if required. Once flowering color will rapidly intensify more so, toward the centre of the plant & you should soon see new pups emerging from the base. Average number of pups is 1-4 often more, depending on variety.  The mature mother plant will now slowly die off, whilst converting all her remaining energy into her offspring. The dying off period takes over the next 12 months or so. Initially, during this time, your plant can still remain quite colourful and attractive for quite some time but will later become tatty as the very last pups are produced. If you wish, pups can be removed for potting up. ******See notes on potting  up pups + potting mixes [another blog]
The last pup can then be left on the mother plant to grow on as a replacement plant. Trim off the old tatty foliage, dead roots, wash off old potting mix & pot up in a fresh mix with a level teaspoon of 9-12 month slow release fertilizer added.
Most importantly keep your plant in a well lit position. Plants do adapt to a lot of light – the more light the more color in your Neoregelia. If it is a hard leaf variety you are potting it is an ideal time to begin to adapt your plant even to almost full sun if you wish. Most areas other than hot tropical zones plants will adapt well to even full sun with care.

****Tips for cooler climates.
Overly green soft leaf pups tend to be more likely to burn from the cold.  If needed a good time to build up plant resistance is during summer while plants are still able to feed and are happily growing. 
Added calcium [crushed egg shells] Sulfate of potash, charcoal are all very useful additions that help not only color but assist in strengthening the cells, acting as a natural fungicide + hardening the foliage. 
Neoregelia -Just like us.. when our resistance is down we catch bugs. 

**Ultimately, Strong healthy plants make for easy care, a happy balance of nutrient + light is the essence.

LIGHT + Neoregelia 

Neoregelia are at their best when grown in a bright filtered light situation.Whether it be a spot that receives gentle morning sun & some filtered light through the day or in a shade house, your plants will be at their best if they receive 50% sunlight- Hot + tropical areas may need 75% during summer. 
Unless you live in a cool mild climate, you would be best to avoid hot direct sunlight, especially in hot tropical + hot dry areas that experience heat waves. 
Interestingly Neoregelia foliage is very much like human skin they will burn almost at the same point where we will burn - but certainly good bright light bring out the best color in these plants.

The idea is to give them [even push them] to the maximum amount of light without burning them - if your plant is overly green or has been grown previously in an over shaded environment you need to adapt them in gradual stages. If your plants are well colored+ from a warm environment when you start it is a lot easier all around.

Basically most Bromeliads are really quite easy to grow. 
If you are new to growing Neoregelia I always recommend you keep your plant in a pot so you can move them around until you find that spot with the ideal bright filtered light level. Remember to take into account that the sun will move throughout the year. Gentle morning sun is ideal.

Late winter and Spring are ideal times of year, if you do need to adapt Neoregelia to higher light level. Though most of mine are light hardened through the generations, rarely have any problems- the only problem I do get are from newly introduced plants from further South, imports & those grown in over 50% shade cloth. These plants are **adapted gradually to ensure their offspring enjoy a 50% environment before joining their companions in the shade house or garden.

Happy Planting.
** + isolated for a general health check.
Heat & Summer Heat Waves

The Summer of 2013 has proved to be one of the hottest on record in many areas. Coupled with high UV levels & drought for many it has proved an unusual challenge for us all as well as our- usually very tough Bromeliads.

Keeping up the moisture to your plants is vital during these abnormal conditions. Inexpensive Water saving misters can be helpful on more established plants, but for some, sadly- moving plants has proved only option.
Pups that are not yet rooted should be kept preferably in pots, in a bright shaded area.
The Good news is that this high UV period does not usually last very long.
In sub-tropical zones the period usually extends from January – mid Feb early March. Northern areas generally about a month earlier.

If it is any consolation, here at the Nursery, it is the 1st time ever that I have had to cover or move some of the large established plants.
However those that are well mulched & misted have only very lightly scorched & not warranted moving.
Another option is to temporarily lightly cover plants in a lot of sun with very light 10-15% shade cloth or fabric. This very light inexpensive cloth is used in the horticulture industry for seed raising & other fruit tree crops.

Sulfate or Potash + calcium is also useful to help harden foliage against extremes such as heat waves & cold burn.

Like anything in the garden, there is no exact rule of the thumb. There are so many environmental factors influencing growth, such as light, temperature,nutrients, humidity, growing medium & more in such a vast variation in climatic conditions in our huge great nation.

however, It’s the happy healthy plant that has the greatest tolerance in many ways.


*****Bromeliads & U.V Tolerance.
Although good light levels are essential  if you wish to obtain the maximum color in the foliage of many bromeliads as noted above - some plants are by nature [like us] have a greater tolerance level than others.

*Here is a brief list beginning with *Full sun varieties to the most tolerant rated by stars.
*Please do be aware that these ideas are just generalized  and there is no exact 'rule of thumb' in the garden. Various other environmental aspects such as area, location, wind, humidity, nutrient,soil type or potting medium etc... should  to be taken into account. 
Very generally speaking; harder leaf plants tend to have a higher resistance.
 *See also notes on fertilizing + tips to hardening foliage.

*Note; These plants have all been tried + rated in Norther Wide Bay Queensland.Many in an open garden situation in my own garden. Areas further North + Hot dry western areas plants may need further protection.

Full Sun*****
A.Blanchetiana- Orange/Red, most regular forms- except variegata.
N.Noble Descent
N.Rosy cruenta Rubra
N.Cruenta Gold

****1/2  Highly recommended for growing in open garden in a sunny spot.
N.Brilliant Guy 1+2 [excellent]
N.Gold Fantasy
N.Happy thoughts Hybrids
N.Manoa Beauty
N.Lamberts Pride
N.Don Beadle
N.Bills Gift
N.Fairy Paint
N.Princess Grace X Grace x Cruenta 2F
N.Rosy Cruenta -all forms
N.Cruenta Gold
N.Stars + Bars USA
N.Ol Orange
to name just a few.....

*****Soft Leaf Shiny Neoregelia
N.Carolinae soft red leaf forms

*** Good bright but filtered light 50% sun.
N. Most variegata + Albomarginata

Most Neoregelia in General thrive in a situation of Good bright filtered light.
Most also adjust to quite high level of light. The best color is produced this way. Most in many areas are happy nearly all year round in almost full sun. However very hot midday + hot western sun in mid summer should be avoided. 
Ideally "that spot" is the one [when you take into consideration the movement of the sun through out the year] where your plants have some protection from the western sun in summer + the sun gradually returns in the cooler months. 
With a little thought, it is often easier to find than you think.