The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting February 8, 2004

1:30 p.m.

February, 2004

Every year in four…

President Mike Fink – 386/673-5450

Vice President – Linda Stagnol – 386/760-6842

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott - 386/761-4804

Treasurer - Ted Nuse - 386/673-2648


February isn’t supposed to have 29 days – it’s just not natural. This is always a mean, nasty month around here weatherwise and 28 days of it is quite enough thank you, so why do we have to put up with another 24 hours of this? Let’s just be done with it and move on into March. Somebody wasn’t thinking clearly when this whole LeapYear thing came around and it’s high time we made it right!

Seriously though, we’ve had a pretty mild winter so far and we’re due for at least a few days of potentially freezing weather, so be warned – this could be the month! Don’t put away those Christmas lights just yet. You may still need them to add a little warmth around your bromeliads. And don’t be in too much of a hurry to separate pups and repot. There’s plenty of time yet to do that before Summer begins, so there’s no need to rush things. Also, while we’re talking about the downhill side of Winter and the approach of Spring – be careful of your watering practices. These plants are not fully awake yet and will not be needing as much water now as they will in a few months. We’ve still got some cool nights and evaporation rates are much lower than they will be when the warm weather returns. This sets up ideal conditions for miscellaneous fungal and other rot organisms to attack the portions of your bromeliads below the soil line. Your first line of defense is observation. Observe your plants closely and notice how wet the potting mix seems to be and how long it stays wet. If the mix is wet already, don’t water it again just because it’s convenient to do so! Plants’ needs vary tremendously with their stage of growth. The same things can be said of fertilization. A little fertilizer at the wrong time of year can do more harm than good. That’s why it is often said when considering fertilizing bromeliads "when in doubt – don’t". Fertilizing, when done properly, can do these plants a world of good, but when done improperly, can also do a lot ofdamage. Observe your plants – then adjust your culture techniques accordingly. Have questions about this whole affair? That’s what our club is there for – bring your questions to the next meeting!

This month’s program: Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the latest, greatest, and most spectacular hybrid that we forget about some of the "wild" bromeliads – the plants often referred to as "species" plants. This group should be of particular interest to hobbyists in Florida since we not only have a number of bromeliads native to the state, but the continued existence of these plants is threatened by an invasive insect known as the Mexican weevil. The Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies has stepped up to the bat and taken an lead role in studying this pest and in investigating possible means of a biological control. Until recently the Council has been the sole source of funding for research in this area and they continue to play a major role in protecting our native bromeliads. Will they be successful? Will future generations of Floridians and visitors to the state be able to admire these plants in their native habitat or will the last representatives of these species be relegated to botanical collections? I’m afraid we can’t answer those questions, but we can learn about the weevil problem and do our part to help in the conservation of the native species. This month for a point of discussion we’ll have examples of most of the Florida native bromeliads for everyone to see. We also have the field identification cards for purchase. You may have seen these at past meetings – they’re full color photos of the each of the Florida natives in natural settings and can be very usefull in identification of these plants.

Election ’04

No caucuses, no primaries – just a simple election of officers for the year. The nominating committee will present their recommendations at this month’s meeting, we’ll entertain nominations from the floor and then we’ll vote for our officers. No televised exit polls and don’t be looking for any inaugural ball after the election, but if you get the chance after the meeting it would be nice if you would speak individually to the outgoing officers and thank each of them for a job well done!

Don’t be left out!

As much as we enjoy our activities in FECBS, we just can’t operate for free. We have a number of ongoing expenses (I just can’t convince the post office that the newsletter should be mailed to our members for free) and bills must be paid - that’s why it’s important that annual dues be paid on time. One of the great bargains of our time – a single membership is just $10.00 for a full year’s worth of meetings, field trips, parties, plants and newsletters. Still not convinced? Try a family membership – only $12.50!!! Now that’s a good deal! If you haven’t renewed already, please do so. We would hate to drop you from the roster.

Bromeliads from A to Z:

We finally made it through the ‘C’s in our ongoing discussion of the bromeliad genera- which brings us up to those prickly terrestrials, the members of the 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 horizontally from the base of the leaves rather than from the center of the rosette as in most bromeliads. Most of these are Spring of Summer bloomers in our area.

When selecting Dyckias for your home collection choose wisely and give some thought to the size you plant will ultimately attain. Some of these plants can be quite large and intimidating like Dyckia encholirioide - a 30" diameter beast from Brazil while others, like Dyckia marnier-lapostollei are full grown with leaves only 5" long –a much better behaved plant! Try planting Dyckia encholirioide by the entrance to your front door and be prepared to spend your spare time in small claims court paying for torn clothing. You may even find yourself on the "do not deliver" list of your favorite pizza place. All kidding side, these can be very interesting plants and the blooms are quite attractive. Many Dyckia species and hybrids are desirable additions to anyone’s bromeliad collection and are often seen in succulent collections as well.

Culture techniques for growing Dyckias are somewhat different from typical bromeliad growers recommendations. Always keep in mind that terrestrial bromeliads need to either be in pots or planted directly in the ground. Most attempts to mount Dyckias on pieces of driftwood will be doomed to failure. This is definitely not a group of plants that you will see mounted in seashells and adorning refrigerators.

Pots: These plants have very extensive root systems and need to be grown in a larger pot than one you might choose for a similarly sized epiphytic bromeliad, which may use the pot and mix only for support. In seems as though the roots begin poking through the drain holes in the bottom of your pots in no time at all, so be prepared to repot to a larger size container before things really get out of hand.

Watering: Although these plants originate from arid parts of S. America, they benefit greatly from generous watering schedules. This isn’t necessarily as easy as it may seem since the large number of spiny leaves may completely cover the surface of a pot – resulting in water quickly running off and never finding its way to the potting mix. You may also find that the roots completely fill the pot and water quickly passes down and out the drain holes with little or no retention. If either of these is a problem for you, consider placing the pot on a saucer and keeping water in the saucer. Just think of your Dyckia as an oversized, very spiny African Violet and you shouldn’t have any trouble at al.! Allow the plant roots to dry out though and you will be plagued by brown leaf tips!

Fertilizing: As you might expect from any plant that grows quickly, Dyckias respond well to a good fertilization program. They’re not very choosy about what kind of fertilizer to use, but these are some of the few bromeliads that don’t really benefit much from foliar feeding. Use a slow release type fertilizer in the mix instead.

Propagation: You’re going to hurt yourself separating these pups! They often don’t separate easily, they’re very spiny, and if you don’t stick yourself several times separating the pups, you’ll probably suffer a few punctures as you place the pup in a fresh pot and add the potting mix. Sort of takes the mystery out of why you so often see multiples in one pot at bromeliad shows, doesn’t it?

If you are interested in adding one or more of this interesting group of bromeliads to your collection, keep an eye out for D. fosteriana(nice silvery leaves, attractive bloom), D. ‘Cherry Coke’ (one of the nicer hybrids with bright red leaves), or D. choristaminea (small plant w/very thin spineless leaves – produces a nice yellow inflorescence w/fragrant flowers) or D. ‘Naked Lady’ (spineless hybrid w/thick, fleshy dark green leaves).

Upcoming Events

March 11th – 14th Everybody’s Flower Show at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach

March 20th,21st Kanapaha Gardens Spring Garden Festival, Gainesville

March 27th, 28th Leu Gardens Plant Sale at Leu Gardens, Orlando 1920 Forest Ave. 9am to 5pm. Show and gardens are free! 407/246-2620

April 3rd Volusia County Master Gardeners 6th Annual Plant Faire. 8:30am to 12:30pm at the Volusia County Fair Grounds.

May 8th, 9th – Central Florida Bromeliad Society’s Annual Mothers Day Show and Bromeliad Sale at the Florida Mall in Orlando(watch for details as the date approaches)

May 17-22nd Second International Orchid Conservancy Congress at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Fl.

August 9th-15th Sixteenth World Bromeliad Conference in Chicago, Illinois




Blue Star Marker – showing damage to top edge.

Blue Star Memorial Highway Program

This isn’t exactly ‘bromeliad’ news, but it is Halifax Council of Garden Clubs news. We’re, of course members of the Halifax Council of Garden Clubs (that’s how we get to use this neat house for our meetings) and the news is local so you may be interested: During WWII people in this country put a blue star in their windows if they had a serviceman overseas and a gold star if they had lost someone in the conflict. In the late ‘40s a program called the Blue Star Memorial Highway Program was started in New Jersey by the National Council of Garden Clubs to commemorate those in the armed services and involved the construction of highway markers showing that a particular road or highway had been designated a Blue Star highway by a sponsoring garden club. The program was quite popular and through the ensueing years spread to many other states – including Florida. Recently the Halifax Council of Garden Clubs was invited to apply for a small grant (whch we applied for and received) to beautify the Blue Star marker in the median of Ridgewood Avenue in Daytona Beach . Prior to the grant invitation we didn’t know that this marker even existed, but we looked for it and, sure enough, there it was – unrecognizable as a Blue Star Memorial marker because someone had cut the top of the marker off (possibly as a souvenir?). To make a long story short – the small amount received from the grant ($250) wouldn’t begin to pay for repairs or replacement, but over the past year we have researched the program, the options available to restore the marker and, most recently, placed an order with the orgininal foundry that makes these markers. With luck, the new marker may arrive before the Daytona Flower Show and we will be able to have it on display at the show. We may even be able to use it to solicit donations to help with the costs of installing this plaque at the original maker site.