The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, September 14th – 1:30 p.m.

Wm. A. Finney Memorial Garden Center

837 N. Oleander Ave. – Daytona Beach

September 2008

Summer’s over – how have your plants faired?

President Nina Leggett - 386/673-0550

Vice President – Joan Campbell – 672-7382

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott – 761-4804

Treasurer – Evelyn Santus615-1138


Some things just have a way of repeating themselves…

Every Springtime, when I survey my bromeliads, I shake my head at seeing the plants with cold damage and vow to get rid of them before the end of the year. Every Summer, I marvel at how well those same plants have recovered, how healthy their pups look, and decide that maybe they are worth keeping after all. So here we are at the tail end of Summer and I don’t know about your collections, but my bromeliads are looking just great! I suppose that the almost daily rains that we received this Summer were responsible for this - it certainly wasn’t due to my attentiveness. And I know that by the end of this coming Winter, I’m going to be seeing the effects of cold weather on some of those same bromeliads, but somehow I’ve convinced myself that this year it’s going to be different. This year it won’t be that cold, it won’t be that dry, and this year I’ll cover my plants with frost blanket before temperatures plunge below the freezing point. Some day I’ll realize that I can’t grow cold sensitive plants in my yard and shadehouse and expect them to look good after a Winter of abuse. Some day…but not today.

This month’s meeting

Dr. Terrie Bert of Bradenton will be sharing her expertise in growing bromeliads from ‘A to Z’ with us. Terrie has presented programs to our group before and it’s always a treat! She will also be bringing plants for sale and you know that they will be prime, so be sure to bring your wallets and purses with you!

Culture tip of the month

I recently had the opportunity to to attend a club meeting in a different part of the state where they routinely have a workshop preceeding their regular meeting. Nice idea and very well received by the membership – especially since the workshop is usually conducted by one of their own club members. At this meeting the workshop topic was whether you should or should not fertilize Neoregelias. I have always been advised to not fertilize Neos. since too much nitrogen will make them lose their color and there can be a fine line between just enough and too much fertilizer – so rather than walk that line, just don’t fertilize Neos. Interestingly enough, the volunteer conducting the workshop said he had been told the same thing, but when he became more serious about growing bromeliads he visited numerous commercial bromeliad nurseries. The answers to his questions about growing Neoregelias were always the same – feed them well and they’ll grow well! The plants that he showed to the club members to back up these comments had been fertilized. They were certainly grown well and they certainly had good color. How to explain the conflicting advice regarding Neos.? The key seems to be in using slow-release fertilizer and applying it to the potting mix. Before the wide-spread availability of slow-release fertilizers, most growers used water soluble fertilizer and applied it to the foliage. The reasoning was that since these plants were epiphytic and didn’t have much in the way of a root system, you shouldn’t bother putting fertilizer in the potting mix. That makes sense to a point, but how do you explain the massive root growth that usually accompanies a well grown Neoregelia? The answer seems to be in the availability of the fertilizer. It’s a little like your dog eating whatever quantity of dog food you put in his bowl. Put a lot of food in the bowl and you get a fat dog. Put a lot of available nitrogen out there in a water soluble fertilizer, applied directly to the leaves and your bromeliad will gorge itself on it…with a resulting color loss and change in leaf conformation. Limit the availability of the nutrient by using a slow release product and the plant can’t make such a pig of itself – with the result being a plant with optimal growth and color. It makes sense and if that’s how the commercial folks get such great color, that’s probably what hobbyists should do as well. It’s food for thought.

Presidents Corner

The heart of the hurricane season is upon us and the storms have been stacking up one after another. I hope you have all made it through ok with no damage or flooding.

It never ceases to amaze me how the "brommies" hold up to anything that comes their way – a few years ago when we had the 3 storms one after another I put several of my plants under my potting bench that Gary had made for me. When I removed them about 3 weeks later they were all dead or dying ( in my hurry to protect them I had forgotten the bench was made of pressure treated lumber). I was devastated and refused to accept they were all lost, I put them out in the garden in inconspicuous places and low and behold a few months later the majority of them had sprouted pups. From this experience I learnt 2 important lessons – NEVER get pressure treated lumber near your plants and NEVER give up on a seemingly dead one.

This month sees the return of our old friend Terrie Burt, Terrie always brings an interesting program and great plants to sell.

See you all there.


Extravaganza 2008…

is now history and congratulations have to go to Tom Wolfe and the Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay for putting on such an outstanding event! FECBS was very well represented – I counted 15 of our members there which, I think is record attendance for us. Overall attendance looked to be very good with international registrants hailing from Australia, Puerto Rico, and the Bahamas. Quite a few different states of this country were represented as well, making this truly an international event. The hotel was a very nice choice. As expensive as hotels in major cities can be, this was an extremely reasonable rate at $99/night. The central atrium area was landscaped as a tropical garden with an enormous screw pine serving as a focal point with past spent leaves trimmed in a spiral stairway pattern that was a real attention grabber. Of course, the big attraction at any Extravaganza is the plant sales area and there were no disappointments there – great selection of plants at very good prices! I was able to help out with the plant sales check-out area for a while and saw nothing but smiling faces on long lines of people carting large numbers of bromeliads away from the sales room, so I’m guessing that sales were good. The banquet on Saturday night was also very nice. I’m just sorry that we all couldn’t have been at the same table, but there were only 10 per table. Sunday’s garden tours were outstanding and very well attended. Fortunately, the rain from Gustav held off until the tours were over (more good planning by the Tampa Bay folks!) and we didn’t have to break out the umbrellas. Next year’s Extravaganza will be hosted by the Central Florida Bromeliad Society, so plan now to attend. These are really terrific events that you won’t want miss.

Back to Basics – "H" is for Hohenbergia…

This is a relatively small group of plants, not commonly seen in cultivation with the exception of H. correia-araujei which was introduced at the 1980 BSI World Conference and sold as a rare plant at inflated prices. Fortunately, this turned out to be one of those bromeliads that is most generous with pups, so before long this plant was available to those of us of more modest means.

The name originates with the Prince of Wurtemberg, Germany who was a patron of botany. Carol Johnson of the Pineapple Place referred to Hohenbergias in general as being large plants (with the exception of H. pennae), that are heavily spined and not particularly attractive (with the exception of H. correia-araujei). A few species develop attractive splashes of red on the ends of their leaves or interesting patterns when grown in strong light. Inflorescences are usually tall and branched with inconspicuous flowers clustered in short, dense spikes of bracts. In the case of Hohenbergia stellata, these spikes are quite colorful and attractive, but more typically the blooms are rather dull looking and the plants could best be described as something that only a hardened bromeliad enthusiast could love. Plants in this group may be epiphytic, saxicolous, or terrestrial and are found in the greatest numbers in Jamaica and Brazil.

Culture recommendations from the old BSI cultural manual are to "give them Aechmea culture except that they need more protection from cold and prefer lower light". Have room in your collection for a big, ugly plant? Try your hand at growing a Hohenbergia or two…particularly H. correia-araujei. [photos courtesy of FCBS website]



Upcoming Events:

October 11 - 12, 2008
Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay
Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society
University of South Florida Fall Sale
4202 East Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL


October 14th, 2008 Florida Federation of Garden Clubs meeting at LPGA restaurant. We’ve been asked to sell plants from 8am to noon.

March 28 (9am-6pm) & 29 (10am-5pm), 2009 – 19th Annual Spring Garden Festiva at Kanapaha Gardens in Gainesville. The weekend affair features more than 200 booths offering plants, landscape displays, educational materials, arts and crafts, and food. Educational seminars and entertainment are offered throughout and both live and silent auctions offer many bargains on arts, crafts, plants, and gardening supplies. About 10,000 individuals usually attend the event; parking is free and two off-site parking areas are serviced by shuttle buses.

April 4, 5, 2009

Broward County Bromeliad Society annual show and sale at the Plantations Women’s Club – more details to follow as they become available.

July 26 – August1, 2010

World Bromeliad Conference in New Orleans

"Bromeliads in the Big Easy". Register now to take advantage of the current rate!