The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, July 12th – 1:30p.m.

Wm. A. Finney Memorial Garden Center

837 N. Oleander Ave., Daytona Beach

July, 2009

The Rainy Season is Here!

President Joan Campbell – 672-7382

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

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott – 761-4804

Treasurer – Eve Krauth – 763-2084


It’s all depends on how you look at it…

May finished up with a record rainfall total around the Daytona Beach area with over 20 inches of rain falling in just a few days! And the rains continued in the afternoons for quite a few days in June – you know, the old Florida rainfall pattern where you can almost set your watch by the time the afternoon thunderstorms start. To me, it seems like this has been quite a lot of rain, but to the Water Management District - it’s not nearly enough! It makes you wonder at what point this group would say that it has been enough? Calandra and I were recently in Southern California for a BSI board meeting and some of folks from the area were apologizing for the weather, saying that this time of year the weather really wasn’t very good – it was a bit foggy in the morning, but other than that, it seemed ideal to us. I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Proper bromeliad culture is another topic that can depend greatly on your particular perspective or how you look at it. Take Neoreglia ‘fireball’ for example. Grow it under low light conditions, feed it, and you’ll have a nice healthy clump of green-leaved bromeliads. Grow it in higher light conditions, withold the fertilizer, and you’ll have a nice healthy clump of bright red-leaved bromeliads. Which one is "correct"? It depends on what you, as the grower are looking to do with the plant. The same holds true for appropriate culture techniques for many bromeliads – should the leaves be long, short, dark colored, light colored? Different growing conditions can make the same plant appear quite different. If you would like to find the answers to these and other questions regarding bromeliads, then you should consider going through the BSI judge’s school series. Haven’t you ever wondered why one plant in a bromeliad show is elevated to the head table with a major award while another is only awarded a red ribbon? There’s a reason for this, and this and other mysteries will be revealed to you as you progress through each session of judges school. As a student judge you will learn what to look for that signifies a well grown bromeliad as well as what faults commonly are seen in plants representative of each of the different genera. Not only this, but you will have an opportunity to work alongside some of the most experienced and successful growers in the state. Think you would like to learn more about bromeliads? As luck would have it, a school is scheduled to be begin this Fall in Ft. Myers and there is still room for additional students if you haven’t already signed up. Contact any of the club officers and they will give you more details and put you in touch with the Judge’s registrar. Now is an excellent time to begin this journey!

This month’s meeting –

We’ve been treated to Dr. Terrie Bert’s programs before and anyone who has attended them will agree that they are really something special. Terrie has educated and entertained us in past years with her always interesting programs relating to bromeliads and we always look forward to her return This program is titled "Diving Even Further into Unusual Bromeliad Genera.. A member of the Sarasota Bromeliad Society since 1988 and of the Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society since 1997, Terrie has held multiple offices in the Sarasota society as well as serving as secretary, vice-president, and president of the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies over a 9 year period. Internationally, Terrie has chaired the BSI Nominations Committee, is BSI show chariman, BSI librarian and is an internationally accredited judge. Dr. Bert’s own collection consists of over 1500 different type of bromeliads spanning 25 Genera, so I believe it’s safe to say that she knows what she is talking about! Oh, by the way – Terrie will be bringing lots of interesting and unusual plants for sale, so don’t forget your checkbook.

A Return to Basics

(Photos in this article courtesy of FCBS)

I’m a bit partial to the Genus Vriesea (pronounced vree-see-uh with the accent on the first syllable). Plants in this group embody everything that attracted me to bromeliads in the first place - most thrive on neglect (ok…within reason), they demonstrate a surprising degree of cold tolerance, even those with plain green foliage look nice, the blooms are gorgeous and long lasting, and, as a spines on the leaves - my kind of plant!

I always find it interesting to learn where the names of some of Genera originated. In this case, this group of plants was named for the Dutch botanist W. de Vriese.


These plants are closely related to Tillandsias. So closely, in fact, that in some instances they can be distinguished only after close examination with a hand lens or other magnifying glass! A good example of this can be seen in Vriesea espinosae - which looks to be a nice silvery (lots of trichomes here) Tillandsia. It’s not.

Vriesea espinosae

Then of course there is Tillandsia leiboldiana - which looks like a little soft-leaved Vriesea. It’s not.

Tillandsia leiboldiana

The truth is, both of these plants are exceptions to the more typical forms that you can expect to see. IN GENERAL...Vrieseas have soft, smooth edged leaves that are frequently green, but sometimes decorated with intricate patterns and splotches or spots of color. Plant size may range from several inches across to well over three feet in diameter (you know that pretty little Vriesea ‘Nova’ that you may have picked up at a plant sale? Make sure you’ve got a lot of room for it as it matures-think of it as Great Dane puppy!). Vriesea inflorescences are typically very long-lasting and may be highly decorative in color and form - from the bright red "flaming sword" shape of Vriesea splendens to the multiple colored ‘feathers’ of some of Herb Hill’s hybrids. Occasionally you may notice hard sausage-shaped capsules developing on the inflorescence after the flowers have faded away. These are seed capsules and they may take anywhere from a month or two up to six months to mature. Eventually they will split open and release parachute type seeds similar to those of the Tillandsia group - to be carried away by the wind.

Most Vrieseas are true epiphytes and, as such, have very little in the way of a root system. Roots tend to serve mostly for gripping and anchoring these plants on tree limbs and resemble gnarled bird’s feet in older plants. These roots do little to take in nutrients or moisture. In fact, some Vrieseas that are notorious for being difficult to grow thrive when grown in an empty pot. This also suggests that it is very easy to overwater these plants, so be forwarned!

Vrieseas tend to share their light level requirements with the Guzmanias. This is somewhat lower than the preferences of members of the Aechmea or Neoregelia groups, so you may find these to be good choices for plants to place in a pool enclosure or in the filtered light of overhanging tree branches. Many times bleached spots or "sunburn" damage will appear on leaves of mature Vrieseas that are set in too strong a light. You need to look out for this problem when the days get longer, the sun’s rays get stronger, and the angle of the sun becomes more direct as we head into those dog-days of summer.

A final point to note is that despite their delicate appearance, Vrieseas tend to be very cold-hardy plants - quite a contrast to some of those big, tough-looking Aechmeas that fall over dead at the mere suggestion of cold weather! I have had Vrieseas survive with little or no damage after brief temperature drops into the upper 20s. If you haven’t already, make a little room in your collection for a few Vrieseas. I think you’ll be glad you did!

The following are some examples of Vrieseas to consider adding to your collection:

Vriesea carinata - This is a small plant that has been used in hybridizing so much that it’s difficult to find a "pure" species example. Often labeled as ‘Vriesea carinata hybrid’ this is still a nice little green leaved plant that demands very little attention and rewards your patience with a very nice red stalked feather that resembles a lobster claw.

Vriesea "Carlsbad" - A medium to large sized Hummel hybrid with beautiful leaf coloration-an excellent foliage plant that makes the bright red sword-type inflorescence just an added bonus!. Splashes of red, yellow and black adorn this plant. Cold and heat resistance make this a good landscape choice in many areas.

Vriesea "Mariae" - Named by Edward Andre in remembrance of Mrs. Truffaut in 1889 the bloom on this hybrid plant is just as beautiful today as it was 110 years ago. This also sets the standard for long-lasting blooms - typically looking nice for the better part of one year! One of the few bromeliads with a nickname, look for the "painted feather" bromeliad.

The bloom of V.‘marieae’ as shown in this drawing is a good example of the "feather" type of Vriesea inflorescence

Vriesea splendens - Very nice foliage arranged in an attractive rosette make this an excellent foliage plant. Leaves are a gray green w/dark brown bands. Another plant with a nickname, this is frequently seen as the "flaming sword" - a reference to the bright red, sword shaped inflorescence. This is another prime example of a bloom that may last for upwards of a year!

Vriesea ospinae Here’s a bit of a mystery wrapped, not in an enigma, but in an outstanding foliage plant. Named for Sra. Berta Hernandez de Ospina of Columbia, who first grew this plant in her garden. Nobody knows where it came from! Medium sized plant w/gray-green leaves and light reticulations(little wavy lines). The stem may grow to become quite tall, resembling a shrub rather than a bromeliad. Infl. one or more bright yellow/orange "feathers". And, as if this weren’t pretty enough, look for the variety "Gruberi" which is a larger form with leaves that are almost blue-gray with similar reticulated patterns, but more pronounced - a real eye-catcher and a strong argument that species plants can be just as beautiful as the most highly acclaimed hybrids!

Upcoming Events:

August 14th - 15th, 2009
Seminole Bromeliad and Tropical Plant Society Sale
Sanford Garden Club
200 Fairmont Drive, Sanford

November 13th – 15th , 2009

Bromeliad Extravaganza, hosted by the Central Fl. Bromeliad Society at the Orlando Renaissance Hotel (544 Forbes Place, Orlando 32812.

generally a little cooler at this time of year and the crowds are quite a bit thinner), have a nice dinner…oh yeah, and then there’s the seminars, garden tours and a great bromeliad sale associated with the Extravaganza – sounds like

a nice vacation to me!

November 21st - 22nd, 2009
Treasure Coast Bromeliad Society
Clinic and Sales Booth
Heathcote Botanical Gardens
210 Savannah Road, Ft. Pierce 34982

December 4th - 6th, 2009
Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society Show and Sale -Terry Park, Fort Myers
Judged Show on Friday, Dec. 4th
Show and Sale open to the public Saturday, ec. 5th 9am -5pm, Sunday, Dec. 6th, 10am- 4pm. (this is always a great show!)