The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, November 14, 2004

November, 2004

Winter is fast approaching!

President Linda Stagnol386/760-6842

Vice President – Jay Thurrott – 386/761-4804

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott - 386/761-4804

Treasurer - Ted Nuse - 386/673-2648


There’s a definite hint of winter in the air! The days are noticeably shorter now and the humidity is much lower than what we have seen this summer. Will we have a cold winter or a mild one? No one can say for certain, so you should be planning for the worst!

This month’s meeting:

Show Us What You’ve Got:

This idea was brought up at the last meeting (what do you mean you weren’t there?) and seemed to generate a lot of interest, so we’ll try it out! Select one of your best plants (or more if you would like), clean it up, repot it as though you were going to enter it into a show, and bring it in to the November meeting for a "mock" judged bromeliad show. We will place the plant in an appropriate section for judging and give everyone a chance to view it and form their own opinions as to what ribbons, if any, each plant should be awarded. Then we’ll have those same plants reviewed by a trained judge who will describe the plant’s good points, bad points, and decision on what ribbons should be awarded. I think this will be a lot of fun and we may just learn a few things in the process! Plants can be entered in blooming or non-blooming categories so don’t feel that you must have a bromeliad in bloom to enter. You will be surprised at some of the decisions that will be made! This is also a good opportunity to bring a friend who may be interested in bromeliads, but has been reluctant to attend meetings. You’ll be seeing some very nice plants in a show setting!

Next Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies Meeting – January 8th. This will be hosted by the Sarasota Bromeliad Society.

Tales from the Web

The following is an interesting article concerning the so-called "small Neoregelias" that was posted on the "Bromeliads for Beginners" web.

Last night, Jeanne German talked to the Greater New Orleans Bromeliad
Society about a favorite subject of hers, the small neos. Those of you who are familar only with the large Neo. carolinea var. tricolor, the Neo most commonly seen, would be amazed by how small some in this genus are.

There are a number of small species - cyanea, 'Fireball' (which is probably a species, not a hybrid,but never described scientifically), ampullacea, zonata, smithii, and a number of others. Crosses of these with full size Neos often produce plants that are still very small. Foliage with spots, dots, stripes or blotches is often seen with these plants; beautiful shades of red, pink and purple, and all combinations thereof, are the rule and not the exception.

Michael's Bromeliads is a good source for these species and their hybrids. When you consider that a collection of 200 of these could be placed on a card table, you can see another virtue of these bromeliads! Most are very easy to grow; the only ones I have had
trouble with are Neo. pendula and its relatives.

Kenneth Quinn

Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society Hosts Successful Extravaganza ‘04

For those of you who were unable to attend this year’s Extravaganza in Clearwater/Largo, you missed a great event. Hotel accomodations were very nice and easy to get to. The plant sale was held at a public gardens that were simply outstanding, although a little difficult to get to due to road construction activity in the area. Parking was somewhat limited due to another large event going on at the same time, but once you found a place to park, this was a great place to spend the day. Plant sales were very good – a great selection of plants at good prices. The bromeliad beds were well tended and surprisingly extensive – an excellent opportunity to see some of the larger bromeliads used in a landscape application. There was a free guided tour of the gardens that provided the opportunity to ask many questions about the gardens and the identities of individual plants. The banquet was back at the hotel and, again, the Florida West Coast folks did it up splendidly! The food was excellent and the table decorations looked great with gold coins (actually mint chocolate) stamped with ‘50th’ in honor of the club’s 50th anniversary scatered around centerpieces of Guzmania ‘Puna Gold’.

As always, the rare plant auction presented the opportunity to acquire some very interesting plants and it was all for a good cause – moneys raised go the Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies. Our club met its obligation of 5 donated items for the auction and they brought in a fair amount of money for the Council. It’s not too early to begin planning to attend next year’s Extravaganza. That one will be held at Selby Gardens in Sarasota. We’ll provide more details as they become available.

If I Only Had a…(part 3 – ‘Things aren’t always as simple as they seem’)

So, you’ve decided to put up a shadehouse in the backyard. You talked to the man who sells canopies at the local flea market and he has delivered all of the pipes and fittings to make the frame. You also bought shadecloth material to wrap your framework. It should be simple enough to assemble everything (it’s just a big erector set, right?), move your plants in, and then from now on all of your bromeliads will be grown to perfection. This is probably a good time for a reality check!

Before you start assembling the frame, you should devote some attention to the parcel of land that your shadehouse will soon be occupying. First of all, decide on the orientation of your structure. Give some thought to where the morning and afternoon sun will be relative to the shadehouse. Will this be in the full sun each day or will you have shade from overhanging tree limbs? Keep in mind that the sun’s angle will change drastically from Summer to Winter, so try to anticipate where you will be receiving the strongest daytime sun. Also, give some thought to your convenience of entering the structure and the entry path that you will probably take. Don’t make the front entry on the far side of the shadehouse so that you have to walk around it to get in... and don’t make the pathway to get to the entry so narrow that you have difficulty bringing plants in and taking them out – you’ll be doing a lot of this, so make it easy on yourself.

Next, stand in the middle of the site where you will be building and look around you. If you are surrounded by cypress trees, you may be in a wetland! Plan on having flooding problems at certain times of the year – not to mention permitting problems(several state and federal agencies take a dim view of wetlands being disturbed). Pick another building site a little higher and drier. While you’re at it, you should probably determine whether water runs onto this site or off from it during heavy rainstorms. It’s a small thing, but do you really want a stream running through your bromeliad collection every time it rains? You may need to bring in some clean fill material to avoid flooding, but please don’t re-route the drainage into your neighbors property.

Is the area level and cleared of all vegetation, tree stumps, rocks and other miscellaneous debris? If not, you have some work to do before assembling the frame. Now is the time to dig up the grass/shrubs/stumps and make the site as clean and level as possible before starting your construction. My backyard is basically a pine and palmetto scrub area where I chose to put up a shadehouse. I quickly learned that I’m good for the removal of about three palmettos before it’s "Miller time". Tree stumps can also prove very challenging in this type of situation. Leave them in and they will be something that you will continually trip over. Bury them and they will attract ants and termites as they slowly rot away – leaving you a hole that you will continually trip into. Pull them out and you will discover why tree removal services charge so much for this service – this is hard work!!! Whichever ;you decide to do, don’t make the mistake of putting up the frame and then trying to work around the poles to level the ground. A little extra effort at this point will reward you with a clean, smooth floor for your shadehouse.

Now that you have the site ready, it’s time to assemble the frame. This is probably not a one-person operation. You will find that as soon as you begin connecting galvanized pipes to fittings you get a very heavy, unwieldy apparatus that wobbles and flexes and looks a little like a newborn colt trying to stand for the first time. Have someone work with you to hold the portions of the frame steady while you connect additional pieces to it. Once everything is connected, the framework will stand by itself just fine, but until you add that last fitting and pipe be prepared to duck and run if it comes apart and starts to fall toward you.

Once the framework is assembled, its time to attach the shadecloth. Plastic ‘cable ties’ that are sold in building supply stores make this an easy chore. These come in several colors and a wide assortment of lenghts. Just make sure that you what you buy them long enough to wrap around the pipes in your frame – leaving you enough of a tab to pull the tie snug. I’ve also noticed that you can buy these with an ultraviolet light inhibitor in the plastic. It’s probably a good idea to use these since sunlight has a tendency to make most plastics deteriorate over time.

Use your imagination in fastening the cloth to the frame. There are probably many ways to do this. I used a sort of ‘french braid’ approach to attaching two lengths of shadecloth to the peak of the structure and that seemed to work well. Push the pointed end of the plastic tie through the cloth, around the steel tube and back through the base of the tie. Pull it snug and clip off the tag end.

Now that you have the completed shade house, its time to think about benches to put your plants on. Consider the working height that you wish to have for these benches. If you are only 4 foot tall you are going to want to have your benches at a different height from the basketball star bromeliad hobbyist who likes his benches somewhat taller. Should you build your own benches or buy them already made? Should they be galvanized steel, plastic, or wood? Some commercial nurseries don’t even use benches, but rely on a heavy gauge wire mesh that holds 6" pots. The wire is supported by 4 by 4 wooden posts and tethered at either end by large cables driven into the ground. …and speaking of ground, don’t negelect a ground covering inside of your structure. Most people opt for a heavy ‘ground cloth’ that stands up to foot traffic very well. Just like with shade cloth, though keep in mind that the true commercial grade is a much more durable material than what is typically sold in hardware stores. Other people may use cement pavers, bricks, gravel or even just builder’s sand. These are all choices for you to puzzle over. There’s no ‘correct’ choice, but some will probably work better for you than others. When in doubt, ask questions of other hobbyists who have been down this road. They can be a wealth of information and can help you avoid mistakes that they have already made. That’s what your society is there for – make the most of this resource!

Looking ahead:

November 20, 21 – Fairchild Tropical Gardens annual "Ramble" – This is the 64th annual festival and includes a wide range of plants (including bromeliads) for sale, exhibits, garden products, entertainment and food. Located at Fairchild Gardens at 10901 Old Cutler Rd. in Coral Gables, this event always draws large crowds. Admission is $10 for adults. For further information call 305/667-1651 or go to their website at

March 17 – 20, 2005 Everybody’s Flower Show - 50th Anniversary

April 2, 2005 Master Gardener’s Sale at Volusia County Fair Grounds. This is a half day sale only, so don’t arrive late!