A Blooming Orchid and Hydrangea Update

The other day we had a massive storm, with a tornado touchdown just west of where we live. It brought 4.5 inches of water, which filled the drainage ditches and low-lying areas. In Florida, rainwater seeps away into the ground fairly quick and we can handle that amount of rain.

As I was picking up overturned plants and inspecting my gardens, I discovered that my old orchid plant had a stem full of buds! I have two orchid plants that sit outside in the shade of a bigger shrub. Orchids appreciate the humidity, but don’t like direct sunlight. That is the extent of my orchid knowledge, and I moved them outdoors where they can get what they need.

blooming orchid with pink flower
Finally – blooming again

This orchid was a gift from my daughter many years ago when she was a little girl. I’ve kept it, and traveled all over New Hampshire with it in all my moves. Now I (and it) are back in Florida, and the plant seems to be happier. I can’t remember when it bloomed last.

Just behind where the orchid sits in the garden is my hydrangea! It has really grown, but there are no flowers. See my first hydrangea photos here. It remained quite small for a while, but now it is taking off. Maybe the roots have taken hold, and the fertilizer has kicked in.

Florida outdoor hydrangea shrub
Florida outdoor hydrangea shrub

Did you notice my little croton starter plants in the photo above? I have four across the front of the garden (three in the photo). I rooted them from cuttings.

The wind blew the banana tree over a bit so now the bunch of bananas growing is reachable.

banana tree with bunch of bananas
Drooping bunch of bananas

Lots of Brown Plants After Florida Freeze

A week or go ago here in central Florida we had about three nights in a row where temperatures got into the twenties. Tropical plants do not like a Florida freeze.
They can handle a short stretch of cold, but not the constant, ongoing cold. One day I went out to dump out the ice in the bird bath and filled it with new water – which froze over again. That is unusual. Daytime brings warmer temperatures, but not that day. It was too much for plants which love sun and heat.
The saddest example of death in the yard is my beautiful croton. I have a few “baby plants” started from it and they have survived the cold. If I have to I can replant.

dead croton in a barrel
This was a beautiful croton and hibiscus

These banana trees sprung up at the edge of my yard and I’ve watched them grow for the past year. I think the house behind me threw some old banana trees over into the woods and they simply grew. They were getting tall and looking good and then the hurricane hit. The wind shredded the long leaves on the banana tree. Now we’ve had cold which has turned all the shredded leaves brown. Poor thing doesn’t look too good now.

dying banana trees after freeze
Banana Trees

The New Guinea impatiens that have been growing in the front garden – and survived throughout last winter – are brown and wilted.

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My hibiscus is planted right next to the house, which usually helps when cold temps set in. I also covered it on two of the really cold nights. That didn’t keep the entire front part of it from turning brown.

Hibiscus front part dead
Front part of hibiscus is brown and dead

The bougainvillea which had just recently begun to grow larger is now a spindly brown vine.
dead plant due to freeze
First my eggplant died along the top. I covered it, and that didn’t seem to do much good. After the second night of low temps the rest of the plant turned brown. I’m not too sad because it has given me only one eggplant. ┬áThat’s it in the background of the picture below.

dead eggplant leaves after freeze
Eggplant is dead, but pepper lives on for now

I always believed that pepper plants loved heat, but this bell pepper plant is still nice and green when everything else has mostly died. I don’t know if it will continue to grow, but I hope so. I had been getting small green peppers from it fairly regularly.

I took a walk around my neighborhood the other morning and got this photo of an oak tree with a huge vine crawling up through the branches. I’d seen it before, but noticed this time that many of the big tropical leaves were brown.

big leaves in oak tree turned brown
Vine of big leaves growing up an oak tree

It is possible that these plants will come back. If the roots have not been killed, green will show up once again. The eggplant already has some little green leaves sprouting at the base of the plant.

I found a “Cold Hardy Plant List” for central Florida on the Central Florida Gardener site. I’ll have to look into it further when I decide to upgrade my landscape.