Spring in Florida is Like Fall Only Uglier

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.

Florida oaks with moss branching over a road
Live Oaks – Spring

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.)

Trimmed hedge
Trimmed hedge of little ficus?

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.

new growth on the shrubs
New growth

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.

new growth on green shrubs

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.

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.