President: Virginia Jens
Vice President: Fran Drescher
Treasurer: Suellen Solodar
Recording Secretary: Tara Ford
Corresponding Secretary: Madeline Alongi
National Representative: Lee Statkewicz
In September I told you about the hordes of poinciana caterpillars that were devouring the leaves of my huge trees. These caterpillars spend the day on the ground in the leaf litter and among plants and climb the tree at twilight, coming down again at dawn. I dusted the tree trunks with Sevin and the caterpillars were gone but soon came back, though fewer in number. I had to spread dust two more times, and I am hoping they are gone and will not reappear next year. There are so many thousands of caterpillars that they can defoliate a big tree in a few days. My trees do show some damage, but still have leaves and are still growing a few new ones. Leaf growth will probably stop with the first real cold front.
Begonias have really perked up with the cooler weather, and they do grow vigorously at this time of year. I know that I nag you all the time to prune your cane begonias. I mostly practice what I preach, and the clumps that were drastically pruned look great. I left some of the B. 'Encanto Bronze' clumps unpruned because they are still blooming. Pruning can be done any time, so I will cut them back when the flowers stop. Another cane still in bloom is B. 'Honeysuckle.' Of course, B. coccinea, with its huge clusters of pink flowers blooms every day of the year. I do minor pruning on those, cutting out (right down to the ground) only the dark, woody stems that are no longer productive. For all the canes, nipping the growing tips encourages branching. Nipping can be done any time.
This is the month to fertilize the begonias and everything else! In pots, use Nutricote or Dynamite. In the landscape, you can of course use Nutricote. You can also save a little money and use palm and ornamental fertilizer. Just be very careful not to get it on the leaves or have it touch stems or rhizomes.
The snowbirds are back, both human and avian. Painted buntings started to arrive in early October and have been showing up in increasing numbers at feeders. Hummingbirds are back, and they always surprise me when I see them taking nectar from unexpected sources. This year I watched one feeding on the the native Passiflora suberosa, corky stem passionvine. Gene Joyner gave me a cutting of this vine years ago. It is such a valuable plant for zebra and gulf fritillary butterfly caterpillars. The berries are appreciated by many birds. I did not know that the hummers also liked the flowers. This passionvine is not invasive and can even be grown in a pot. Another favorite of hummingbirds are firespikes. The red ones are in bloom now, just when the hummingbirds arrive. As the red firespikes stop blooming in the winter, the bright pink ones take over, and the hummingbirds really love those. I have removed all the giant purple-flowered firespikes because of their growth habits and difficulty to control. They get very tall and then fall over and root. The bright pink ones are much easier to maintain and are a beautiful color. If any of you would like cuttings of passionvines or firespike, please email me and I'll bring some to the meeting.
The meeting began at 7:30. President Price introduced guest Doris Dinsmore.
Sue Ellen reported on little change in the balance of the Society’s account.
Brenda from PB State College discussed tissue culture lab results. She reported as many as 100-125 plants are growing as a result of weekly activity in the lab. A sample plant was passed to examine.
President Price announced the Bromeliad Society has a bus trip scheduled or Oct 23 for those interested. This includes a tour of a nursery and Home tour near Monkey Jungle in Miami.
Gene Joyner reported on his radio show on 880 AM on Sundays. He also noted the mounts Tropical Garden course in October.
Speakers Colin and Mark Friedrich from Excelsa Gardens provided a vast and unusual display of bromeliads, begonias, succulents, aloes, and other unusual species. Members were treated to a presentation describing each species and plants were for sale at the end of the evening.
The meeting concluded at 8:50.