The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, July 10, 2005

July, 2005

Fertilizer Do’s and Don’ts

President Linda Stagnol386/760-6842

Vice President – Jay Thurrott – 386/761-4804

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott - 386/761-4804

Treasurer - Ted Nuse - 386/673-2648


June’s meeting was a lot of fun. The variety of plants brought in for Show and Tell was nothing short of outstanding!

This Month’s Meeting: Fertilizing your bromeliads – what kind, when and how

A good fertilization program can do a world of good for your plants…or a world of harm – depending on how you handle it. This month we’ll discuss what types of fertilizers are appropriate for bromeliads(and the kinds of bromeliads to fertilize), when you should fertilize, and the mechanics of how the fertilizer should be applied. Don’t miss this meeting if you have any questions about fertilizing your plants!

2005 Bromeliad Extravaganza- Hosted by the Sarasota Bromeliad Society

Saturday, October 22nd – The plant sale will be at the Sarasota Garden Club on Route 41in downtown Sarasota. This is one block east of the Hyatt and two blocks north of the Quay. Admission will be free and food and beverages will be available on site. Master Card and Visa will be accepted in the sales area. The banquet and rare plant auction will be at a different location: the Helmsley Sandcastle – 1540 Ben Franklin Dr., Lido Beach, Sarasota. You’ll want to stay over at least one night here and a special rate of $79-$99 is available as long as you make your reservations by Sept. 21st to take advantage of these rates. The banquet Saturday night will be a Caribbean Luau. Reservations for the banquet should be made by Oct. 8th. The price is $22/person and reservations are being handled by Dorothy Berg. Send your check or money order to her at 5146 Northridge Rd. #107

Sarasota, Fl. 34238

Call 941/924-0060 or email

Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies’ News

The quarterly Florida Council meeting was held in Tampa on July 9th. You will get a report on actions taken by the Council at our meeting since this will have taken place after the newsletter went to print.

The recent issue of the Council newsletter was very well received. Look for the next issue containing the roster of members of bromeliad societies throughout the state and still another to follow this Fall.

Welcome new members:

Joan Campbell and Jane Upham – we’re glad to have you join us!


Bromeliads from A toZ…

In our last installation of this series we looked at the Genus Quesnelia. Continueing to move forward through the alphabe, we’ll skip the R’s (with apologies to those fans of the Genus Racineae – but it’s a small Genus and if we adequately address all Genera, this series will go on forever!) and go right to the letter T.

T is for Tillandsioidiae, the subfamily containing several closely related genera and, the subject of this month’s discussion – the Genus Tillandsia. Everything about this Genus is interesting – starting with the name. Elias Tillands was a Swedish botanist best remembered for his irrational fear of water. This must have been extraordinarily difficult for a botanist and it is said that he would plan his trips with wide diversions to avoid crossing any bodies of water. 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 remember the unfortunate Dr. Tillands and conclude that these plants also feared water – hence the name: Tillandsia. Many Tillandsias collected in those early years were doomed to desiccation and an early demise because of this belief until a better understanding of their culture requirements became apparent.

This is a very large Genus containing well over 500 species and includes plants that are terrestrial in nature as well as those that grow in trees, on rocks and on sheer cliff faces. 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.

The genus Tillandsias has the greatest number of representatives of bromeliads that have fragrant blooms - 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 though, Tillandsia flowers are tubular, odorless and frequently of a purple color. Following the blooming period a seed capsule develops that slowly matures over a time period lasting up to one year. Finally, 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 to 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, some reside as far north as Virginia and many, many species are native to 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 under some of the harsh conditions in which they are found would thrive under all but the poorest care of the bromeliad hobbyist and, in many cases that is true. Unfortunately our altitude, or lack of altitude in Florida makes the successful culture of some of the higher altitude Tillandsias spescies problematic at best and, in many cases 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 many varieties.

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 these 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. Anyone who has traveled through South Florida however, and seen tree limbs covered with T. fasciculata in bloom or come across colonies of T. flexuosa would probably argue this point.

Anyone who joined us on our recent visit to Russell’s bromeliads was probably struck by the enormous variety of plants available commercially. 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 our 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. fasciculate 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 poor word choice since Tillandsias, like their close relativse the Vrieseas (more on these in the next installment) are spineless – now what’s not to like about these plants?!

Photos courtesy of the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies

Plant Tags

Donna Cowen, daughter of the late Frank Cowen – one of our charter members recently contacted me. She had been visiting her mother in Ormond Beach and while " Spring Cleaning" had come across some miscellaneous bromeliad supplies of her dad’s and wondered whether our club would be interested in them. I’ve picked these up and although I haven’t sorted through everything yet, I’ve noted a large number of white plastic plant tags, a garbage can full of unused tree fern fiber for mounting plants, and some wood with hangers for mounting plants. If I can remember it, I’ll bring these to the next meeting for distribution to our members.

Looking ahead:

August 20 & 21- Bromeliad Fantasy, with display and sale. 9 AM - 4PM at Sanford Garden Club, 17-92 & Fairmont Drive, Sanford.
Sponsored by Seminole Bromeliad Society.
For more info: Sudi Hipsley 352 504-6162.

October 14 -17, 2005 Out of the country? Check out Bromeliads XIII - Australasian Conference. Hosted by The Bromeliad Society of Queensland Inc. in Brisbane in. The Conference will be held over four days from Friday 14th October, to Monday 17th October, 2005, inclusive.

October 14-16 A little closer to home…Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society 2005 Standard BSI Show & Sale
Terry Park, 3410 Palm Beach Blvd., Ft. Myers, Fl
Saturday, October 15, 2005 - open to public 9:00am to 5:00pm
Sunday, October 16, 2005 - open to public 10:00am to 4:00pm
For further show and sale information please contact Diane Molnar at (239) 549-3404 or and Brian Weber at (941) 355-2847 or respectively.

October 22 – Bromeliad Extravaganza, hosted by the Sarasota Bromeliad Society. More on this elsewhere in this issue.