Friday, September 25, 2009

Neoregelia johannis hybrids

All of the plants in this group of hybrids are tough, able to handle several frosts each winter and salt spray when grown near the coast. Most of them are also very large, some of the largest Neoregelia in existence!

The mother is most likely to be Neo. johannis, father unknown as is the case with many of these promiscuous types! The original seed was sourced from a nursery in Santa Catarina State, Brazil and as with much of the seed from nurseries there, the seed was of mixed parentage. This is to be expected when bromeliads are grown in close proximity with the presence of natural pollinators such as hummingbirds and native bees.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Velvet'
Neoregelia 'Exotica Velvet' is the first of my hybrids. It is a very large growing Neoregelia, reaching up to 1 m across when grown well.

The dark red striations are striking and reasonably stable from generation to generation on plants grown from pup, however some can come up with full maroon colouring, while others have much less striation.
The original plant looked the same as the one in the second photo. When we put it into tissue culture, the majority of plants retained the maroon colouring only, as in the first photo. Still lovely, and actually very striking when grown to full size with a little bit of shade to develop the darker tones.

We've grown Exotica Velvet in a wide range of conditions. It will colour well in shady conditions and can grow happily in full sun if you can cope with the slight bleaching of leaves of older flowered plants during summer. Overall it seems to colour best in full sun, with a little bit of dappled shade over the midday during summer to avoid leaf scorching.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Misty Pink'
One of my favourite Neo. johannis cultivars, with its' stong, fairly upright growth habit. The caper green leaves are lightly striped with thin, plum coloured lines and at flowering the top leaves shade to lthis lovely orchid pink, darkening near the centre.

At 70cm wide and 50cm high, this is slightly smaller than some of the other Neo. johannis cultivars, but is a particularly elegant plant.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Pink Panther'
This is a real beauty that achieves a spread of 80cm with broad glossy leaves in multiple shades of pink. The colours develop early from pup, as soon as the new leaves are exposed to the sun. As the plant grows, the colours keep getting better, and even a year after flowering my mother plant is still showing good colour. In my garden it seems to develop it's best colours in full sun, although in subtropical and tropical regions it will probably scorch during the hottest days.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Brazilian Stripe'
This cultivar should have been named for its thin stripes and the Brazilian heritage. Actually, the name arose when I had my nursery and we were selling all the stripey Neo johannis types as 'Brazilian Hybrid'. A female customer came into the shop and asked whether the plants were called Brazilians because of their thin stripes! It took a few seconds for the penny to drop, and then she was most embarassed when we explained that the name came from the origin of the seeds. I must admit we hadn't thought of that other possible explanation. Anyway, to commemorate that moment of enlightenment, we named this one 'Exotica Brazilian Stripe', rather appropriate I think. It is notable for caper green leaves, overlaid by well defined stripes of cerise and blushing (no pun intended) lavender rose at flowering. Overall a more understated, but elegant version of the large stripy Neos. The well shaped rosettes grow to approximately 60cm across.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Satin'
This lovely plant is a very close relative to Neoregelia 'Exotica Velvet'. It can also grow to 1m across, so is a really large Neo that looks great in subtropical gardens. The main differences between 'Exotica Satin' and 'Exotica Velvet' are the lovely pink tips to the leaves and the bright red stripes, which tend to be more well defined than on Velvet.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Grandiose'
One of the biggies, this one gets to over 1 m across, with tough, marbled leaves with fine striations. The green areas of the leaves flush to bronze on mature plants when grown in full sun. The bright pink tips are an added feature that sets this cultivar apart.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Imperial'
One of the most impressive plants in this range of hybrids. Wide, sturdy leaves heavily marbled and flushing to almost solid dark red when grown in full sun form rosettes over 1 m wide. A really stunning plant, best used as single rosette specimen plants, surrounded by green or yellow groundcover plants.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Sweet Dreams'
At the other extreme, this little Neo is much more modest in size, only reaching 40cm across. It is a little cutie though, with green leaves finely striped with burgundy. In good light the leaves take on quite a rosy cast and at flowering the centre turns a lovely rose pink.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Red Lace'
A lovely cultivar, which has great colouring even as a young plant, like the ones in this photo. As the plant matures, the leaves widen and recurve nicely, making quite a graceful rosette of about 70cm across, and the colour intensifies till it is nearly solid. 'Exotica Red Lace' has probably the most intricate pa€tterning of this group, with a very good combination of striations and marbling.

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