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Bromeliad Show Is A Great Opportunity

The Bromeliad Guild of Tampa Bay will have a very special judged show and sale March 18,19, & 20th at the Tampa Garden Center, 2629 Bayshore Blvd in Tampa.

"People shouldn't miss this opportunity to come and see the beauty of these plants even if they never plan to grow bromeliads," said Lyla Shepard, a member who is very involved with the event.

 Blue bromeliad: Vase bromeliad, Aechmea ‘Blue Tango’ has lovely, long-lasting blue blooms, part of a wide range of flower color as well as foliage color.

She describes their group as the biggest, best, and oldest. It has been meeting for 40 years and still includes some of the charter members like Tom Wolfe, who was president for six years of Bromeiliads International, with which the Tampa group is affiliated.

Besides bromeliad plants brought for the judging and the sale, there will be some beautiful and educational displays. One is a rotating carousel that was part of their booth at the State Fair and is the creative engineering achievement of BGTB members Dave and Mary Fulkerson, assisted by Al Santiesteban and Lyla Shepard. Dave Fulkerson also set up the kaleidoscope that will be showing bromeliad photos on a large screen continuously throughout the show.

There is no admission charge and all events are open to the general public.

For more information, contact: Tom Wolfe, Show Chairman, H 961-1475 or C 391-1542 or email:bromeliadsociety@juno.com or Harold Sisco, President, BGTB, H 968-5726 or C 493-8045 or email: hsiscochemist@aol.com.

 This lipstick bromeliad thrives on a stump that can be moved around the garden as desired.

There are 45 different genera, more than 2700 species of bromeliads (bro-MEL-ee-ads) and 6000 more cultivars and hybrids. The best known is the pineapple, which is a symbol of southern hospitality. Their needs range from partial to full shade with a few that will survive full sun. Most are rainforest perennials with vase-shaped rosettes of stiff leaves that look almost artificial. Some look much like grasses or yuccas. They have many forms and colors of both leaf and flowers and some have attractive berries as well. The flowers of some come and go quickly. Others last for six months or more. This family also includes some very exotic air plants as well as Spanish moss. They grow 1 to 5 feet tall and a few, including the pineapples, can be very prickly, but are mostly fairly easy to grow.

Many multiply and grow up the trunks or out the branches of trees or on fallen wood. Their roots hold them in place and most of the water they use collects in the whorls. One grower likes to plant hers in the tops of upstanding logs. "I let the wood rot for a year or so and then scrape it out and put in a little soil mix and the roots," she say. "The plants thrive in those for years."

All bromeliads form their new leaves at the center of the plant. When they are blooming, it is impossible for new leaves to form, so they produce pups at the base of the plant instead. Each bromeliad whorl blooms only once, but by the time the flowers are gone, there are several to many pups growing around the base. After blooming, the parent plant begins to decline, though it may live for several years before it dies.

This species, Aechmea blanchetiana, has distinctive yellow to reddish/orange leaves and does well in full sun. These are growing among dwarf mondo grass.

There is a myth that bromeliads breed mosquitoes. "It is not so," says Lyla Shepherd. "Mosquitoes are a fact of life, especially in Florida shade in the summer. But bromeliad growers don't have any more or any fewer of them than anyone else."

Bromeliads make excellent container plants indoors or out. "Do not use regular garden soil," says Tom Hewitt in an article in the Dec/Jan 05 issue of Florida Gardening magazine. "Bromeliads will suffocate or rot if they don't drain well. Ideal mediums are available, but you can make your own with a 50/50 mix of orchid potting mix and a standard potting mix. One part peat, one part bark, and one part coarse sand also works well."

Nevertheless, some bromeliads that were under water during the hurricane survived and one lady reported that her bromeliads come through the storms better than any other plants. This is one class of plants a gardener can spend a pleasant lifetime getting to know better and better.


Bromeliads and all that Jazz was the theme of the Bay Area Bromeliad Guild's booth at the State Fair as well at their show, but at the latter the Jazz will be heard as well as seen.

A carousel of bromeliads--yes, they are real--will be seen at the show. There will also be a kaleidoscope of bromeliad photos being shown on a large screen continuously throughout the event.