The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next regularly scheduled meeting Sunday, January 13th, 2002 – 1:30p.m.

January, 2002

Happy New Year 2002!

President - Jay Thurrott - 386/761-4804

Vice President - Bud Martin - 407/321-0838

Secretary - Bob Roberts - 386/586-6221

Treasurer - Ted Nuse - 386/673-2648


How long is it going take before I get used to writing 2002 now? Usually I find myself writing the new year on letters and forms with no problem at all until along towards April or so and then, for some reason, I begin lapsing into signing the previous year again. At any rate, here we are with a brand new year and lots of exciting meetings and programs ahead of us. I can’t wait to get started!

This month’s program

It’s been quite some time since we’ve had a "normal" business meeting – what with field trips, workshops, parties and all…and we really do need to conduct a little business once in a while, so plan on this being a business meeting! We’ll follow this with the distribution of quite a few plants that David Partington has donated to us. These are great looking plants (some have even bloomed since I picked them up), but most are lacking a name, so we are going to kick off the N.T.P. program at this meeting. You take over custody of the plant, but in return, we want you to work toward naming that plant. Don’t worry, we have a lot of resources available to help you come up with a name. We’re not in a hurry, but at each meeting we want to hear how you are doing. Where do you begin? Let’s hear at the February meeting about what genus your plant belongs to! Then, in months to come let’s hear about color development in the leaves, how the pups form (on stolons? attached to the mother plant at the base?) what the bloom looks like until, finally…what name do we put on the tag?

Don’t forget Show and Tell – bring in what you have been growing and let’s hear about your experiences – both good and bad. This is a great way to help out fellow club members and help them avoid the same problems that you may have run into…and solved!

Did’ya ever wonder?

Why is it that after some winters with relatively mild temperatures some of my plants show cold damage, yet after other colder winters, the same plants show no damage at all?

This is one of those questions that can have several possible answers (beside the obvious "Cold, what’s cold? Anything lower than 75 degrees is cold to me") so let’s see if any of the following fit your situation:

1. It’s not the cold, it’s the frost. Aren’t you tired of that same whiny old Summertime "it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity" (makes you want to just slap somebody, doesn’t’ it)? Well, in the wintertime it isn’t just cold temperatures that injure bromeliads. Frost that forms during the early morning hours can severely damage leaves on many plants and frost can form at temperatures well above freezing depending on…the humidity! The answer to the question, then is that frost may form during cool days – even though overall, it is a mild winter. And, that frost may end up damaging your plants more than an overall cold winter.

2. It’s not the cold, it’s how long the cold lasts. Many, if not most of the bromeliads that we have in our collections can stand short periods of quite cold weather – and by that, I mean temperatures dipping into the low 30’s (keep in mind that 320F is the freezing point for water). It’s the number of hours that the plant is subjected to these temperatures that is important. This means that you could easily have a single "cold" day where temperatures fall into the 20’s for a brief time but returning to the upper 30’s with little or no plant damage. In contrast, several continuous days of temperatures in the low to mid 30’s will cause far greater damage to plants(that’s why bromeliads don’t grow in the wild in North Carolina).

3. It’s not the cold, it’s when the cold weather shows up. Often, if a cold winter sort of eases in - and by that, I mean that the weather becomes steadily cooler over a period of many days or weeks –tropical plants become hardened to the cooler temperatures and are better able to tolerate low temperatures without damage. In contrast, one of the worst situations for injuring bromeliads occurs when we have a warm Autumn followed by a long spell of balmy Winter weather - ending in a sharp drop in temperatures. The other scenario is when we have frost in the early Spring after a number of days of warm weather. Both of these conditions catch bromeliads at their tenderest and they are most likely to suffer cold damage. So, in answer to your question-a single day of cold weather in an otherwise warm winter can cause more cold damage to your plants than many cold days during a "colder" winter.

4. It’s not the cold, it’s the wind chill.

I’ve always heard that the "wind chill factor" is something created by Florida’s Chamber of Commerce to make snowbirds feel that much more smug when they hear weather forecasts for their home towns back up North. Actually however, the wind chill is intended to give a more realistic picture of what outside temperatures feel like when you combine the actual temperature with the wind speed. Obviously, low temperatures feel that much colder when they are accompanied by gale-force winds. This wind chill factor concept is important also to tropical plants, but for a different reason. Our soils act as reservoirs of heat when sudden blasts of cold air pass through. Plants either in the ground or in pots on the ground benefit from the radiant heat that continues to rise from the soil for quite some time after air temperatures plummet. When cold weather is accompanied by moderate to strong winds, this radiant heat is quickly dissipated before our plants can draw any benefit from it. This can easily result in a situation where cold damage is seen in plants exposed to moderately low temperatures and strong winds. In contrast, plants may be well protected by higher soil temperatures even during brief periods of very low temperatures as long as they are protected from the winds.

Well, there you have it – four possible situations where plants can suffer more damage during mild winters than colder ones. Feel free to pick any of these that may apply to you.

Frank Cowan 1928-2001

Frank Cowan died at his home on November 28th. It’s never easy when a club member passes away. How can you summarize someone’s entire life in a few sentences? In this case we’re talking about someone who was a founding member of the Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society, someone who was always there to help out at shows and sales, someone who freely gave of his time and his knowledge of plants, and someone who shared those plants with everyone. I don’t think there is anyone in our group who doesn’t have some of Frank’s plants in their collection. Frank was more than a club member and a friend. He was a treasure and will be sorely missed.

Daytona Beach Garden Show

As you know, the Daytona Beach Garden Show, aka Everybody’s Flower Show will be going on from March 14-17 this Spring. For those of you who haven’t been involved before, this is really a fun event. It’s a chance to enter some of your best pampered plants in the show and a chance to help out your club by manning the sales booth or donating plants for sale. This year’s show theme is "America the Beautiful" so I think we can expect to see a few flags and a whole lot of red, white and blue themed entries in the floral arrangements. Once again we will be doing a club display, so please bring any thoughts and suggestions to the next meeting. Also, the hours the show will be open (read this as the hours that we will be staffing our sales booth) have changed this year to 10a.m. to 6 p.m. except on Friday when it will be open until 9 p.m. Admission (unless you have a pass to work in the booth) is $3 per day. Parking is the same as last year – bad. If you use the parking garage it’s $5/day. If you park where you shouldn’t you’ll get a ticket. We may want to consider parking elsewhere (for free) and car-pooling to the Ocean Center…or buying a parking pass and sharing it as we come and go…or riding a bicycle…or…let’s hear your ideas at the meeting!

Now, here’s the cold hard facts concerning this show – every year the cost of a booth for plant sales goes up from the previous year. This year was no exception. What this means to us is that we must sell a large number of plants before we even break even on the cost of the booth. At some point we may have to say "no" we won’t be participating in the show because the cost is too high. Next year may be the time to say goodbye to the Ocean Center and put on our own show and sale (like most other clubs). What do you think? Let’s hear your comments at the meeting.

Upcoming events:



March 14th – 17th, 2002 – The Daytona Flower Show at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach

April 27th and 28th, 2002 – Sarasota Bromeliad Show

May 14th-19th, 2002 -15th World Bromeliad Conference will be held at the St. Petersburg Hilton Hotel.

September 6th and 7th, 2002 – Extravaganza hosted by FECBS (that’s us!) at the Daytona Beach Resort, 2700 N. Atlantic Ave. in Daytona Beach.

What’s blooming?

"Everything." That’s what the Aldrich’s report – everything seems to be blooming at the moment and, I’ve got to say – there is quite a variety in bloom in my yard right now! Where do start?…how about with the letter ‘A’…Aechmea warasii discolor always seems to come into bloom in time for Christmas and this year is no exception. The plants are a little rough looking after bearing the brunt of a squirrel attack last Spring (I’d like to be able to say I called in an "air strike" to take care of this, but I think the hawks came in on their own initiative). That’s ok though, the bloom is good looking and always a joy to see. Of course Ae. gamosepala is still in bloom with its colorful ‘matchstick’ inflorescence. I always look for this in November and it stays looking nice into December. Ae. ‘Jackson’, a nice, really dark-red hybrid that I mounted on a piece of our mailbox that got mowed down (sort of a ‘living memorial’) is showing those great contrasting orange berries and dark blue flowers …On to the ‘B’s…It’s been a real Billbergia festival lately-and I don’t really have that many in my collection. Of course, by the time you realize what’s going on, the bloom has gone with most Billbergias but this year there really are a lot of different Billbergias blooming at the same time. At press time I’ve had B. nutans, B. chlorosticta, B. ‘Windii’ (but not B. ‘T.L. Meade’- are we sure they are the same plant?), B. ‘Manda’s Othello’, B. ‘Fantasia’, and B. ‘Ken Allen’ all in bloom. Moving ahead in the alphabet, Pitcairnia graffii (a seedling started from the BSI Seed Fund) is starting to bloom for the first time…and it’s about time! I hope it’s worth it. And what’s going on with Quesnelia testudo this year? That’s 2 to 3 months early! Finally, there’s my favorite, the Vrieseas. It doesn’t really seem fair to report on them blooming since the bloom lasts nearly all year – I’ll just wind up repeating myself. Looking out the window at the moment I can see V. carinata, V. saundersii, V. poelmanii ‘Gloriosa’, and V. incurvata all showing their colorful spikes. These plants really look great and they’ll stay looking great for a long time.