The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

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

Marilyn and Bradley Rauch’s home

38 Timber Trail, Port Orange

October 2008

Fall is in the air!

President Nina Leggett - 386/673-0550

Vice President – Joan Campbell – 672-7382

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott – 761-4804

Treasurer – Evelyn Santus615-1138


It’s getting a little more difficult to note the change in seasons.

A sure sign of the end of Summer and beginning of Fall used to be the annual migration of folks from the northern states to Florida where they would spend their Winters until the weather turned warmer once again in the North and they could return. Now with increased gas prices and falling stock market returns, many of these "snow birds" are not comfortable travelling as far as they used to and instead are rediscovering the pleasures of staying closer to home. Even the Canadian geese that used to form those magnificent V- shaped formations in the sky have discovered that it’s a whole lot less effort to simply stay in Florida year ‘round and forgo all of that migration thing. They’re year round residents now! There are a few more subtle changes signifying the season change that can be seen at this time of year however – you just have to know what to look for:

1. The days are getting shorter again. There are fewer hours of daylight each day and this trend will continue until mid-December. The response to this in the plant world is one of reduced growth – you don’t have to mow your grass as frequently as you once did! That active growth period for your bromeliads is also slowing to a halt. This means that it’s time to back off on the fertilizing, reduce watering (although this Summer we had so much rain that not much supplemental watering was

necessary), and plan on separating those Neo. pups if you haven’t done so already.

2. The cypress trees are turning brown. We always think of these trees as being evergreens, but they drop their leaves each year too. This doesn’t usually happen for a few more months, but the leaf drop is preceeded by a change from green to brown.

3. Lead-ins for the evening news are changing from "killer hurricane threatens Florida – details at 11!" to "cool-down is on it’s way. Will it affect your weekend weather? – details at 11!" We may still be seeing some 90 degree F days, but they are fewer and farther apart and it won’t be long before that passes too. Air conditioning bills are dropping…just in time for heating bills to take their place!

This month’s meeting

Brad Rauch is a past-president of our group and has been growing bromeliads in Port Orange for quite some time. This month Brad and Marilyn have been kind enough to invite our club to tour their yard and shade house. Bradley grows some beautiful Neos. and this should be a good opportunity to pick up a few of those inside tricks that good growers have to make their plants look so nice! Their address is 38 Timber Trail in Port Orange. Directions are as follows:

If you are heading South from I-95, take the Port Orange exit. There is a traffic light at the bottom of the exit ramp. Turn left onto Dunlawton and immediately get into the far right lane. Turn right at the light at Taylor Rd. and continue on Taylor Rd. past the traffic light at Clyde Morris Blvd., past the light at Hensel Rd., and past Spruce Creek Elementary School (on your right). Turn right onto Alstrum Dr. Turn right again on Raintree Dr. then right onto Timber Trail.

Say it ain’t so…!

The Daytona Beach News Journal, sponsor of Everybody’s Flower Show for some 53 years has cancelled the upcoming 2009 show at the Ocean Center! Newspapers in general have been facing some very difficult financial times during the past few years. Now, after losing a lengthy legal battle between long-time owners of the paper and a major stockholder, the News Journal is up for sale. The Halifax Council of Garden Clubs will be examining options in the coming months to look into possibly hosting a judged flower show without the backing of the News Journal at a future date and location.

Culture tip of the month

Water is water, H2O…right? So, why do gardeners spend so much time discussing the water sources that they use in watering their plants? Speaking as a chemist, I can attest to the fact that water chemistry can be a very complex issue and one that can have a profound effect on growth and well-being- ours as well as plants. Water is sometimes referred to as the "universal solvent" , meaning that given enough time and the appropriate conditions, water has a tendency to dissolve pretty much anything. In many ways this is due to the configuration of the hydrogen atoms (as in the H2 part) relative to the oxygen (O), allowing some unusual partial bonding to take place with neighboring atoms. In fact, this is the underlying reason why ice floats (no, it’s not due to entrapped air in the ice cube), but that’s a story for another day. One of those "appropriate conditions" that influences water chemistry is pH. Generally, pH is a term for describing the relative acidity or alkalinity of water. Water dissolves many materials best under acidic conditions and tends to leave deposits of these materials behind when conditions are more alkaline. Most bromeliads seem to favor slightly acid waters and some (Vrieseas in particular) are just plain not happy with alkaline waters. Outside of a water’s pH, it is equally important to know a little about what dissolved minerals are present in the water and to what level they may be found. Some of these minerals, like calcium and magnesium are quite benign or even beneficial to plants while others like sodium, copper or even arsenic are quite commonly found in well waters in Florida and may be present at levels to the detriment of any plants unlucky enough to be receiving this water. What actions should you, as a hobbyist be taking? Many counties (and Volusia is one of them) have very knowledgeable agricultural agents on staff who can tell you about well water quality in your locale and can point you in the right direction to have your water analyzed if you suspect that it is affecting your plants. If you are using "city" water or reuse water for irrigation, contact your municipal supplier and they will be more that happy to supply you with a recent analysis of their water. Thinking of forgoing all of this and using rain water for your plants? Don’t be too sure that water quality won’t still be an issue. Depending on where you live and whether a rainfall event follows a long dry spell or a period of frequent rain, this water can be quite acidic or alkaline and may contain a number of unexpected contaminants. In the Daytona Beach area, I have seen rainwater with a pH as low 4 and as high as 9 (7 is the neutral point in the pH scale). This may not seem like a very wide range, but you should also know that the pH scale is a logarithmic one – meaning that a pH of 5 is not just "a little more acidic" that a pH of 6. It’s 10 times more acidic. And a pH of 4 is 100 times more acidic that a pH of 6! What options are available if you have your water analyzed and find that it is outside of the range of what’s best for your plants? Certainly there are many good water treatment systems out there, sold by many reputable companies but there are also a lot of less than reputable companies more than willing to sell you a system far beyond what you need and for a significant amount of money more than what they are worth. Talk to your local County Ag. agent about your concerns and they can almost certainly provide some good advice. Often the treatment needed is as simple as adding a small amount of pool acid (to lower the pH) or lime (to raise the pH) to a rain barrel of water or perhaps switching from a well supply to city water (or vice versa). Keep in mind that if you decide to purchase a treatment device, the price depends not only on the type of treatment you wish to be provided, but also on the volume of water that you need at any given moment. If you need 100 gallons of water and are willing to let the device take all day to produce this, it is far less costly than buying a larger unit designed to produce 100 gallons in one hour’s time. How likely is this to be an issue for you and your bromeliad collection? Consider this – not long ago Selby Gardens in Sarasota had a serious water quality problem that resulted in the damage or loss of a great many rare and unusual plants in their collection. It was through the collective efforts and generosity of the Florida bromeliad societies and the Bromeliad Society International (BSI) that a state of the art treatment system was purchased and installed, much to the relief of bromeliad enthusiasts everywhere. Water is a veryl complex issue – whether the concern be adequate water quantity (as in drought parched areas of the world where quality is the least of their concerns – they struggle to obtain enough water to meet their basic needs) or water quality – it’s an issue that everyone needs to be aware of.

Presidents Corner

The year is slipping by and here we are in October already. The temperatures are cooling off slightly so we can spend more time outside doing what we enjoy. As you work with your "brommies" please remember my request for each member to bring 2 "saleable" quality plants to this months meeting, for me to take to LPGA for the sale at the Council of Garden clubs meeting. Also get your plant ready for the Christmas plant exchange, this is always a lot of fun so make sure you don’t miss out. This year plants must be Bromeliads only, in past years we have accepted any plant for this but I feel as we are all such avid growers and collectors each member should go home with a plant they will cherish.

This month we are meeting at the home of Bradley & Marilyn Rauch for a tour of their garden. Brad has done programs for us on "mounting your plants" and I think we will all get lots of ideas when we see his creations.

See you all there.



Upcoming Events:

October 7th, 2008 Bromeliad Society of South Florida Annual Auction at Fairchild Tropical Gardens, 10901 Old Cutler Road, Miami.
Will start at 7pm. There will be some spectacular species and hybrids available.
Any questions, call Moyna at 305-251-5289, or email her at

October 11th, 2008

Quarterly Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies meeting. Hosted by Sarasota Bromeliad Society in Selby Botanical Gardens. 811 South Palm Ave., Sarasota

Lunch at 12pm followed by meeting at 1pm.

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.

November 1-2, 2008 Mount Dora Plant and Garden Fair. Orchids, ferns, natives, bromeliads, many other plants. Simpson cove, downtown. 9am to 4pm

November 8-9, 2008 Fairchild Tropical Garden "Ramble" – plants, garden accessories, antiques, farmers market. 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables 9:30am to 4:30pm.

December 6 - 7, 2008
Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society Annual Bromeliad Sale
Terry Park
3410 Palm Beach Blvd. (SR80)
Fort Myers, FL

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!


The BSI World conference - Plan on it in 2010!