The hydrangea shrub in my Florida yard is doing well and blooming with pink flowers.
The hydrangea I planted in my Florida garden a few years ago is now blooming once again. Soil in Florida tends to be alkaline so the flowers are pink. When I first bought the plant the flowers were blue, no doubt due to amendments to the soil. Everyone wants blue flowering hydrangeas.
But when this hydrangea plant was left to grow in the sandy soil in my southern yard, the flowers became pink. I don’t care. Pink is pretty too.
The key to success when growing hydrangeas in the hot and humid Florida climate is to give the plant shade. All the leaves fall off for winter but the greenery comes back along the stems in Spring. Don’t cut the plant back! The first year I did cut it, but it’s not necessary.
2017 Potted and blue
Here is the hydrangea plant when I first bought it. It was probably grown in a greenhouse and given something acidic for the flowers to bloom blue.
For the winter months in Florida, the plant is nothing but stems. Once the weather gets permanently warm again – around February – the stems will begin to show green growth.
2022 June – Pink flowers
The flowers will only be blue if the soil is acidic. In Florida, azaleas, camellias, gardenias, and crepe myrtle all like acidic soil. So planting hydrangeas near these plants means they can all be amended with bone meal, or something to naturally turn the soil acidic. Read about more ways to turn soil acidic.
It seems that each year this plant has more, and larger, flowers. I try to give it plenty of water and it is never in direct sunlight thanks to the fact that a large shrub covers it.
This beautiful little orange flower sprouted up near my ugly fence. It is in a section of the yard I rarely visit, and is mostly ignored. Because it is “winter” in Florida, my son rarely has to cut the grass and weed eat, which may explain the pretty butterfly milkweed appearing.
This plant is wonderful for attracting the Monarch butterfly. She lays her eggs on the leaves and sometimes the flowers.
I discovered this tall, orange flowering plant when I hung a bird house I had crocheted for the wrens. It is growing next to our old, ugly fence. I need to try to propagate it so I will have more of this flower in my yard.
The “Silky Scarlet” Tropical Milkweed
This butterfly weed is a perennial and is also known as a butterfly milkweed and orange milkweed. The name is “Silky Scarlet” and was purchased at my local Home Depot. I was so happy to find these plants while shopping!
Since I discovered this milk weed plant I also found a great site called Gardenia where I came across this page about the tropical milkweed called “Silky Deep Red”.
It is hardy in planting zones 9-11 and I live in zone 9. I bought two more plants for the yard. Monarch butterflies are especially drawn to it and it’s where they lay their eggs. I caught a beautiful butterfly checking out my newest milkweed plants.
I found information about this plant at the site Wildflower.org where they have pictures and also found more info here. It supposedly get little pods with white fluff, so I will watch for that.
More Pictures of the Orange Milkweed Plant
Read more about planting milkweed to help the Monarch Butterfly (click the image below)
Some people will say that Florida is one big season that just gets hotter at times. But Florida does have a Spring. It’s when the leaves fall off the trees and pollen collects as a yellow film on everything day after day. Yes, Spring is like Fall / Autumn here, in a way. It’s a duller, more annoying, version of Fall.
There are no colorful leaves, or crisp air to breathe, like in a real Autumn. The trees turn a brighter green with the new growth and the oaks drop those long brown things all over the cars (that don’t fit inside garages because that is where everything is stored because there are no basements). Oak leaves are small here and not like the oak leaves where I come from.
That’s about it. Other than that, new growth will appear when bushes are trimmed, but that can happen at any time of year. No use looking for tulips, forsythia, daffodils, or anything that signals Spring in many places, because those flowers don’t grow here in the jungle.
Spring Trimming of The Shrubs
A seasoned Floridian knows when to trim the shrubs. Don’t trim in winter as it will promote new growth that will freeze if the temperatures drop, which they sometimes do. Don’t trim azaleas until after they bloom in March or April. Plant new perennials well before the summer heat arrives. (Not this year. The nurseries are all closed.)
I have decided this year to try and fix up the shrubs along the front by the garage. These are hardy little things that are slow growing, so they are perfect for this area. I’m not sure of what they are, maybe some sort of ficus. I imagine they were planted when the house was built. Unfortunately, the sprinkler system didn’t reach them, and they’ve been ignored since I moved in over three years ago. I’m so sorry, but you did well enough without my help.
Now it’s time I paid attention and helped them out. I just recently cut them back a lot. The leaves were looking bad, as you can see I’m my photo. The stems had become spindly and leafless. I’m hoping that this trim will help them to fill out.
Already there is lots of new growth on the stems. I’ve added topsoil, fertilizer and mulch to this section of garden. My son bought, and installed, a little sprinkler head that sprays this garden specifically. It shouldn’t be long before this hedge is looking thick and lush.
When shopping for food I always look for the USDA organic seal, like the one on this package of carrot seeds. Food, and products like seeds used to grow food, will contain the green organic label, but the fertilizer used to grow them will not.
Apparently garden fertilizer and bags of soil require different symbols to identify which are truly organic. The word “organic” alone means nothing when it comes to buying products you need to grow your own food.
It seems odd to me that we can easily pick up USDA certified seeds to plant, but it is not nearly as simple to find certified organic soil and fertilizer used to grow them.
Why The Word “Organic” is Not Enough
As I was writing a previous post about building up the dirt in my raised bed, I went looking at my bags of fertilizer. Sometimes I link to products I have bought in case readers are looking for the same type of thing. The one I checked was my bag of Milorganite.
DO NOT BUY MILORGANITE, especially if you are an organic gardener! And personally I will never go near the stuff again. Once you look closely at the bag you may feel the same way.
Says “organic” but this is deceiving
Milorganite is not truly organic in fact it contains a “warning” on the back.
Although this bag (my photos) contains the wording “organic nitrogen” (at the top on the front) and “eco friendly” (little yellow sign), when you look at the bottom of the back there is a “warning” sign (that exclamation point). Most of the labeling on the back of the bag is a bit scary. Such warnings are: Do not breath it in, wash immediately after touching, and do not apply before a heavy rain or near water drains. Yikes… I didn’t want this stuff anywhere near my vegetable garden, or in my yard for that matter!
So why did I buy this stuff in the first place? For one thing the word “organic” at the top fooled me. Apparently only the nitrogen is organic. I really have no idea what that means, but the product is only 5% nitrogen. The packaging is enticing with all their good wording choices and big photos. Someone knows how to market.
But, once I looked closer at the bag, I thought something was wrong. Organic is good and natural, so why a warning? Because companies can use good-looking wording like “organic” and “natural” and “eco friendly” which all may mean nothing.
This got me wondering (and worrying) about the other organic-labeled products I have been using in my yard. Are they really organic?
Inspecting Labels on My Purchased “Organic” Products
Here’s what I found when I looked at the products I use in my garden. From the soil we choose, to the fertilizers and amendments, everything must be truly organic if we want our vegetables and fruits to be organic.
So I inspected my bags further, looking for the symbols telling me that my products were truly considered okay for organic gardening.
Dr. Earth and Miracle-Gro Pass the Organic Labeling Test
Fortunately the soil and fertilizer I have been using are real organic products.
YES! The Dr. Earth fertilizer contains three seals. One is OMRI Listed, and the other two are CDFA and MycoApply. Those two are so tiny I could barely read them, but they mean good stuff. Unfortunately not enough people understand these terms. OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) is the big one to look for. OMRI is a place where products must be certified useable in organic gardening. Once a product is approved, they can use the OMRI seal. This is what we have to look for when choosing fertilizers, soil, and amendments for the yard and garden.
Dr. Earth fertilizer has OMRI and other certified organic symbols
Dr. Earth with OMRI, MycoApply, and CDFA seals
The Dr. Earth website explains what the CDFA and MycoApply labels mean on their products. The company is working to create good fertilizers which help the earth. I was impressed with the earth-friendly info at their site. No phony advertising here.
YES! Recently I bought eight bags of Nature’s Care (by Miracle Gro) garden soil ($7.97 a bag at Home Depot) and was pleased to see the OMRI label at the bottom of the bags. I also use their bone meal which has the same label.
Also the Miracle-Gro Organic Choice Blood Meal (shown in my photo, but used up before I checked the packaging) is listed as organic at the OMRI site. Use the site to search for products you have or plan to buy.
Look for the OMRI symbol
Down in the corner find the OMRI listed symbol
Yes, Organic Soil
OMRI Label in lower corner
The OMRI site explains (read the “what is organic?” section) that the word “organic” is not regulated for fertilizer and non-food items. This allows companies to use the word when it is not necessarily true. As I mentioned above, why? Does this make sense to anyone?
Although I will now read labels and look first for that OMRI seal, as the writer the Organic It’s Worth It site mentioned, other wording can take the place of that seal. I suppose not every truly organic company contains the seal of approval – I don’t know. Be sure to look for certain wording on the labels of products. If the company claims that the product “meets the requirements for organic production” the product should be fine.
For this reason, I suggest shopping local for such products. Label reading is easier than buying online. At Amazon, when I searched for OMRI certified fertilizer I only found a few with the label. Even though I may link to products on the Amazon site, I would rather check locally for these types of products. Often local shops will sell for less. Also, you can more easily read labels and purchase exactly what you see.
If you choose to buy online, here are some OMRI listed organic fertilizers found at Amazon: