The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, December 14 – 1:00a.m.

December, 2008

Merry Christmas - 2008

Annual FECBS Christmas Party!

President Nina Leggett - 386/673-0550

Vice President – Joan Campbell – 672-7382

Secretary – Calandra Thurrott – 761-4804

Treasurer – Evelyn Santus615-1138


Isn’t Christmas a great time of the year? Everyone is in a festive mood, Christmas decorations light up the evening sky…and I get to use the same front page on the newsletter that I used last year! I hope to see everyone at our annual Christmas party at the Finney Garden Center (our usual meeting place – the address is 837 N. Oleander Ave. in Daytona Beach) This is always a lot of fun with plenty of good food (I know you are all either excellent cooks or know where to go for good food!) and some great plants in the plant gift exchange. Please note that the time is one half hour earlier than normal – we will begin at 1:00 p.m. instead of 1:30. We started this time change quite a few years ago since some folks (myself included) can get pretty hungry by 1:30. We’re asking each person to bring food. Now this can be most anything from a box of Little Debbies from the corner 7-11 store to Oysters Rockefeller for 25 – whatever you are comfortable with providing! Just like in past years, we will be having a Christmas Plant Exchange. These are always fun! Bring a nice bromeliad that you think the other members will be interested in and wrap it, put it in a box, or bag it so that prying eyes can’t tell what it is. As in past years, a prize goes to the best wrapped gift! We’ll line the gifts up on a table and everyone who brings a plant for the exchange will receive a ticket. Tickets will be drawn one at a time and the owner of that ticket number will get to select from the wrapped gift-plants on a table. He or she then unwraps the plant and tells the rest of the group what it is. I know, sometimes it’s difficult to tell and some of us didn’t bring our reading glasses, so we can’t read the tag but we’ll have plenty of help to try to identify each plant. Everyone who brings a gift will get to select a gift. Bring family, friends - maybe even potential new members – this is a great way to get acquainted! Plan on having a relaxing afternoon with some good food, good company and, of course, nice plants!

Last month’s meeting…

That was quite a turn-out at the Thurrott’s last month. It seemed like we had an awfully large amount of food to start off the day and (thankfully) by that evening there was hardly anything left! It was good to see everyone and I hope that everyone had a good time.

In addition to a tour of the yard, there was a regular business meeting last month. A slate of officers for the next year was recommended and unanimously approved by the membership. Our officers for next year are:

President Joan Campbell

Vice President Jerry O’Keefe

Secretary Calandra Thurrott

Treasurer Eve Krauth

Thank you, one and all, for volunteering to serve in your respective offices and thank you outgoing officers Nina Leggett and Evelyn Santus – you’ve done a great job this past year and your efforts are sincerely appreciated!

A Return to Basics – Time has a way of slipping by before you realize it. In looking over last year’s newsletter, I realized that it’s been a whole year since the first installment in this series – we probably should wrap it up soon and move on to something new. Last month we looked at the Neoregelia family…which brings us to the letter P … for PITCAIRNIA Just to clear up any misunderstandings – this Genus is not named for Pitcairn Island, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame (Pitcairn Island was named for Robert Pitcairn, a midshipman aboard the British ship HMS Swallow as a reward for being the first to sight the island in 1767), but instead was coined in honor of the English physician Dr. William Pitcairn who kept a noteworthy botanical garden in the mid-1700s in the town of Islington, near London. This is a large group of plants (the second largest Genus in the Bromeliad family), although few are seen commonly in cultivation. Most Pitcairnias are terrestrial in nature and are found in moist, shaded areas from Argentina north to Mexico although this Genus has the distinction of having one member species that is native to the west coast of Africa! Many are not highly decorative when not in bloom and resemble grasses with their long arching green leaves. Surprisingly, a few Pitcairnias are deciduous – a characteristic that has caused some plants to be discarded unnecessarily(the African Pitcairnia is among these). Flowers are tubular, borne on tall stalks and are often great hummingbird attractors. I’ve included a picture of a Pitcairnia spicata that was given to me by Art Hyland in the early ‘90s. When I received it, it wasn’t much to look at and I didn’t do much to improve its looks by letting it dry out on several occasions(this group of bromeliads really prefers to be kept moist, so you may want to keep your potted Pitcairnia in a saucer of water). The plant was in a 6" pot and the leaves were about 12" long. It was only when I put this plant in the ground in my yard that it really began to thrive. Today the leaves are easily 5 times that (it blooms every November for me) and the branched bloom spike is even taller. The flowers are bright red, tubular and great hummingbird attractors. It’s pretty cold hardy too, although sometimes the bloom gets nipped by a frost and when we have really cold weather (below freezing) the leaves may get killed as well – but it always comes back in the Spring.

In the first picture you can see the developing bloom spike at somewhat over 6ft. tall. The second picture shows Calandra holding a P. spicata leaf – also approximately 6 ft. long.

If that’s a little too big for you, try P. undulate – a little more manageable as a potted plant at about 2ft. tall. This plant also has a very pretty inflorescence of red tubular flowers and is guaranteed to attract attention when in bloom.

I’ve found both of these plants to be very trouble-free and easy to grow as long as you pay attention to their moisture needs. If you grow Pitcairnias in a pot, don’t let them dry out. If planted in the yard, I find that normal rainfall in this area pretty much takes care of them.

If you don’t already have any Pitcairnias in your collection, give them a try. You’ll be amazed at how little care they require!

Presidents Corner

Another year is coming to an end and so is my time as President. I would like to thank my fellow officers – Joan for the wonderful speakers and field trips she arranged, Evelyn for keeping us on track financially and Calandra for reminding us each month what we had discussed the month before.

I would like to wish each of you and your families a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

This month we have our Christmas party and plant exchange, this is always a lot of fun, so bring along a dish and a wrapped plant and come enjoy the festivities.

See you all there.



Upcoming Events:

Jan. 31, 2009 – Annual garage sale fundraiser for the Halifax Council of Garden Clubs at the Finney Garden Center 9 – 2pm

March 28 (9am-6pm) & 29 (10am-5pm), 2009 – 19th Annual Spring Garden Festiva at Kanapaha Gardens in Gainesville.

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.