Summertime and the growiní is easy!
Donít overdo it during these lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer -
Work smart - take advantage of the cool mornings, spend the afternoons with a tall glass of iced tea and admire your handiwork.
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
Summer is certainly here and if youíre like the rest of us, you know thereís a lot of work to be done in the garden, but you dread spending that precious weekend time out there in the heat and the humidity (we wonít address mosquitoes at this point). Donít let those sultry summer days ruin your enjoyment of growing bromeliads. Summertime in the South calls for a reassessment of priorities followed by a little "attitude adjustment" when it comes to work. OK, we all have a few plants that need separating and repotting - but how important is it that you dive into this task and stick with it until itís done? Instead, try putting in a few minutes in the morning and a few more in the evening each day. Youíll avoid the uncomfortable mid-day heat and thunderstorms, youíll complete the same task (so, it takes a little longer...so what?), and youíll have the late morning and mid-day free for other important activities - like contemplating world politics while swaying in the hammock and sipping on a mint julip. Slow your pace down as the temperatures rise, take frequent breaks, keep up on your liquid intake - summer doesnít really sound so bad now, does it? Enjoy it!
I recently had the pleasure of presenting a program on bromeliads for the Daytona Beach Orchid Society. Nice bunch of folks - youíld almost think that they were bromeliad people! Maybe its just "plant people" in general.
Back to Basics - Part 8 - "Leftovers"
Iím sure that Iíve already insulted someone with the title of this, my final installment of Back to Basics , and this being the "Age of Litigation" (according to Garrison Keilor), I have already alerted our clubís staff of attorneys to expect a lawsuit. In all honesty though, I really didnít mean to ignore the other genera in the Bromeliacae family. Itís just that these are somewhat less common than the groups weíve already discussed and that, in turn, means that you will not find many (or any) of these plants for sale in your local garden center. Weíre not necessarily talking "inferior" or "low-class" plants here - its more a case of plants that for whatever the reason may be, have not found a large commercial market. Take the genus Nidularium for example. This is an interesting group of bromeliads. The plants are easy to grow, quite cold-hardy, and often produce a very nice and long-lasting inflorescense. You would think that more people would be interested in them, but somehow they just havenít taken off in sales to the general public like Aechmea fasciata or many of the Guzmanias that seem to be turning up everywhere lately - from supermarkets to hardware stores to hotel lobbies. Probably a factor in the lack of acceptance by the public is the relatively slow growth rate that is characteristic of the Nidulariums. On the one hand, this is a nice feature for the hobbyist - you are not constantly beset by offsets to remove and pot up, but on the other, this can make these plants less attractive commercially than many others. Or how about the Quesnelias? When was the last time you saw one of these for sale at Home Depot? Yet there is no denying that Q. marmorata cv. "Tim Plowman" is a very attractive foliage plant with itís classical lines and strongly recurved leaf tips-it could be the model for a Greek vase. And many of us have Q. testudo in our yards. That fluorescent pink bloom in the Spring is a real eye-catcher, but there just doesnít seem to be much of a market out there for either of these plants. At any rate, Iíve taken this space to note some (some, not all - keep in mind that there are upwards of 52 genera of bromeliads) of the other interesting bromeliad groups...the "leftovers" from the previous 7 installments and provided a few examples of plants from each group that you may want to add to your collection. Yes, I know Iíve still left some groups out, but time and space simply donít allow for a more thorough description. Check with your local library for further reference materials - you may be pleasantly surprised by what they have on the bookshelves. Still canít find the information you want? Donít forget our club library - we have some terrific books in there that are out of print and not generally available to the public. A wonderful resource and one of your benefits from being a club member!
ACANTHOSTACHYS - This name is a combination of Greek words for "thorny spike" and "conelike fruit" which pretty well describes the two species making up this small group. The leaves are thin, very spiny and the infl. is not very showy, but these are interesting little plants and make a nice hanging basket.
Acanthostachys pitcairnioides The name means "resembling pitcairnia". The black-spined leaves are dark red in good light, 1.5í long and appear laquered. Small bright blue flowers appear at the base of leaves. Forms clumps readily
Acanthostachys strobilacea This name means "cone-like fruit". Thin leaves (to 3í) develop red color in good light. Leaf cross-section is nearly round! Produces a long stalked infl. w/small pinecone-like flower clusters of orange bracts and yellow flowers. From E. Brazil, Paraguay, and N. Argentina, higher altitudes. Very hardy plant.
CANISTRUM Variously described as originating from the Greek kanos which means basket or the Latin canistra for little basket. In either event, the reference is to the cluster of bracts and flowers on the end of the inflorescence - somewhat resembling a basket of flowers. The inflorescence is often described as resembling a tulip or lily. This is a small group of about 10 listed species of generally quite large plants, not often seen in cultivation. Some of the species are very attractive, however the large diameter of the rosette made up of long leaves heavily edged in teeth do not make this group of plants suitable for many hobbyists. All but one of these plants are native to Brazil. Cultural requirements are generally similar to those of the Nidulariums, ie. shady, warm, moist conditions.
Canistrum fosterianum Tubular plant found by Mulford Foster in Bahia, Brazil in 1948. Gray-green leaves to 2í long w/some spotting (and, often banding) on underside; densely covered w/scales. Small brown spines edge each leaf. Infl. barely clearing top of leaves is simple corymb (lily-like) w/red bracts, white or yellow flowers.
Canistrum triangulare Pale green leaves w/brown to black tips on small to medium sized plant. Often black blotches or speckling is seen on triangular shaped leaves. Bright red infl. , white flowers.
DYCKIA Named for Prince von Salm-Dyck. This group of terrestrial plants is made up of approximately 100 species found in the more arid regions of South America. Their stiff leaves are heavily armed with spines and arranged in a rosette. When in bloom, yellow or orange flowers are borne on tall, unbranched spikes that start from the base of the leaves rather than from the center of the rosette as in most bromeliads.
Dyckia fosteriana Small to medium sized plant w/spiral arrangement of spiny , deeply scalloped leaves that have silvery appearance. Bright yellow to orange flowers on tall spike. Spike rises laterally from between leaves rather than from center and bends upward.There is also a D. fosteriana v. ĎBronzeí w/thin bronze colored leaves.
Dyckia marnier-lapostollei Named for Julien Marnier-Lapostolle who discovered it in rock crevices in Brazil, first described in 1966.Very slow growing plant w/recurving leaves edged in dense backward pointing spines. Silver leaves. Mature plant is 10 - 12" across.
HECHTIA Name for Julius Hecht. This relatively small group of plants is very similar to the genus dyckia in appearance. All species are xerophytic and terrestrial in nature. Flowers are usually white and borne on a long, branched spike. The spike is offset from the center of the rosette.
Hechtia guatamalensis Small to medium plant, with broad, fleshy, recurving leaves, spined, quickly tapering to a point. Leaves are peach to red color. Tall infl. rises from center of plant w/white flowers on red spike.
Hechtia texensis Deeply scalloped leaves w/ an intense red color in sun. Can you guess this from the name?...native to Texas.
HOHENBERGIA This is a relatively small group of plants, not commonly seen in cultivation. Most Hohenbergias are quite large with sharply spined leaves. Inflorescences are usually tall and branched with flowers clustered in short, dense spikes. Bracts may be brightly colored, as in Hohenbergia stellata. Plants in this group may be epiphytic, saxicolous, or terrestrial and are found in the greatest numbers in Jamaica and Brazil.
Hohenbergia correia-araujei Tall (to 1.5m.) tubular plant w/brown and silver banded leaves and a white, scurfy infl. Discovered in 1979 and made available for first time in 1980 World Conference.
Hohenbergia stellata Large plant (3' tall). Infl is series of golf ball size spiky clusters of branches with bright red bracts, flowers are blue.
NIDULARIUM From the Latin word "nidus" meaning "nest" referring to the short cluster of inner leaves surrounding the flowers. Plants in this group all originate from Eastern Brazil where they are found in a high humidity, low light environment. This location makes them good candidates for Floridan collections. Nidulariums are considered to be easy to care for and generally quite cold tolerant. They are also somewhat slower in maturing than other broemeliads. Nidulariums are occasionally confused with Neoregelias, since they generally share the characteristics of low, medium sized rosettes of finely toothed leaves. Color develops in the center of the rosette and the surrounding leaves may become brightly colored. These leaves often rise somewhat above the rosette in nidulariums although in some varieties a lengthened stem develops bearing the flower spike.
Nidularium fulgens Medium sized plant with shiny, heavily spined light green leaves. Random dark green spots and blotches on leaves. Odd shaped leaves are narrow at base, flaring and then tapering back to a narrow point. Infl. has dark red bracts, blue flowers w/white edges to the petals
Nidularium innocentii v. innocentii "black Amazonian bird's nest." Large slow growing plant w/soft, dark purple to almost black wide leaves. In bloom, the center rises somewhat to display red bracts w/white flowers. Very cold hardy although leaves will show frost damage. Generous w/pups. Leaves are easily mechanicall damaged(sticks and acorns will do a real number on these!).
ORTHOPHYTUM Derived from the Greek words "ortho" for "straight" and"phylum" meaning "plant". Small genus containing 26 species. Name refers to the lengthening of the stem during flowering rather than the development of a distinct inflorescence as is common among the dyckia, hectia, and cryptanthus groups. Most members of this group have white flowers. Natural habitat of Orthophytums is confined to a portion of Brazil (Bahia, Minais Gerais) where they are found growing in full sun on rock ledges. Their leaves, and the prominant spines on them, are flexible and rubbery. Plants in this group tend to be very cold resistant, but require good light and adequate moisture to thrive.
Orthophytum fosterianum Medium sized plant w/short, triangular leaves. Infl. borne on tall stalk. Offsets form at base and also at end of infl. Spines are soft. Reputedly very cold resistant.
Orthophytum gurkenii Large plant for this genus. Wide, recurved brown leaves w/silver banding. Tall green inflorescence with clusters of white flowers set in axils of bracts.
Well, thatís it for the "Back to Basics" series. Next issue weíll take a look at preparations for Winter.
Itsís been a very good Spring for my plants and Iím seeing a lot of blooms out there. Right now Vriesea ĎSceptre DíOrí has a beautiful inflorescence as well as V. carinata. Summertime is also guzmania time. Thereís a snowy white bloom on G. Ďlunaí in an oak tree and, my favorite, the little G. lingulata v. minor is showing its bright red stars in several locations. Elsewhere, Tillandsia brachycaulis is looking embarassed and blushing a bright red and T. flexuosa v. vivipara is sending out an impossibly long bloom spike. I donít know whatís gotten into Aechmea gamosepala, but a few of them have sent up spikes as well. They seem a little confused - mine always bloom in November. My pineapples - both annanas comosus and a.bracteatus have formed fruit, so now its time to sit back and wait for the harvest. Whatís in bloom in your yard? Itís blooming and you donít remember what it is? Bring the plant in to one of meetings and letís see if we can pin a name to it!