Spring in Florida is Like Fall Only Uglier

Some people will say that Florida is one big season that just gets hotter at times. But Florida does have a Spring. It’s when the leaves fall off the trees and pollen collects as a yellow film on everything day after day. Yes, Spring is like Fall / Autumn here, in a way. It’s a duller, more annoying, version of Fall.

Florida oaks with moss branching over a road
Live Oaks – Spring

There are no colorful leaves, or crisp air to breathe, like in a real Autumn. The trees turn a brighter green with the new growth and the oaks drop those long brown things all over the cars (that don’t fit inside garages because that is where everything is stored because there are no basements). Oak leaves are small here and not like the oak leaves where I come from.

That’s about it. Other than that, new growth will appear when bushes are trimmed, but that can happen at any time of year. No use looking for tulips, forsythia, daffodils, or anything that signals Spring in many places, because those flowers don’t grow here in the jungle.

Spring Trimming of The Shrubs

A seasoned Floridian knows when to trim the shrubs. Don’t trim in winter as it will promote new growth that will freeze if the temperatures drop, which they sometimes do. Don’t trim azaleas until after they bloom in March or April. Plant new perennials well before the summer heat arrives. (Not this year. The nurseries are all closed.)

Trimmed hedge
Trimmed hedge of little ficus?

I have decided this year to try and fix up the shrubs along the front by the garage. These are hardy little things that are slow growing, so they are perfect for this area. I’m not sure of what they are, maybe some sort of ficus. I imagine they were planted when the house was built. Unfortunately, the sprinkler system didn’t reach them, and they’ve been ignored since I moved in over three years ago. I’m so sorry, but you did well enough without my help.

new growth on the shrubs
New growth

Now it’s time I paid attention and helped them out. I just recently cut them back a lot. The leaves were looking bad, as you can see I’m my photo. The stems had become spindly and leafless. I’m hoping that this trim will help them to fill out.

new growth on green shrubs

Already there is lots of new growth on the stems. I’ve added topsoil, fertilizer and mulch to this section of garden. My son bought, and installed, a little sprinkler head that sprays this garden specifically. It shouldn’t be long before this hedge is looking thick and lush.

Repotting the Lime Tree and Corn Plant

With the cooler weather comes the time to do things outdoors.  My winter is like a northern summer.  I’ve been waiting for months for the heat to go away so the days will feel more normal.  It’s just like suffering through a long, frozen winter and waiting for the warmth of Spring.  Except in reverse.

January has brought cool breezes, lots fewer bugs, and breathable air.  It rains less, but the plants are not burning under the sun, so watering is occasional.  I still check on my plants and vegetable garden.  The Lime tree seemed to be in need of help, and the pot it was in needed an upgrade.  I bought a couple pots at Home Depot, but then decided to use one of my larger fabric bags.  The Lemon tree is doing great in a fabric pot.

Lime tree in fabric pot
Lime tree in fabric pot

The Italian Oregano plant was in need of attention and got a new home in a deeper pot. I also added some bone meal for root growth.

Italian oregano
A new pot for the Italian oregano plant

White flower buds on lime tree
Little white buds on the Persian Lime tree!

new growth
New growth beginning on the lime tree in January

The Meyer Lemon has some pink flower buds, and the Persian Lime has little white buds and greenery popping out along the branches.  Although freezing temperatures could hit, both my citrus trees can be brought indoors for the cold weather.

Pink flower buds on the lemon tree
Lemon tree buds

One other plant that was in need of attention was my corn plant. This one came with me down from New Hampshire. I had purchased some houseplants to decorate when my house was up for sale. The corn plant (this is what I call it, but I’m not sure what the real name is) is meant to be an indoor plant in the north, but here in Florida it does fine outside as long as it’s in the shade. The front of my house doesn’t get direct sunlight, so the corn plant is generally happy by the front door. But the pot was ugly and too small, so now it is in a bigger one.   I think it is happy.

corn plant
The corn plant in a new pot

Hydrangea Clean Up: Trimming The Dead Ends

hydrangea growth in spring
Growth on Old Wood

Now that the hydrangeas have sprung back from the weight of the snow, I realize I have some trimming and pruning to do. I leave the dead flowers on the stalks over winter, but now they need to be removed. Some branches are broken, but I know that they will fill in quickly with new growth.

Some hydrangeas bloom on new growth so you don’t want to trim those in Spring, or you may be cutting off the blooms. Some bloom on old wood – the stems that were there last year. And some will bloom on both.

This is my “Endless Summer”, a small shrub that I planted last Spring and it bloomed profusely even though it never grew very large.  This year I expect it will grow larger and lots of blue flowers.  The dead flowers are still showing at the end of the stalks and I will be cutting them off.

Baby Hydrangea In Second Year After Propagation

Hydrangea planting
New Plant - Second Year

Want to see my baby?  This little hydrangea bush was propagated from a large one.

Sometime in the summer of 2009 I noticed that the big, blue hydrangea plant in my front yard had a “baby” growing next to it. It didn’t have a bloom, so I dug it up and put it by the front steps.

**Note: I’ve since read that before digging up a new plant, first chop it from the “mother” plant and then leave it where it is for a while to let it get accustomed to growing on it’s own. After a month or so it’s safe to dig it up and it will be more ready for life out on it’s own!

Anyway, it is thriving and even has little buds showing this year. Last year, summer of 2010, it grew two long stalks, but no flowers. I was worried about it this winter with all the snow we had, but the brown stalks were still there once the snow was gone and leaves began to grown from it quickly. Besides new growth on the stalks, it is filling in with more stems and I look forward to seeing the flowers of course and am a bit curious what color they will be. I am thinking blue.