Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Exotica One

A bit of history behind the 'Exotica' name. Exotica was established in the winter of 2000, when I shifted to Point Wells from my home town of Mt Maunganui and in the process changed my hobby into my business. At the time it only took about 5 trips with a van and trailer to shift all the plants, although each trip took about 5 hours each way!

We were there for two years, in which time the stock increased many fold, to cover 900 sqm of greenhouse. Buying out a couple of other nurseries and bringing TC plants in from the USA helped achieve this.

The second photo shows the shop area. Believe it or not, at the time this was the largest retail area of bromeliads around! How things have changed in less than a decade, with any decent garden centre now having more than this in stock. At the top left was a huge grape vine that carried hundreds of bunches of early, very sweet green grapes. In the far corner was my favourite area, our tropical display.

This consisted mostly of a large round pool about a metre deep, surrounded on two sides by large slabs of fake rock, planted with Tillandsia. From the corner a slab of punga was used as a waterfall and around the pool various tropical bromeliads were planted.

The best part about it was the heating; by way of a heater scavenged from a hot water cylinder and an extension lead that dangled above the water. I must admit the wiring caused some raised eyebrows, particularly when the water felt a bit tingly.

The pool was heated to 30C, which was fantastic for swimming on cold winter day. You can see the steam rising off the pool in the 4th photo. It was also warm enough to have tropical fish, which hugely entertained Katelyn, who was a toddler at the time. The only real problem was explaining why we were in the pool when customers arrived!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Neoregelia caroline tricolor x 'Takemura Princeps'

These plants were the misguided attempt to develop a range of variegated Neos, till I realised that Neo. carolinae tricolor was not a good candidate to do this with. Another five years wasted, never mind, at least some good plants came out of it!

Neoregelia 'Exotica Ebony Beauty'
This one has tough rosettes of very dark burgundy leaves, sparingly speckled with green. It is most similar to 'Sharlock', but with wider and slightly darker leaves and a more compact form. The photo was taken in the wrong light to properly show how dark it gets, these dark broms are hard to get right. I'll have another crack at this later! Prefers full sun to bring out leaf colour.

Neoregelia Dr Oeser Hybrid x concentrica hybrid

This cross was made with a 'Dr Oeser' hybrid I had kicking around, it had no cultivar name, but looks somewhat similar to Neoregelia 'Bea Hansen'. The pollen parent was one of my mixed parentage Brazilian hybrids, this one with strong concentrica links. Dr Oeser hybrids like the one I used can produce a wide range of seedlings and this was no exception.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Red Devil'
One of my favourites, mainly due to the ridging on the leaves, which some breeders might consider to be a defect, but I like as it adds more texture to the plant. Also the creamy yellow splashes contrast well against the bright red leaves.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Red Goddess'
Although it's very red and glossy looking, this photo doesn't do justice to either the colour or the shape of this lovely cultivar. This is one of my favorite hybrids and the richness of the blood red leaves with tiny green flecks needs to be seen to be believed. It is also a really well formed plant, only reaching about 20cm across, but with beautifully recurved leaves that almost curl right to the bottom of the pot.

Neoregelia burle-marxii hybrids

From Brazil, I recieved some seed of what appeared to be Neoregelia burle-marxii. While it is not exactly the same as published details of the species, it is obviously related. I used this as the seed parent for all of the following hybrids and the results are quite lovely. Apart from the various levels of red speckling, many of the hybrids also show an underlying white layer at flowering time. The other parent I have in my notes as Neoregelia Brazilian Hybrid, unfortunately I didn't photograph or keep this plant seperated, so I now can't remember what it was!

Neoregelia 'Leprechaun'
A great little hybrid, with a rosette of rusty red speckled green leaves about 40cm wide. At flowering the centre goes a lovely speckled pink, with white underlay.

This variety can take a reasonable amount of sun, but some burning may occur with midday sun.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Fairy Dust'
The leaves of this cultivar are heavily speckled with red, particularly when grown in full sun, when they will also develop an underlying bronze cast.

At flowering the middle lightens to a lovely soft pink with an underlay of white. At full size, this plant reaches about 75cm across.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Fairy Queen'
Like 'Exotica Fairy Dust, this plant develops colour better in more sun. In the photo, the plant on the right has had more sun than the plant on the left, even though they are still attached to each other.

More than any other cultivar from this group, this plant shows the influence of its' other parent, which was probably a johannis hybrid. The sturdy leaves form a rosette 90 cm wide.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Tinkerbelle'
The littlest of this group, I had to call it Tinkerbelle. Well dusted with red, the slender bronze green leaves struggle to form a rosette 40cm across. At flowering the pink centre colour covers nearly a third of the upper leaf area, with undertones of white.

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.

Neoregelia concentrica hybrids

Neoregelia 'Exotica Shocking Pink'
A lovely hybrid from an old, unnamed Neoregelia concentrica cultivar (probably crossed with neo. carolinae) I had in my collection and a lovely pink centred form (parentage unknown) which came from Brazilian seed.

Fairly normal when not in flower, at flowering the centre turns this absolutely shocking pink. A medium sized rosette approximately 40cm wide, with nice broad leaves in shiny apple green.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Pink'
Lime green leaves form a nicely shaped rosette up to 30cm wide. At flowering, the centre turns cherry blossom pink, with a few random splashes of white which adds interest. Prefers bright light but avoid midday sun. Can take slight frosts.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Lipstick'
Another one of the pink hybrids, this one tending more towards the red end of the spectrum, and with a more substantial rosette, showing more of the concentrica parentage.

Neoregelia 'Exotica Flamingo'
Glossy green leaves that are tinged with maroon develop into a rosette approximately 50cm across. The colouring intensifies in good light, although full sun will burn this cultivar, as it will with most of this group.

At flowering, the centre turns a shocking flamingo pink, shading out to maroon at the extremities.

 Neoregelia 'Exotica Amethyst'
Another cultivar that shows more of its concentrica parentage than the carolinae side. A robust plant that can take reasonable sun, although still not full sun. At flowering the centre turns this intense shade of amethyst.