The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, January 11 – 1:00a.m.

January, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

President Joan Campbell – 672-7382

Vice President – Jerry O’Keefe – 407/767-2442

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott – 761-4804

Treasurer – Eve Krauth – 763-2084


2008 was a good year for FECBS and I expect nothing less from 2009 – our membership has been increasing, our Treasurer has kept the club solvent (hooray!), and we have a slate of officers ready to take on the challenges of the New Year. It’s a very healthy sign for a club when there are members ready and willing to take on the responsibilities of leadership – thank you officers for volunteering to serve during this year!

Traditionally, this is a time to set goals for the year, to establish "resolutions" stating what you intend to do and what you intend to avoid during the upcoming year. What sort of New Year’s resolutions can you, as a bromeliad enthusiast make for 2009? Here are a few samples for your consideration:

I will share the excess bounty of my collection with fellow club members this year.

Left to themeselves, bromeliads have a way of multiplying quite quickly. Usually, there is a limited amount of space available to keep your bromeliad collection and it doesn’t take long between new acquisitions and pups from existing plants to fill that space. Consider bringing some of those excess plants in for raffles at the meetings or bring your extras in for sale at a sales event and make a few dollars in the process!


I will take better care of my plants this year.

This seems rather obvious – there’s always something that you can do to improve on your horticultural practices. Yet, how many of us continue with the same mistakes…and with the same ill effects on our plants. If you tend to lose plants because of soggy media – do something about it! Change out the media to one that drains quicker. If your plants suffer from lack of water – change out the media to one that holds water better…and water your plants more often. Are your colorful Neos. looking washed out? Move them to a lower light location. Are the leaves looking green and strappy because they are not getting enough light? Move them to take better advantage of the light that you have available. Do you keep having trouble with one particular plant? Try something new in its care. Try a different potting mix, a different spot in the yard. Bromeliads are often said to be a group of plants that survive a great amount of neglect, and that may be true but you don’t want your plants to simply survive – you want them to thrive. So, pay more attention to their needs. If you don’t know how to care for these plants and want to learn more about bromeliads…that’s what we’re all here for and that’s why the club was formed! We’re all here to learn…and maybe have a little fun in the process.


I will build a _________ this year (fill in the blank with ‘shadehouse’, ‘greenhouse’, or other enclosure).

If you have the available space, a protective structure for your collection of plants is a wonderful thing to have. What better way to keep leaves and other debris out of your plants?...and a shade house can be as simple as several poles set in the ground and draped with shade cloth – or as fancy as you want to make it. The only limit is your imagination…and, of course, your bank account. I’ve seen everything from a tent-like structure with a clothes pole as the center and shade cloth radiating out from that center, to professionally erected greenhouses costing many thousands of dollars. And you know what? They all work well and their owners are all proud of their structures. Talk to your fellow club members if you have something in mind, but need a little help in assembling it. I’m sure there are many of us who would be glad to help out – just ask!

I will attend at least one judged bromeliad show in the state.

Each year there are a number of standard bromeliad shows held at locations around the state. Yes, some of them are quite a long drive away, but what better opportunity to see both the common and the more unusual varieties of bromeliads at their best? Have you ever wondered what an optimally grown example of a plant in your own collection should look like? Of course, not all plants entered in a standard show are top award winners. If you see a plant that looks like one in your collection and it only received a red ribbon, here’s a chance to ask about what the judges felt was lacking in that plant. A bromeliad show is a excellent learning opportunity. We can discuss certain plants at our meetings and our library books have many pictures, but that’s just not the same as seeing the plants in a show setting, evaluated by trained and experienced judges. Go to a show – you’ll be glad you did!


I will not only attend, but I will volunteer to help out at club meetings and events and will accept any invitation to serve as an officer next year if asked by the nominating committee.

Every club has its core of dedicated volunteers who are there for every event and are willing to take on the responsibilities of serving as officers in the club…and every club has its group of "hangers-on" who bring home plants from the raffle, but never donate any and are there for the refreshments at club meetings, but shy away from the responsibilities of participation or any form of leadership. The challenge for every club is to encourage its members to progress from the second group to the first. Clubs that are truly active, vital organizations are successful in this challenge while others stagnate with the same handful of workers who reluctantly trade officer positions each year and ponder why their roster continues to shrink. FECBS has been very fortunate to have a larger than typical representation from the ‘first group’ who have been ready to volunteer when asked and who haven’t been afraid to take on added work and inconveniences as they move up through the ranks of the officer postions. We’ve had a smaller than typical ‘second group’ and I think that’s why our meetings have been so well attended and so enjoyable for everyone. If I were forced to make a prediction for the upcoming year, it would be that 2009 will be a good year for FECBS. Membership will continue to grow (but hopefully, not too much!), the monthly meetings will continue to be informative and fun for everyone involved, and our members will be growing even better looking bromeliads than last year! Happy New Year everyone!

Last month …

was our annual Christmas party and, as usual, everyone had a good time. This year the club members did an outstanding job decorating packages for the gift exchange. It was a tough decision judging them, but President Joan Campbell once again won the prize for best decorated gift in the plant exchange. Where does she get these ideas? A paper mache reindeer with a plant in its belly is not the sort of thing you see every day!

Lunch is served!

This lovely snow scene is actually a decorated gift plant.

The sprinkler can held a Cryptanthus dish garden

A new Ae. ‘Blackjack’ for Brad.

This month’s meeting…

Our Vice President is putting the finishing touches on his schedule and it will be in the newsletter when it’s completed. This month we’ll be having an enhanced Show and Tell where we can not only "ooh and aaah" at the plants, but also discuss how we grow these plants in the East Central Florida area - including what problems we run into with them. Please consider bringing in one or more of your bromeliads for what is sure to be an interesting discussion on horticultural techniques in general and those specific for this area!

A Return to Basics –Last month we looked at the Pitcairnia family. This month we’re going to stay with the letter P and spend a few minutes with the Genus Portea (pronounced ‘por-T-a’ rather than ‘por-sha’- like the German sports car), named in honor of the French naturalist Dr. Marius Porte. Dr. Porte did a bit of exploring in the mid 1800s not only in S. America, but also in Singapore and in the Phillipines where he died in 1866. Like many of the early explorers, Porte’s travel costs were paid by collecting plants for a sponsor, the horticultural firm of J. Linden. (Source: Flora Malesiana ser. 1, 1: Cyclopaedia of collectors). Primarily recognized for his work with orchids, (the Phaelenopsis orchid P. schilleriana was first collected by Porte during one of his expeditions) Porte published a book on some orchids that he encountered in his travels. The Genus Portea is a much smaller group of plants than the Pitcairnias (which are second only to the Tillandsias in representative species) and according to the Bromeliad Binomial currently includes just 9 species – so if you have any aspirations toward collecting all of the bromeliad species in one Genus, this might be one to consider. All natives to the east coast of Brazil, Porteas tend to be medium to large plants that are the happiest in strong light. The foliage is often quite decorative although heavily guarded with sharp, dark spines. Since they are native to an area in S. America with a climate that is not too different from our own, Porteas generally do quite well around here. In our area you are most likely to see Portea petropolitana var. extensa, a very nice plant for the yard (a little too big for pot culture). The "extensa" portion of the name refers to the branches of the inflorescence being relatively long – a feature that makes the bloom even more striking. The plant produces a very nice, tall bloom of lavender flowers followed by dark purple berries that is long lasting and sure to catch the eye. We’ve had a clump of these in our yard in Port Orange for quite a while now and, although the leaves are often damaged when we have a frost, the plants usually survive and produce another great bloom in the late Spring. If you have a little room in your yard, Porteas are a good choice for our area.. Photo below from Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies website:

Presidents Corner

Our current New Year's weather reminds me again why I love Florida.  The temperature is in the teens and 20's in my home state of Tennessee.  My shed here is filled with pots and promise and these summer-like days are a drawing card to forget the dusting and go "dig in the dirt".

     This month we are having a Swap / Identify meeting.  Something new for our club members.  Please bring 1- 3 of your pet Bromeliads to trade.  Established pups would be fun also since a number of us spend our early Fall months separating our prize pups.  Jerry has suggested that you bring Bromeliads you don't have a name for so Jay can identify them both for you and their new owner.

3 plants maximum please.  Let me know if you like this month's meeting so we can grow from here.

                                                     See you there




Upcoming Events:

Jan. 31, 2009 – Annual garage sale fundraiser for the Halifax Council of Garden Clubs at the Finney Garden Center 9 – 2pm. Please donate items that you think may sell-including plants.

March 28 (9am-6pm) & 29 (10am-5pm), 2009 – 19th Annual Spring Garden Festival at Kanapaha Gardens in Gainesville.

April 4, 5, 2009

Broward County Bromeliad Society annual show and sale at the Plantations Women’s Club – more details to follow as they become available.

April 4, 2009

Volusia County Master Gardener’s Spring Sale. Half day only – at the Volusia County Fairgrounds.