The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, July 8th – 1:30p.m.

July, 2007

FECBS is now a Teenager!

President Bradley Rauch386/767-8937

Vice President – Nina Leggett - 386/673-0550

Secretary – Joan Campbell

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


This past weekend I was cleaning out a cabinet in our house and came across some old newsletters from when our club was first formed. The first meeting was held at Sugar Mill Ruins park in Port Orange in the summer of 1993. That makes FECBS 14 years old – a mere teenager among organizations! I wasn’t there for that first meeting, but joined several months later.

This Month’s MeetingGrowing Bromeliads from Seed to Seed.

I think we’ve all wanted to try this from time to time and growing bromeliads (at least some of them) from seed is really quite easy provided you avoid some errors that will doom your seed growing project to certain failure. Probably the most common mistake that I hear is of the would-be seed grower picking and planting a berry from an Aechmea in a pot of mix like a gladiola bulb – in it’s entirety. Not only will the berry not grow – it may not even contain viable seeds! These are the sort of things that will be covered in this month’s program, so come prepared to start some seedlings of your own. Take some home with you and let’s hear a progress report in a year on how the little darlin’s are doing.

Last Month’s Meeting – For those of you who are still circling the Deland area trying to find the Dollar’s home, I apologize for the map in last month’s newsletter. It was pretty misleading and we did some circling as well before we finally touched down at Betty and Phil’s place – but it was certainly worth the trouble getting there! The landscaping was just terrific, we had a very nice get together, good attendance, and the club benefitted from the sale and distribution of quite a lot of plants that the Dollars have been babysitting for a while now. There was even a very welcome thunderstorm that served to cool things off that afternoon. A great field trip – Thank you Betty and Phil!

Culture Tip for the Month

At any gathering of "plant people", you can tell which people grow bromeliads. If their arms and hands (and sometimes legs and faces) look like they’ve been in a fight with a bobcat - they’re probably bromeliad growers. You know what I mean – there’s always that spine at the tip of a leaf that manages to stab you no matter how careful you are and when you pull your hand away after cleaning leaves from a leaf axil, all of the sudden there are spines in your hand and blood on your new shirt. Observe the number of scars on a bromeliad grower and that’s a rough measure of the number of plants in their collection. If the collection is heavy on the Tillandsioideae sub-family, the number of scars diminishes accordingly, but if the collection includes many Bromelias,

the local emergency room has probably memorized the collector’s blood type.

Most of us have acquired the addictive habit of reaching into bromeliad leaves to remove fallen twigs and other bits of detritus and yet we’re still surprised when we end up with multiple puncture wounds and hands that look like they’ve just slapped a porcupine. I don’t know what you call this behavior, but continually repeating ones actions in hope of a different outcome certainly doesn’t seem to indicate proper mental health!

Most of these injuries are preventable, but there is the need to take a few additional moments to use the right safety gear and many of us are reluctant to do this. We’ve all heard about using socks with the toes cut out to protect our hands and forearms from the ravages of spiny bromeliads. I’ve tried this - it works great, but how often do I take the time to use this simple protective gear? Rarely. It’s just quicker and easier to reach in there with my fingers and …ouch! It’s happened more times than I care to think about.

One bit of safety gear that I do use frequently is a long pair of tweezers for retrieving debris from leaf axils. I have one very long pair that I use when I’m cleaning the larger, toothy bromeliads and multiple, smaller pairs that work well with the smaller plants. The first pair that I acquired was from a table of second-hand dental and other medical utensils (and doesn’t that just send a shiver down your spine?) at a local flea market. These were made of the finest Pakistani stainless steel and worked very well except that they tended to leave marks on some of the more delicate leaved plants – either that, or I wasn’t skilled enough in their use.

I have since replaced these with a pair of bamboo tongs that were originally intended for use in the kitchen(under $6.00), but work wonderfully well for cleaning bromeliads – especially after sanding the square cut, flat tips to a point.

These haven’t scratched a leaf surface yet and seemed to be the ultimate bromeliad tool…until I bought a pair of "trainer" chop sticks. These are made of plastic, offered in several attractive colors, and are shaped like a large "M" or "W" (depending on whether you are standing on your head or not). A little judicious sanding of the tips allows them to pick up even the thinnest of leaves and, being plastic, they don’t rust (unlike the stainless steel tweezers), or warp and split (as I expect the bamboo tongs will, eventually). Priced at just $2.00 (hard to believe isn’t it?), these are tools that no bromeliad hobbyist should be without!

After looking at the bamboo tongs, it wasn’t long before I decided that this was something that I should be able to make on my own. First I chopped off an appropriate cane from a stand of bamboo in the backyard. I then cut this down to the length that I wanted my tongs to be and split this section lengthwise into 4 pieces. I tapered 2 of these pieces to a point and shaved them down to what seemed an appropriate thickness. Next, I needed a fulcrum for the tongs and, so, took a small piece of scrap 1 x 2 which was then glued in place with good old "Elmer’s" white glue. After the glue set – Voila! – a pair of custom bamboo tweezers, long enough to reach into the leaf axils of some of my spinier bromeliads.

Cost of materials - zero dollars. Manhours used in production – waaaay too much! This is a little like going fishing – if you are only going to consider your time and cost of materials, you should never pass up the seafood counter at the grocery store. If, on the other hand, you enjoy the satisfaction involved in catching and bringing fresh fish to your table, by all means – do it yourself!

Looking Ahead:

July 14th - Quarterly Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies meeting hosted by the Gainesville Bromeliad Societies.

July 21st – Annual Board Meeting of the Bromeliad Society International in New Orleans

August 18 & 19, 2007
Seminole Bromeliad and Tropical Plant Society - Display and Sale. Sanford Garden Club Building,
200 Fairmont Drive, Sanford, FL
9 AM - 4 PM both days
There will be plant sales and plant displays

September 7, 8 & 9, 2007
33rd Annual Southwest Bromeliad Guild Show and 10th International Cryptanthus Show
MCM Elegante Hotel
2355 IH 10 S, Beaumont, Texas
Contact: Steve Hoppin at or 239-997-2237

Saturday, September 29, 2007

2007 Bromeliad Extravaganza

Presented by Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies

Hosted by the Bromeliad Society of Broward County

at the Hilton Ft. Lauderdale Airport Hotel

1870 Griffin Rd.

Dania Beach, FL 33004


954-920-3348 (fax)

Room rates: Single or double $89.00

Rates in effect until September 14, 2007

Sale, Banquet, Raffle and Rare Plant Auction will take place at the same location.

This Extravaganza and others which may follow will be the only major Bromeliad events in the Continental US as the 2008 World Conference will take place in Australia.

Less than four months from now, but time flies !!

Hence, make your reservations ahead of time!!

Some Highlights:

Thousand of bromeliads from the best vendors in the state! Free seminars on several topics of interest to the beginner and advanced collector.

Dozens of Rare plants at auction provided by members of Florida Societies to benefit the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies.

Free plants to banquet attendees!

20 Free copies of Elton Leme’s "Canistropsis – Bromeliads of the Atlantic Forest"

will be given to early hotel and banquet attendees coming from the farthest points!

There will be seminars and a special banquet presentation by Chester Skotak renowned nurseryman and hybridizer from Costa

Rica as well as an a/v presentation on the upcoming 2008 World Bromeliad Conference June 24-29, 2008 Cairns, Queensland, Australia

Watch for the mail-out that will be sent to all club members. This will be going out soon and will have details on hotel registration as well as banquet information and all sorts of other goodies that will be part of this event!

November 30, Dec. 1-2, 2007

Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society Show and Sale - Terry Park, 3410 Palm Beach Blvd. (SR80) Ft. Myers. Contact Steve Hoppin at or 239/997-2237June 24 - 29, 2008
18th World Bromeliad Conference
WBC 18 - "Bromeliads Down Under"
Cairns, Australia
Cairns International Hotel
Hosted by Cairns Bromeliad Society Inc.
P. O. Box 28 Cairns Qld 4870
and the Bromeliad Society International
More Information can be found at the "Bromeliads Downunder" web site.

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to both visit Australia and see a World Conference!