The Plumeria Plant Gift, Or Is It Something Else?

desert rose

Some friends stopped by the other day and they had been to the Farmer’s Market at the Volusia County Fairgrounds. They opened the trunk of the car to show us the wonderful plants they had purchased. They had boxes of little succulents, a bushy croton, tiny African violets, and bags of organic dirt. In the back I noticed three tall stalks in pots with one or two flowers at the top. When I asked what the plant was, our friend pulled one out and handed it to me. “It’s a Plumeria” she said, “Here take it, it’s for you”.

I tried to give it back, and said I was only curious, but she insisted I keep it. She said they were only $3.00 and she had more.  The guy who sold them to her told her they were Plumerias.

Now, I have never seen a plumeria plant. I am familiar with the beautiful flowers of the Hawaiian plumeria (frangipani), and know that they are often used to make Hawaiian leis in the islands. I use plumeria (or frangipani) images to create wedding and event stationery for my Sandpiper Wedding store. But I have never had a plant like this. And honestly the flower reminded me more of an Oleander, but the plant itself was like nothing I had seen.

I figured I’d call it a plumeria until I discovered differently. I had already looked up How to grow plumerias, but I’ve had my doubts as to what this plant really is. I’ve never seen plumerias growing in Florida, and I used to have all the favorite local plants planted in my yard when I lived here in the 80’s and 90’s. It doesn’t mean they don’t grow here, but they need a more tropical climate than what we have here in central Florida.

Plumerias need tropical conditions to grow well, and where I live it does get cold.

**** Then, I went shopping at the local Home Depot, and came across plants that look just like my “plumeria” but they were called “Desert Rose.  Aha, I did not have a plumeria.  But I had no idea what to do with a desert rose.

My Desert Rose plant

I looked up how to care for it.

The Desert Rose is a flowering succulent, which means it won’t need a lot of water.  The stem can be very thick, and holds water to be used in times of drought.  It does not like cold temperatures, which means I should keep it indoors over the Florida winter.  I’ll have to dig it up.  It is slow growing, compared to plumerias, which grow fast and turn into small trees.

IMG_1459
The one flower that opened on my plant

Right now our temperatures are very warm with daytime readings in the 80’s and overnight in the 60’s and some 50’s. I regret planting it outdoors and will have to spend some money on a decent pot and bring it inside eventually. I’m not sure it will like all the summer rain we’ll be getting soon.  It’s meant to be an ornamental indoor plant, from what I gather.

Here are more pictures of the Desert Rose, found at the free images site, Pixabay.

pink desert rose flowers
Beautiful Desert Rose Flowers (photo credit: Pixabay)

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A New Hibiscus Plant For the Yard

Living in Florida means growing at least one hibiscus in 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.

Identifying Perennials in Spring

Pictures of perennials as an identification guide to what’s growing in my yard this spring.

Once the perennials start pushing through the ground in spring, I sometimes can’t recall what is growing where.  I spent nearly 30 years living in Florida where plants don’t have to hibernate over winter.  Now I’ve had to adjust to not seeing my yard and gardens for months at a time.

Even though I leave the tags near the plant when they are planted, the tags don’t always last.  Some of the larger perennials, like the hydrangeas and peonies are easy to identify.  I also know where the rhododendrons are as they don’t die back.  They are just chewed to nubs by the deer.  This year I discovered that deer eat lilacs too.  We’ve had a hard winter.  I can’t be too mad at them for needing to eat.  I just wish they’d eat plants in another yard and leave mine alone!

I’ve taken some recent photos of the perennials growing this Spring as a reminder of what’s growing where.  It’s a plant identification guide for myself.  Maybe they will help you name some in your yard as well.

I took these photos May 3, 2015.  I live in southwestern New Hampshire.

ID bleeding heart ID Columbine plant in spring ID Coneflower ID Coral Bells ID coral bells2 ID Corepsis ID Monk's Hood ID tall phlox ID wild bleeding heart

A Little About Sunflowers

Types of sunflowers and possible problems when planting and growing.

yellow sunflower poster
Sunflower Poster

Soon the sunflowers will be popping through the soil and by mid-summer their happy blooms will decorate the garden landscape.
Sunflower plants can be tall or short. When mixing varieties be sure to leave enough space between them as they all need lots of sunlight. Seed packs will describe which is which.

Besides bright yellow the petals can be rusty redish orange as in the Autumn Beauty
variety.  (I don’t know what variety this red sunflower is, but it’s pretty.)

red sunflower
Photo by eponaspirit @ Pixabay

I used to plant sunflower seeds until I realized that the squirrels were digging them up as fast as I could plant them! My gardening space is very small, so I don’t need many sunflowers, but a few are nice to have. Because I feed sunflower seeds to the birds in winter, I always have a few volunteers that grow on their own. All I have to do is weed out the ones that are too close together and let the others survive. Of course they don’t always sprout where I would prefer they live, but I can’t be picky. It’s that or no sunflowers, and a summer without sunflowers is just not right!
Here is a picture of my garden last year.

backyard garden scene
My Backyard Garden – 2014

My ‘Celebrity’ tomatoes looked so wonderful right up until they developed late blight, just as they were almost ready to pick, and I never got to eat them.  It was very depressing.
I like the fact that sunflowers grow beautifully on their own.  Usually they mature and have plenty of seeds to feed the birds.  The goldfinches love them.  Although, I have had squirrels climb the stalk and chew off the stem to steal the entire flower! Those little buggers are a real nuisance. Now that I have cats prowling the yard, I haven’t had that problem.
I did however have big green grasshoppers chewing on the flowers. It’s always something. But they were so interesting that I let them eat and got some photos.
grasshopper eating a sunflower