Category Archives: Landscaping

Planting perennials in the yard.

pink desert rose flower

How to Care For a Desert Rose Plant

desert rose pink flowers
Desert Rose in Garden

When I was given this flowering plant as a gift I was told it was a Plumeria. After seeing this same plant at the local Home Depot store, I discovered it was a Desert Rose. But before I knew what it was, I had taken it out of the original pot and put it into a sunny location in the backyard.

Sun is exactly what this flowering plant craves. The only problem was that it doesn’t need a lot of water. In fact, the less water the better – like a succulent, because that is really what it is.

At the time I planted it, we were have a long dry spell here in Florida. The Desert Rose did well. I avoided watering it when I watered the hibiscus next to it, and the plant even sent out new buds, which you can see blooming at the bottom of the stalk.

But, Florida is a tropical place, and I knew the rains would be coming. The Desert Rose also can’t handle cold temperatures (below 40 degrees F), and it does get cold in central Florida in winter.

pink desert rose in orange pot
Dug up and potted

I finally decided the Desert Rose needed to be in a pot. That way I could leave it outside for the sun, but bring it in during rainstorms and for the cold winter nights.  When I potted it, I had to give it water, but I haven’t watered it since.

It seems to be a very hardy plant, as I’ve dug it up and put it back into a pot. I think the key here is to NOT GIVE IT WATER. And I haven’t.

I’ve killed some really nice succulents by over-watering.  It can be tough to not water something when in general plants need plenty of water.  And, it seems to me that the Desert Rose (adenium) is not native to Florida.  Florida has no deserts.   This one will have to stay a houseplant if I hope for it to survive.

These plants develop a very thick “stem” or caudex (see them in the photo below).  This is the part that holds in the water to keep the plant thriving in drought conditions.  It is a succulent shrub and can grow quite large outdoors.

thick caudex stem of desert rose
The thick “stems” of the Desert Rose plant (photo credit: Pixabay)

The Desert Rose can be called by other names.   It is similar in appearance to the plumeria / frangipani tree and Oleander.  The plant is often easy to recognize because of it’s extremely thick stem.

Be aware that this plant contains poisonous sap.   It may not be a good choice as a houseplant for families with young kids for this reason.

I found a lot of articles about this plant at the TipsPlants.com site.  I will reference these articles if I ever get seed pods and maybe I will try to propagate it.

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tiny watermelon on the vine

Here’s What’s Happening in My Florida Yard in May

Aside from the fact that the raccoons are helping themselves to all my tomatoes… red and green… I am still attempting to grow a garden.  The raised bed is filling slowly with dirt and compost, and right now I have cucumbers, tomatoes, summer squash, bell peppers, and eggplant growing.

So far I am eating tomatoes and cukes.  Still waiting for the peppers, squash and eggplant.

raised bed gardening
New Plants in My Raised Bed Garden

None of my vegetable plants were doing very well.  They had plenty of sun and water.  The problem was the soil.  I have been buying bags of organic dirt, but I don’t think it had any type of compost in it.  So I  bought a few bags of compost, and that has helped. I had started my own compost in a pail on my porch and I added that to the raised bed.  What I really need is a composter.

Now my older eggplant is flowering again.  I have some green peppers and can see little cucumbers beginning to grow. But I need more dirt and compost.

eggplant flower growing
Maybe I’ll Get an Eggplant
cucumber blossom on vine
Tiny Cuke

The Rose bush is blooming, with small, but beautiful roses.

I must go outside and check them every day, because the flowers don’t last. Just the other day I got a pure white rose on this bush! But I waited too long and lost the opportunity to get a photo.  Roses are difficult to grow and with the humidity here, I’m afraid of black spot – or whatever they get.

pink rose
Pink Rose with Peach Center

Down toward the back of my house the watermelon vine is getting longer, and baby watermelons are popping out along the stem.

tiny watermelon on the vine
Baby Watermelon

Since I’ve amended the soil with compost, the peppers are doing better. The bells are not very large yet, but I’m afraid the raccoons will pick them before I get to.

green bell peppers growing
Finally, my peppers are growing!

It’s been so dry here in Florida for months. This tropical location is in need of rain. We’ve had very few rainy days, and there have been fires all over the place.

Because of this, I decided to add a cheap bird bath to the corner of my garden. Using a big plastic pot saucer, I added some broken bricks left over from the building of our patio, and filled it with water.   It sits on the corner of the raised bed.  Each day I spray it out and refill while I’m watering the garden.

I do get birds who drink and bathe in the thing. A female cardinal especially seems to like it, and a Cowbird (I think) had a nice long bath the other day. Of course my cats drink from it as well!

bird bath
My Cheap Bird Bath

I know that if I was still living in New Hampshire, gardening would hopefully begin this Memorial Day weekend. Their garden veggies won’t be coming in for a couple more months.

Hydrangeas in Florida May Grow Best Inside

Since I moved to Florida last summer, I’ve kept a lookout for my favorite hydrangea shrubs in local garden centers. At least they are not in the “garden” area. I’ve seen hydrangeas in pots inside the Home Depot meant to give as gifts or use as indoor plants. And I think that in this hot and humid climate they may grow best inside.

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Pretty Pink Potted Hydrangea

From what I’ve read, the Oakleaf hydrangea will survive outside in zone 9, so that is one option. It’s not exactly like any of the other types of hydrangea I’ve grown, so it will be experimental if I decide to buy it. Also it seems very leafy, without those big gorgeous flowers like the mopheads have. The Oakleaf seems suited to areas beneath trees where it would get filtered sunlight.  And it doesn’t seem to be grown for it’s gorgeous flowers.

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I miss my blue hydrangea (photo is mine)

What I do know is that a hydrangea will grow best getting some morning sun and then shade for the rest of the day. In Florida, during dry times, it will require a lot of watering also. I picture any hydrangea growing in the ground here needing a lot of water.

I’ve read in gardening forums that some people buy the potted hydrangeas that are sold around holiday time, and then keep them inside out of the direct sun.

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I’ve never had a pink flowering hydrangea and this one is lovely.

The trouble with having hydrangeas in the yard down here is that most tropical plants remain lush and green year round. Hydrangeas are deciduous, which means their leaves will fall off for the winter months. For that reason, they will look out of place in a Florida landscape. In the north, everything goes dormant for the winter, so leafless hydrangea plants don’t stick out like a sore thumb.

Someone suggested growing camellias instead of hydrangeas as they do not lose their leaves. I’ve grown camellias before and they are lovely plants with a variety of flowers to choose from. But I think they like shade, which I don’t have much of here.

camelia

Camellia

Easter and Mother’s Day are both coming up and I suspect the local stores will be offering some hydrangeas for both of those holidays. It could be the best time to find new hydrangeas to grow in my southern home.

In the north, the blue hydrangeas and Pinky Winky were my favorites, but it might be a nice change to have a true pink potted hydrangea.

(Photo credits: Pixabay.com)

orange flowering hibiscus

Florida Yardscape Must Include At Least One Hibiscus

screen-shot-2017-03-02-at-9-27-26-amNow that I live in Florida, my yard must contain the normal Florida perennials. Hibiscus is at the top of that list, and therefore I recently purchased a shrub and recently planted it along the side of the house.

I know that hibiscus will tolerate lots of sun and heat.  Although the tag on this one said it was protected from mites and aphids, I notice there are some on the buds.  I mixed up a solution of dish detergent and water to spray on the plant, and picked off the buds that were full of bugs.  I’ve had to do this for a few days not.  It’s irritating that I bought it with the bugs on it.  Should have checked closer.

Next to it, I added a rose bush and on the other side a small Desert Rose.  In my photo below the plumeria hasn’t been planted yet, but you can see the red poinsettia I bought this past Christmas …  the flowers are still red!  That one also needs to go in the ground.

rose bush and hibiscus
New Little Florida Garden

I need to get these gardens planted before the weather becomes too hot. I can’t work outside like I used to, and I dislike working in the heat. Digging up this St. Augustine grass is a real chore, and then I must lug the dirt to mix into the dug hole.  The Florida “dirt” is mostly sand, so it must be amended with quality dirt and fertilizer.  After it was planted I added black mulch.

double orange hibiscus
This Hibiscus Has Ruffled Flowers