The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

The November meeting is cancelled due to the Extravaganza in Ft. Meyers – See you there! Next meeting-Christmas party with the Seminole Bromeliad Society. Details to follow.

November, 2000

No Meeting this Month – Bromeliad

Extravaganza in Ft. Meyers –

Sat., Sun. Nov. 11, 12, 2000

President - Jay Thurrott - 904/761-4804

Vice President - Bud Martin - 407/321-0838

Secretary - Bob Roberts - 904/446-8626

Treasurer - Ted Nuse - 904/673-2648


Fall is here – can winter be far behind?

That’s right, we’ve made it through another summer and temperatures are just a little cooler in the morning now. It won’t be long before we have to start worrying about those cold fronts sliding down the Atlantic seaboard from the frozen north country (also known as anywhere north of Florida). Have you made your plans for what you are going to do when the 11 o’clock news anchor says "you’d better bring in those plants and pets tonight"? The "pets" part is the easy portion – they tend to bring themselves in when you open the door. I’ve noticed though that no matter how long you hold the door open, the plants don’t come in. This can be a problem, particularly if you are like so many other bromeliad enthusiasts and can’t resist bringing home just one more plant. This is when that habit catches up with you! It’s not too late yet to give some serious thought to protecting your plants from freezing temperatures.

Remember that old fable involving a grasshopper and a group of ants? It seems the grasshopper lazed around all summer enjoying the easy living while the ants raced around preparing for winter. He made fun of the ants until that first blast of cold air passed through and the weather man said "you’d better bring in those plants and ants tonight"(or something like that). We’ve been lucky for quite a few years now, but one of these days we’re going to see temperatures fall into the ‘20s. This will likely be followed a large number of potted and mounted plants that will no longer stay upright and a pronounced wailing from the owners of those plants. Give it some thought if you haven’t already. This year have you been a grasshopper or an ant?

‘Zoo-rama’Wasn’t that fun planting bromeliads around the Central Florida Zoo? The weather could not have been nicer, the zoo people(zoo-keepers?) friendlier or the picnic dinner tastier(thanks to the Seminole Bromeliad Society folks-they know how to put on a terrific meal). The plantings went smoothly once we were given an idea of the areas available and ended up looking really nice. Special thanks to club-members Mike, CeCe, and Barbara Fink, Doris Crumbley, Joan and Robert Roberts (who, at this writing should be moving into their new house in Palm Coast), Marion Kitzmiller and her husband, Bud Martin, Calandra Thurrott, and guest-Katy Thurrott. They all worked very hard and did a great landscaping job. How about making this an annual event?

The Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies (FCBS) is looking for a few good men…and women-

As you know, the Florida Council has landed a a contract with the Division of Plant Industry (DPI) to provide funds for the continuing research on controlling the "evil weevil" and, like most government funding, there are some strings attached. The largest and longest of these strings is a requirement that FCBS collect seed of native bromeliads in areas threatened by the weevil, grow the seed to maturity, and once the weevil is under control (this is an optimistic requirement) replace plants in areas where the seed was originally collected. As you might imagine, this is a long-term project with no specific date in mind for reintroduction of the plants, but it is an admirable goal. What the FCBS needs now is volunteers – Volunteers to collect seed, volunteers to grow the seed, and volunteers to reintroduce the plants. If you are interested in participating, please, contact me and I will go over the details (and there are a lot of details that must be addressed) and pass your name on to the Council. I can’t think of a more deserving project for anyone interested in bromeliads or native plants and I strongly encourage you to consider volunteering for this project.

Councils, their funding and where the money goes-

Organization structures often puzzle me. There’s the Council of Bromeliad Societies (FCBS) to which we all belong. This is made up of the 12 or so bromeliad societies throughout the state. It’s governing board is composed of representatives from each of the individual clubs and they meet quarterly. Funding is provided by a portion of each of our annual dues that we pay to our own club (this is $2/each member). Funds collected pay for the quarterly newsletter, miscellaneous operating expenses and for the research to date on the weevil. As it turns out, the newsletter costs more to print and distribute to the 600+ members across the state than the dues can cover. If I were a betting man, I’d wager on a dues increase in the near future. The rare plant auction at the annual Extravaganza is a major source of funds for this council. Without active participation in the auction by attendees at the Extravaganza, expenses could never be met – so we need you to be there!

Then there is the Halifax Council of Garden Clubs. This is made up of 10 different garden clubs in the Halifax area – and we are one of those 10 clubs. It’s governing board, likewise, is formed by representatives of each of the member clubs. Funding is provided by another portion of each of our dues(I’m ashamed to say I don’t know how much this is), an annual fund-raiser, and a generous donation from the Daytona Beach News Journal following the Daytona Flower Show in March. Expenses are surprisingly high – it costs quite a lot of money for the Halifax Council to put on the Flower Show(their budget for this event was $7000 last year) and by the time maintenance and upkeep expenses on the Garden Center where we hold our meetings are met, they just about break even. This year we are kicking off a new fund raiser that is a "first annual" calendar sale. The calendars are made up of high quality pictures of the Halifax area and dates of interest to folks in this area are noted each month. Wonder when Bike Week or Spring Break 2001 begins? Buy a calendar and you will be reminded when it’s the best time to leave town. These calendars are a steal at $6/each and should go fast, so get your orders in early. To reserve yours, call me at 761-4804 and leave a message at the beep. If the line is busy, please be patient and try again– I have two teenage daughters whose lives tend to revolve around our telecommunication system. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a telephone become worn out before, but mine is well on the way.

Upcoming events:

November 11th – Extravaganza 2000 hosted by the Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society in Ft. Myers, Fl.

3/15/01-3/18/01 - Daytona Beach Flower Show at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach

Summer of 2002 – 15th World Bromeliad Conference hosted by the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society in Clearwater/St. Petersburg, Fl.

What’s Blooming-

I love seeing Vrieseas in bloom and now is a great time to see them in my yard. Vriesea ‘Asahi’ isn’t much to look at until it blooms, but what a bloom it produces! Vriesea ‘Marieae’ is another old favorite. And talk about old… Edward Andre first reported this hybrid in 1889 and named it in remembrance of Marie Truffaut, the hybrizer’s wife. I think that V. ‘Asahi’ may have a pretty inflorescence, but V. ‘Marieae’ is one of the toughest plants I’ve ever come across. Hot weather, freezing weather – makes no difference, this plant survives. I’ve even found recently that if I start with a young enough plant, it can be mounted on wood and will take some pretty strong sun!

Another favorite: Vriesea carinata – this is just a great little plant with plain green leaves for most of the year but when it blooms it puts up a small feather-type bloom with red bracts and yellow flowers in colors so bright that they are startling!

Some Vriesea hybrids make a lot of sense. Take V. erythrodactylon for example – beautiful bloom, plain looking plant otherwise. Then take V. sucreii – good looking dark-leaved plant, bloom is ok. Put them together and you get an attractive plant and a simply "knock-out" bloom in V. erythrodactylon x V. sucreii.

Did’ya ever wonder?

How much light is ‘low light’ and how much more does it take to become ‘bright light’ and, eventually, ‘full sun’?

If someone can answer this one, bromeliad lovers world-wide would be very appreciative! I’ve rambled on about this before, but wouldn’t you think that someone would come up with a quantitative measurement (sorry that’s the chemist in me coming through) for the level of light striking a plant’s leaves? I know, there’s always a light meter reading…but good light meters are a little pricey and unless you take average readings over some time, they don’t really take into account those moving shadows or the filtered light that comes through the gently rustling leaves in shade trees. No… light strikes the meter, the reading jumps up; shadow hits the meter, the reading goes down – what number do you use? And, as if that’s not confusing enough - the same amount of light that brings out the brightest colors in bromeliad leaves in the summer (when the humidity is high and the plants are in an active growth period) burns the leaves in the springtime (when the humidity is low and plants are just entering that growth period). You wind up with a plant with ugly brown spots on the leaves. Is two hours of bright sunlight enough? Is 6 hours of sun too much? Most of us who enjoy growing bromeliads and have had some success over the years are aware of this and visually keep track of the amount of light on our plants. If it seems that too much light is hitting them, we just move them to a shadier location. This is what comes of experience. But how do you explain this to the new hobbyist who wants to know exactly where to place his newly purchased bromeliad? "Can I put it in my front yard?" " How about the north side of my house?" I can’t tell you if that’s a good spot unless you take me home with you and I watch that spot for a day or so. Honestly, sometimes you just find yourself lapsing into the mantra: Filtered light… go toward the filtered light!

Controlling the threat of Spanish Moss…

The following is a reprint from the Daytona Beach News Journal. Bob Desiderio is a columnist for the paper and recently fielded this question:

Q. How do you control Spanish moss and keep it from clinging to tree branches? Some say it is attractive while others say they suffer allergic reactions. Is there a solution to the problem? – Deltona reader

A. According to a scholarly paper on Spanish moss from the Beaufort County (S.C.) Library, it is not a true moss, it is not a parasite, it does not kill trees, and has many uses for animals and humans. About the only way you can control Spanish moss is to harvest it with long poles. It is sold commercially and a market is made in its sale in Tampa. It occurs from Virginia to Argentina. It lives on nutrients and moisture from the air, unlike mistletoe, which is a parasite that attaches itself to a tree and lives off of it. It is used for ornamental purposes in the arts and crafts, for stuffing mattresses (Henry Ford stuffed Model T seats with it) and it has been used in medical experiments to treat diabetics and control blood glucose levels.

Thanks Desi for telling it like it is! - JCT

By the way, several people have asked me now about that stylized bromeliad that usually is placed at the end of the newsletter. That’s our FECBS logo! We’ve had it for quite some time now – it was originally designed by a commercial artist and was picked from several possible logos for our use. This is used on our letterhead on stationary and is on the signs that we use at our sales booth at the Ocean Center. I think it’s kind of nice and have just recently figured out how to clean a picture of it up enough so that it reproduces well.