The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, February 10 – 1:30 p.m.

February 2008

How Many More Weeks of Winter?

President Nina Leggett - 386/673-0550

Vice President – Joan Campbell – 672-7382

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott – 761-4804

Treasurer – Evelyn Santus615-1138


It’s been a mild Winter so far. Granted, we’ve had a couple of close calls where temperatures dropped into the 30s (F), but all in all, it’s not been a bad one. Just the same, I’ll breath a little easier once we get past the next few weeks. We’ve had a bit of rain this past month and that, combined with the cool temperatures makes conditions just right for rot organisms to get started. Check your plants for early signs of this and don’t hesitate to repot them into fresh mix if you begin to notice brown portions at the bases of leaves. From now until Spring is the time when I am most likely to lose plants to this problem. If you have comments or suggestions on how to avoid this, let’s hear them at the next meeting!

Last Month’s meeting saw a change in officers …and you will find their names and telephone numbers above. If you have questions regarding FECBS, just give them a call and they’ll be glad to help you.out.

We had a lot of interesting and exciting suggestions at last month’s meeting – everything from suggested speakers for future meetings to destinations for field trips - realistically, though I don’t think our treasury can support that space shuttle ride thing. I think we actually had more suggestions for meetings this year than we have scheduled meetings, so I think that some of those ideas will have to carry over into 2009.

One comment that came out in the meeting is that there are some members who would prefer to receive this newsletter electronically. Good idea and I’ll be glad to accommodate anyone who would like this (as a bonus, you will be seeing pictures in color instead of just black and white!). Just send me an email to this effect and I will add you to the list. My email address is


This month’s meeting…

What if you found yourself in a situation where you could keep only one bromeliad –what would that bromeliad be? Everyone has their favorites. I know my favorite is usually whatever happens to be blooming at the time…but think about this for a while. What is your one favorite bromeliad…and why? Maybe it’s not even a plant that you currently have in your collection! Or, maybe it’s the first plant you acquired and have a particular fondness for. Whatever the reason, bring your favorite bromeliad with you (if possible) this month and let’s hear why you like it – this should be pretty interesting!

Dues for the New Year – a gentle reminder

That’s right, it’s that time again. We may all work for free in this organization, but the bills still need to be paid! Don’t let your membership expire. It’s $10 for an individual, $12.50 for a family. Please see our Treasurer either before or after the meeting to ensure that your membership stays current.

Back to Basics – "B" is for…

I think it was at last year’s Master Gardener’s sale that I heard someone say "I really like these plants, but where do they get those names?!" I don’t know if she was referring to some of the more colorful hybrid names (like "Norman Bates" for example or maybe "the Governor’s Plea"), but if she meant the Genera names – there are good reasons why they are what they are.

Last month we discussed some of those pointy varieties where the Genus name came from the Greek for ‘spearpoint’. Very appropriate. This month we’ll visit a Genus named for an early Swedish botanist - Gustav Billberg. Presumably, if his name was Joe Schmoe we would be discussing Schmoeias, but fortunately it wasn’t, so this month we are discussing Billbergias. Most plants in this group originate in eastern Brazil, although others are found in areas ranging from Argentina to Mexico.

Billbergia ‘Ken Allan’ – one of the longer lasting bloomers among this Genus.

Although some species and hybrids have been cultivated in Florida and California gardens since the early 1900’s, there are no Billbergias native to the continental United States. Some plants in this group are considered quite cold hardy, but those in the subgroup called Helicoides are quite the opposite and need to be protected when the temperatures plunge in Winter. The other subgroup (Billbergia) is distinguished from the Helicoides in the way their flower petals open. Helicoides have petals that appear "spring-loaded", coiling under themselves when the flowers open. Flowers in the other group simply flare outward when opened and often are tipped in a color contrasting with the main petal color. Plants in the Genus Billbergia are sometimes referred to as "10 day wonders" - a reference to the extremely brief (for a bromeliad) duration of the inflorescence. Another defining characteristic of Billbergias is the few number of leaves that form a very upright rosette. If you are ever asked to identify an unknown bromeliad, ask first how long the bloom lasts. If the answer is "not long – only a couple of weeks", your next questions should be "are there only a few leaves and are they in an upright, tubular form?" A yes answer to both questions usually means that you have a Billbergia.

Unknown Billbergia from R. Temple collection.

Possibly B. ‘Pink Patches’?

Billbergia species plants often are not very colorful until they begin to bloom (at which time they produce an extremely attractive display). For this reason, this Genus was not an especially popular one until Don Beadle arrived on the scene with his exciting hybrids sporting interesting leaf colors and markings. Don is no longer in the business, but his legacy continues with beautiful (and pricey) Billbergia hybrids with exotic names like ‘Hombre’, ‘Poquito blanco", and ‘Tequila sunset’- to name just a few. Every bromeliad enthusiast needs to have at least a few Billbergias in their collections and who knows – you may get bitten by the Billbergia bug like Mr. Beadle and find that you just can’t get enough of them. Some possibilities you may wish to consider include B. sanderiana, a medium sized species plant with soft black spines on green leaves that are speckled in dark red. Another interesting species plant that is quite small is B. leptopoda. This plant has light green, white-spotted leaves with a characteristic backward curl at the tips. Hybrid choices are nearly limitless, but should include B. ‘Hallelujah’ - a dark base colored plant with white blotches and spotting or B. ‘Raspberry Cheesecake’ – a plant with the coloration of…you guessed it!

Make a place for Billbergias in your collection. The bloom may not last long, but it is often spectacular!


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Upcoming Events:

February 17th

Stay off the streets – traffic will be impossible: it’s the Daytona 500 and we’re expecting a crowd!

March 8th and 9th

Azalea Days at Ravine Gardens State Park, 1600 Twigg St., Palatka. Plants, arts and crafts, history, food and music. (I know…this isn’t about bromeliads, but this is a really neat place and if you happen to be looking for something to do this weekend, take a drive to Palatka and check it out!)

March 13th -16th

Everybody’s Flower Show in Daytona Beach, Ocean Center. Our group has volunteered to move properties for the show from the Garden Center to the Ocean Center on Tuesday, so please give us a hand on the 12th and again for their return on Sunday the 16ht

March 29th and 30th

Annual Leu Gardens Plant Sale at Leu Gardens in Orlando. 1920 N. Forest Ave. Free Admission 9am to 5pm

March 29th and 30th

Kanapaha Gardens Spring Garden Festival

9am to 6pm Sat., 10 -5 on Sunday. Gainesville

March 29th

Herb Faire – Seaside Herb Society Free admission 10am to 3 pm at the Riverbridge Meeting House and Gardens at Granada and North Beach St….can there possibly be anything else going on this weekend?

April 5th

Volusia Master Gardener’s Spring Plant Sale, Volusia County Fair Grounds at 3100 E. New York Ave. in Deland. Morning only – this is a half day sale only. This will be the

5th consecutive year that we have participated in this event and it just keeps getting better!

April 19th and 20th, 2008

Two great shows and sales this weekend. Some day I’m going to try to catch both of them, but I’ll probably have to settle for either one or the other this year. If you are in the Miami area you won’t want to miss the annual Bromeliad Society of South Florida show and sale at Fairchild Tropical Gardens. Great show, great setting, great sale! If you are on the west coast of the state this same weekend, you must go to Selby Gardens for the Sarasota Society’s show and sale. Selby is the home of the Bromeliad Identification Center and the BSI world headquarters, so it’s no surprise that this is always one of the premier events in the bromeliad world. Which one should you pick? They’re both outstanding events – you decide.

June 24 - 29, 2008
18th World Bromeliad Conference
WBC 18 - "Bromeliads Down Under"

Cairns, Australia