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Growing a better(?) Brocchinia photo log

Clue

clippity-clip-clip
Joined
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SF Bay Area & Davis
If you're familiar with Brocchinia reducta, then you'll probably know two-ish things about it:

1. In the wild they grow as neat little pipes ("tight rosette")
2. In cultivation they do not ("sad pineapple thing")​

The solution, as Barry Rice writes here, is high light intensity. So naturally, I parked my Brocchinia outside with my Sarracenia for the summer because my Nepenthes lights won't cut it. The only problem was my "screenhouse" that keeps the critters out is shaded in the late afternoon and evening.

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35941393521/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4326/35941393521_c8b50162d4_z.jpg" width="640" height="452" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The left side has the space, but not the light. Why's that?

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/36033990516/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4294/36033990516_71768bd1ca_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Whoever planted ivy by this fence didn't realize (a) that ivy eats fences and (b) grows much higher than the fence to flower.

Good thing I have a nice, unobscured southern exposure to work with elsewhere. Behold, the laziest build in human history:

1. Get a platform.
<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35941392601/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4313/35941392601_617e5bf703_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
(I like to think inside the box on these projects)

2. "Cleaning"
<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35941391821/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4307/35941391821_8820546b78_z.jpg" width="640" height="427" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

3. Various assembly
<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35234001354/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4305/35234001354_8cb6f5a0a1_z.jpg" width="640" height="427" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
This window pane is so the box won't get any more water damage, otherwise it's back to step 1.

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/36074364285/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4328/36074364285_8f7855ac58_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
I was gifted a nice undrained ceramic pot recently.

4. Locate a test subject
<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35234000324/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4311/35234000324_ba92838294_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Preferably one that belongs to you

5. Trap test subject
<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/36074363515/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4297/36074363515_ae4df28c24_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35233999164/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4293/35233999164_2c1062d82d_z.jpg" width="640" height="427" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35905184492/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4313/35905184492_8a784942df_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35233997674/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4306/35233997674_0c8437837d_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
(Note to self: get denser rocks)

6. Wait

Hopefully I'll have a skinnier Brocchinia to show soon, otherwise he'll be sent to the gym next! :-O

Bonus: I fed it some earwigs because I hate earwigs. Earwigs, which are normally skillful swimmers, quickly sink and drown in the urn.
<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35905183742/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta "build""><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4292/35905183742_134d186d04_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta "build""></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
 
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Nice setup! There does seem to be a big difference in appearance between wild and cultivated Brocchinia reducta. It would be cool if your plant also turns yellow like those in the wild. I wonder how often you will need to add water to the urn growing it outside.
 

DragonsEye

carnivorous plants of the world -- unite!
Joined
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Michigan
I wonder how often you will need to add water to the urn growing it outside.

I imagine very frequently.

Assuming this works (and I'm rooting for you that it does), are you planning on cutting it free of the wire mesh? If you were to cut the mesh in half and use clips or zip ties to hold the halves together, that might make extricating the plant easier down the road.

 

Clue

clippity-clip-clip
Joined
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Nice setup! There does seem to be a big difference in appearance between wild and cultivated Brocchinia reducta. It would be cool if your plant also turns yellow like those in the wild. I wonder how often you will need to add water to the urn growing it outside.
Thanks Howard! A good spraying every morning does the trick, and I could probably do every other day but some live Sphagnum is popping up and I'd like to grow it out (plus I'm trying to establish some U. pubescens in the pot). For no particularly good reason I also keep it sitting in a bit of water, but I wouldn't do that in the winter for fear of rot.

Assuming this works (and I'm rooting for you that it does), are you planning on cutting it free of the wire mesh? If you were to cut the mesh in half and use clips or zip ties to hold the halves together, that might make extricating the plant easier down the road.
Hi DragonsEye, it will probably have to be cut out down the road but I'm not too concerned since Brocchinia are usually slow growers. Clips are definitely a good idea, I'll keep them in mind.

It will certainly be interesting to see how this experiment turns out.
For sure, I'm a little obsessed with Brocchinia now. The BACPS potluck yesterday gave me a chance to see some excellent greenhouse-grown B. reducta:

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35260492764/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta in a Heliamphora sea"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4304/35260492764_33cbc327f8_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta in a Heliamphora sea"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
These tubular specimens were growing in a tray with some Heliamphora and very happy Utricularia alpina.

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35709368970/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta and Utricularia alpina"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4315/35709368970_ec6f8e42ce_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta and Utricularia alpina"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
These were positioned right underneath a beam but evidently the light is very strong (see the Heliamphora shape and color).

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35967579241/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4304/35967579241_3aa5a95280_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
There were also some potted clumps in a more open location - these must be very old plants. The yellow color on these seems mostly from plants that have finished flowering. Another pot next door:
<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/36100348545/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4296/36100348545_2d25afdb7a_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="Brocchinia reducta"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35709357290/in/dateposted-public/" title="spent Brocchinia reducta inflorescences"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4325/35709357290_e97b7d424d_z.jpg" width="427" height="640" alt="spent Brocchinia reducta inflorescences"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
It was too late to see the Brocchinia flowers unfortunately.



Anyone else want to share how they're growing Brocchinia and what has and hasn't worked for them? I'm also interested in growing B. tatei and especially B. hechtioides at some point, but these are even harder to find in the US than B. reducta.
 
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Clue

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<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/36186262532/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4433/36186262532_34c25942cc.jpg" width="413" height="500" alt="Brocchinia reducta"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/36186260762/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4407/36186260762_0c5692fcfa.jpg" width="500" height="460" alt="Brocchinia reducta"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

So far so good; there probably won't be much to report until the very end of the season and unfortunately I don't think that's enough time to see any serious changes. I did shift the setup location so it basically gets full sun all day, there was a tree giving it a little afternoon shade originally. Anyways, the old strappy leaves the plant came with are slowly dying away and the new leaves are much wider, stiffer, and brighter in color. The plant is much waxier now, which seems to help it catch insects, it's caught a few fruit flies so far. It hasn't been a very hot summer so far but it seems like B. reducta isn't sensitive about higher temperature; I'd imagine if I tried to grow Heliamphora like this they'd overheat.

Granted, the pictures today aren't much different than the pictures I originally posted, but I had already been growing it with some full sun for a few weeks. Summering B. reducta outdoors definitely has its benefits, by comparison this is how it looked as received in early July:
<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/35743139625/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4216/35743139625_67cfe2c47e.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Brocchinia reducta"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/36186263702/in/album-72157683058446454/" title="Brocchinia reducta"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4375/36186263702_6e32ca6ee4.jpg" width="397" height="500" alt="Brocchinia reducta"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
and now, taken from the same angle.
 

Clue

clippity-clip-clip
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The growing season's winding down, and I won't be able to keep my Brocchinia outdoors through the winter. Two months has really changed its habit, but it's not satisfyingly tubular just yet. Per DragonsEye's suggestion, I cut the wire screen into two separate pieces so the entire pot is much easier to take out.

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/36418910373/in/album-72157683058446454/" title="Brocchinia reducta"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4392/36418910373_485d3a0e06.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Brocchinia reducta"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/37043123486/in/album-72157683058446454/" title="Brocchinia reducta"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4389/37043123486_5829f031bb.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Brocchinia reducta"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

A couple of cultivation notes from this summer:
  • Evidently, some Brocchinia reducta can tolerate high temperatures. We had some heat waves peaking in the triple digits Fahrenheit and sustained temperatures in the low 90s for a couple weeks; my plant didn't sulk at all in full sun. Barthlott et. al (2007) claims temperatures over 28 C/82 F should be avoided, but this range might be from observations in the wild. The caveat is that even with the heat, there is always a significant temperature drop at night around here. YMMV based on your clone, so be careful.
  • Established B. reducta don't mind wet feet in the summer. I stood the plant in water up to half the pot height while traveling for several days and came back to some very healthy root growth into the water. I definitely would not keep it this wet in the winter, and if the plant wasn't established this could easily lead to rot. As an aside, the mix this one came in looks like equal parts long fiber sphagnum, perlite, and peat, with a little sand mixed in.
  • The urn doesn't seem to dry up very fast; I stopped misting it daily after a summer trip and noticed that after 4 days, the urn fluid level was low but not empty. I wonder if the plant can pump fluid into the urn, but I didn't push it longer to see if the urn could dry out.
  • Brocchinia make their most wax in very bright light. The waxy cuticle is meant to conserve water in conventional bromeliads, and despite relying on their wax to capture insects, Brocchinia wax production is still correlated to light levels, so for best trapping, maximize light. B. reducta prey is supposed to be overwhelmingly ant species, but mine didn't seem to catch much by itself besides some fruit flies. Ants I threw into the urn usually could not crawl out unless I sprayed most of the wax off the leaves first.
  • Dilute feedings of fertilizer into the urn aren't fatal and might actually be appreciated. I was scared cyanobacteria might take over and smother the plant but the urn stayed clean.

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/37043121686/in/album-72157683058446454/" title="Brocchinia reducta"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4342/37043121686_a4526b01fe.jpg" width="500" height="396" alt="Brocchinia reducta"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Healthy white roots and root hairs.

In regards to shape, I'd like to think this clone can get more tubular. It might be that any offsets that grow under these conditions will grow into the right shape, but I guess we'll see. Other random thoughts are that if I kept the media drier the plant might also grow into a neater shape to conserve water, but based on this root growth it seems comfortable enough that I won't try that any time soon.

Since this plant is apparently rootbound, I'm planning on repotting it in the spring next year -- my dream is a large biotope planter with some hardier tepui plants - the Utricularia pubescens stolons I pinched and planted into the pot are starting to spread now and I'm hardening off a South American Epidendrum to full sun as well.

Other news:

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/37043119606/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta and hechtioides"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4356/37043119606_aa7409b8c5.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Brocchinia reducta and hechtioides"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
I actually found a Brocchinia hechtioides! Looks a little rough, so I'm trying not to keep it too wet until it's well-rooted. I'm also keeping this little pup shaded for now.

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/36274254354/in/album-72157683314230451/" title="Catopsis sp."><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4427/36274254354_61ac36bbd7.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Catopsis sp."></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
My non-carnivorous Catopsis morreniana surprised me with a flower. I grow this with my highlanders, so it doesn't get very intense light. I'm still disappointed that this plant turned out to be C. morreniana since it was sold as C. berteroniana.
 

Clue

clippity-clip-clip
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Short interlude until I'm back home for the holidays. I took my B. reducta inside before leaving for school, it's overwintering with my highland Nepenthes in a southern window under some T8's. I did take my B. hechtioides with me because it didn't have much in the way of roots when I got it so I've been coddling it on a southern windowsill in my apartment. It's a glacially slow grower so there won't be much to report for a long time.

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/37803834351/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4455/37803834351_0b493c577e.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Brocchinia reducta"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

I finally did take a picture of some of the Brocchinia reducta at the university collection. These are ignored in a back corner of the carnivorous plant collection in the display greenhouse. They seem to be potted in mostly perlite and are rather dry even though they're always sitting in about an inch of water. I don't really understand what the greenhouse conditions are... but they're growing a large N. bicalcarata right next to some flowering N. glandulifera plants successfully. These plants don't look the greatest, but they've got a real thrips situation going on in the greenhouses.

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/37755566186/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4509/37755566186_c398937aab.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Brocchinia reducta"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Some pups coming up strong. The dieback on these plants seems oddly extensive, the dead growth on the left hadn't even flowered yet.


A couple of people on Facebook told me that high UV exposure might be the key to really tubular Brocchinia, which does seem to make sense. I looked up the UV index for the tepuis and apparently it's off the charts. I'm not sure I'm dedicated enough to buy auxiliary UV lamps to find out -- not unless I get a ton more Brocchinia plants to make it worth my time and space!
 
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Clue

clippity-clip-clip
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Only a fool would collect something as uninteresting as Brocchinia... that being said, it's been a good year for fools! :-O

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/27164772539/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia vignette"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4739/27164772539_ee77da7859.jpg" width="500" height="360" alt="Brocchinia vignette"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/27164771939/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta SNW"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4553/27164771939_88cc70f539.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Brocchinia reducta SNW"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The original big mama B. reducta ex. Dallas and Farin

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/27164771439/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia reducta compot"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4739/27164771439_aea57f29d9.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Brocchinia reducta compot"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Compot of variously sourced small B. reducta; highlights include the rightmost plant, a highland variant from Akopan tepuy ex. BCP.

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/27164770829/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia hechtioides"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4562/27164770829_4e5e155a65.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Brocchinia hechtioides"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The original B. hechtioides is starting to grow again! It sat in suspended animation until just recently.

<a data-flickr-embed="true" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/61904224@N05/38226224364/in/dateposted-public/" title="Brocchinia hechtioides (savannah under Akopan tepuy)"><img src="https://farm5.staticflickr.com/4540/38226224364_5a9b5f1045.jpg" width="333" height="500" alt="Brocchinia hechtioides (savannah under Akopan tepuy)"></a><script async src="//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The pièce de résistance is this B. hechtioides (lowland savanna under Akopan tepuy); I never expected in a million years I'd find a plant like this for sale in the US due to lack of supply AND demand, but here it is!

Besides my original B. reducta, the three smaller pots are in my lowland terrarium chilling with the likes of N. campanulata, N. danseri, and N. vieillardii; they definitely appreciate the LEDs. I was going to leave the largest plant back at home but some rearranging in the highland collection meant it had no place to go except back up to Davis.
 
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