May 2020 In My Florida Yard

While I am hanging out at home (which I pretty much do all the time anyway) I have given the yard some attention. I thought I’d share photos of what is growing in my Florida yard.

Here in my area of Florida we’ve had a few very cool nights (ya..60’s), but I’ll take it. By May it’s usually hotter than this, but I am not compaining. I’ve still been taking walks early without sweating too badly and it’s been nice outdoors for puttering in the yard.

Garden around a tree
Tropical garden plants

I took some croton cuttings the other day and they are sitting in a pail of water waiting for roots to grow. I’ve had success with propagating crotons, and Spring is a good time to get cuttings of new growth.

One of my previous croton cuttings, gave me a new cutting… and now that first plant is shooting off new growth. It’s a beautiful little plant with dark reddish orange veins. Because this croton grows beneath an oak tree, it does not get lots of direct sun and that keeps the leaf color darker. Now it will give me a new plant!

In the back corner of the yard are some banana trees. They have grown a bunch of bananas, but I can’t reach them. I zoomed in to get this photo because they are quite high. We could probably eat them if only they were closer. We did not plant these trees.

Bananas on the tree
Bunch of bananas out of reach

I don’t go out to the store, so I haven’t bought new dirt or seeds, so I’m working with what I have. A tomato plant began growing from seeds of a tomato I used as compost. I’ll cut up vegetables and just throw them in my garden. Now I’ve picked 2 semi-large tomatoes and have some cherry tomatoes growing also.

Cherry tomato plant
Some tiny cherry tomatoes

The front garden doesn’t get much attention from me. It’s where the croton is (see it upper left) and I planted a baby bromeliad – right. Front right is the pink caladium, which disappears underground for months and comes back in Spring. I also had a white caladium, but that has not grown back this year.

Garden around a tree with pink caladium, rubber plant, croton and grass.
Tropical garden plants
Florida garden
Skittle watches as I photograph my little garden

The Azalea is doing well with lots of green leaves. And the rubber tree – also taken from a cutting, is doing quite well. The Bromeliad double, which is white and pink, was the original plant I purchased. I’ve dug out babies and planted them around the yard.

New Guinea impatiens do best with some shade. These will last a long time – sometimes over a year – with shade, water and care.

New Guinea impatiens
New Guinea impatiens

The green plants which make a low hedge across the front are filling in nicely. I had cut them back, added dirt and fertilizer and mulch. They looked very ugly and sparse, but no more. They will end up filled in and pretty. They just needed attention.

Last but not least is my hydrangea! It is alive, but very small at this point. It’s been fertilized, and watered, and I’ll watch to see what happens. It’s not at all like the hydrangeas I was used to in New England. Florida is like a completely different country.

Hydrangea in Spring
In May – the Hydrangea

I hope you are keeping busy while all this Covid virus stuff persists. Maybe it’s almost time for gardening where you are. I hope so.

Around The Yard in Muggy May

May is here and it’s muggy in Florida. The AC is on day and night now. Even when it’s “cool” the humidity makes being outside less than fun. The worst is yet to come, but it has begun.

First, a Nice Surprise in The Garden

pink caladiums
The caladium is coming back!

As I was checking on my front garden, there it was…the caladium that had disappeared and was presumed dead. In fact both the pink and white leaved varieties were popping up through the dirt. They had both disappeared on me and I was mad that they died off so quickly. (See my post when they were first planted.) The impatiens which I planted at the same time are gone.

white leaves caladium
The white-leaf caladium is coming back

I’ve never grown caladiums but they look so nice against the green of the yard. Their big arrow-shaped leaves. Even though I watered them and they seemed to be growing well, they began to die. Or maybe they go into hibernation for the colder season. I need to look that up… hold on.

Okay…. They do go dormant so my caladiums were just doing what caladiums do. I never knew that! Although I have lived in Florida for many years, I just learned something new about my landscape.

Travel the Yard With Me

The garden beneath the oak was already there when we moved into our house a few years ago. It had become overrun with weeds, but now it contains my rubber tree which I propagated a while ago. I’ve discovered that rubber tree cuttings grow very well outdoors. Look at that sucker… isn’t it beautiful? I’m noticing that many big rubber trees are doing quite well in the landscape in my area. I’ve propagated a few more which I will plant sometime soon and write about them.

Rubber tree growing outside in my Florida yard
My newly propagated rubber plant is doing nicely

The orange flowering hibiscus was trimmed back at the end of April and now it is filling out nicely. Buds are forming, and it will be covered in blooms soon. I want to keep it trimmed away from the house so maybe it won’t get those nasty fuzzy whiteflies it had last year.

May hibiscus filling out with leaves and buds after a trim
Trimmed hibiscus is filling out

Hydrangea For the Yard

When I bought this little hydrangea plant it had some buds. They popped open with beautiful big flowers of blue and purple. Now the flowers have faded to that lovely shade of green I love to see on hydrangeas. (See more photos of the blooming timeline here.)

The potted plant was recently removed from it’s pot and put into my front garden. I’ve had to water it every day and still it tends to droop. It never gets direct sun, but I am unsure of how well it will do during the very hot Florida summer. Look at those green flowers! Never deadhead hydrangeas. Wait and watch how the flowers fade to new colors and eventually they should dry up on the stem. They are interesting when the blooms have faded too.

hydrangea
My blue hydrangea flowers have turned green

In the woods next too my house the white-flowering Elderberry bush / tree is looking wonderful. These flowers will become berries soon. I’ve read that this is a poisonous plant but mostly it grows in swampy areas and not in the yard. The land slopes down around my yard and this Elderberry grows in that uncleared lot. I don’t pick the berries, but some people do and make jam, wine, and pies. Taking chances eating wild stuff is not my style. I would definitely need more information.

Elderberry flowers
White Elderberry flowers

This magnolia tree is growing in the front yard of a house I pass on my morning walks. I have always loved magnolias. As I pass this house I can smell the aroma of the blooms. It’s got me thinking …. maybe a magnolia tree needs to live in my yard.

Flowering magnolia
Flowering magnolia tree

The little palm tree pictured below is a new addition to my yard. It was growing next to the house near the walkway to the door. That location was ridiculous. It never got full sun, and if it had grown tall, it would have blocked the walkway to the front door.

So we dug it up and put it out in the yard where the croton planter used to be. When my crotons froze, and my son chopped up the stump it sat on, it became clear that something needed to be done.

I believe this is a Pygmy Date Palm and many houses in the neighborhood have them growing in their landscape. I’m hoping this one will grow nicely now that it’s out in the sun where palm trees should be (although I’ve read that this one can take shade). Once it grows taller it will be nice. A baby tree is growing out of the base.

palm tree
Little palm tree moved to a better location

My son and I began a new garden bed along the front of the house. When I lived in New Hampshire I always put down newspapers to block the weeds and grass before adding dirt. I’m doing that here, but I’m not sure how well it will work with these Florida weeds and tough grass. I plan to write all about it on another post. Plants won’t go in until next Fall.

new garden
Getting the ground ready for a new garden

I hope you are having a good May wherever you live. In the northeast, May was a time for dealing with black flies but it also meant that vegetable planting time was just around the corner.

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.

Sunday Morning Garden Photography

Taking garden photos to share on a peaceful Sunday morning.

Is there anything better than a quiet, peaceful (and fairly cool) Florida morning? Sure, lots of things, but today I enjoyed the cloud cover as I checked on my gardens this morning and took some photos with my iPhone.

hibiscus
Hibiscus Colors

The hibiscus is blooming profusely and I noticed today that some of the flowers are a lighter color than others. They look pink here, for some reason, but they are really light orange. I was too lazy to use my graphics program to fix the color – look at the photo below to see a more true version. …….Still, the beauty is apparent.

sunflower stalk
The Sunflower is Growing Tall

In New Hampshire I always had sunflowers growing in my garden during the summer. They sprang up on their own, known as “volunteers”. I just let them grow where they were and planted my vegetables around them.  In the Fall, little goldfinches and chickadees would land on the big heads and eat the seeds.

Because I don’t feed the birds in Florida, no sunflower seeds will voluntarily grow after being buried under the winter snow, so this one I had to plant. In fact I planted a lot of seeds, but this one the only one growing. Animals (squirrels) probably ate the other seeds.

sunflower
Big “volunteer” sunflower in my northern garden

red rose open petals macro
Open Rose

My rose bush is doing fine so far. I am seeing roses bloom continuously. Their color is stunning, but the flowers don’t last long.

watermelon vine
Watermelon Vine

I’ve never been able to grow my own watermelon, but I am trying again. This one seems to be doing well enough.

desert rose pink flowers
Desert Rose is Flowering

The Desert Rose, which at first was thought to be a Plumeria, is planted in the ground and doing well. Lots of bright pink flowers have bloomed and I am seldom watering it, as required.

Persian lime flowering
Little limes growing on the Persian Lime tree

The Persian Lime tree is blooming like mad and little limes have formed. Many of them will end up falling off, I assume, but I’m hopeful that some will grow to be edible size.

Other happenings in my small yard:  I saw two black snakes (black racers) yesterday within the span of about 3 minutes.  They are “good” snakes and not poisonous, but still creep me out as I watch them slither through the grass.  Now I’m back to watching where I walk.

Later today I will pick the one zucchini growing on my single zucchini plant.  The potatoes have been dug, and the carrots pulled.  Time to plant some new things that may, or may not, be able to take the Florida summer heat.  At this point, it’s all an experiment.

Have a wonderful day!