The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Jan. 14, 2001


January, 2001

First Meeting of the Millennium!

Bromeliads for the New Century.

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


The 2000 Extravaganza: Plants and Pictures From The Bromeliad Extravaganza in Ft. Meyers If you didn’t make it this year, you missed what was probably the widest selection of bromeliads ever seen under one tent! Several large tents were set up for this event and every square inch of space was packed with bromeliads for sale. It was just overwhelming when you looked at the variety of plants available to choose from. I can only imagine that gamblers get the same feeling when they walk into one of the huge casinos in Las Vegas. So many choices, so little money in my pocket to spend! The banquet that evening was held in Terry Park and was all you can eat barbecue. This was followed by the rare plant auction(maybe the sales total was down from last year because of the incredible variety of plants available in the sales area?). The garden tours(one of my favorite parts of Exravaganzas) were just terrific and gave an opportunity to see the Kinzies’ nursery as well as Betty Ann Prevat’s collecton and grounds. Congratulations to the Caloosahatchee folks on a fine event!

Our meeting topic this month: Its always difficult for members to attend meetings out of town and the annual Bromeliad Extravaganza is no exception. Not only was it a long drive to Ft. Meyers, but there was an overnight stay involved. Instead of saying ‘you missed a great show’, we have brought the Extravaganza to you for the program this month in the form of slides of the garden tours and plants from the sales area. We can’t duplicate the banquet dinner, but all of the other elements are here! See you on Sunday the 14th!

Daytona Beach Garden and Flower Show March 15th through the 18th

It will be here before we realize – this year’s flower show at the Ocean Center promises to be bigger and better than ever! We will have a sales booth just like last year and will be putting together a bromeliad display around the theme "Rhapsody in bloom". If you have any ideas that you would like to have considered for the display, let’s hear them at this meeting. Also, if you haven’t given it any thought yet, start preparing your plants for entry in the flower show. There are many different categories that you can enter under for bromeliads. If you have an interesting multiple plant – that is a category that you can enter under as long as they are all one plant. Please, don’t enter three separate plants that you potted up in the same pot as a multiple. I haven’t seen many hanging basket bromeliad entries recently – there’s a category that you may want to consider. Of course, anything in bloom is sure to catch the attention of the judges, so let’s get those entries in this year! Plant registrations will be on Wednesday, the 14th of March.

Sugar Mill Gardens in Port Orange, in case you haven’t visited it recently, has an area where there is quite a variety of bromeliads. Unfortunately, they seem to have lost the name tags (in case you thought that you were the only one that this happened to) and are looking for some help in coming up with the appropriate names. Let me know if you would like to help – maybe we can even schedule a ‘work day’ in the Spring and clean up the bromeliad beds as a group activity.

Upcoming events:

3/15/01-3/18/01 - Daytona Beach Flower Show at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach

4/14, 15/01 – Seminole Bromeliad Society Show and Sale at the Sanford Garden Club

6/10/01 – Blossom World tour and seminars

10/21/01 – ‘Zoorama II’ picnic and bromeliad planting work project at the Central Fl. Zoo.

11/03/01 – Bromeliad Extravaganza at Leu Gardens in Orlando

Summer of 2002 – 15th World Bromeliad Conference hosted by the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society in Clearwater/St. Petersburg, Fl.

What’s Blooming-

Seven years ago I won a Pitcairnia spicata that was donated as a raffle plant(I understand its origins went back to a World Conference at some point). I didn’t know what to make of it at the time since it just looked like some tall grass in a pot – certainly not much of a bromeliad. Eventually I put it in the ground on the west side of my house and it has been growing there ever since. Every couple of years it sends up an interesting, but not spectacular bloom – tubular red flowers on a tall stalk. This year however, was P. spicata’s year to shine! The plant is much larger and robust looking than ever before and there are 4 bloom spikes coming out of my clump of "grass". Each one is ablaze with red flowers. Of course…then came the freeze…and all of the blooms were spoiled. The plants are ok-just some leaf damage, but the blooms are done!

November and December seem to be the months that many billbergias decide to bloom and many of their blooms are nothing short of spectacular! It’s just a shame that the bloom progresses so quickly and then fades away. If someone can ever come up with a way to make these blooms last longer, billbergias will become the most sought after of bromeliads.

Did’ya ever wonder?

When someone says a particular bromeliad is ‘cold-hardy’ or ‘cold-tolerant’ what does that mean?

To me, a truly cold-hardy plant doesn’t show cold damage in its foliage when it gets cold. That’s not necessarily the case with bromeliads despite what you may have heard. That cold snap before Christmas this year sent the temperatures plunging to 28F in Port Orange and the bromeliads that I left outside (with a few exceptions) are either keeling over or showing a lot of damged leaves. The truth of the matter is that this is another one of those terms like ‘full sun’, ‘filtered light’, and ‘partial shade’ that mean very different things to people in different locations. First of all, we need to distinguish among three very different circumstances:

1. Frost – We often get frosts in Port Orange during the winter months. Frost forms during those cool nights or early mornings when the humidity is relatively high, the temperatures are below 40 degrees and there is little or no wind. Frost damage on bromeliad leaves often doesn’t show up for some time after the event and manifests itself either as large brown areas on the leaf, browned leaf edges, or many tiny brown spots resembling pin pricks (I often find this type of damage on Aechme fulgens in its many forms) across the leaf. The damage is caused by the formation of ice crystals within the leaf, which then expand and cause the leaf cells to burst and die – resulting in brown areas where this occurs.

2. Freeze – Freezes occur whenever the temperature drops below 32 degrees (F). When temperatures drop further into the 20’s, this is almost always referred to by the weather man as a ‘hard freeze’. Freeze damage is more severe than that caused by a frost and often either kills the plant or ruins major portions of its leaves. The degree of damage is directly proportional to the number of hours the plant was exposed to freezing temperatures, so anything you can do minimize this time works in your favor. Often after a freeze plants will look fine for a few days and then just wilt and hang limply over the edge of the pot or rot off at the base and fall out of the pot. If you are lucky and the damage is not too severe the plant may surprise you with a showy bloom soon after the freeze or produce a number of offsets that will ensure the survival of the plant’s lineage. Too often, however a hard freeze is simply "the end of the line" for bromeliads and you have to begin shopping for replacements. This is not always such a bad thing either-it gives you a reason to acquire new plants!.

3. Cold - To me, anything below 75 degrees F is cold so this is a very subjective term. I’ve often heard that stag-horn ferns won’t survive temperatures below 50 degrees and that some orchids need help if the temp. falls below 60. While I don’t necessarily agree with these numbers, clearly some plant varieties are better at handling low temperatures than others and bromeliads are no exceptions.

At the other end of the extreme from the term ‘cold-hardy’ are the ‘cold-sensitive’ plants. These often show damage well before temperatures dip low enough to produce frost and include bromeliads having origins from the Amazon basin or other areas with uniform warm temperatures throughout the year. You can add plants in this category to your collection, but plan on moving them indoors, or to a green house when the weather man says cold weather is on its way! These plants simply can’t tolerate cold weather. To me, plants in the Ae. chantinii group are a good example of cold-sensitive bromeliads. Once the temperature drops into the low 40’s overnight, I find that I not only get leaf damage, but the plant seems to just lose all of its vigor. Offsets that should mature in a year or two may take three years or more before blooming (assuming they don’t experience more cold the following winter). Does that stop me from trying to grow Ae. chantinii ‘Ash Blonde’ and ‘Grey Ghost’? No, some people are just slower learners than others! Carol Johnson of the Pineapple Place used to say that if you wanted to have success growing bromeliads, stick to those that originate from areas of South America where the climate is similar to ours in central Fl. That’s good advice and a good reason to make use of our club library for looking into the particulars of each plant in your collection

Which plants are most likely to survive cold weather? There are many lists of cold-hardy plants out there that have been developed by hobbyists and commercial growers and occasionally there is even agreement over the plants that should be included. Generally, those that do the best in cold weather are the big spiny terrestrials like Ae. disticantha var. schlumbergeri or Quesnelia testudo. Florida residents have grown these in their yards for so many generations that they are often though of as native plants(which, of course, they are not). Many Neoregelias thrive in cold weather and actually develop their best coloration during the winter months. Surprisingly, the delicate looking Vrieseas hold up very well in cold weather. A large number of the Tillandsias are also quite cold hardy, but there are some very notable exceptions, so check the reference books before deciding to leave them outside when cold weather is predicted. Here’s a hint…unless you like shopping for T. xerographicas, bring this plant inside when the weatherman says we’re going to have a cold night!

Back to the question at hand – What’s a cold-hardy bromeliad? This is any bromeliad that your own experience has shown survives temperatures below normal for your area. Depending on the area that you grow your plants in, this may be occasional temperatures in the upper 30’s, mid 30’s, or even low 30’s. Once that mercury falls into the 20’s though, all bets are off!


Council of Garden Clubs calendar sales have been brisk, but there are still many more to sell. We need your help to make this a success (and there’s a $100 dollar bill to the club that sells the most calendars), so plan on buying some for yourself and your friends, neighbors, relatives. Still a steal at $6/calendar!