If you are looking for long lasting color for the interior or tropical landscape then Neoregelia is the plant you are looking for. Six months or more of color “on the job” is not unusual.
Good ventilation is essential for successful growing of Bromeliads in general and Neoregelia is no exception. For most varieties, maintain humidity levels between 65% and 80% and maintain water in the cups at all times. If the cups are allowed to dry out, the leaves may become brittle and distorted. Most large growers of Bromeliads install reverse osmosis systems to purify their irrigation water. This ensures a constant supply of high quality water for their Bromeliad program.
Depending on the size of plant you want to market, Neoregelia can be on your bench for 12 months or more. Growers use various techniques to improve space use such as first planting young plants in a 4” (or smaller) pot with close spacing then repotting them into 6” or larger pots after 3 to 6 months. There are also techniques that can be used to accelerate foliage color development (See Foliage Color below).
Porosity and drainage are essential for root development. If you use peat, it must be high quality fibrous peat. Various types of wood chips, fir bark, pine bark, or redwood chips are good choices to achieve porosity as is Perlite. Coir (coconut fiber) is gaining in popularity as a good substrate for this group and some growers are using pure coir. There are many good bagged commercial mixes that work well. Maintain media pH at 5.0 to 5.5.
N P K ratio should be 1:1:1 or 1:1.5:2. Higher levels of P and K are acceptable as long as the EC does not exceed 1.5. Use acidic fertilizers. Liquid feed at a rate of 100 to 200 ppm, depending on whether you are constantly feeding, or alternating with water. After applying liquid feed always rinse the foliage briefly with plain water afterwards. Use lower rates of fertilizers with very young plants: 50 to 100 ppm N. Excessive Nitrogen will cause weak, elongated leaves, and will delay or prevent foliage color in Neoregelia.
IMPORTANT: Although copper (Cu) is an essential element for growth in all plants, including Bromeliads, high levels of Cu such as copper based fungicides are toxic to Bromeliads. Avoid fungicides containing copper such as the brand names Kocide and Phyton 27. Another source of copper can be certain types of pressure-treated wood used in the construction of shade houses in mild climates. Growing Bromeliads under pressure-treated wood can cause damage from the leaching copper due to rain. If adding supplemental trace element mixes, avoid high levels of copper, as well as boron, zinc, and manganese.
Optimal temperatures for most Neoregelia range from 55 to 85F. Brief periods down to 45F usually won’t affect growth. Temperatures above 90F will slow or stop growth, as well as increase disease susceptibility.
Neoregelia can successfully be grown under saran shade cloth or hard top greenhouses with shade ratings of 50% to 73% (2,500 to 5,000ftc).
If given good ventilation and grown on raised benches, diseases are generally not a problem.
Pythium will be a problem if medium is kept consistently too moist. For control and/or prevention, drench with Subdue. Drench with Cleary’s 3336 to prevent Fusarium and Rhizoctonia. Helminthosporium, a leaf spot disease, can be controlled with Mancozeb. Exserohilum, a leaf spot fungus which makes linear lesions, has a propensity to infect Neoregelia. A “sprenching” of Dithane will provide control.
Scale and mealybugs are the most common pests. These can be controlled with Malathion, Enstar, Flagship, Marathon, Safari or Talstar. Horticulture Oils work well, but do not apply in excessive heat or light. If mosquitoes in the cups are a problem, spray with Malathion.
Although the foliage coloring of Neoregelia occurs naturally, there are techniques growers can use to enhance and speedup the display of color. As discussed above, excessive fertilization can delay coloring. To enhance/induce foliage color in Neoregelia, discontinue fertilization as plants approach maturity. One approach that is successful is when potting from 4” to 6” (or larger) pots, do not incorporate dry fertilizers in the 6” pot’s media. Thereafter, use low rates of liquid fertilizers at a maximum of 100 ppm.
Low doses of Florel (5ml per gallon) can be used to help growers induce foliage color on younger plants and/or improve the uniformity of coloring within the crop without inducing flowering. When plants are within 8-12 weeks of the desired marketing size, apply a light but thorough spray of 5ml Florel per gallon of water late in the day. Allow the Florel spray to remain on the foliage overnight, rinsing the foliage the next morning. Some growers have experienced leaf scaring applying Florel on plants with fertilizer residue on the leaves so it is a good practice to rinse the plants thoroughly the day before application. A heavy application of Florel on the foliage or using concentrations over 5ml/gallon may induce flowering which is not desirable. We do not recommend the application of Florel to plants younger than 6 months. Never use ethylene treatments on Neoregelia.
Revised August, 2012, OGLESBY PLANTS INTERNATIONAL, INC.
This text is a recommendation only; it is not an endorsement of any products or acceptance of any liability as a result of usage.