Olive Trevor first started collecting bromeliads 20 years ago. Bromeliads were very hard to buy in those days, so Olive began to import and propagate them. Her hobby became a thriving business, and today she sells her bromeliads all over Australia. Olive goes to the world conferences of the Bromeliad Society and she gives talks and slide presentations to bromeliad groups throughout Australia.
Don visited Olive at her nursery in Brisbane, and looked at the large range of bromeliads available, both for landscaping and for decorative pots. Olive showed Don many new bromeliads that she has imported from the United States. These have only just been released from quarantine in Australia, and include guzmanias, neoregelias and cryptanthus.
Members of this family have attractive foliage and big open flowers. The coloured flower spikes last many months. The discovery of a pink and purple guzmania in the wild has led to beautiful new hybrids being produced in shades of pink, lavender and mauve. Olive showed Don a lipstick-pink variety (Guzmania ‘Lipstick ‘) and a lovely purple variety (Guzmania ‘Tutti-fruitti’).
Neoregelias are very colourful and easy to grow. The inner leaves of many species turn a brilliant reddish colour just before flowering. The most commonly grown species is Neoregelia carolinae, also known as the ‘Blushing Bromeliad’. Olive has imported many colourful neoregelias, including one without spines (Neoregelia ‘Medusa’).
This is a terrestrial group from Brazil, which needs plenty of room for root development. Olive’s collection includes some very pretty cryptanthus. These bromeliads are a little bit more difficult to grow, especially in the colder climates.
Bromeliads are hardy plants. They can be grown outdoors in most areas of Australia, but they need protection from cold and frost.
Bromeliads grow well in pots. They require a light, open potting mix with good drainage. When potting don’t forget that the leaves hold water, so it’s important to keep the central cup upright.
Bromeliads can also be grown in the garden in a well-drained compost on top of the soil. They like warmth and humidity, but must have good air movement. Bromeliads like moist conditions but not too much water.
Some bromeliads, including guzmanias and cryptanthus, can be grown indoors, but they need a spell outdoors every now and again when they start to look tired.
Cost and availability
The new bromeliads shown in our segment are not available as yet, but they will be available in a year or so through retail nurseries.
Your local nursery should have a few bromeliads. They range from $10 for a 150mm (6″) pot to $40 for a 300mm (12″) pot.
For a specialist nursery, in Qld try Bromagic at Palmwoods, phone (07) 5445 0441. In NSW try Bromeliad Garden Nursery, Wahroonga, phone (02) 9489 2063.
Our segment was filmed at:
The Olive Branch
232 Canvey Road
Ferny Grove Qld 4055
Phone: (07) 3351 1203
The Olive Branch is a wholesale nursery, but it does open by appointment.
A good book on bromeliads is ‘Growing Bromeliads’, by The Bromeliad Society of Australia, ed. Barry E Williams. Published by Kangaroo Press, 1996, ISBN 0864 173369. Cost: $24.95.
To become a member of The Bromeliad Society of Australia, write to PO Box 340, Ryde, NSW 2112.