The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next regular meeting Sunday, May 14, 2006


May, 2006

Spring is Here – It’s Time to Get Down and Get Dirty!

President Bradley Rauch386/767-8937

Vice President – Jay Thurrott – 386/761-4804

Secretary – Nina Leggett - 386/673-0550

Treasurer – Jim O’Shaughnessy - 386/253-0335


If you haven’t already noticed, look around you. There’s a fresh crop of leaves on the trees, the lawn is starting to grow again, and daytime temperatures are in the 80 to 90 degree range. Yep, it’s Spring alright! Daylight Savings Time kicked in again, so when you come home from work there is still enough daylight to work outside in the garden (unless you work the night shift). There is a lot of work to be done – things postponed through the Winter months, but now is the time to get busy!

This month’s meeting:

At the risk of boring some of our more experienced members, we’re going to have a "back to the basics" workshop. This is a good time of year to discuss the basics of growing bromeliads. We’ll go over separating pups, discuss what type of potting mix to use, review what type of pot to use and even go over how to properly fill out your plant tags. We’ll be looking for the more experienced members to contribute to the answers and for the inexperienced members to ask the questions, but it may work out to just the opposite! At any rate, plan on attending – there should be something for everyone!

Volusia County Master Gardener’s Sale

This year’s Volusia County Master Gardener’s Spring Sale was an outstanding success! Sales were excellent, the club made money, and it was all-in-all, a very pleasant way to spend a Saturday morning. Congratulations to Sudi – her plants sold very well. Sales like this one are an excellent opportunity to get rid of some of those extra pups that have been taking up space in your yard and a chance to make a little money to pay for your potting mix, pots and tags. Everyone comes out ahead! And a ‘thank you’ to Alan Bennett for the donation of a box full of Neoregelia McWilliamsii’s. Finally, we want to express our appreciation to the Aldrichs. The sale certainly wouldn’t have been the success that it was without the help of George and Irene – they arrived at the crack of dawn, put up canopies and tables and sold bromeliads non-stop all morning. Mark your calendars for this event next year. Fund raisers don’t get any easier than this!

Nomenclature part 2…"Plant Parts"

Time really has a way of flying by …or maybe it’s just that I’m having so much fun. In any event, January’s newsletter had an article on bromeliad nomenclature and the intent was to have a series of these articles. Here it is now – four months later and I’m just getting around to a second article in this series. My intentions were good, but we all know where that road paved with good intentions leads…

This month we’ll examine those words used in describing the parts of a bromeliad. Why? If you ever have the opportunity to read articles in the BSI Journal describing newly discovered bromeliads, you’ll encounter words that rarely come up in dining room discussions (or in bar-room discussions either, for that matter). These are words that, if you are unfamiliar with them, may leave you scratching your head wondering what on earth the authors are talking about. There is a method to this madness though. References to ‘thing-a-mabobs’ or ‘doo-hickeys’ don’t convey much meaning to the reader when the author means to describe some very specific structures on or within a bromeliad.

Let’s start this month from the ground and work our way up. What is bottom stem of your bromeliad called? It is the ‘caudex’ – a word used to describe the stem or trunk of any plant. As an example, if you enter a plant in a bromeliad show and the judges leave you a note saying to "cover the caudex", what they mean is that you should have set the plant deeper in the pot so that the bare stem is not showing and added more potting mix to cover it. As bromeliads grow and age their lower leaves usually begin to turn brown (unless you provide extraordinary care). Remove these old, dead leaves and you will find yourself looking at the caudex. Continue doing this long enough and you will have a bromeliad suspended on a thin, woody trunk Most bromeliads, mature, produce offsets and decline before any sort of stalk develops, but there are a few that can have a sizeable height to the caudex. An example of this would be Vriesea ospinae, which continues to grow upward and produce offsets until you have what appears to be a small shrub - very unusual in the bromeliad world. Plants that develop a pronounced stem like this are said to be "caulescent" – a feature seen more often in the Tillandsia genus than in other groups. Our next term refers to the base of each bromeliad leaf, where the leaf joins the caudex. This is known as the leaf "axil". Leaf axils are not only those places where leaves and debris lodge and decay, they are also the places where "offsets" or "pups" form and develop to perpetuate that particular line of bromeliads. It is often said that many bromeliads theoretically have the biological potential to develop offsets in every leaf axil. Fortunately, this doesn’t happen – otherwise we would be swamped with a surplus of pups (and you think it’s difficult to keep up with your plants now!). Of course, not all bromeliads form pups in the leaf axils – there are those that produce what many gardeners would refer to as "runners", but are more accurately called "stolons". These are woody , sometimes winding growths that produce new plants at their tips. Terrestrial bromeliads, like Bromelia balansae often produce stolons that travel a short distance underground before emerging to form a new plant while epiphytic

varieties like Aechmea orlandiana or Aechmea fosteriana use their stolons to wrap around branches. Roots stemming from the stolons can anchor the new plant so securely that it may be quite difficult to dislodge the plant from its perch without leaving the caudex (there’s that word again!) behind. Who cares about stolons? If you are interested in mounting bromeliads on driftwood or other interesting substsrates, the stolonifeous forms often make the best subjects for mounting. Do you have difficulty growing Aechmea orlandiana in a pot? Try mounting it on wood. You’ll be surprised how easy this plant is to care for and the stolons will continue to wind around the wood as additional generations of this plant are produced…and develop more stolons.

Photo below of Ae. fosteriana mounted on wood courtesy of the Florida Council of Bromeliads website.


Did you know…? Everybody’s Flower Show 2006, which closed on March 19th had 268 horticulture entries and was reviewed by panels with a total of 30 flower show judges.

While the Daytona Beach News Journal sponsors the Daytona Beach Flower Show (the venue that includes all of the vendors selling everything from pots and pans to orchids…but heavy on the pots and pans), the Halifax Council of Garden Clubs (of which we are a member) puts on the judged horticulture and floral arrangement show portion (known as Everybody’s Flower Show). Expenses by the Council of Garden Clubs ran around $800, but the News Journal offset these by making a very generous donation of $7000 to the garden clubs at the Council’s annual luncheon on May 1st.

Did you have an opportunity to see the recent bromeliad show hosted by the Bromeliad Society of South Florida at Fairchild Tropical Gardens? This is always an outstanding show and this year was no exception. The plants looked great and the gardens were breathtaking! The artist Dale Chihuli had glass scultures placed throughout the gardens in such a manner as to add to rather than distract from the lush tropical vegetations – a very nice exhibit! I should also mention that one of our members entered a bromeliad themed applique in the show that found its way to the head table and an award for best in that category. Congratulations Calandra!

What’s in Bloom? What’s blooming in your collection at the moment? Around my yard in Port Orange I am seeing a lot Vriesea spikes at the moment. – in fact, I can’t recall the last time I saw so many Vrieseas in bloom at the same time! Vriesea pardalina, a medium sized plant I acquired last year with some very interesting leaf markings really surprised me by producing a big, fat pendant inflorescence that is starting to open to reveal its flowers. Then there’s Vriesea poelmanii ‘Gloriosa’ - not a very big plant, but those orange colored feathers are very attractive. Vriesea ‘Florida Mischief’ is just beginning to send up an enormous red branched spike and those beautiful (and pricey!) Hawaiian hybrids of David Shiigii that I’ve been bringing home from world conferences are sending up their spikes – these plants are really the best of both worlds: beautifully marked foliage and beautiful inflorescences. What else is going on? Aechmea mertensii seems produce an awful lot of pups and these are all in bloom now along with Aechmea ‘Fia’. Numerous Guzmanias are blooming – these are a real problem for me. Many of these plants were given to me as unlabeled with the bloom spikes cut out, so it’s been a couple of years to even see what the blooms look like and even at that I really don’t know what their names are other than "nice purple one", "nice orange one" and "where did that come from?" Please try to keep your tags in order – it really is tough to identify some of these hybrids.

Looking ahead:


May 17 – 21

Florida Native Plant Society will sponsor the 26th Annual Conference at the Shores Resort and Spa (formerly the Hilton) in Daytona Beach Shores, 2637 S. Atlantic Ave. This will include a Plant Professionals workshop on May 18th at the Volusia County Fairgrounds (Volusia County Agriculture Center). It’s about plants, the location is nearby…what more do I need to say? For details and registration forms visit:

June 6 - 11, 2006
Bromeliads on the Border
17th World Bromeliad Conference
Town and Country Resort & Convention Center
500 Hotel Circle North, San Diego, California 92108

It’s not too late to register!

July 9th – July meeting of FECBS in Daytona Beach. Guest speaker – Dr. Terrie Bert of Bradenton.

September 30, 2006
Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies' Extravaganza - Presented by the Bromeliad Society of South Florida at the
Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center, in Miami. Physical address is:
500 SW 177 Avenue, Miami

Want to see Florida’s native bromeliads in their natural habitat? Take part in a rare plant auction? Take an airboat ride?

Visit a casino…or just lounge around the pool? This is the event for you – don’t miss it! You’ll be receiving more information in the mail as the date approaches.