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Author Topic: Sudden Vriesea Death Syndrome  (Read 642 times)
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chefofthebush
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« on: February 13, 2016, 18:46:09 »

Hi all.

I have a funny problem. Actually not funny at all. I have a few Vrieseas that suddenly become slightly pale and then when the leaves are tugged the whole centre leaf clump comes out with part of the stem pith. The plant stem seems to be rotten to the core.

I have mother plants of up to 20 of a cultivar and random plants in the batch do this kamikaze action, The others are fine. They receive the same water and growing conditions. Once in a month I spray with weak fertilizer and a general insecticide.

It looks like an fungal attack of some type  like botrytis.

Any Ideas and solutions?

I lost my one and only Vr fosteriana by this means.

Urgent help wanted! 

Conrad
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splinter1804
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2016, 22:08:05 »

Hi everyone.

Conrad - It sounds very much like crown rot to me, but John would be better positioned to answer your question as he come from "Vriesea Country".

The first thing you need to do is smell the centre of the plant and if it smells like a dead fox that's previously spewed and crapped itself at the same time, there's a good chance it's Crown Rot.

Now you've established the problem you need to look for a cause.

Were any of these plants growing beneath CCA treated timber, copper water pipe or new galvanized pipe or wire mesh? If so your problem could be starting from a reaction to chemicals in these products (copper or zinc) which when they get wet could be dripping on the plants.

Your plants may be staying too wet after watering or be suffering from lack of air circulation due to overcrowding. I have lost plants from different genera from time to time with this problem, however since I cut back on watering and gave plants more space between them to create better air circulation, I've had no more problems. In many cases where I've read about rot this is often one of two things that is usually the cause.

The most common causes are:

1. Over-watering and not letting the plant get rid of excess water between watering which provides an idea environment for moulds and fungi spores to multiply.

2. Over-crowding where the plants don't have access to circulation fresh air and are confined to a damp humid environment which again creates the ideal breeding ground for various moulds and fungi to breed.

Look at how they grow in nature; usually on trees with the roots fully exposed to any rain, dew, mist or fog but also abundant circulating air which never allows them to remain wet for very long.

In cultivation we grow them in pots for our own convenience and once we do this we should make sure that we provide them with the correct growing environment they require. Often this is where we fall down; perhaps due to lack of space or not enough time to prepare a proper location to house them.

Sometimes pots are placed on the ground temporarily (and as we all know, temporary solutions often tend to become permanent after a while) When pots are on the ground, after a while worms can block up drainage holes and allow the potting mix to become water-logged. Also when they are on the ground they don't get very much circulating air. These two things combine to make for an ideal incubator for various types of rot.

You say, "Once in a month I spray with weak fertilizer and a general insecticide". This won't help much against rot; in this case you need  good quality fungicide. However remember that many fungicides contain copper as one of the ingredients so read the instructions well and steer clear of these ones.

Hopefully John or some of the other Vriesea growers reading this can add a bit more advice specific to Vrieseas which are more in his area of expertise than mine.

All the best, Nev.
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jaga
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« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2016, 22:36:51 »

Hi Conrad, yes its very upsetting when this happens, especially if its your only plant. Cant really add much more than what Nev has indicated expertly above. Yes to much water can be a cause but for me this normally happens in our cold winters so don't see how that can be the case for you and vriesea are normally very free from disease so this is a bit of a mystery!. 4 possibles, 1 of which Nev alludes to is timber treatment poisoning 2 is more unusual but is the result of the plant being burnt out by the sun, 3 which has happened to me is a galvanized steel object such as a nail has fallen into the cup, and forth, a variety of tree that drops leaves that ferment in the cup causing rot (we have some trees here that do that) and I kind off get the feeling you have ruled out these as well. My advise is to pressure wash out all your remaining Vriesea and give them a antifungus spray. after that move them as the location could be the issue.

A photo of the cup of one of your surviving plants may hold some clues?

Cheers - John
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splinter1804
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« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2016, 02:31:59 »

Hi everyone.

John - Reading what you wrote has jogged my memory about other possible causes. Firstly when you say about "a galvanized steel object such as a nail has fallen into the cup" this would start out also as a chemical reaction/burn and progress to rot.

You could have the same result if some heavy object such as a fallen broken branch fell into the centre cup or a large dog treading on the centre of the plant. My daughter brought her large dog over one day and he ran through the garden chasing a stray cat and put his big foot right in the centre of a large Neo.  causing trauma to the plant which in turn eventually caused it to rot.

Your mention of fallen leaves accumulating in the centre cup brings to mind an article I once read where the cause was tracked to leaves from Bull Oak and She Oak (Casuarina) trees having the same effect. Although these trees are recorded as native to Australia, the Indian Subcontinent and southeast Asia, it is still possible they are also grown in South Africa.

There was also a discussion on this subject on the Gardeb Web Bromeliad Forum back in 2008 
(http://forums.gardenweb.com/discussions/1777116/saving-a-bromeliad-with-crown-rot)

Also there's an article in our April 2007  Brom Society Newsletter about "EXPERIMENTS USING UNWASHED BEACH SAND" for treating rot see: http://www.bromeliad.org.au/news/Ill0407.htm

So you see John. you really have jogged my old memory.

All the best, Nev.
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jaga
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« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2016, 02:46:49 »

Glad about that Nev!. Conrad what do you think about all this?
John.
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chefofthebush
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« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2016, 19:20:20 »

Thanks Nev & John. Great info.

No fungicides have yet been sprayed. I also do not use fertilizers containing copper wherever possible. No treated poles or metal above,

But I do have a very large flamboyant tree, Delonix regia, growing and providing most of the shade for my Vrieseas. If you know this tree you will also know it rains down tine leaves almost from the moment it starts to produce leaves until it is completely naked in winter. Leaf debris is in almost all my plants and until this year have not done any harm. Now what to do.

I will get a systemic fungicide that would help against soft rot. Dicloran seems to fit the bill....but I refer to your better experience please.

I cannot for now rinse out the plants as work has me locked up tight cooking up a storm. Furthermore I would also have to construct more tables to spread the plants out onto. The one person who helped me with construction of my tables to date has had a stroke and I will need to find other assistance.

Looking forward to your suggestions.

Conrad


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