Funky Florida Flora – Snake Plants

This is my side yard. When I moved to South Florida and rounded the corner of my new (old) house I could hardly believe my eyes.

Brain says “Snake Plant”, a person from much further north says “Not possible”. Oh, but it is. I would guess there is a ten-foot wide band of Snake Plant alongside my house- yes, Sansiveria and/or Mother in Law’s Tongue and the band is at least a hundred feet long. And they flower. I have cut them for arrangements, not a particularly long-lasting flower, but kind of interesting.

House plants run amok. One has to wonder, did someone throw out Snake Plant a hundred years ago and this is the result.

Snake Plants are considered invasive in South Florida. I have managed to make a dent in some of them:

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Yes, that is a pile of Snake Plants in front of a Bobcat (not the feline version) It is strange to me that we (my husband and I) would rather look at a telephone pole than all the Snake Plants and assorted garbage (Brazilian Peppers, another story for another day)

The Snake Plants grow running tubers (if that is a word) similar to Ginger. It is nearly impossible to pull up without breaking it and when it is broken it just reproduces – hence, the Bobcat.

Our landscapers are now mowing over the tubers weekly; we will see if the mowing actually helps.

I read somewhere a Snake Plant as a houseplant will clean the air. This means having one of these things in my house – and watering it. Um, no.

I am going to pass on that and use them in a vase. One less for the Bobcat. Here is a Vase with Snake Plant.

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In A Vase on Monday – Rabbit Food

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Early on Sunday morning I grabbed my shears and went into the garden to collect materials for my vase. My intention, to gather some Black Eyed Susans and other wildflowers for a casual vase.

After I closed the gate, keeping my greyhounds in their space – I spied the fattest rabbit I have ever seen lurking near my miniature pineapple plants. The tiny pineapple approaching its juicy peak.. I changed my mind and decided a slightly more tropical vase might be more appropriate. The lovely pineapple was quickly freed from its sharp crown.

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My wildflower theme completely blown by the plus size Rabbit, I searched for more tropical plants. I added some foliage from the miniature pineapple plant, a few sprigs of Boston Fern (Nephrolepis exaltata); the orange flower is Mexican Honeysuckle (Justicia spicigera); the peach flower – the wildflower in the vase, a Tropical Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea); the white flowers are from Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) for a light tropical fragrance. A Pandanus leaf is tied around the vase.

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I am glad I beat the rabbit to the pineapple.

Happy Monday.

Funky Florida Flora – Bismarck Palm

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This is the canopy and fruit stalks of a Bismarck Palm (Bismarckia nobilis) – named for Otto Von Bismarck, a very big and very blue gray palm. So big, the fronds are 4 feet across and they can reach 60 feet in height. I frequently see these towering palms dwarfing the houses they are planted near.

A native of Madagascar – a place that must have spectacular Dr. Seuss-like forests. Bismarcks are hardy to freezing and adaptable to a wide variety of soils.

Here are the fruits, they are about 2 inches in diameter and fall indiscriminately to the ground. A bit like a chestnut, one of my greyhounds had a bite of one and immediately spit it out, so I am guessing not so tasty.

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In a Vase on Monday – Scentsational Moonlight

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Once in a blue moon my greyhounds wake me in the middle of the night to be let out. Ironically, last night was the full blue moon and the only reason I saw it was my dogs wanted to go out.

Moonlight is rather spectacular in South Florida, I am not sure if it reflects off the Atlantic Ocean or the general light level here is lower at night and that makes the moonlight brighter.

I usually walk out in the yard with the dogs as there are some rather large predators about in the middle of the night; coyotes, bobcats and the occasional panther. My dogs are usually too big for such things, but a snarfy lady in her bathrobe at 3 a.m. tends to give even a panther pause. Unfortunately, there is some unbridled greyhound joy in chasing Armadillos at three a.m. Oddly, the Armadillos can outrun them.

While all this was going on, I noted a lovely scent in the air. I decided my neighbor’s magnificent Arabian Jasmine was blooming again, took one more look at the moon, collected my greyhounds and went back to bed.

Sunday morning I realized the scent was from my garden. I have Bridal Bouquet Plumeria, Tropical Gardenias and Sweet Almond in flower and all are in my vase. The Tropical Gardenias (Tabernaemontana divericata) are draped over the right side. The Sweet Almond, draped over the left side (Aloysia virgata). The flowers in the middle are Bridal Bouquet Frangipani (Plumeria pudica) a favorite of mine just starting for a long summer run.

20190519_115152-1Here is a closer view, mostly the Bridal Bouquet Plumeria.

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The vase has been in the foyer for several hours. I think the lovely scent I enjoyed in the moonlight was the Sweet Almond.

Funky Florida Flora – Little Harv

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Another of my garage sale finds, ‘Little Harv’ has been graciously flowering and producing pups for the past five years or so. An Aechmea Bromeliad created in South Florida in 1978, ‘Little Harv’ is fairly common in landscapes in this area. I would hate to see Big Harv as the little one can reach almost 4 feet of height.

Here is a close up of the bud, you can see the prickly edges of the silvery foliage and its coloration. The bud started up about a month ago and the flower opened two weeks ago and will usually last a few more weeks.

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In A Vase on Monday – Branching Out

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I am madly trying to get the gardens straightened up before summer starts scorching me, causing retreat to the air conditioning thus causing the weeds to reach Jurassic proportions. While cleaning up I noticed two palm seedlings growing about a foot away from my house. Much too close for comfort.

Palms being monocots are easily gotten rid of by cutting off their one growing point, the apical meristem. Then, you can put the palm fronds in a vase on Monday and join Cathy’s meme at Link to meme to see more vases. I did exactly that and cut a few branches from some flowering shrubs that needed it and then looked around for some accenting flowers.

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The result is a big vase in my foyer this Monday. The whole arrangement is about 3 feet tall, the vase a Christmas gift from my husband some years ago.

In my big vase are: fronds from seedlings of the Sabal Palm (Palmetto sabal); orange and red flowers are from two different Firebush (Hamelia patens and var. patens). I may have the only pollarded tree form Firebush in Florida. The blue flowers are from the Plumbago shrub (Plumbago auriculata), a pretty and utterly indestructible shrub; the white flowers are from the White Geiger (Cordia boissieri), a tree native to Mexico.

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Maybe this is upcycling instead of recycling prunings. Hmm.

A Belated Happy Mother’s Day to all.

Funky Florida Flora – Coral Plant

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It occurred to me this morning there are not too many plants that would work in this narrow space in my garden (about 18″ wide). This is a very funky plant, a Jatropha  multifida, called the Coral Plant. I thought initially the name was based on the color of the flower, but then realized the flower does resemble an actual coral.

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The foliage on this plant resembles something else. Cannabis, however, all Jatropha is poisonous, so I would resist the urge to smoke it and keep it away from children and pets.

The Jatrophas are interesting plants, tropical – this one is native to Mexico. They do best in South Florida or where temperatures stay above 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Common to members of the Euphorbia family, they exude toxic, milky sap and can become a nuisance by its tendency to produce a lot of seeds. However, the seeds contain oils that have been proposed for use to make sustainable biodiesel fuel. They just haven’t quite figured out how yet.  Click for the Biodiesel story.

Despite the fact this plant is widely reported to love sharp drainage, full sun and noted for its extreme drought tolerance – it suffered in such a place in my pollinator garden and is much happier in its new skinnier digs with its own tiny irrigation bubbler and protection from the western sun. Butterflies continue to enjoy the flowers and I will as well now that the Coral Plant is in a happier place.