The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, June 14th – 1:30p.m.

Wm. A. Finney Memorial Garden Center

837 N. Oleander Ave., Daytona Beach

June, 2009

Roll Out Those Lazy, Hazy, Crazy Days…!

President Joan Campbell – 672-7382

Vice President – Jerry O’Keefe – 407/767-2442

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott – 761-4804

Treasurer – Eve Krauth – 763-2084


Summer is here!

O.K., the calendar says we still have a few more days to go before it is officially here, but if it looks like Summer and it feels like Summer…I say "it’s Summer!" It puzzles me that while most bromeliad societies meet througout the year, most garden clubs adjourn for the Summer. Our own Halifax Council of Garden Clubs always has their annual business meeting and luncheon in early May and then they have no further meetings until October. It seems to me that this should be the season when they would be the most active – but then, most garden clubs are more socially and community-service oriented than bromeliad societies. Bromeliad enthusiasts just want to get together and "talk bromeliads" at their club meetings and Summer has its own special connotation to our members. At this time of year bromeliads are in their most active growing phase, so it means that we need to do whatever is necessary to give them a good chance to grow. For many of us, this is the time of year to separate and pot up pups – in fact most of us started this chore in the Spring. This is also the time of year to fertilize many of the bromeliads that benefit from this activity. It’s the time of year to look at each plant’s potting mix and replace it if it looks too compacted, washed away, dried out or otherwise less than optimum. Bromeliads will do a great job of growing to their best size and brightest coloring given the right growing conditions but its up to us to see that these conditions are met!

Last month’s Mother’s Day tea…

was a great success. Attendance was excellent and I think we all enjoyed the tea, crumpets, scones, and puddings provided by Joan and her henchmen and henchwomen. I know they all put a great deal of effort into that event and I think we owe them a solid "thank you for a job well done!"

…and speaking of jobs well done – Lisa Upham did a superlative job in designing and producing the program for the Halifax Council of Garden Clubs luncheon last month. It was theme-oriented, attractive, and drew many compliments from the attendees. Thank you Lisa!

This month’s meeting –We’re very fortunate in Florida in that we have a number of excellent speakers with a wealth of bromeliad knowledge scattered around the state. And we’re especially fortunate this month to have Tom Wolfe as our guest speaker. Tom has been involved with bromeliads, both as a hobby and commercially since the 1960s -joining the Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay in 1965. In the years to follow he has held many positions in the Guild including serving as President six times! Tom has also been a long-time supporter of the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies and has served as Chairman to that organization three times. At the national level he served on the Bromeliad Society International Board of Directors for 14 years - first as Director, then Secretary, Vice President for 6 years and 6 more years as President. Tom became an accredited BSI Bromeliad Judge in l982 and has judged numerous bromeliad shows throughout the country. Tom and his wife Carol grow tropical plants on their 2.5 acres of land and greenhouses in Lutz – in the Tampa area. In his years in the landscape business, he has become an expert on the best bromeliads to use in particular settings, small and large, sunny and shaded. He has designed and installed many residential and commercial landscapes featuring bromeliads. He is in demand as a speaker throughout Florida and elsewhere in the United States presenting programs on bromeliads to Garden Clubs, Bromeliad Clubs, and at the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens. We are honored to have Tom return to Daytona Beach to pass on a little bit of his vast volume of knowledge of bromeliads with his program "the Judge’s Dilemma". He’ll be brining plants for sale, so don’t forget your wallet!

FECBS will be hosting the quarterly Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies’ meeting

on Saturday, July 11th. Our Treasurer Eve Krauth was kind enough to volunteer to hold the meeting at her house in Port Orange and we will be discussing the arrangements for lunch as well as volunteers needed at this month’s meeting. Guests are always welcome at the Council meetings and this is an opportunity for anyone in our group to attend one of these meetings to see what the Council is all about.

Little known facts about BSI…

I know that many of our members are a little confused about the various groups that our club is affiliated with. The Bromeliad Society International or BSI really is a big orgainization made up of a very large number of smaller bromeliad societies. The following is an excerpt from the Affiliate Chair of BSI’s annual report dated May 19, 2009:

There are currently forty three Affiliated Bromeliad Societies.


1 Northeast 12 Florida

2 Central 4 Louisiana

6 Texas 7 California

1 Hawaii 7 Australia

1 New Zealand 2 International

43 Total

Northeast- New York Bromeliad Society


Boca Raton Bromeliad Society

Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay

Bromeliad Society of Broward County

Bromeliad Society of Central Florida

Bromeliad Society of Northwest Florida

Bromeliad Society of South Florida

Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society

Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Flordia West Coast Bromeliad Society

Gainesville Bromeliad Society

Sarasota Bromeliad Society

Seminole Bromeliad & Tropical Plant Society


Bromeliad Scoiety of Greater Chicago

Southeastern Michigan Bromeliad Society


Baton Rouge Bromeliad Society

New Orleans

River Ridge Bromeliad Society

Shreveport Bromeliad Society


Bromeliad Society of Austin

Corpus Christi Bromeliad Society

Cryptanthus Society

Golden Triangle Bromeliad Society

Greater Dallas/Fort Worth Bromeliad Society

Houston Bromeliad Society Inc.


Bromeliad Society of San Francisco

La Ballona Valley Bromeliad Society

Orange County Bromeliad Society

Sacramento (membership renewal is pending)

Saddleback Valley Bromeliad Society

San Diego Bromeliad Society

South Bay Bromeliad Associates

Hawaii-Hawaii Bromeliad Society


Bromeliad Society of Australia, Inc. -Ryde

Bromeliad Society of New South Wales

Bromeliad Society of Queensland, Inc.

Cairns Bromeliad Society, Inc.

Illawarra Bromeliad Society, Inc.

Northern Territories Bromeliad Society, Inc.

Sunshine Coast Bromeliad Society

New Zealand-Bromeliad Society of New Zealand, Inc.


Bromeliad Society of Japan

Dutch Belgian Bromeliad Society (BCG)

The Gainesville and Austin Societies were affiliated last year. The New England

Bromeliad Society became inactive because of too few members. I corresponded with

the Hawkes Bay Bromeliad Group and the German Bromeliad Guild but they weren’t

interested in becoming affiliated. The Wellington Tillandsia Study Group’s

membership expired and they did not want to renew their membership. The Northern

Territories Society of Australia was just affiliated and their certificate is being sent…- Martha Goode

BSI is certainly a big and well-respected group, with 43 affiliates scattered all over the world! If you are not currently a member, you should give some serious consideration to joining this very worthwhile, professional orgainization. The Journal alone (sent to all members) is well worth the price of an annual membership. See any of our officers for more information about BSI and how to join this group.

A Return to Basics

This month’s installment focusses on the ‘T’s’ of the bromeliad world - the Genus Tillandsia. Some years ago I was asked to speak to a local garden club about bromeliads and I was both shocked and amused to learn that the club had taken on the name of "Tillandsia Garden Club", but had no idea where the word "Tillandsia" came from. When I began to describe some of the plants in this group, they seemed lost - until I mentiond the phrase "air plants" and, at that point they all knew what I was talking about - so this may be a good starting point for discussion. When an obscure (at least at the time) group of plants was discovered that grew on and were supported only by tree branches, it was only natural for someone to conclude that these plants didn’t need any nourishment - including water. In fact, many of the horticulturists felt that water should be kept from Tillandsias. The name of the Genus came from Linnaeus, apparently a man with a sense of humor since he used the name of Elias Tillands, a Swedish botanist best remembered for his irrational fear of water!

The Tillandsia group is a very large Genus containing well over 500 species and an ever increasing number of hybrids – both naturally occurring and man-made. Despite their nickname of "air plants", this group includes plants that are terrestrial in nature as well as those that grow in trees(the epiphytes), on rocks and on sheer cliff faces(saxicolus). Some species never develop roots and cling to tree limbs with their thin, curly leaves while others may form massive root systems and be extremely difficult to move once established.

Interestingly enough, the Genus Tillandsia has the greatest number of species that have fragrant blooms among the bromeliads - an unusual characteristic for a bromeliad and one, no doubt developed to lure appropriate pollinators to the flowers. Flowers on some species such as T. duratii and T. streptocarpa are extremely fragrant, particularly at certain times of the day. More typically however, Tillandsia flowers are tubular, odorless and often of a purple color. Following the blooming period a seed capsule develops that slowly matures over a time period lasting up to one year. Eventually, the capsule splits into three sections and parachute-type seeds are released to be carried by the wind to a landing site, where given favorable conditions, the seeds germinate and produce a new generation of plants.

Tillandsias are found in areas covering the widest range of any bromeliads. Varieties are found at elevations ranging from sea level to over 2 miles above sea level. Some Tillandsias call southern Argentina home and some reside as far north as Virginia, but the majority are native to those regions in between. Sizes may vary from less than an inch to over 12 feet in height. With their occurrence over such a wide range of habitat and climate goes a broad range of tolerances for adverse growing conditions and this is part of the appeal and mystique of Tillandsias. You would expect that any plant that can survive such harsh conditions would thrive under all but the poorest care by the bromeliad hobbyist and, in many cases that is true. Unfortunately our altitude, or lack of it in Florida makes the successful culture of some of the higher altitude Tillandsia species problematic at best and, at times, simply not possible. Fortunately, there are so many varieties of Tillandsias that respond very well to our growing conditions that this is not a serious hindrance to growing and enjoying this Genus.

Tillandsias are well represented in our state with at least 17 native varieties (depending on the way you count and differentiate species). It’s often said that the Florida native Tillandsias are not as colorful as forms of the same species found in other countries and in some cases that may be true. It’s definitely true in the case of Florida’s native Guzmania monostachia, however. anyone who has traveled through South Florida and seen tree limbs covered with T. fasciculata in bloom or come across colonies of T. flexuosa would probably argue this point for the other species.

What Tillandsias should the hobbyist consider adding to his or her collection? First, I would follow the advice Carol Johnson of Pineapple Place used to offer - as a beginner, start by growing bromeliads that are found in areas that have climates similar to your own. Avoid the high altitude plants and the extreme xerophytes – we’re just too low and too wet to please these types and you will drive yourself crazy trying to keep them alive. Start with the plants that you are most likely to have success growing! Many of the commonly available small plants like T. stricta, T. aeranthos, and T. fasciculata are very easy to grow and reward you with a great bloom. And don’t forget the many varieties of T. ionantha! Many view these little plants as absolutely charming and can’t get enough of them. Expand on your successes – next you may want to try growing T. xerographica. This is very slow growing and relatively cold sensitive, so it will need protecting in the winter in our area, but the bloom is outstanding and extremely long lasting. From here you may want to try some of the hardier soft leaved varieties like T. leiboldiana. These plants are in bloom right now and they are quite easy to grow despite their delicate appearance. A few successes and you’ll soon be "hooked" on Tillandsias – though this is somewhat of a poor word choice since Tillandsias, like their close relatives the Vrieseas (more on these in the next installment) are spineless – now what’s not to like about these plants?!