March is When The Hibiscus Can Be Trimmed Back

Two years ago I planted a little hibiscus plant out behind my house. It grew quickly and flowers all the time with double flowers. Double flowers means each bloom is more ruffled looking with layers of petals as opposed to flat, 5-petaled flowers.

double orangea hibiscus flower

Hibiscus grow very well here in Florida, and this past winter was quite mild without any overnight temperatures dropping below freezing. At least not where I live. I never had to cover any plants and everything looks great. The chances of having a freezing night now are slim, so it’s safe to cut back outdoor plants that need it.

Continue reading “March is When The Hibiscus Can Be Trimmed Back”

The Beautiful Bougainvillea

My bougainvillea is just a baby, but it is already reaching over the fence into the front yard. Last year this plant was nearly dead after the cold winter and I thought it was hopeless. Then little green sprouts began to appear at ground level and it continued to grow. You can see a picture of it on this blog post with photos I took last January. It looked dead. Not only did it survive, it went nuts this year!

Light pink flowering bougainvillea on a white fence

Some of the branches were growing awkwardly toward the house, so I trimmed them up and took the flowers inside. They did well in a vase of water until day three, when the flowers began to fall off and make a mess. Bougainvillea is not a long-term bouquet flower.

Light pink flowering bougainvillea in a vase
Cuttings last a couple days, but the stems can grow roots for beginning new plants!

This vining plant is gown in many yards around Florida. It can be huge and looks beautiful draped over a fence or along a wall. I love my light pink flowers, but the deep red is stunning and it comes in many other colors, like orange and yellow.

My bougainvillea is in a semi-shaded location, but they do like lots of sun and will have more flowers. They can be trimmed at any time and this is the first year mine has been so tall and had so many flowers so I’m not sure how long the flowers will last. They don’t need a lot of water either, which is nice. They won’t droop and wilt. But do be careful if the weather turns cold because they don’t like cold temperatures.

The University of Florida has a page all about Bougainvilleas. After reading the page I discovered that they are easy to propagate! I will definitely be trying that. I’ve had success with propagating crotons and cuttings from my rubber plant.

Our Warm Winter of 2019

A few nights this winter the temperatures dropped close to freezing and the only plants I covered outdoors were the crotons in the big pot out front. They were newly planted to replace the beautiful big croton that died in 2018 due to the cold.

This year was so mild, that everything is still big and green. I recently cut back my orange hibiscus which was nearly touching the roof of the house! When nothing freezes back, the plants have a head start in Spring.

At Last I Have a Fiddleleaf Fig Tree!

It is January, and the weather has cooled off nicely here in central Florida.  The windows are open, and it’s a pleasure to be outdoors.  Finally I wanted to shop for plants because walking through the nursery was fun!

Christmas spending is over and I decided to add a few essential plants to my home.  I traveled to Lindley’s Garden Center in New Smyrna and bought a little Staghorn Fern which is hanging under the Brazilian pepper trees in my backyard.

For inside the house I added a little thyme plant to the kitchen windowsill – a necessity for cooking – and a Fiddleleaf Fig tree to the dining room.  Yes, I have a Fig Tree!  I have wanted one for a very long time, and finally splurged on this beauty.  Now I need to find a suitable decorative pot to complete the look.  I’m in the process of finding the perfect pot.

fiddle leaf fig tree
My new Fiddle leaf fig tree

If this fig tree looks familiar, I wouldn’t be surprised. It is used often as backdrop greenery for commercials, tv shows, and movies.  You can hardly watch any show or read any magazine without seeing one somewhere in the background.  If you are a fan of the Fixer Upper show, Joanna uses them often when decorating finished homes. The gorgeous fiddle-shaped leaves grow in bunches from a straight trunk to create a tall, textured green space.   Various size trees can be grouped together to make a big accent area, but single trees are enough to decorate any room with interest.  They can grow tall without being overwhelming, and the combination of stalks and fat leaves is such fun.  Smaller trees can even go on countertops or tables. If my house was larger, I would have many of these trees scattered about.  As it is, I could barely find room for just one.

At Lindley’s I paid $39.50 for this tree which is about 4 feet tall.  Mind you the pot is nothing special.  To get it home I set it on the floor of the passenger side of my Subaru and tilted it back toward the seat.  I did have to grab the pot  as I went around corners as it wanted to roll, but no leaves broke off- phew.   I got it home safely and am so pleased to finally have this tree to enjoy.

How to Care For the Fiddle-leaf Fig Tree

After a day or two I took the tree outside and sprayed it down with the hose.  I added a little fish fertilizer and watered it good.  I am lucky to live in a tropical location because these trees love sunlight (filtered, not direct) and warmth (with humidity thrown in).  Because of this, I have a good chance of keeping this tree happy and healthy.  I can give it some playtime outside now and then, which I do with all my houseplants.

I’m not sure how well a Fiddleleaf Fig would fare in a northern climate, but the HGTV website has some advice for those of you who would like to try to grow one.

Fig Tree Artwork

One afternoon I decided to draw the fig tree. After I finished the drawing I uploaded it and used Pixelmater to remove the background and add color. Then I played around with the image and used it to create artwork for sale in my Zazzle store, Clara’s Desk. Below is the poster I made.

Hand drawn fiddle leaf fig in baskets on poster paper
My drawing as a poster for sale in my online store.

Pruning The Rubber Plant and Taking Cuttings to Propagate

Rubber Trees are something you see a lot of here in Florida. They are tropical plants and don’t like the cold.  They work well as house plants, but I’ve seen them growing outdoors here and can become quite large.  They are susceptible to scorching sun which damages the leaves, and don’t like extreme cold.

I love the uniqueness of this tree with it’s thick, rubbery leaves which are dark green to purple in color.  A reddish spike appears when a new leaf grows.  These plants are hardy, but keep them out of the hot sun or the leaves will burn.

To keep a nice shape, the rubber tree will need pruning. To give it a good “bath” I take it outside and spray dust off the leaves. I can also give the dirt lots of water and some fertilizer.   It’s possible to do that year round here.

I noticed the plant had a lot of new growth making the stems quite long. I’ve never pruned a rubber plant, but decided to give it a try.

Rubber tree in need of pruning
Rubber tree in need of pruning

I ended up cutting back two stems to even up the shape a bit. If possible, I try to root cuttings (propagate) I take of large plants like this. When I searched online for info I got the general “use rooting compound” advice. I’ve never had luck using rooting compound. So I decided to do it my way.

rubber tree after pruning

My favorite way to create new plants from cuttings is to simply put the cuttings in water and wait for roots to develop.  The water must be changed often – I do it every day.  I’ve had good luck propagating crotons this way, but it doesn’t work for every plant. I’ve never tried to root rubber plant cuttings, so this was an experiment.

rubber plant cuttings in vase

The rubber plant has white sap in the stems which is sticky, which is similar to what you see in hydrangea stems. The hydrangea stems can close up due to this white sap and make the cuttings wilt. (Read more about cutting hydrangeas.)

I kept an eye on the rubber plant cuttings and saw no drooping or signs of distress in the vase.

After a while – probably close to 2 weeks – I saw roots developing on one of the stems.

rooted cutting rubber tree
After a few weeks in water – roots!

I will be potting this soon. The other stem has not begun to send off roots, and I’m not sure it will. But I’ll wait a bit longer to see. (It never did and I gave up.)

The main plant is sending off little shoots near the site of the cutting.  I only see one shoot, so whoever the cut is made is where the new growth will take place – at the next leaf on the stem.  Keep that in mind when making the cut.

new growth rubber tree
New growth from the stem that was cut.

A new leaf unfurls in a pretty green color. It will eventually turn dark like the older leaves. My next chore will be to re-pot into something bigger. First, I may take a few more cuttings to further shape the tree.

new leaf rubber tree
Pretty new leaf emerging.

If the plant is too large to take outside and wash, use a damp cloth and clean the leaves every now and then. Be sure to fertilize it occasionally as well. I like to use organic fish emulsion diluted in water.

Planting the Rooted Rubber Tree Cutting

I planted the rooted cutting in my front yard under an Oak tree (see photo below).  So far it is doing well without much attention from me.  

Having plants beneath a tree help give it shade (obviously) but also keep it protected from wind and cold.  Plants that grow near other plants can survive cold overnight temperatures better, and being in the shade means less watering.

When the temperature will be close to, or below, freezing I will cover this little plant with a towel overnight.  It’s was 38 degrees the other night, and the rubber tree baby looks fine and I did not cover it.

For those who don’t know, when you cover plants over night be sure to remove the cover in the morning!  Leaving them covered is not good.

Rubber plant cutting still doing well outside

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