The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Everybody’s Flower Show - Daytona Beach Ocean Center March 11-14th

MARCH, 1999

Winter’s over - Let’s get growing!

Now is the time to get to work on separating those offsets:

President - Jay Thurrott - 904/761-4804

Vice President - Bud Martin - 407/321-0838

Secretary - Bob Roberts - 904/446-8626

Treasurer - Ted Nuse - 904/673-2648


Well, Spring is here again - time to get started potting up those offsets and repotting those plants that have simply gotten too big for their britches! You probably have a few plants that are good candidates for repotting - you know, they’re showing those "subtle" signs that its time to repot. Here are a few examples:

1. Aechmea ‘Bert’ has decided to walk out of his pot - he has used an offset to give a little more leverage so that the entire plant, roots and soil are lifting out of the pot at a 30 degree angle.

2. Aechmea mexicana has pushed its roots out through the holes in the bottom of the pot and now has a death grip on the planks of my deck.

3. Several of my terrestrials no longer have anything resembling potting mix in their pots. There’s nothing there but roots - where did the soil go?

4. Some of my small Neos. Have formed such large clumps that there are fewer plants inside the pot than outside the pot. In fact, I’m not so sure that there’s still a pot in the middle of all that.

5. Five or six Cryptanthus babies have jumped ship and are trying to establish themselves on the ground and in neighboring pots.

6. Some of my recycled white plastic pots are self-destructing. There is no longer a top edge to the pot and the surface of the potting soil can’t be seen-its covered by little white flecks of plastic. Some of the roots have smashed their way right through the sides of the pots.

I know it’s time to repot. I have a mental picture of myself repotting these poor plants on a Saturday morning. I’ve got the pots ready, I’ve got the potting mix ready, I know the plants are ready... so, how come they’re not repotted yet? Well, maybe next Saturday... JCT

Don’t forget our goal of a donation of 5 plants from each member to offset the cost of the booth!

Check your calendar! Don’t forget - our Sarasota trip is planned for April 10 and 11, 1999. The plan is for everyone to be responsible for their own transportation on April 10th. We should plan on gathering at Tropiflora by late morning (I know, this means you late risers may have to get up a little earlier than usual!). The good folks from the Seminole and Central Florida Bromeliad Societies will be joining us there so this should be a lot of fun. Owners Dennis and Linda Cathcart have us pencilled in for this date and are looking forward to seeing us then. This is your chance to purchase bromeliads (and non-bromeliad plants) that you are not likely to find anywhere else, so start your wish list now. From there we will be staying overnight in Sarasota and visiting Marie Selby Gardens on April 11th. Selby Gardens, of course, besides being a world-class botanical garden is the home of the Bromeliad Identification Center(BIC) and is renowned for its bromeliad and orchid displays and collections - a real treat for the senses! Bring your families, friends, and neighbors. I’ve attached a rough map to this newsletter, but let me know if you need directions, a ride, or have any questions about the trip.

Washington Oaks Gardens - 10th Annual Earth Day Celebration - We’ve been invited again to have a booth at Washington Oaks on April 17th and 18th. Plan on attending - help at the booth, enjoy the gardens, good food, good fellowship...this is a great event! The gardens are north of Ormond by the Sea on A1A, just south of Marineland. Look on the west side of the road for the gardens. The Rocks park is on the east side of the road - you can’t miss it!



You’re certainly going to need pots and labels as your get your plants in order for show and sale - let us know what you need. We’ll get an order together and see if we can’t get a break on the pricing.



Back to Basics - Part 6

In the last issue we noted that many bromeliad fanciers tend to focus on one of two groups of bromeliads in their collections almost exclusively. We have already discussed the genus Neoregelia and some of its interesting features. This month we’ll take a look at another popular group - the genus Tillandsia.

Perhaps one of the attractions to this group of plants is that it is so misunderstood and, being misunderstood, there is the challenge of uncovering the truth about Tillandsias and learning about their proper culture.. What do I mean by "misunderstood"? Well, let’s start with the word "Tillandsia". Elias Tillands was a Swedish botanist who is best remembered, not for his outstanding contributions to the world of botany, but for having an irrational fear of bodies of water! Because of this affliction, he was known to travel great distances out of his way to avoid crossing any rivers or streams that were in his path. It’s probably not fair to say that he was a "laughing stock" in his time, but his eccentricity was widely enough known that when a newly discovered group of plants from the New World was reported as needing no water to survive (and, indeed, declined when watered at the same rate as many terrestrial plants) the unfortunate Dr. Tillands was honored by having his name given to this group of "water-fearing" plants. These remarkable plants soon came to be known as "air-plants" since they apparantly required nothing but air to survive. Of course we know this to be untrue today, but the knickname "air-plants" still is frequently used by the uneducated in reference to Tillandsias and, particularly in descriptions of those found in the Florida wilds.

Baensch’s marvelous book "Blooming Bromeliads" notes that there are over 550 species (the largest number of any of the bromeliad genera) and 90 varieties of Tillandsias distributed over an area ranging from the state of Virginia south through Florida into Central America and to the north of Argentina. This is an enormous habitat range and includes elevations from sea level to over 4000', temperatures from well over 100 degrees(F) to near freezing and humidities from the teens to 100%. And, if that doesn’t seem like a wide enough range of natural growing conditions, consider this: In some areas these plants can be found growing on bare rock, in others on desert sands, high on treetops in the direct tropical sun, and deep in the hot, humid jungles of the Amazon basin. Is it any wonder then that Tillandsias were dubbed "air plants" - they can apparantly grow anywhere! In fact of course, anyone who believes this is doomed to failure in cultivating Tillandsias. They won’t grow just anywhere and have established their wide habitat range by adapting to very specific growing conditions. Provide these conditions and you will produce a blue-ribbon plant, but if you attempt to force a plant that has had a background of thousands of years adapting to a totally differant environment, you are liable to have a dead plant on your hands!

What does this mean to the beginner or casual grower of bromeliads? If you want to enjoy immediate success, start by adding tillandsias to your collection that can be grown under conditions similar to those that you can already provide. You can do this by researching the natural habitat of each plant. If the plant is found growing on bare rock in the Andean cloud forests, you’ll have a hard time duplicating those conditions in Florida. On the other hand, if a plant is found under a wide range of conditions in a climate similar to that of Central florida (and there is an amazing array of Tillandsias that fit this description), you probably won’t run into any problem growing that plant to maturity.

Some examples to consider adding to your own collection include the following:

Tillandsia caput medusae - This is one weird plant! Easy to grow though and the bloom is a bonus. Highly variable in size depending on where it’s from, this "medusa head" has thin, twisted leaves covered with grey scales. Twisting is dependent on light and humidity.

Tillandsia neglecta - A small plant from the Rio de Janeiro area that grows on bare granite cliffs in intense light, and wind. T. neglecta has thin pale green leaves, purplish near the base and arranged in a slightly twisted rosette. Despite the name, don’t neglect it and you will be rewarded with a very pretty cluster of flared purple flowers on a short pink stalk. Soon develops into a nice cluster of plants.

Tillandsia ionantha - They just don’t come any cuter than this little guy. Generally these are small plants, 1-2cm diameter (a little under an inch) with greyish scales. The center and tips of the leaves turn bright red when in bloom and in most forms flowers with purple petals and yellow stamens rise 3-4 cm (a little over an inch) from the center. The plant (like most Tillandsias) responds well to a good fertilizer schedule and forms attractive clusters. There are so many varieties available that an interesting collection could be developed just of this one species!

Tillandsia ionantha v. ionantha is the most commonly available form. First described in 1855 this plant grows in moist forests as well as in more arid regions.

v. scaposa was at one time described as being the largest of the forms, becoming as much as 6" across. This is now called T. Kolbii(which is not closely related to T. ionantha).

v. stricta has bright red, erect and tightly suppressed leaves. The whole plant may blush brightly in bloom. Pamela Koide states that ‘Rosita’ is the same plant as ‘Stricta’. This variation is from Oaxaca, Mexico.

v. vanhyningii is a caulescent form first described by Mulford Foster in 1957 and named for Oather C. Van Hyning. The rosette is not as tight and upright as others. Found in the Chiapas state of Mexico on limestone cliffs. Leaf color is silvery pale green to white. The plant flushes pink rather than red when in bloom.

v. zebrina was described by B. Foster in 1982 after being found in Guatemala. Leaves are banded. This may be a form and not a variety.

T. ionantha ‘Cone Head’ has not been described, but is a large variety.

T. ionantha ‘Druid’ is another Mexican variety with yellowish leaves and white rather than purple flowers. Very expensive until recently.

Tillandsia ionantha ‘Fuego’ is a tiny Guatemalan form known as the reddest of the ionantha forms. Leaves are stiffer, more upright and stay red throughout its life.

Tillandsia ionantha ‘Hand Grenade’ is a very large form from Honduras. Reputedly a reluctant bloomer.

Tillandsia ionantha ‘Huamalula’ - another large form in an attractive spreading rosete from the West coast of Oaxaca, Mexico. Blushes pink-orange when in bloom.

Tillandsia ionantha ‘Peanut’ As the name suggests, a small form of ‘stricta’ with erect leaves forming a tight rosette. This is now known as T. ionantha v. stricta forma fastigata.

Tillandsia ionantha ‘Rubra’ is a cultivar from Guatemala with leaf tips that curl outward. Rose colored bloom.


Upcoming Events:

3/13/99-3/14/99 - Bromeliad Soc. Of South Fl. show and sale at Fairchild Gardens

3/26/99-3/28/99 Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay annual show/sale at Tampa Garden Center

3/11-3/14/99 - Daytona Beach Flower Show at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach. Let’s see those show-plants! Need transportation for you or your plants? Call Jay to coordinate arrangements.

4/7/99-4/8/99 - Sarasota Bromeliad Soc. Show/sale

4/10,11/99 - Field trip to Tropiflora Nursery and Selby Gardens in Sarasota.

4/17,18/99 - Earth Day Celebration at Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. We will have a booth for display and sale of plants again this year.

5/14,15/99 - Central Fl. Bromeliad Society’s annual Mother’s Day Show/Sale.

5/16/99 - FECBS monthly meeting at the Garden Center in Daytona. Meeting topic - Bromeliads and the World Wide Web. Guest speakers-Michael and Karen Andreas. Michael is the Webmaster for the Florida Council Webpage, so this should be a very interesting topic.





Dues is due! Some of you haven’t renewed yet (you know who you are!) We’ve got a brand new year started and and a lot of exciting club projects on the planning board - it’s time to pay your 1999 FECBS membership dues. Don’t be dropped from the roster!

What’s Bloomin’? Some local observations:

Aechmea ‘Foster’s Favorite

The Florida Native - Tillandsia utriculata

Billbergias - all sizes, shapes, colors

(it looks like a Billbergia festival)

Tillandsia bulbosa (small form)

Tillandsia dyeriana (one wild bloom- if you haven’t seen one of these, look on the cover of Baensch’s Blooming Bromeliads book)

Aechmea warasii v. discolor

Guzmania ‘superb’

Vriesea chrysostachys

Quesnelia testudo