The Florida East Coast Bromeliad Society

Next meeting Sunday, January 14th – 1:00p.m.

Jan. 2007

New Year - 2007

President Bradley Rauch386/767-8937

Vice President – Jay Thurrott – 386/761-4804

Secretary – Nina Leggett - 386/673-0550

Treasurer – Jim O’Shaughnessy - 386/253-0335


Once again the FECBS Christmas party was a smashing success! Attendance was good, the food was excellent and the plant exchange was a lot of fun. Thank you everyone for your participation and help in everything from setting up the tabels to clean-up at the end of the afternoon. Compliments to the chefs – all of you!

This month’s meeting…

I’ve been noticing a lot of bromeliads in bloom in my yard and I’m guessing that all of you have some as well, so this should be a good time to bring in one or more and show them off to the rest of our group. That’s right, it’s time for a good round of "show and tell". They don’t have to be in bloom though. Maybe you have a plant that just looks nice. Bring it in and tell us how you have been treating it to make it look that way. Or, maybe you have a plant or two that you’ve lost the tag to and you can’t remember its name. Bring it in to the meeting and we’ll see if someone can help you identify it.

Dues for the New Year –

That’s right, it’s time to pay the piper once again. Dues are just $10.00 per individual or $12.50 for a family. Please make out your checks to FECBS and forward them to the Treasurer (don’t make us come after you – we know where you live!).

…and while you have the checkbook out…

If you are not already a member of the BSI, this might be a good time to consider joining. You are already interested in bromeliads-otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. Why not take the next step and join the world-wide organization of like-minded individuals? An annual membership fee of $30 gets you a subscription to the BSI Journal – a really wonderful publication that keeps you in touch with new plant discoveries developments in the world of bromeliads. Outside of our own membership fee, this is one of the great bargains of our time! See any of the club officers for information on joining.

Halifax Council of Garden Clubs Yard Sale

This has become something of an annual event and is a fund raiser for the Council of Garden Clubs. It takes a surprising amount of money to maintain the house that we meet in each month and the annual dues that each club pays to the Council barely keeps the grass mowed. That is why the Council president has asked each club to contribute something of value for this sale, so please, look through your closets and see if there is anything that you might be willing to part with – it’s for a good cause! The sale is Saturday morning, January 19th. Even if you don’t contribute anything, come on down and see what’s for sale. You can buy something, bring it home and put it in a closet for next year’s sale!

Cold Damage

Betty Dollar was kind enough to send in this picture of her pineapple plant and wondered what had happened to cause this damage. This is a great example of two things: 1. Read the following installment on "nomenclature" and see if you can come up with the name for this type of Ananas bracteactus (although, the latest from the scientific types is that all types of pineapples should be called Ananas comosus – but that’s a whole different story). …and…2. This is what minor cold damage looks like. I’ve seen the same thing on my Ananas lucidus following our recent cold spell as well as on my variegated Aechmea fulgens. Temperatures in my neighborhood had not fallen below 40 degrees F, yet this is what shows up on these plants.

Nomenclature part 5…"

So far we’ve discussed terms used to describe the "parts" of bromeliads – the base, the leaves, the offsets, the inflorescence and the components of the flowers. This month we’ll review a few of the words commonly used to describe some of the distinctive patterns found in the leaves of bromeliads. Let’s start with colors. Sometimes when plastic gets old it takes on a sort of yellowish tint and we say that it has become discolored. We use that same word, but with a totally different meaning assigned to it to describe a bromeliad leaf that has a different color on one side than on the other – as in Aechmea fulgens var. discolor where the top of the leaf is a grayish green while the bottom is dark reddish or purple.

In contrast, the term concolor is used to describe something that is all of one color – like Tillandsia concolor where the leaves, spike, and bracts are all the same color. The flowers are colored purple, like you would expect, but the rest of the plant is one color. Presumably, if a Tillandsia was entirely purple (leaf, spike, and bracts) it could be referred to as concolor, since these structures would all be one color

Sometimes bromeliad leaves have longitudinal lines running from base to leaf tip. Most hobbyists know that this variation from the standard, solid colored leaf is known as variegation. We usually expect these lines to be white, but in some cases, as in the Aechmea luddemaniana cultivar ‘MEND’ the lines are rosy colored.

There are several types of variegation and, of course, each has its own descriptive term. If variegation occurs on the outside edge of the leaf, it is known as albomargination – meaning that the margin, or edge, of the leaf is either pale or white (we’ll see this term alba a little later). If variegation runs down the center of a bromeliad leaf, it is called medio-picta variegation. An example of this is the Aechmea luddemaniana cultivar ‘Alvarez’ which has a pale yellow or gold colored stripe runnning down the center of each leaf. The Nidularium innocentii group of plants has some interesting variegation forms that are distinguished as striatum, which is described by Padilla as having "green leaves marked with longitudinal, white lines" and the variety lineatum, which "has pale green leaves so heavily marked with fine, white lines that the whole plant appears to be white." There is even a multi-colored Aechmea called Aechmea magdalenae var. quadricolor which has striping in red, yellow, white and green!

Next, we have the term alba, commonly used to describe a bromeliad inflorescence that possesses little or no color. As an example of this, most of us grow (and some of us regret it) that extremely stiff and spiny Aechmea known as Ae. disticantha. We put up with its blood-letting tendencies because of that beautiful pink bloom spike that it puts up each Spring. There is a lesser known, colorless form of this plant known as Ae. disticantha forma alba. This word was probably used since there was no Latin term for "this plant has absolutely no redeeming qualities." Another example that more of us are familiar with is the little pale flowered Tillandsia ionantha "Druid". Before this cultivar had been assigned a name, it was simply T. ionantha forma alba.

It’s a Small World After All…

One of the interesting things about travelling around the state is that you never know who or what you may run into. Recently after visiting the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society in Clearwater, we stopped in Tarpon Springs for a few hours (the fresh seafood and even fresher Greek bakery items are well worth investigating) and wandered among the many gift shops along the waterfront. Prominantly displayed outside one shop along with the usual trays of T. ionantha in a seashell (and the Tarpon Springs’ variation: T. ionantha in a sponge), was a tray of Tillandsia ‘Nidus’ and one of Tillandsia caput madusae (a very large form). Tags on the plants revealed that they originated from Russell’s Bromeliads. A discussion with the shop-keeper revealed that although she was not a member of a bromeliad society, she not only knew the Russells and the new owners of Russells’ Bromeliads quite well, but she was also very familiar with Weevil project! Her quite-out-of-the-ordinary sale plants were in excellent condition and I couldn’t help but purchase some to add to my collection. You just never know where you may find good quality bromeliads for sale. I certainly didn’t expect to find them in a touristy gift shop!

More Tales From the Web…

The following is an excerpt from a posting on the Bromeliads for Beginners discussion group on the internet. Matt Klein, the author is pretty far removed from Florida, but the advice he offers in growing Tillandsias applies well to all of us:

As far as watering, I am wondering if your plants didn't rot rather than dry up. I sell thousands of plants in a season throughout the mid-west, including some to Michigan folks. I get many repeat customers because those that follow my directions have good luck keeping their plants alive. What I tell all of my customers is to thoroughly water their plants at least once a week. I recommend running water over the entire leaf surface using the faucet or sink sprayer. I am not a big advocate of soaking, per se, because people tend to forget their plants and one over-soaking can do a plant in. Another reason I don't advocate soaking as a first line of watering is that bubbles on the leaf surface might impeded water absorption, whereas watering under the faucet or sprayer forces the water to the leaf. Besides, Mom Nature showers; she doesn't soak. Then again, I tell folks that if they need to soak their plants, submerge and keep an eye on them. When the bubbles stop rising from the leaves, take the plants out. I especially emphasize the after-watering care. Tills do not want water sitting in the leaves and they want to be in enough air circulation after watering to allow the leaf surface to dry rapidly. Tillandsia International recommends that the leaf be dry within four hours and that is what I tell my customers. If you display your plants in something that doesn't allow adequate air circulation around the plants, such as a vase or cup, I recommend laying the plant on its side somewhere it will get adequate circulation, such as the drain board, to allow the plant leaves to dry adequately. I also encourage folks to try to mount or display their plants in the position they grow in nature. This position assures that the plant will naturally drain itself. An indication of this position can be found by looking at the base of the plant. If you position the base of the plant at a right angle to your hand, that will give you an indication of the plant's natural position. You will find most vase-shaped Tills like a slight angular position, and they even look better in that position. Some of the Tills, such as the ionanthas don't have a particular care. Another way to tell is to ask the person you buy from if he or she has any clumps of the plant or similar plants. In clumps, the Tills also tend to show their natural positions. If they are all oriented a certain way, then they will have a particular orientation they like. If they go ever which way, they don't care. About humidity, I tell my customers that it is a non-factor in the plants' water needs. It might extend the time between waterings; but plants that are oriented naturally and have adequate air circulation are hard to over-water. In the winter, in our very dry homes, lack of humidity might mean that you need to increase the amount of water plants get. And that is an important point. If you are not sure of how your plants like your home's climate, keep a careful eye on them. If they show signs of needed more water, then increase the water. Such signs are leaf curl both along the leaf axis and from tip to stem, leaf limpness, loss of turgor, or blanching of the leaf color. When it comes to more water, I advocate going from showering the plant to soaking the plant (per above recommendation) while maintaining the weekly schedule. The reason for the weekly schedule is that we are creatures of habit and watering on a schedule helps folks remember to water their plants--or at least sub-consciously make them feel guilty when they don't. As far as adding anything to the water, I tell folks to only water with regular water--not fertilizer water. I recommend fertilizing only after watering because fertilizers, being mineral salts, could
burn the leaves or otherwise damage them. The fertilizer I recommend is a dilute orchid fertilizer that doesn't use mainly urea as the
nitrogen source. Believe it or not, that is what I tell folks, just a little more briefer. I will close by recommending that you keep trying Tills because they are one of the most versatile plants as far as what you can do with them. I will also pass along the advice I once read in an orchid book. Just keep trying different plants until you find ones that can tolerate your habits and environments because they are not all alike. People who like to overcare should probably stick with the greener Tills and people who neglect should stick more with the grayer Tills.
Matt Klein

Thanks, Matt for some good advice!

Looking ahead:

January 13, 2007

Florida Council of Bromeliad Societies’ quarterly meeting – hosted by the Florida West Coast Bromeliad Society.

January 20, 2007

Halifax Council of Garden Clubs’ annual yard sale fund raiser. Bring in materials for the sale on Friday for pricing or early on Saturday the 20th.

March 15-18, 2007 "Everybody’s Flower Show" at the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach. Standard judged flower show, horticultural displays. Many vendors selling garden related items.

March 31, 2007

Volusia County Master Gardener’s Spring Sale

More on this when the official announcement is made.

April 21-22, 2007 Bromeliad Society of South Florida annual show and plant sale – Miami

May 5-6, 2007 Broward County Bromeliad Society annual show and plant sale