Friday, April 20, 2018

A good wall pot plant

Keeping a diary is something I have always been very poor at. A classic gift idea, diaries. I have been given many of them over the years and I've hardly opened or used any of them. I realised, however, some time ago, that this gardening blog of mine is probably my best effort at keeping a diary, and lo and behold I've been doing it for almost 10 years now. 

And so when I checked back on my blog/diary to see when my Vriesia bromeliads last flowered, it will come as no surprise to find out it was also in late April. In fact, a scan down through the years shows they flower like clockwork ... "hmmm, the bromeliads are flowering ... it must be late April".

Here they are settling into their work this sunny April afternoon. Now, I was expecting something weird to happen to their flowering time this year, as the weather here in Sydney sure has been weirdly hot and not remotely like any Autumn that we know of. But as far as these clockwork flowers are concerned, their inbuilt calendar isn't going to be upset by some stupid heatwave. Hell, they're from Central America anyway, and they love heatwaves.

Now, the purpose of this rare update on my blog is simply to let you know that if you have a boring brick wall somewhere, especially one that gets no direct sunlight at all, then these are ideal plants to plant in a wall pot.

They need very little maintenance, apart from the occasional sprinkle with the hose (and not too much, either). My wall pots are completely under cover, under a covered pergola, so they never get rained on. So, I just make sure that every few days when I'm watering the vegies, that I sprinkle my bromeliads as well. As their pots sit right above the spot on the wall where my hose reel is mounted, I never forget to do that job.

The plant label name of this commonly available bromeliad is Bromeliad vriesia, and it sometimes is also labelled as 'Isabel'. Its flowers should last for a few months at least. And when they're not flowering, at least the potted plants offer up a lot of pleasant, green, strappy foliage.

Prior to these bromeliads I had tried some other plants in wall pots and they were either too much work or at least didn't thrive. These guys loved it from Day One.

The best way to kill a bromeliad, if you really enjoy plant murder, is to place it in full sun (you cruel beast), or overwater it (I also suspect the over-waterers also own fat cats and fat dogs, but that's just a theory). 

I plant mine into a 50:50 mix of orchid potting mix and normal potting mix, and that's all they need. I never fertilise them, and I water them very sparingly in winter, but more often in summer.

They do have little water "cups" at their base which some people become obsessed about and constantly fill up, most of the time killing their bromeliads at the same time.

If you're in Australia and reading this blog now, in April or later on in May, these plants might be in flower at your local garden centre. Maybe. Perhaps. If you're lucky. They should be. They're a great plant for apartments and balconies, too.


Shivangni said...

Your diary has been educating us over the years and am very grateful to you for taking the pain to post your blogs.

I belong to overwater category and yes I have murdered my 2 bromelaids. Though I don't have cat / dog, but the 1 dog that we (my daughter & I) babysat for a week did become fat (as per owners), so you can tick your theory on human behaviour.

Now I'll have to go an look for bromelaids though they tend to be expensive here and hope they bloom in Septmber / October in opposite hemishpere

Phil in Newie said...

Yes Jamie, another murderer here. Thank you anyway for reminding me I've still lots of plants to collect and deploy in the many corners of my tiny yard/garden (the yard is the garden). And bromelaids are just the ticket. Also, it reminds me I must get a staghorn. Had them as a kid and they were fed with endless quantities of tea leaves and never complained.

We just recently completed the destruction of an indoor lily which I think got too much water and collar rotted. These are those lovely indoor ones that grow huge and if you put them outside briefly for some odd reason they suddenly expire. We murdered several some years back that way.

I did get at a local church market an immortal plant that defies herbicidal intent (as in homicidal - I think that is the correct word that we never use that way). It's the "cast iron plant" - an aspidistra. I got two. One objected to being suddenly outside and "died" but came back to life a month later. Their reputation is well earned. They're famous, apparently, for being ignored and surviving indoors for months without water or attention. I first came across them 50 years ago in Mad Magazine, which had a running random gag in their comic pieces with a pot plant whose name was "Albert the Aspidistra" and I intend to put that name on the pot of mine in homage to the original.

We had some Aunts in Sydney who managed to kill "with kindness" each year's budgerigar, their Christmas present. After five of those we gave up. The local native mynas (not the Indian ones) were caught red-handed a few months back killing our canaries that we put on the veranda during the day. We lost several mysteriously over the years, but the mystery is at rest with the perpetrator revealed. The buggers are overly-territorial and descend in a pack all over the cage stabbing with their sharp yellow beaks until our panicking canary flaps into striking distance.

The local Indian mynas are marvellous at spotting cats in our yard stalking the doves. I also caught a butcher bird once run at the veranda, making single hops up the steps, and jump feet first at the canary cage in an apparent attempt of grab the poor fellow. He just bounced off the cage, of course. That was a nice demonstration of nature at work one rarely sees.

Oh dear, so much murdering.

Jamie said...

Phil: you're right, backyards can be dangerous places full of attempted murders, and the occasional successful one. And good luck with the Staghorn. A neighbour has two magnificent ones mounted on boards, in dappled shade under overhead foliage, and they are wonderful things to behold.

And Shivangni, glad to hear confirmation of my fat pets theory. I think I'm onto something here ...