Category Archives: Planting tips

plumeria plant

The Plumeria Plant Gift, Or Is It Something Else?

plumeria plant
A Special Gift

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.

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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.

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Beautiful Desert Rose Flowers (photo credit: Pixabay)

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Florida Gardening Tips Month by Month This Book is Just What I Need

florida gardening book
Tom MacCubbin has a lot of gardening books.

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.

What I’ve Learned About Planting, Harvesting and Drying Garlic

hardneck garlic bulb cloves
Planting, Harvesting and Drying Hardneck Garlic

I live in southwestern New Hampshire and each year I attempt to grow my own garlic.  After much trial and error and reading articles and books, this is what I’ve learned about planting, harvesting and drying garlic in my area of the country.

The first couple of years I had little luck, but I didn’t know what I was doing.  I wasn’t sure exactly when to plant it, and it never grew very large when I did manage to grow a few bulbs. As time went on, I read more, and realized that it needs to be weeded well. Weeds will compete for nutrients and keep the bulbs small. Also a little fertilizer when the stalks begin to grow can help. Continue reading What I’ve Learned About Planting, Harvesting and Drying Garlic

Endless Summer Goes From Blue to Lavender, Pink or Green

lavender hydrangea flower
This flower bloomed blue then faded to lavender

My beautiful blue Endless Summer hydrangea flower turned to light lavender as last season progressed. Sometimes the blues turn pink, or even green. It’s what makes growing hydrangeas so exciting, the fact that flowers will start out one color and turn to something completely different.

I love this gorgeous light purple flower. The newly planted shrub is not very large and last year it had only about 5 or 6 blooms. The heavy weight of the flowers on the smaller stems weighed them down, but each year the plant will do better.

Right now it’s too early to see much happening with my hydrangea bushes. I keep coming across pictures I took last summer and fall, so I’ll have to share those for the time being.

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Endless Summer that has turned light green in Fall
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A blue flower drying on the stem in Autumn turns all kinds of gorgeous colors

I won’t be buying any more new plants, as I am currently on a very tight budget, but I plan to propagate hydrangeas from the plants I already have.

Propagating from the endless summer and mop-head varieties is easy, but it takes time and some planning.  Some people start plants from cuttings, but I have not had luck with that.