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.

Caladiums and Impatiens Flower Garden Under the Trees

When I bought my house nearly 2 years ago, there was a little flower garden under the trees out front.  I neglected it and it became overgrown very quickly.  I’m not inclined to work outside in the heat, but the other day I decided a quick fix was in order.  The garden is small, so the work would be minimal.  We had brick pavers leftover from the building of the patio, so I used them to create a new border to hold the additional dirt needed.

I’m not yet very good with my Florida plant names, but the ones with the colorful, pointed leaves are Caladium.  The link to Eden Brothers calls them “bulbs”.  Mine came out of a pot so didn’t look like bulbs to me.

The white leaves are called “Florida Moonlight”.  I don’t know the name of the pink-leafed one, but they add lots of interest in the yard.  They love heat and humidity, which explains why they do so well here.

 

Flower garden under the trees
Flower garden under the trees

Also in the background around the tree are the thin leaves of the Variegated Flax Lily.  I spent a lot of time removing lots of dead leaves from them.  Even without attention they continued to grow, so I would say they are very hardy plants.  Now that I have given them some attention, the lily is blooming.  Each plant has tiny white flowers on stalks among the leaves.

little white flowers
Little stalks of white flowers on the Varigated Lily

When I first moved in here I bought a bunch of New Guinea Impatiens and put them in the garden by the front door.   The brightly colored flowers add continuous color to the landscape.  It turned out those annuals lasted nearly a year. The very cold nights in January finally froze most of them. Because they did so well, I bought a few more to put under the tree.

New Guinea Impatien
New Guinea Impatien and Caladium leaves

University of Florida plants list for the shade.

The purple flowering plant which is now under the tree is still in the short fabric pot. It is a Mona Lavender Plectranthus. I bought it because it was pretty, and I especially love the deep green of the leaves.

Now that I am researching this plant, I have discovered it needs some shade and is a perennial in warm climates. It seems that I have chosen a good spot for it to grow under the tree.  I moved the fabric pot and did not dig up this plant.  The potted Mona Lavender is now part of the shade garden and no one can tell it’s in a pot!

short grow bag
Plectranthus, Mona Lavender

Because planting around the base of a tree can be difficult because of roots, fabric gardening pots can be super helpful.

shade garden
The purple flowering plant is in a fabric pot.

All my new plants were purchased at the Home Depot. I also bought more organic garden dirt, and added blood meal and black mulch.

In my part of central Florida, plants can be killed in winter.  When freezing temperatures are coming overnight I will have to cover all these plants to keep them from dying.