Bromeliads' wonderful summer

Roger Allen of Plummers Point and one of his bromeliads – a pineapple plant. Photo: Nikki South.

The country has been withering in the heat, going crisp around the edges with 41.3 registered in Timaru, 37 in Waiau, 34 in Culverden, an official high of 29 in Tauranga and an unofficial high of 32 degrees.

But the bromeliads which are native to the sunny climes of South and Central America have been flourishing in the Bay of Plenty, just loving the abnormal simmering summer.

“Many have developed intense colour and grown larger in size in response to the favourable growing conditions,” says The Tauranga Bromeliad Club's Lynley Breeze.

“And even though we have had few showers, the bromeliad has its own water tank. It has a funnel shape to retain moisture.”

That all points to a spectacular show when the club holds it's open day at the Yacht and Power Boat Club at Sulphur Point next Wednesday, February 14, between 12:30-2:30pm.

Everyone's welcome to the summer display of bromeliads. The club will have at least six sales tables running, so it's an opportunity to buy plants directly from bromeliad club growers at good prices starting at about $5.

There'll also be lots of knowledge available from people in the know - club members can provide accurate information on placing plants and the best growing tips for bromeliads.

Bromeliads like pineapples and people like Roger Allen. He's had a 15-year fascination for pineapples which are a species of bromeliads. Those were the days when pineapples arrived in New Zealand with their tops attached. He would slice them off and grow a plant from them.

“I have now got a couple of commercial varieties in the glasshouse,” says Roger. “Beautiful fruit, particularly if you let them ripen on the plant. They are absolutely exquisite, better than what you get in the supermarket.”

He has another wild one growing. “A big plant, very vicious, quite an intrepid plant, a lot of spines,” he explains, “but the fruit is very acidic and requires adding sugar to eat.”

Bromeliads are excellent feature plants in tropical style plantings and look striking alongside palms, cycads and vireyas. Some have vivid red foliage and tolerate full sun, while others like a more dappled light and have highly patterned leaves that are an attractive feature in the garden all year round.

The flower is just a bonus on some plants, but there can be spectacular flower spikes on others. They also reproduce via little offsets known as pups, so a grower can build up a collection of plants from a small sample.

There will be a wide range of special bromeliad plants not normally available in nurseries on show and for sale at the Tauranga Bromeliad Club's summer show and sale next Wednesday.

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