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Odd bromeliads

I'VE sent a photo of one of my bromeliads which is growing oddly. A friend told me there's not much I can do about it. Have you any tips?


YOUR Vriesea hybrid is suffering from a problem known as quilling or fluting. It's not caused by any pest or disease though the real reason for this distorted growth is not fully understood. Some experts believe it's brought on by lack of water while others say cool weather brings on the symptoms. The misshapen growth seems to be caused by the developing leaves sticking together as they emerge.

A good way to relieve the symptoms is to mix half a teaspoon of dishwashing liquid (I use Sunlight) in two litres of water. Empty out as much of the existing water that's in the central vase of the plant as you can then pour in the dishwashing solution. Pour in plenty, so the central vase fills up and the solution overflows into the joints of the surrounding leaves. Don't worry if it runs down into the mix, it won't damage the roots.

Leave the plant for a week or two and you'll probably find the leaves gradually spread apart and growth resumes its natural shape. In severe cases you may have to give the plant several treatments 2-3 weeks apart before it fully returns to normal. You could also try teasing the leaves apart by hand a day or so after you've applied the solution, but be gentle as the leaves can break away easily from the base. Leave the soapy solution as long as you like.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 137, 2003, Page 27

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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