The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, May 13th – 1:00p.m.

May, 2007

Happy Mother’s Day!

President Bradley Rauch386/767-8937

Vice President – Nina Leggett - 386/673-0550

Secretary – Joan Campbell

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


This Month’s Meeting – The suggestion was made at the last month’s meeting that since the club’s income from the Master Gardener’s sale was very good, we should do something for the club and in particular, something for the mother’s in our group in honor of Mother’s Day - so, of course, food came to mind. The plan at this point is to purchase trays of lasagna and appropriate accompanyments. Don’t worry about bringing anything but yourself and, since our usual meeting time is a little late for some folks who like to eat earlier (and we know who we are), we will be starting this meeting at 1:00pm ( a half hour earlier than normal). Please take note of this time change.

Besides the food, the program this month will be a slide show of one of the premier botanical gardens in Florida – Selby Gardens in Sarasota. It’s a long drive to Sarasota from here, so we will bring the gardens to you and you can relax with your food and enjoy the "Sights of Selby". As usual, this should be a great meeting – don’t miss it!

Last Month’s Meeting - For those who missed last month’s meeting, it only seems appropriate to provide a brief recap. Lot’s of interesting plants were brought in for Show and Tell, lots of interesting plants were donated for the plant raffle (I think everyone came away with a new plant to add to their collection), and Nina’s program on "Bromeliad Basics" had something for everyone –whether you are a novice or experienced grower! Thank you Nina for an excellent program! I think it’s a good idea to take a step back every now and then to review basic culture methods especially with the number of new members that have been joining our group…and that brings us to our culture tip for this month:

Culture Tip for the Month

Most of the information that is given on growing bromeliads focuses on light (what’s too much and what’s too little), watering practices (how to distinguish between a plant rotting off at the base and one shrivelling up like a mummy), fertilization (when in doubt, don’t), and the right potting mix (here’s a hint – they all work!). What is often overlooked however, is the pot that serves as a home for most of each plant’s life. You may hear that you can use any pot that’s available for your bromeliad and that’s generally true, but there are some major differences in the types of pots available and you will do well to match the pot with your growing conditions and the plant that you wish to house.

Types of pots

You have three basic choices for type of pot to use: plastic, terra-cotta(Italian for ‘baked earth’ - which is a good description for unglazed, but kiln-fired clay), and decorative (other). Plants are typically seen in plastic pots at plant sales and in the home and garden sections of "big box" stores…and for good reasons.

    1. Plastic pots are inexpensive
    2. Plastic pots retain moisture in the potting mix and, therefore plants in these pots don’t require watering as frequently as those in terra cota
    3. Plastic pots are not as fragile as other materials and can be handled frequently with little breakage.

Standard plastic flower pots

For these reasons, plastic is usually the best choice for hobbyists and commercial growers alike. If you are entering your plant in a show, however, you should keep in mind that all plastic pots are not viewed as equals. Plastic, like you might expect, comes in many colors and only a few are viewed as ‘standard’ in a show. This means that although fluorescent pink is certainly distinctive and bright yellow catches your eye, these colors will not be accepted in a show category where the emphasis is on the plant and not on the pot. Also, for those of you who struggle to provide sufficient shade for your plants, keep in mind that a black plastic pot in the noon-day sun can develop enough heat to cook the potting mix and anything that is planted in it while a white plastic pot may reflect enough of that solar energy to provide some protection for your plant.

Rolled rim terra-cotta flower pot

If you are prone to forgetting to water your plants, plastic pots are for you since moisture does not pass through the pot like it does with unglazed clay. On the other hand, if you are someone who frequently overwaters plants, terra-cotta can be an advantage. Water ‘wicks’ through terra cotta and then is lost to evaporation. This not only reduces moisture in the potting mix, it also cools the plant in the process. Terra-cotta pots are also much heavier than plastic, which is often an advantage when selecting a pot for a large bromeliad that is prone to tipping over in a light wind. Incidentally, both terra-cotta and plastic pots come in a ‘tall form’ that’s especially handy for those terrestrials like dyckias and hechtias that need a little room for their sometimes massive root systems as well as a ‘short form’, (often called "bulb pots" or, sometimes "azalea pots") that is quite appropriate for those bromeliads that don’t have much of a root system.

Decorative flower pot

Short form bulb pots

A minor problem associated with terra-cotta pots is their tendency to stain with algae and other slimy stuff as well as salt and mineral deposits. It seems that the same feature that makes these pots desireable – their ability to "breathe" by allowing water to evaporate from them, also condemns them to retaining all sorts of minerals that were present in the water. The water evaporates and what is left is an unsightly off-white stain. Often these deposits can be cleaned up with some diligent scrubbing and appropriate cleaning agents, but it can be quite a lot of work!

Decorative terra-cotta flower pot

Decorative containers’ is a catch-all category that includes everything from your grandmother’s white porcelain pot in the shape of a cocker spaniel to that terra cotta pot with the intricate criss-cross edging that looks as though it should be included in the standard terra cotta category(it can’t!). These glazed or unglazed containers can be a lot of fun to match with similar or contrasting colored or patterned plants and are often used as secondary containers to hold plants already in plastic pots. Many decorative containers do not have drainage holes and therefore pose problems for those with overwatering tendencies (you know who you are!). One solution to this is to use a masonry drill bit to drill a hole through the bottom of the pot, but this can be risky and may result in a broken pot – so don’t attempt this with grandmother’s cocker spaniel pot! Other possibilities include only using these containers for special events like plant shows and dinner parties and then returning the plant to a plastic or terra cotta pot, or using decorative containers exclusively for overpotting plants in smaller plastic pots and then, only using these containers indoors where they are not likely to catch rainfall or irrigation by a sprinkler system.

Decorative brass flower pot – Oooops! Don’t use this one. Did I mention that you should avoid exposing your bromeliads to any copper? Brass is an alloy made from copper and copper is extremely toxic to bromeliads.

Looking Ahead:

We’re really fortunate in having many outstanding shows and sales within a fairly easy driving distance. Each month we’ll try to call your attention to upcoming shows and sales that may be of interest. Mark these on your calendar. You may even want to consider a group of us traveling together to one or more of these shows. If you are interested, bring it up at the next meeting and we can discuss it!

May 11 - 13, 2007
Bromeliad Society of Central Florida Annual Mothers Day Show and Sale
Orlando Fashion Square, 3201 East Colonial Drive (S.R. 50) Orlando, FL

September 29, 2007
FCBS Bromeliad Extravaganza 2007
Airport Hilton Hotel, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Hosted by the Bromeliad Society of Broward County
Contact: Jose Donayre, Chairman, email

Quite a few of our club members attended last year’s Extravaganzain Miami and I’ve heard nothing but good comments about the experience. This year’s event promises to be even better, so let’s all plan on attending this year! Rumor has it that there will be a special incentive to any club that sends enough members to fill all of the seats at a banquet table. We accomplished this last year without even trying!

November 30, Dec. 1-2, 2007

Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society Show and Sale

This will be held in conjunction with the 10th International Cryptanthus Show – so for all of you Cryptanthus fans out there (let’s see a show of hands) this is the show for you!

Terry Park, 3410 Palm Beach Blvd. (SR80)

Ft. Myers. Contact Steve Hoppin at or 239/997-2237