The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next regularly scheduled meeting Sunday, May 9th, 2004 – 1:30p.m.

May, 2004

Summer is Almost Here!

President Linda Stagnol – 386/760-6842

Vice President – Jay Thurrott – 386/761-4804

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott - 386/761-4804

Treasurer - Ted Nuse - 386/673-2648


This year we’ve had one of the nicest Springs that anyone can remember, but all good things must end and before we know it, we will be into those lazy, hazy days of Summer again. Now is a good time to take stock of your collection and make plans for the upcoming months. For those procrastinators among us (and we know who we are, don’t we!) it time to go to work and start separating and repotting all of those plants that we probably should have separated last Fall. Clumps of bromeliads are nice, but enough is enough! For those of you who fertilize their bromeliads (and I’m not taking sides – there are two schools of thought on this: those that do and those that don’t)– now is the time to resume your fertilization schedule if you haven’t already done so.

Last weekend I was puttering around in the bromeliad beds and noticed a little black grasshopper with bright yellow ‘pin-striping’ on his sides. It didn’t take much additional searching to turn up several more of the same…and still more in another part of the yard…and still more on a leaf of a Neo. carolinae. These were not just cute little grasshoppers, but the "neo" stage of that dreaded Florida pest: the lubber. In the nymph stage they are slightly susceptible to chemical treatments, but once they become full grown, lubbers shrug off all pesticides with impunity. I had the misfortune of witnessing the aftermath of a single lubber’s meal last Summer when I came home from work and found all of the leaves of a prized clivia reduced to tattered ribbons. So, be warned – the little ones are out there right now and once they reach their full size of 4" or more lubbers can make short work of any bromeliad …and be back for desert!

Last month’s newsletter made reference to a table of the different T. ionantha cultivars attributed to Charles Dills. As it turns out, Derick Butcher of Australia put that table together. Our apologies to Uncle Derick – no slight was intended!

This month’s meeting:

Jim Steele of Kerry’s Bromeliads will be on hand to tell us a little bit about their nursery in Homestead – a ‘small’ operation …that just happens to be the LARGEST BROMELIAD NURSERY IN THE COUNTRY! That’s right – you won’t want to miss this meeting. Jim will be bringing slides with him to show what they do and how they do it, as well as some of their finished product – glorious bromeliads! Bring your friends, bring your neighbors. This will be a very interesting program.

Bromeliads from A to Z:

Last month we talked about Guzmanias – the designer bromeliads. This month we’ll move on to the letter ‘H’ and a Genus that’s about as far removed from designer bromeliads as we can get – the Hohenbergias. With a few exceptions these are big, spiny brutes that you won’t want to place on your coffee table unless it’s part of your program of training your pet not to jump on the table! Plants in this group may be epiphytic, saxicolous, or terrestrial and are found in the greatest numbers in Jamaica and Brazil. Generally not very cold tolerant and with inflorescences sometimes described as either "unusually tall" or "dull in color" and branched with flowers clustered in short, dense spikes-these are not the sort of plants that first attracted you to the culture of bromeliads! Fortunately, there are a few exceptions that are worthy of consideration for anyone’s collection. Hohenbergia stellata, for example, resembles any of a number of large spiny bromeliads with light green leaves until it begins to bloom and then surprises the onlooker with a tall stalk on which are attached golf ball size clusters of bright red bracts surrounding blue flowers. A real "knock-out" of a bloom and in great demand by floral arrangers. Then there is the intriguing Hohenbergia pennae with its flared base and tapered rosette of "crinkly" leaves in a very attractive rosy tint. This medium sized plant is always welcome in collections and tends to collect blue ribbons in shows. Probably the most attractive foliage plant among the Hohenbergias is H. correia-arauji (…and why can’t we get some pronounceable names for these plants? Who do I need to talk to anyway?). This plant was introduced to cultivation some 20 years ago and has quickly spread to become a favorite in many hobbyists’ collections. Fortunately, as this plant was propagated, the price dropped accordingly to where we can now afford it. With its soft, wide brown leaves and its attractive silver banding it’s easy to see why a cultivar goes by the name "fudge ripple". This is also a tall plant – easily going over the 3ft. mark in height at maturity. Add to this another foot and a half to two feet of inflorescence above the rosette of leaves and you have a real conversation piece! Carol Johnson of the Pineapple Place didn’t care much for Hohenbergias and said they were too big, and had unattractive blooms but there are a few nice ones out there, so you just might want to consider adding one to your collection.

Upcoming Events

May 17 – Halifax Council of Garden Clubs Spring Luncheon at the LPGA

May 16 - 5th Annual Bromeliad Bonanza at Blossom World Bromeliads in Sanford

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

June 25, 26 – Sarasota Bromeliad Society.s show and sale at Selby Gardens in Sarasota

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

Oct. 23rd Extravaganza hosted by the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society. Make your plans now! The plant sale will be held at the Florida botanical Gardens in Largo. A rare plant auction and banquet will be at the host hotel – Holiday Inn Select, 3535 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater. Room rate is $75/night. The banquet will be $19.95/plate.

Oct. 30, 31 – Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society’s annual sale at Terry Park in Ft. Meyers.