The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, August 10, 2003


August, 2003

2003 Extravaganza

to be Held in Miami!

President Mike Fink – 386/673-5450

Vice President – Linda Stagnol – 386/760-6842

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott - 386/761-4804

Treasurer - Ted Nuse - 386/673-2648


Extravaganza ’03 in November:

FECBS was well represented at the quarterly Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies July meeting where the big news was that this year’s Extravaganza will be hosted by the Bromeliad Society of South Florida on November 15th and 16th and will be held at the Miccosukee Resort and Convention Center. The address is 55 SW 177 Avenue, Miami. We’ll pass along more details as they become available, but it sounds as though the South Florida folks have things well in hand. I’m thinking – great plant sales, auctions and seminars, casinos, air boat rides, lots of native bromeliads in the trees…Mark the date on your calendar – you don’t want to miss this one!

This month’s meeting:

Bromeliads – they’re air plants, epiphytes - right? That’s what we keep telling people, but there is a sizable group of bromeliads that are strictly terrestrial in nature and just won’t survive unless their in a pot or in the ground. This month we’ll discuss the terrestrials – what they include, what they look like, and how to handle them (very carefully, since they are usually heavily spined).

The field trip to Russell’s Bromeliads:

Quite a few of us turned out for this and it was a lot of fun - not nearly as hot as you would expect for a Saturday in July. The tour of the nursery (one of the largest Tillandsia nurseries in the country!) was absolutely terrific and I think we all came away a little wiser in the ways of growing Tillandsias…plus I know we all came away with more Tillandsias to add to our collections. John and Jimmye Kaye and Diana were wonderful hosts and lunch at Gator’s Riverside Grill was the perfect cap for a perfect morning!

Bromeliads from A to Z:

Well, so far we’ve looked at some genera beginning with the letter ‘A’. This month the topic is going to be the genus Billbergia. This group of bromeliads draws its name from Gustav Billberg, a Swedish botanist. Although found in horticultural collections for many years, members of this group were slow in gaining popularity among the general public, mainly because of a lack of color and pattern in the foliage. This all changed when Don Beadle (Mr. Billbergia) came on the scene and promoted Billbergias whenever given the opportunity. Don, now retired, created many new Billbergia hybrids, giving them fanciful names - each with more colorful foliage than the one before it. Many Beadle hybrids are anxiously sought by collectors and prices for these plants can be quite high. Billbergia species often have rather dull colors (though sometimes with silvery barring), on their stiff leaves which are generally arranged in a distinctive tubular rosette. In fact, mention the word "Billbergia" and most fans of bromeliads immediately conjure up an mental image of a tubular plant. Billbergias may vary in size from several inches tall at maturity to some members of the subgroup ‘Helicoidiae’ that at maturity are well over three feet tall! Blooms are often nothing short of spectacular in their beauty, with large and colorful boat-like bracts and a cluster of flowers whose petals may be tipped with a color contrasting with the rest of the flower petal. Blooms are typically very brief with colors sometimes fading in a matter of days. If you are lucky enough to have a member of this genus in bloom when there is standard, judged show you can usually count on at least a blue ribbon. Most plants in this group originate in eastern Brazil, although a few are found in other areas ranging from Argentina to Mexico. Many are quite cold hardy (except for the Helocoides) and most are very easy to grow – tolerating a considerable amount of neglect with no obvious complaint.

Billbergias have seemingly been around in peoples gardens forever but although some species have been cultivated in Florida and California gardens since the early 1900’s, there are no Billbergias native to the United States.

If you don’t already have several representatives of this genus in your collection here are a few to consider:

B. nutans (Queen’s tears) – a seemingly indestructible species plant that will survive anything short of an approaching ice age or supernova. Reproduces rapidly resulting in large numbers of plants that all bloom at the same time.

B. vittata – nice medium sized plant with attractive barring on the leaves. Very cold hardy.

B. rosea – an exceptionally beautiful member of the Helicoides with a very attractive leaf pattern and a beautiful inflorescence. Protect this one from the cold.

B. ‘Poquito Mas’ Beadle hybrid of short tube w/curl to tip of leaves. Very bright red wash over white background. Very generous w/offsets.

Upcoming Events:

8/16/03 – Bromeliad Fantasy hosted by the Seminole Bromeliad Society. Displays, sales, plant clinic. From 9a.m. to 5p.m. at the Sanford Garden Club – located at 200 Fairmont Drive, Sanford. Call 407/328-8231 for details.

11/7-9/03 – Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society Standard BSI Show and Sale. Terry Park in Ft. Meyers. Call L. Giroux at 239/997-2237 or B. Weber at 239/391-4268 for details and directions.