Six on Saturday – Summer

Saturday morning finds heat and humidity in Florida – the Saharan sand drifting over the Atlantic is keeping the rain away and not much gardening is going on, except decapitating seed heads on weeds and watering. I have realized it is a bad idea to try and establish plants after May. Another backwards seasonality here, rest in summer and garden in winter. I am joining SOS today with summer flowers and foliage. To see more SOS posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

The Blanchetiana Bromeliads are shooting up flower stalks. Below is the yellow/chartreuse version – sometimes called Lemon. Aechmea blanchetiana “Lemon”.

I bought this Red Velvet Aerva (Aerva sanguinolenta) last year. It was touted as a tough plant from Africa that is drought tolerant and native to desert, sandy soils. Not quite believing this, I planted some in the sand and took a few cuttings in case this was not true. The plant in the sand is long gone, but the cuttings love being coddled in potting soil.

Another oops from research. Last year I wrote an article for The American Gardener about Bougainvillea. Research in many forms claim Bougs bloom in cycles and stop when day length exceeds 12 hours. This one has been blooming all summer during the longest days of the year. Another myth busted.

The culinary ginger is finally growing. These are heat lovers and make ginger root during the summer, the fresh ginger root is wonderful. I am looking forward to it in a couple of months.

The Purple Gem Dahlias are getting smaller and moldier day by day. I decided to leave the tubers in the pots and not water them after they go dormant to see what happens. I also bought some uber cheap tubers to refrigerate and try later. Research is planned to find what day length inspires Dahlias to flower.

A Queen butterfly on the Firebush. These are cousins of the now endangered Monarch. They are supposed to be year round here, but are relatively rare in my garden.

There, my Six for this summer Saturday.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Shrimp and Fruit

It is Saturday again. Time to peruse the garden for six items of interest. Today it occurred to me the Shrimp Plants look their best in summer heat and the plants set fruit earlier here than in my former garden. The beautyberries are already turning purple; further north this happens in late September or October.

It is hot here, 92F or 33C, but nothing like what Europe is experiencing and fortunately we have had a lovely breeze off the ocean and rain showers all week so the garden is hydrated. The weeds are taking control – I noted them as I walked through the garden taking pictures but failed to take any action. I should pull weeds…blogging about them instead.

The Shrimp:

This is a Red Shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana), they grow in the sugar sand without irrigation or much of anything else. It crossed my mind I should propagate more of these, they are easily rooted in water.

The fruit:

The incredibly prolific Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana). This one never fails to amaze me. It grows on a wall facing due north. Full shade in winter and full sun in summer. And thrives.

The very pretty but inedible Muscadine grapes (Vitis rotundafolia). These must be the hardy rootstock other tastier varieties are crossed with or grafted to. These have two large seeds and are very bitter tasting. The raccoons and local wildlife love them and spread them far and wide.

Bromeliads love the mid summer heat and are showing off.

One of my garage sale finds – no clue what variety this is. The flower looks like it might be purple.

Aechmea rubens in full bloom. I have enjoyed these this summer and wonder how much longer they will last.

Aechmea blanchetiana in bud. These will flower and last for months. A little photo bomb by Johnson’s grass, my least favorite weed. It is still out there, waiting to produce a hundred thousand seeds while I recline in air conditioned comfort. I will decapitate it before the seed disperses. Hopefully.

My Six for Saturday. To see more, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening and stay cool..

Six on Saturday – Tropical Senescence

Unlike humans or maybe it is just me, flowers on tropical plants can look great for a long time, aging well. Above, the fading flowers of the relatively ephemeral Tropical Rain Lilies (Zephyranthes robusta). I enjoy these in the garden, the pink flowers celebrating rain. Here they are new:

The Silver Urn (Aechmea fasciata) flower opened about a month ago. Here is it today, the pink is a bit faded, but it is still a showstopper.

The opening flower:

Guzmania Bromeliads are another long lasting flower. I like these at all phases. These Bromeliads actually produce brown seed heads, which is unusual as most seem to produce vegetative pups. The flowers start red and slowly fade to chartreuse. This one is mid fade.

A fresh Guzmania flower. In March!

The Aechmea miniata flower, nearly full bloom with a friendly dragonfly. These are covered with blue when in full flower and slowly fade to apricot over the summer.

The buds from a couple of weeks ago.

Oops, I think that is Eight on Saturday. Oh, well. I am aging in the garden along with the Bromeliads…

To see more proper Six on Saturday posts visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Wilting and Watering.

The July heat remains unabated. My garden has had no rain for two weeks! I have given up on some lawn (I use that term loosely and am happy I did not put any sod down this spring). Some of the more drought tolerant plants are looking wonderful and others have shut down to wait for rain. Fingers crossed for an actual thundershower every day! Below is my fabulous Labyrinth Dahlia, faithfully watered twice a day.

Next up, a native of the South Pacific, Dwarf Red Ixora (Ixora chinensis) – these shrug off the heat and love to flower all summer, but must be watered and fed. I have allowed our native Corkystem Passionvine to ramble through the shrubs; providing a larval food source for butterflies while the flowers from the Ixora provide nectar. The invasive lizards (only in Florida!) had staked out my Passionfruit vine and ate most of the caterpillars, so I got rid of that vine and the evil lizards haven’t figured this out – yet.

Last week I posted some pictures of the orchids growing in my Gumbo Limbo tree. Here is a close up of the roots growing into the trunk. They are not quite attached, but getting there.

The native Cabbage Palms (Sabal palmetto) are indestructible. These are the flowers, the bees love them. Eventually, black berries are formed on long boughs from the crown of the palms. People used the skin of the berries to make flour – which must have been difficult!

Flowers on a Dwarf Pygmy Date Palm (Phoenix roebellini) This palm has male and female plants and will make dates if both are present. These are very common here and I have yet to see any dates. No idea what sex this is.

More happy natives. This is a Sea Grape (Coccoloba uvifera). These hardy plants are used for anything from clipped hedges to trees, this one is about 25 feet tall and covered in grapes. The grapes are edible with a huge seed and taste like figs. Another of those things you have to grow up eating to appreciate. I leave them for the critters. One of my greyhounds loved them and would stand under the tree and graze.

There, Six for Saturday. Rain dance starts later.

Thanks to Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com for hosting. Follow the link for more SOS posts.

Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday – Ghosts of Future Plants

Summer is an interesting time in the tropical (subtropical, really) garden. It makes me appreciate how smart plants are. The really nasty weeds make seed at the start of the rainy season (June 1) and have a long period of time to start new plants with the advantage of rain. I have been gleefully decapitating the five (yes, five and year round) varieties of crabgrass that grow in Florida in hopes of keeping the crabgrass down.

There are some more attractive budding plants in the garden. This is a Labyrinth Dahlia I have high hopes for, although I am not certain if I planted it early enough. The tubers planted earlier have already flowered and burned out in the heat.

Bromeliads poised to climb the trunks of an Adonidia Palm. This is my first trunk climbing adventure with plants, so I am looking forward to seeing what happens. These are Jill Neoregelia Bromeliads, the red centered one is the oldest, and therefore the mother plant, soon to meet its demise. Women hate this aspect of Bromeliads, the mother always dies.

Another tree climber, the Schomburgkia Orchid, is growing and has new stems coming along. I was interested to read that this orchid is native to Mangrove trees growing on the edge of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico. These are usually higher elevation orchids, it is unusual to see this type of orchid in Florida.

The bud of a Desert Rose (Adenium obesum). A Lubber Grasshopper ate all of the foliage last week.

One of my favorite summer Bromeliads and a reliable July flower, the Aechmea Miniata. In full bloom these always remind me of Red Hots candies.

That is all from here this Saturday, I am luxuriating in air conditioned space today, looking forward to future flowers and hoping for rain. To see more SOS posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening.

Six on Saturday – Things I Never Planted

Another one of Florida’s many gardening peculiarities is the tendency to find (mostly) desirable plants popping up in the garden. Above is the Brown Bud Allamanda (Allamanda cathartica). These vines tend to creep around and over my neighbors fence, they end up rambling through my shrubs and I hate to cut the flowers off. Rumor has it Pygmy tribes in the Amazon use this very poisonous plant to make deadly blowdarts.

A perfectly placed white Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). I planted the red one years ago and a white flowered one popped up in this border, accenting the peach and blue flowers.

Another dead on plant placement by bird artists. These are native Firebush (Hamelia patens). The seedlings appeared soon after we moved in, spaced perfectly for a foundation planting. These are on one side of the front porch, I found another seedling and put a matching plant on the other side.

My preferred common name for this is Inch Plant (Transcandentia zebrina). I have no idea where it came from, but it makes a great groundcover.

Another Transcandentia – T. pallida. Purple Queen, or I was taught these are called Setcresea, Purple Queen is a bit more palatable. I have these in pots and in the ground, the original ones came up under a Strangler Fig, so I guess another bird seeded plant. These seemingly will grow anywhere from sun to shade. A great low maintenance groundcover and a real pop of purple.

Wild Grapes or Muscadines (Vitis rotundafolia) This is a love/hate plant. The native Floridians will actually eat the grapes. I find them bitter, but the birds love them. The hate part, they spread ….everywhere.

There, my Six for this Saturday, to see more posts visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening..

Six on Saturday – Quandaries

I face many quandaries when gardening. Many involve recalling the name of the plant. I finally remembered the one above is an Aechmea aquilega bromeliad, then I looked it up online and found several photos and only one looked like this? And what are the black things on the tips of the flowers- seeds? Rarely I will get a new bromeliad from seeds, but it takes forever.

These are called grass pups, they are from an Alcantarea bromeliad, as far as I know the only genus that makes grass pups. After putting them in a pot together I read they hate this and should be separated – I am thinking not since they are just starting to do well. I am not sure which Alcantarea these are, either.

Another tropical dilemma. This is a Leafless Bird of Paradise, a very interesting plant. This one is perpetually plagued with scale. I am thinking of cutting all the foliage off and letting it start over. I did this with a nearby Coontie, similarly plagued and it is much improved.

The Coontie and my big toe. Coontie (Zamia integrifolia) is a cycad native to Florida. The very poisonous roots are a source of arrowroot flour and were nearly harvested to extinction. The scale is gone.

Several blog friends asked for an update on the decapitated Papaya tree. It produced a few weak flowers and then passed on. The trunk is nearly loose enough for me to pull out.

Here is the Papaya last June, probably a month after decapitation. This is a practice endorsed by Floridians, supposedly reinvigorating the plant to produce more fruit. It seemed like a bad idea at the time.

Another thing to wonder about. What is happening here? A two headed pineapple?

There! My Six Quandaries for this Saturday. To see more posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening. I’ll just be in the garden, wandering and wondering.

Six on Saturday – June Bouquet

June in South Florida brings thunderstorms, moisture and flowers. I am enjoying the flowers, but could do with a little less moisture, we have had some intense thunderstorms with more lightning that I can recall experiencing.

Above is the very appropriately named Rain Lily (Zephyranthes spp.) I am not sure which Rain Lily this is – it reseeds freely in the garden. I have several clumps of this along the pathways in the garden and enjoy it as it flowers off and on throughout the rainy season.

Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria) flowers. A great garden plant for growing in sugar sand. It flowers at least four times a year.

Aechmea fasciata or Silver Urn Bromeliad in full bloom. Many brom flowers last a long time if not cut. I am leaving these to see how long they last.

Adonidia Palm (Veitchia merrilli) flower buds. These open and make red fruit late in the year that gives them another common name, Christmas Palm, as the fruit looks like Christmas ornaments.

This is a Vitex trifolia purpurea, I think. I am not sure about the purpurea part, the backs of the leaves are purple, so maybe that is the right name. It is sometimes called Arabian Lilac. I bought it in place of Butterfly Bush (Buddleia) as I am really too far south to have success with those. It is finally establishing itself after a few years of suffering in the sugar sand. I hope the butterflies find it soon, it is a nectar plant for many.

The formerly native Thyrallis (Galpinia glauca). The tiresome native plant continuum changed their mind about this one. It is reportedly a very drought tolerant shrub, although I find it needs water during the dry season. Also advertised to bloom year round, doesn’t do that, either. Oh well, I still like it in summer and maybe it hasn’t been in the garden long enough. A gardener’s hope springs eternal.

That is my Six for this Saturday. To see more SOS posts, visit http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening!!!

Six on Saturday – Not Alex

The Atlantic hurricane season started June 1. The rainy remnants of the first named hurricane of the Pacific season, Agatha, started to fall in my garden yesterday late afternoon and continue this morning. Agatha hit the west coast of Mexico, crossed that country, emerged in the Caribbean and is predicted to form a tropical storm after it passes over South Florida later today – it will be called Alex. The wind speed and rain is still literally up in the air.

All the tropical moisture has been a boon to the garden. I walked Fiona the Greyhound this morning, she meandered around then came in the garden with me and proceeded to dig a hole and do a greyhound speed run. Yes, she is covered in sand. And soggy like the rest of the garden.

One of my favorite natives, a Thatch Palm (Thrinax radiata). This is a pretty palm, one of only 12 native to Florida, but very slow growing. I have had this one for at least 7 years, it might be 18 inches tall.

Summer rain brings out the tropicals, this is a Lobsterclaw Heliconia (Heliconia rostrata). These take a lot of water, I finally placed them under the edge of the gutterless roof and they are thriving at long last.

The unnamed Bromeliads are in full bloom.

The chandelier plant (Medinillia cummingii) started its second round of flowers this year. I am wondering if this plant will provide year round color. The flowers and fruit last a long time.

I have three mango trees. This one, a Glenn variety, has grown a foot this week. Amazing. Despite having three trees, I only had one mango and the squirrels got to it before I did. There is still hope, the Thai mango, Nam Doc Mai, has the potential to flower in the summer. The others, hopefully next year.

My neighbor’s mango, doing much better than mine. He cut this tree back hard last year and I suppose that is why it has fruit? The foliage looks a bit chlorotic to me. I bought a new bag of fertilizer in hopes of getting a little more color in the foliage on mine and more fruit in the future.

There! Six from South Florida. Not sunny. To see more SOS posts, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com

Happy Gardening!!

Six on Saturday – Morning Finds

It’s time for another Saturday morning walk around my garden. The heat and moisture lovers are lifting thier heads and showing their colors.

This is a Silver Urn Bromeliad, most people call these Fasciata, as the botanical name is Aechmea fasciata. I associate these with the Atrium trend from the eighties when these were commonly used as a long lasting color plant in interiorscapes. This one flowers and produces pups every other year in my garden.

Another tropical that enjoys humidity, the Choconiana Parrotflower (Heliconia psittacorum). I am wondering what Choconiana is??

A little less tropical but another seasonal indicator, the flowers on the Beautyberry (Calliocarpa americana) signal the start of summer. On the flip side, the lurid purple berries, borne around Labor Day, mark the end of summer..

The architectural buds on a Soap Aloe (Aloe saponaria). I think these were inspired by a few rounds of thundershowers this week. The foliage bases have greened up as well. It is possible I fertilized them and forgot about it…

Another architectural plant, the Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica), started flowering this week and will most likely continue until November. This is a semi evergreen, columnar variety of Frangipani. I have a number of these as they are great accent plants around fences and narrow spaces. They are lightly fragrant at night.

A little foliage to end this Saturday’s walk. This is Goudaea ospinae, no idea of the common name. It used to be called Vriesea ospinae gruberi. It’s a varigated Bromeliad and adds a lot of color to deep shade. This supposedly will flower with yellow spikes. I was wondering how much shade it would take, so it has been sitting in its pot in the shade garden for at least two years, another incredibly hardy Bromeliad.

There, my Six on this Saturday. To see more SOS posts, visit Jon at http://www.thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.

Happy Gardening!!