It all began with one indoor rubber tree plant. When it started to look gangly, I cut it back and stuck the cuttings in water to see what would happen. You can read about the rubber tree trimming here. Many of the cuttings did root and I simply planted them in the ground. A few never rooted for whatever reason.
I ended up with four rooted stems which I planted straight into the dirt outside. I’m finding that my rubber tree babies are growing wonderfully in my Florida yard. But is there a drawback to having rubber trees in the yard?
Now my little hydrangea is in the ground and here is what I’ve learned. Deadheading Florida hydrangeas is a good idea. I found new growth and new flowers hidden beneath those huge, dying blooms.
Until a few weeks ago I had not tried to grow a hydrangea in my Florida yard. I kept thinking there was no way it would do well in all this heat. So the fact that my little hydrangea plant is doing so well is a nice surprise. If it has been growing in a greenhouse it would adapt well to warmth, and it does seem to be thriving this summer.
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.
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.
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.
I’m learning to garden in Florida and reading this informational book by Tom MacCubbin. The month by month gardening tips are a great help for someone just starting out gardening in this tropical climate. Even though I haven’t moved into my new home yet, I’m getting prepared and beginning to learn what crops to grow in a Florida winter. I need a list of cool season vegetables.
I used to cut articles written by this author from the newspaper years ago. I ended up with a stack of little papers to sift through whenever I needed to find some information on growing plants in my Florida yard. He always had such good advice, and he appeared on television occasionally too, as I recall. That was many years ago, when I first lived in Florida in the early 1980’s. So moving back to the south meant I had to re-learn southern ways of gardening.
It was thrilling to find a book written by someone I trust for gardening information. So far, I’ve only read a bit, but once I plan the planting space, I will have a good idea of what will grow in the winter months. I’d also like to start a compost heap, or buy a compost bin since the soil will need amending constantly. Gardens in Florida don’t get to rest really.
I have read about hydrangeas, and the only fact I must remember here is that they tend to dry out quickly and will need lots of water. They will bloom in July, like in the north, and then can be deadheaded. I like to watch the flowers dry on the stem, but I wonder if the humidity here means that won’t work so well? I’ll have to see what happens.
Other than a few quick mentions, the Month by Month book doesn’t mention much about hydrangeas.