The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next regularly scheduled meeting Sunday, November 18th, 2001 – 12:00p.m.

November, 2001

Field Trip – Plants and Things

In Ocala

President - Jay Thurrott - 386/761-4804

Vice President - Bud Martin - 407/321-0838

Secretary - Bob Roberts - 386/586-6221

Treasurer - Ted Nuse - 386/673-2648


I just love field trips – I have since elementary school and this one should be great fun – a day at Plants and Things, the Aldrich’s nursery in Ocala. I’ve had the pleasure of visiting there earlier this year and I can tell you – you are in for a treat! The address is 746 N.E. 35th Street in Ocala. There is a map on the last page of this newsletter that should get you there. The Aldrichs will be looking for us around mid-morning on November 18th. This is the weekend after our usual meeting date and will take the place of our November meeting.

ZooramaII was a really nice event and our club was well represented with 9 members present (ok, two of those are also members of the Seminole Bromeliad Society). Zoo-keeper Steve DeCreasy gave a very interesting talk on future plans for the zoo after our picnic lunch and then we all pitched in and planted flat after flat of bromeliads around the zoo. The rains came and, yes, we got a little wet, but we also had a great time and afterward got a personalized tour of the zoo with Steve providing fascinating behind the scenes commentary for the exhibits. If you haven’t been there recently – this is quite a change from the zoo you may have remembered from years past. The exhibits and grounds have all been improved and there are more exciting changes ahead! I’m already looking forward to next year’s Zoorama III!

Many thanks to David Partington of Daytona Beach for his donation of several boxes of bromeliads. Probably half of these are Billbergias. All came from Pineapple Place nursery (now gone) and look to be strong, healthy plants with one minor problem – most of them have no identification tags! This is not necessarily a problem for some of them. I think someone among us will be able to ID them once they bloom (but all of those Billbergias…?) I see this as a long-term FECBS project: Name Those Plants – we’ll be looking for monthly N.T.P. reports from everyone. Let’s hear how they are doing, what colors are developing, what genus you think they belong to, what the bloom looks like, etc. We’ll give you a blank tag for each plant and you fill it out when you figure out what it’s name is. Anyway…we’ll have these plants to distribute to our members at the January ’02 meeting. I’m sure that they can be placed in good ‘foster homes’. You might want to mark that one on your calendar-don’t miss out!.

One of the benefits of being an officer in FECBS (on top of the great salary!) is attending the quarterly Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies’ meetings. These meetings are hosted on a rotating basis by each of the member clubs, so that one quarterly meeting may be in Miami, the next may in Gainesville and the next in Fort Meyers…you get the idea. Usually these meetings are held at members’ houses so you have an opportunity to view their collections or they are near a garden or the meeting coincides with a show and sale. I really have come to look forward to these events – it’s great to interact with the people from other clubs and to see plants grown under all sorts of different conditions. The October meeting was held in Miami and hosted by the Bromeliad Society of South Florida and we had a tour of Karl and Kris Green’s greenhouse after the meeting. What a treat! They have over a thousand different species of plants under near perfect growing conditions. Many of these are very large species that collectors shy away from because of space limitations, but they are real knockouts to see. Just inside the entrance to his greenhouse is an Aechmea hybrid in bloom with absolutely electric blue floral bracts. The color is so bright, it’s hard to look away! There can be some real surprises for the visitor too – plants that you have in your own collection, but you have no idea what they look like in bloom or how big they may get when mature! Karl is also a walking encyclopedia of information about his plants – great stuff about where the plant was collected, what growing conditions it favors, how cold resistant it may be. You can’t help but increase your own knowledge listening to him!

Bromeliads and your health

Let’s face it – we live in a hectic world! There’s never enough time in the day to accomplish what we want, the demands on what little free time we have are constantly increasing, and we’re always in a rush to get from point A to point B. It’s no wonder that nervous disorders are on the rise as people try to cope with their everyday lives. For those who are swept up in this chaos, pursuit of a hobby can be that island of refuge we need to help make it through each day…and what better hobby than growing bromeliads? Hurrying on your part makes no difference to bromeliads. You can fertilize, proselytize, hypothesize, and even apologize but for the hobbyist, bromeliads will refuse to bloom until they’re ready. So, you may as well slow down, take a deep breath, relax, and learn to appreciate and enjoy your surroundings.

Studies have shown that the presence of pets in a home can significantly reduce blood pressure in those suffering from hypertension. Such a study probably hasn’t been performed yet(hmmm… do you think there might be some federal funds available?), but I would be willing to bet that working around bromeliads has the same effect on blood pressure. How can it miss? Potting, separating, cleaning or just inspecting bromeliads diverts your attention from those cares and worries and, before you realize it, you find yourself in a deep meditative state of ‘bromeliaphoria’, that elusive metaphysical state where you are one with your plants. Your only worries are whether that speck of scale will mar a leaf on what should be a blue ribbon plant, whether the light conditions will bring out the best color in its leaves, or whether you should put that plant into a larger pot. Time becomes irrelevant and before you realize it, your cares don’t seem so significant and the world becomes a brighter place.

Now I am not going to tell you to throw away your blood pressure medicine and raise bromeliads solely for health considerations, but I do think that there are more benefits to this hobby than what meets the eye. After all, bromeliads teach us patience and patience is often what is lacking in today’s world. Here’s to good growing and good health!

Upcoming events:

November 18th – Field trip to Plants and Things nursery in Ocala

December 16 – Annual Holiday Party and Dinner hosted by the Seminole Bromeliad Society at the Sanford Garden Club

January 13th – January meeting of FECBS, distribution of donated plants(courtesy of David Partington) for N.T P. project.

March 14th – 17th, 2002 – The Daytona Flower Show at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach

April 27th and 28th, 2002 – Sarasota Bromeliad Show

May 14th-19th, 2002 -15th World Bromeliad Conference will be held at the St. Petersburg Hilton Hotel.

September 6th and 7th, 2002 – Extravaganza hosted by FECBS (that’s us!) at the Daytona Beach Resort, 2700 N. Atlantic Ave. in Daytona Beach.

What’s blooming?

A little Pitcairnia that I picked up at last year’s Extravaganza in Ft. Meyers has rewarded me with a very attractive bloom of reddish orange flowers. The plant was marked as P. macrocalyx, but someone (reputedly Harry Luther) had crossed the species name out and pencilled in "flammea", so, as far as I’m concerned…flammea it is!

Back in 1987 I picked up a plant in a souvenir shop in Disney’s Buena Vista Village. They had a number of bromeliads for sale (another acquisition was an odd cross of Ae. fosteriana x Ae. kunziana that took over 12 years to bloom, but that’s another story) and Ae. coelestis var. albomarginata looked especially attractive, so I bought it. This has been a great little plant since then. It blooms reliably, the variegation is so stable that I don’t think I’ve ever gotten a non-variegated pup, and it survives each winter without complaint. It always sets seed when it blooms, so anyone who wants some is more than welcome to them – but, I guarantee that the seedlings will be non-variegated…and the albomarginated leaves are a large part of the charm of this plant, so why go through the exercise of growing from seed?

Another one of my favorites, Aechmea ‘Lucky Stripes’ is in bloom a little early this year. This is one of those plants that you just can’t say enough good things about – it looks great whether it’s in bloom or not, very cold hardy, and a reliable bloomer. In case you didn’t realize it, this plant originated in Tampa and it wasn’t that long ago (1981) when it first came to light among a batch of non-variegated plants. If you don’t already have this plant in your collection you need to beg, borrow, or steal one!

Incidentally, you’ve heard me say it before and I’m sure that I’ll say it again – keeping good records on your collection is important and reviewing them can be as interesting as growing the plants themselves. I find it fascinating that some plants always bloom at the same time of the year, some ‘kind of’ bloom around the same time of year (give or take a month or two) and others seem to just bloom whenever they get around to it. Case in point – Bud Martin gave me a Billbergia "Stellar Attraction" in 1996. Since then it has bloomed in Feb. of ’98, May ’99, November of last year, and now on Oct. 13th – there’s old "Stellar Attraction" in full bloom! Pretty bloom, pretty plant but there’s just no predicting when this thing will bloom again! A number of other Billbergias are in bloom now as well and…oops…you missed it. Those blooms sure don’t last long do they! …and what’s going on with Ae. "Spring Beauty"? This certainly isn’t Spring, but there it is throwing out a bloom spike!


Plants and Things

746 N.E. 35th Street

Ocala, Fl. 34479-2712

George & Irene Aldrich, Owners

Phone for an appointment


FAX 352/369-3032

Toll Free Order Line 1-800-299-1913