Collecting Treasure Coast Passalongs

It is entirely possible the term “Passalongs” is Southern American slang. In the Deep South gardeners typically pass along their favorite plants to friends and neighbors by seed, cutting or division. Once I was the happy recipient of an air layered old fashioned Gardenia. Hence the term Passalong Plants.

There are varying superstitions about proper receipt of these plants. One is you never say ‘Thank you’ because this will result in the plant’s immediate demise – this seems so strange to me as Southerns are, if anything, polite.

Many of these plants might be considered ‘Roadsidea’ as they are superhardy and likely to have been collected by an intrepid gardener for their outstanding flower or other characteristics.

Everglades Tomatoes

Everglades Tomatoes

Here in South Florida, contrary to most of the Northern Hemisphere, the gardening season is winding down and gardeners are sharing plants for installation before the rainy season begins. In the case of the Everglades tomatoes, the seeds will be saved for planting next fall.

I am not so sure about the Everglades Tomato. They are the small tomato at the top of the picture, the bigger ones are Grape Tomatoes. These are native to the Everglades, hence the name, some people grow them year round. To me, they have a beefy taste and are too small to get the full tomato experience. I want a burst of sunshine when I bite into a tomato. I may have to stick with my favorite Sweet 100s.

I call these Groundcover Bromeliads, they are some type of Fireball Neoregelia, maybe Atomic. Commonly sold at Garage Sales and passed along by division. I have striped, spotted and red. They spread and form a groundcover. I find that I am not worried as many gardeners about botanical nomenclature when I find a great deal at a garage sale. Please forgive me for spreading ambiguity.

Groundcover Bromeliad

Groundcover Bromeliad

Groundcover Bromeliad

Groundcover Bromeliad

Painted Fingernail Bromeliad

Painted Fingernail Bromeliad

This is the aptly named Painted Fingernail Bromeliad, an Aechmea variety. My neighbor gave me a few pups from her plants. I saw these growing by the side of the road for a long time before I managed to find out what they were. Like many passalong plants, these prove to be pretty indestructible and will grow in sun or shade.

Succulents are another excellent passalong as they reproduce quickly with side shoots. Just break one off and replant in hot sun and infertile soil. They may need water once or twice. The Agave and Soap Aloe are from my friend, Eddie.

To a certain extent all of these plants are a double edged sword. Yes, they thrive in our difficult environment. Maybe a little too well. If not maintained through careful sharing, the garden could be at risk of being overrun. I wouldn’t mind with the Bromeliads, except they are pretty sharp as are the succulents. So, mine are kept at bay and cleared from the edges of walkways.

Now that I have collected all these plants, I have some ready to pass along, should anyone need a new plant or two t try. I do hate to throw plants away.

The Sustainable Garden: Perennial Thoughts

I perennially have thoughts about flowers. In terms of sustainability I am not sure the native ones are always best. Many of the natives are simply weeds with attractive flowers or characteristics we like. I have a deep respect for Black Eyed Susan from a previous experience – as in being nearly overrun by them. I used to live in their native habitat and had bought some “improved” Goldstrum Variety and they bolted back to their native selves and then ran amok on a well drained sunny hill. A recipe for landscape disaster. As beautiful as they were in full bloom, it took a long time to get rid of the Black Eyed Susans. I could not cope with their joyful abundance anymore. So easy on the natives and seek those that do well in your climate without too much water and too much abundance. Easier to take care of and maintain.

In South Florida irrigation is a big deal. We have a rainy season and a dry season. While there are many native plants this is a tropical climate and some of them can go wild. I have found some escaped houseplants in my yard going wild. Mother in Laws tongues is an invasive species. Many plants commonly grown here will not survive without irrigation. I chose not to irrigate my entire yard to save water and to save my sanity. The areas in lawn and vegetables are irrigated; areas with lower water perennials are drip irrigated and I have some unirrigated low maintenance areas that I still want to plant with beautiful perennials. I am just looking at things a bit differently. So, I am paying close attention to who I am inviting to live in my garden.

Beach Sunflower

The Beach Sunflower from Wikipedia

I am about to plant some Beach Sunflower in an unirrigated portion of my garden, I live on a sand hill and these are native to our area – I believe if I planted them in an irrigated area I would be overrun in short order. So, it is time for some more garden experimentation. The Beach Sunflower is going to look great with the existing Blue Agave, Red Martin Bromeliad and Painted Fingernail Bromeliad. Eventually providing shade is a native Gumbo Limbo tree; if that doesn’t get you in the mood for a Margarita nothing will. All these plants are extremely drought tolerant and will survive without regular irrigation. The Gumbo Limbo and Beach Sunflower are native, the Blue Agave is from Mexico, and the Martin and Painted Fingernail Bromeliads are Neoregelia type Bromeliads that originated in South America.

Painted Fingernail Bromeliad

Painted Fingernail Bromeliad

 

Martin Bromeliad

Martin Bromeliad

Blue Agave

Blue Agave

It seems strange to me that Bromeliads, in my mind a rainforest plant, would thrive in the sun with little supplemental water, but they do. The Painted Fingernail Bromeliad is a passalong plant around here and I have seen large masses of it planted around mailboxes on the side of the road. A great example of a not native plant working in a sustainable way. The result of my selection of plant material is an evergreen perennial bed that blooms or provides year round color while being very drought tolerant and using very little fertilizer or maintenance.

Sustainability is about more than native plants – it is about selecting the right plants.

 

 

 

Spare Parts

I think all gardeners have this. A group of potted plants they bought for one reason or another and then set aside, for later. The later thing is the rub. My husband refers to this group of potted plants as my spare parts.

Spare Begonias

Spare Begonias

Currently I am hoarding Begonias. I found some Begonia odorata for a great price so I bought a couple. I have a few leftover Bronzeleaf Begonias so they are still around in a tray. I should also confess that there are three starts of Blue Agave in the side yard that have been sitting over there since this summer. Although, I have a good reason for thinking about those for a long time..they are very sharp and once in place they need to stay there. Also, in the realm of aesthetics Blue Agave is a bold statement. Not to be taken lightly.

Blue Agave

Blue Agave

I bought some more expensive plants at Gardenfest in Vero but I have endeavored to actually install those. One being a Mango tree, OK, I want some Mangoes as soon as reasonably possible. That I planted, fertilized and have been watering. Not to mention it is an Evergreen tree that will screen my husbands ugly Tupperware Lawnmower shed. More fertilizer, please..

More Fertilizer, please

More Fertilizer, please

The second plant from Gardenfest was a leafless Bird of Paradise, really cool and I can’t wait to see it bloom. It is also in the ground – next to a Tibouchina. I am breathlessly waiting for all to grow up and bloom. That Bird of Paradise had roots that looked like Parsnips and there is one down the street – it took about two years for me to figure out what is was..for a while there I thought the lady who lived there was sticking silk Bird of Paradise into a Juncus, this plant is really cool.

The Begonias I am having a hard time getting around to planting. Begonia odorata is new to me, I am not sure why these are not more common as a Summer Annual up north. The ones that have been sitting on my back porch for a month (at least) are beautiful.

I am finding there is not enough variety in Annuals in South Florida, people are really hung up on Impatiens and Pentas, pretty boring stuff. I find the New Guinea Impatiens particularly distasteful and Impatiens is a fiesta of fungus. I love to have some containers with color around my doorways, I am slowly going over to Bromeliads and the Zebrina Wandering Jew. (both things I found growing in the yard and repurposed into pots with a few Bronzeleaf Begonias.)

Begonias and Bromeliads

Begonias and Bromeliads