The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, July 11th 2004

July, 2004

World Conference Next Month in Chicago!

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

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This month’s meeting:

We’re still working on it and don’t have the particulars at press time!

Bromeliads from A to Z:

Hopefully everyone went out and added a Hohenbergia to their collections after the last installment of this series. Continueing on through the alphabet, the next Genus of interest to the bromeliad enthusiast is a big one. At over 100 species according to the BSI cultural manual this doesn’t sound like that large a group (the Genus Guzmania has over 150 species, Vriesea has over 250, and Tillandsia over 550!), but when you begin adding up the various and assorted hybrids, cultivars, and mongrels in search of a name – this winds up being a very large group of bromeliads. This group was once known as both Regelia and Aregelia. Regelia (a tribute to the Russian botanist Eduard von Regel, former superintendent of the St. Petersburg Botanic Gardens in Russia) is also the name for a genus of plants having nothing to do with bromeliads that includes several species of Myrtles - so you can imagine the confusion this caused until Dr. Lyman Smith proposed a new name. Dr. Smith’s new (or neo) proposal for the Genus name of Neoregelia was accepted by the scientific community and, fortunately, has remained unchanged for the last 70 years.

It’s always hard trying to describe a group of plants as having certain common features when there are so many exceptions to be found and this is why Species and Genus names keep changing. Generally, however, it is fair to say that Neoregelias are small to medium sized plants, that they have a low and compact rosette of often very colorful leaves, and that they produce a compound inflorescence (cluster) of flowers in the center cup of leaves that does not rise above that central cup like the tall bloom spikes frequently seen in Aechmeas or Guzmanias. Of course there are exceptions and this is what makes identifying a plant that has no tag difficult. Is it a Neoregelia or is it Nidularium? Is it a Wittrockia? The world may never know unless you submit a specimen to the Bromeliad Identification Center so please, let’s try to just keep those tags straight!

Neoregelias are grown for their decorative foliage – and for good reason. Today’s hybrids come in almost every imaginable color and pattern. Whether you like striped plants, discolor plants, ones with polka dots, splotches or solid colors - this Genus has something for everyone. Most reference sources also suggest that Neoregelias are very easy to grow, tolerating a wide range of cultural conditions and practices. Of course there’s a big difference between growing a plant and growing it well however, so you may have varying degrees of success until you gain some experience in growing these plants – and this is where you friendly local bromeliad society comes in! Ask questions (no matter how foolish they seem), attend meetings, and take advantage of the club’s library.

A few suggestions to improve your chances of success in growing Neos. :

  1. There are Neos. that do well in low light and there are those that do well in full sun. Learn which fit each category and match those selections to your own growing conditions. Putting a ‘full-sun’ plant in the shade or a ‘shade-lover’ in the sun is an exercise in futility.
  2. Be careful when applying fertilizer to Neos.. As an example of this consider Neoreglia ‘Fireball’ (a very interesting plant in its own right). A well grown specimen of this plant should be a nice, bright red color from the tip of its leaves to the center of the cup. Fertilize a mature ‘Fireball’ with a fertilizer containing much nitrogen and it becomes more of a ‘green ball’ – losing all of its intense red color. Many hobbyists, however, typically add a slow release fertilizer to the potting mix when first potting up a Neo. offset. They swear that this gives the pup a better start on life and that it reaches maturity sooner. Try it and decide for yourself!
  3. If you haven’t remove offsets from your Neoregelia parent plant by October, wait until the Spring before potting them up. It may be just me, but I noticed many times that Neo. offsets taken in the Fall make no effort to grow and are very susceptible to rotting off if the mix is kept to wet. I’ve even gone so far as to remove one offset in the Fall and take a second one from the same plant in the Springtime. The pup removed in the Spring grows to maturity quicker and appears to be more robust overall than that taken in the Fall.

 

What Neoregelias should you consider adding to your collection? We’ve already mention Neo. ‘Fireball’ – just a terrific small plant that can be mounted on wood, set in a pot as a single plant or allowed to form a clump as a hanging basket. This plant is not a hybrid by the way – it just was never formally described, and so retains a cultivar name that it was given some years ago. If you prefer really small plants, see if you can find a nice Neo. lilliputiana. This is a cute little thing that was discovered in a clear-cut forest in Brazil in 1973. Great looking plant with green leaves that are speckled and banded with purplish brown. The plant is so small that when it blooms the flowers appear enormous – at least in proportion to the rest of the plant! Prefer something bigger? Try some of the Neo. concentrica hybrids – they come in all sorts of colors and patterns and are real eye-catchers!

 

Don’t forget Show and Tell!

This is a feature at each of meetings where members and visitors bring in their bromeliads to show, ask questions about or generally share information with the rest of the group. Everyone enjoys this part of the meeting, so don’t forget to bring a plant for Show and Tell this month.