orange flowering hibiscus

A New Hibiscus Plant For the Yard

orange hibiscus shrub
Newly Planted Hibiscus Shrub

One plant that every Florida yard should have is the fantastic hibiscus.

A hibiscus will bloom constantly for much of the year in Florida. It loves the sun and does extremely well in the hot and humid climate.

Hibiscus plants come in a wide variety of colors and types. Some can grow in northern climates, but the ones I refer to here are tropical. They will not die over the winter. It’s not really necessary to know your types (unless you are searching for something specific, or mail ordering) because local stores will sell the types that work in your area of the country, or world.

One problem I remember having is aphids that get on the flowers and plant, but this new hibiscus contained a tag that said it was protected from aphids, white flies, and some other bugs.  So we’ll see.

They are easy to plant.  Remove any grass in the area and dig a big wide hole.  Mix together some kind of fertilizer, bone meal, and or garden soil and add that back into the hole with some of the dirt that was removed.  Push the dirt down around the edge of the root ball and then water thoroughly… that means a lot.   If the plant still looks great the next day, then you did a good job.  Water again, and continue to water well until it gets established.

My new hibiscus has a double orange bloom, which looks like a ruffle compared to the flat types of flower. It was the prettiest flower I saw among the bunches of plants at the local Home Depot.  I planted it in a spot that should get a lot of sun year round.  Once I buy some mulch, I’ll put that all around the bottom to help keep the soil moist.  Then I can water it less often.

orange flowering hibiscus
Double Orange Hibiscus

Although I have mainly been shopping for plants at Home Depot, I prefer to support a privately owned nursery.  I am not very familiar with any around here.  I’ve already been to Lindleys, and wasn’t all that impressed.  One that I plan to visit is Garden Arts and is located on Flagler Ave. Generally I only go to the very touristy Flagler Ave. to eat at Breakers Restaurant. I will brave the crowds to eat a yummy fish sandwich while looking out at the ocean.

Some friends just told me about the Garden Arts nursery and suggested I visit.  I have a free parking pass for the beachside lot (yes, they charge to park now!), so I may do just that.  Then I will write a review about the place, and visit often … if I like it.

Now that I have a hibiscus growing in my yard, it’s a reminder that I’m settling into my new lifestyle which is a throwback to a very old life.  When I see my photos of the huge piles of snow, and remember suffering without power for days during ice storms, I really don’t miss dealing with those problems.  Walking out the door, without a coat on, day or night, is quite a sweet change of pace for me.

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Yes, People May End Up Reading Your Blog, So Write Well!

Screen Shot 2017-03-09 at 2.16.54 PMMy very first blog posts were horrendous. I began writing at Blogger, and never did get the hang of it. The platform was difficult for me to understand, and then I heard about WordPress. I found it easier to write there, and it’s where my main blogs live. It didn’t mean I could write any better though! That is something I have been learning as I go.

Blabbing on about something on a blank page on a computer screen led me to believe that no one at all would ever even see what I wrote. I knew nothing about SEO or social media or tagging. I just wrote whatever came into my head, and it wasn’t very good, but it was honest and probably a bit unique (maybe not in a good way).

People I knew didn’t read my posts, but absolute strangers did, and they sometimes left comments. Those comments gave me the incentive to continue, and to give my readers something worthwhile to read. I wanted to become a better writer, and I had to learn how to do that.  For many years I was too busy raising my kids to read a book much less practice any type of writing!

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Once you write, get the post out to the world by having posts automatically linked to your other online places.

Then, out of the blue, I was asked to be a guest writer at a site connected to (the now defunct) Squidoo writing site. I had to write a review of a Squidoo page of my choice (not my own), and have it ready to post on a specific day of the week. We each had our own day to publish. It was stressful, because I was not a good writer. Over the course of the week eventually I got the short article (300 words minimum) ready to submit. Then I would sort of cringe on the day I knew it would go live.

Eventually I had to stop guest writing because my own online business needed more of my time.  But, that stint as a guest writer was very good for me. It honed my writing skills a bit, as I had to try to live up to the expectations of the other writers. I wanted to write well. And I knew for a fact, at the very least, the other contributors would be reading it!

Writing with others also taught me what is expected for search engine optimization (SEO).  Each post / article had to be a minimum of 300 words, well written, easy to read, and  contain original text. This is what I think about when writing these days.  That is not to say  that I don’t slip out of that routine every now and then.

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Everything I write contains at least one photo or picture to go with the story. Occasionally the photography is the story, but blogs won’t get far without some text as well. At first I used only my own photography when writing, but eventually I learned how to use public domain images to enhance my posts, like the awesome photos in this article (credit: Pixabay.com).

I have been overlooking the “featured image” option which shows on WP’s improved editor posting page.    Now I am going back through my blog posts to add a featured image to the top of each one.

 

corn plant

Tropical and Common Plants That Are Loving My Florida Room

plant in orange pot
Variegated Leaf Plant

In my new house there is a porch which is a little odd.  Someone visited and called it a “Florida Room” which reminded me that there are such things.  However my porch is not the traditional type that is on a corner or out back.  My Florida Room is situated between the dining area and the back bedroom.  Only one wall contains screens.  It is not enclosed and will get very hot (or cold) depending on the weather outside. More sun comes in during the winter months than will in summer, which is perfect.

It’s also not very big, considering we have a bar height table and chairs in the center, a chest freezer in the corner, and a long wooden table from my northern home along one wall. Amidst all this I have added some new tropical plants to the few I dragged with me from New Hampshire. (By the way, the New Hampshire born plants are loving all this sun and warmth!)

Some of these plants are new to me and some I am familiar with because I have grown them before. In Florida, only certain plants can take the full sunshine. It can be deadly to others by burning the leaves. Light (doesn’t mean direct sun) and warm conditions are what most of these need.

To be honest, growing plants in Florida is fairly easy. It’s almost greenhouse conditions year round. Keeping plants alive was nearly impossible in my New Hampshire home. They had hardly any sunshine and no warmth since I couldn’t afford to keep my house warm. I would set the plants near the wood stove to warm them up! And it was a very dry climate, which didn’t help either.

But I love to have plants inside. They clean the air and add a homey feel, in my opinion.

One of the plants I brought with me is this corn plant. It was not doing well, but has really begun growing like crazy in my Florida room. It’s happy now!  It’s hard to see, but there are two stalks growing here in this one pot.

The Corn Plant (as I call it) is easy to grow but it likes sun and warmth.  This one can take the full sun for part of the day.  Water when the pot feel light weight.

corn plant
Corn Plant

One of the new plants I have is a Ponytail palm. This was purchased in a small pot but I replanted it in a larger, cheap black pot. I had a nice ponytail palm a long time ago. I took it with me when I moved to New England and it died, of course. It was wishful thinking that a tropical plant would survive in a freezing cold climate, but I’d had it a long time and it was really big.
So I am growing one again for old times sake.  They are easy to grow.  Water when lifting the pot feels light.

ponytail palm in pot
Ponytail Palm

This next picture is my rubber plant. I love the unique look of this one. Those big, purple, rubbery leaves are so fun. I’ve grown them before and they can get quite large. They are shade tolerant and don’t like direct sunlight, as far as I know. But I’ve seen this type growing outside in a front yard here in Florida (in the sun) and it looks nice and healthy.  My landlady up north had a big one in her front window!  I was amazed when I saw it.  So I guess up north they will need more sun to stay warm.

For now, this one is small enough that I can take it outside when it needs water and spray the leaves too.

rubber plant
Rubber Plant

The Peace Lily is also called a “spath” which is short for spathiphyllum. This plant will grow well in a dark corner, but it can take some light too. The leaves will turn obviously toward any light, so it will have to be turned to grow upright and look nice. When the leaves begin to droop it’s time for water!

I take this one outside and spray it down when I fill the pot with water, but don’t leave it out in the sun!  This is a plant that will stay bright green without any sun.  Mine has a couple of white flowers, and hopefully it will get more.  It was recently re-potted.

peace lily spathiphyllum spath
Indoor Peace Lily

The pothos ivy, which is a common hanging plant, loves the warm and humid porch area. My hanging basket broke, so I had to put the pothos in the plant stand. It works out well because I can move the whole thing out the door and give it plenty of water outside when needed.  Most plants like to have their leaves sprayed, which gives them a good cleaning.

pothos hanging plant
Pothos

I also have some succulents scattered around the house and two orchids. I have managed to kill some beautiful succulents by overwatering. Certain types can’t be watered very often. If you are tempted to water them, set them someplace out of the way. It’s best if you can forget about them for a while! Believe me, you must be strong and NOT WATER THEM. Some succulents only need water every few MONTHS.
More on growing succulents in my next post.

growing scallions

The Garden in March, One Month Later

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My Garden, March 2nd

Last month I began to plant my little garden in my Florida backyard. Because the raised bed was not filled with dirt, I used black fabric pots.

I began with crops that were more suited to cooler weather, like peas and lettuce.

Well, Skittle the cat decided to sleep in the bed of peas, so now only one stalk is growing as the others were a bit crushed. It was just the right spot for a nap in the sun. No worries Skittle, I’ll eat 2 peas and be happy.

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Skittle in the Peas

I also planted potatoes and they are growing like mad. I followed the directions from a blog I read and began by only filling the bags part way. Then I have added dirt as the tops grew. And boy did they grow! Course I’ll have to wait and see what’s happening down inside the bags, but hopefully I’ll have some little red potatoes to eat one day.

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Growing potatoes

I also just planted cucumber seeds and I see today that they are popping through the soil.  It only took 2 days for that to happen!

My two pepper plants are doing well, and one is blooming like mad.  This may be the year I am able to grow peppers.  They like heat, and yesterday it was 88 degrees, so there ya go.

I have more cardboard to put down in the bottom of the wood enclosure to keep the grass from growing up through.  Newspaper would work for that too.  Eventually I will empty the dirt out of my pots and fill the enclosure.  But first…. I may try to dig up the grass beneath the enclosure.

I always thought I would just set up the wooden bed and fill it with dirt and I’m ready to plant.  Now I have read at EarthEasy that I should dig down a ways to loosen the ground so roots can go down into the dirt beneath the bed.  This makes sense, as some vegetables do have long roots, but I didn’t think they needed that much space.

It got me wondering what the roots of vegetables look like, and which ones need the most depth to grow well.

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Bib lettuce and carrots

The Bib lettuce needed to be thinned and the carrots were planted using paper strips.  I had never used carrot seed tape before, and I bought it by accident.  The old method of mixing seeds with sand when sowing small seeds works fine.  I still had to thin the seedlings, even when I used the tape.

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March Tomatoes!

I can honestly say I have never had tomatoes growing in my yard in March!   In fact compared to gardening in New Hampshire, growth here seems to be accelerated.

Every time I visit the garden section I keep an eye out for hydrangeas.  I haven’t seen any for sale.