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.

How To Propagate Hydrangeas

stem cutting
Hydrangea cutting with roots and new leaves.

Propagating means starting a new shrub from an existing one. There are a couple of ways you can do this with hydrangea plants.  Hydrangeas grow quite fast, and within a couple of years you will have a nice size addition to your landscape.

Taking stem cuttings, using new growth, sometimes works.  I have not used this method much yet, but while I was planting my new shrubs, a few of the stems broke so I stuck them into a vase of water to see what would happen.  After a few weeks, one of the cuttings has begun to sprout new little leaves and is growing roots – right in the water.  So I plan to get that into a pot and baby it along until Fall when I’ll add it to the yard. (Pictures to come!)

I’ve had success with root layering, and hydrangeas, with their low hanging branches, are perfect for doing this.  In fact if you check around the base of your plants that droop to the ground, you may find that a branch or two is already rooting itself into the soil.  The mophead variety tends to have the low to the ground stems.

I started a new plant by digging up the rooted stem and planting it in another area of the yard one Spring.  I was renting the house, so I don’t know how it’s doing today, but by the time I moved, a beautiful new hydrangea shrub was gracing the front yard at no cost to the homeowner.

Read how I did it, with pictures along the way, at my Wizzley page about Propagating Hydrangeas.

Buying Is Fun, Planting – Not So Much!

hydrangeas in pots
Newly purchased hydrangeas in pots

Going to the nursery and buying new plants for the yard is such fun. I love to imagine them each growing large and gloriously enhancing my landscape. But once I’m home and the work of digging and getting them into the ground begins, I’m not having as much fun.

Finding the right spot for them is the first obstacle to overcome. Some of them, in fact most of them, like sun with some shade. The blue “Endless Summer”, white “Blushing Bride“, the “Limelight” (I bought two), and the “Pinky Winky” all need to get some sun, but the “Pee Gee” wants shade.

Also, the full grown size of these plants needs to be considered. Hydrangeas don’t really need to be trimmed, so I want to give them all the space they need to look natural in their settings.

While I am considering all these things and watching my yard for the sunny spots, the plants sit in their pots. Each day they must be watered. Plants in pots dry out very fast. Then a freeze was predicted and I brought them all inside the garage for the night. I wouldn’t have worried had they been planted in the ground, but being in pots makes them more fragile.

I know they want out! And they will do some nice growing once they are in the ground. This weekend the weather in my part of New England will be fabulous, so I plan to get the planting underway.  After all, adding perennials to the yard is a wonderful and lasting gift you can give yourself.

New Hydrangeas For The Yard

hydrangeas in pots
hydrangeas in pots

I am very excited to now have my own hydrangeas to plant and grow!  It is not only necessary for beautifying my dull and boring landscape, but I need to get photos of the flowers for my business.  I’ve had to work with older photos that were taken when I rented a house with hydrangeas in the yard, but now it will be so nice to walk outdoors and snap as many photos as I need.

One of the best features of hydrangeas is that the flowers last and last.  They also bloom profusely so older flowers and new buds can be on the bush for a long time.  If I can get them planted correctly and make them happy I should see some blue, white, pink and green flowers either later this year or next.

My Endless Summer plant looks like it may bloom this year and so does the white one (have to get the name), but the Limelight and Pinky Winky may not.  Although the Endless Summer tag shows a blue flower, I know that it may not bloom blue unless the soil is right for that.  This year I will wait and see what it does.

Elegant Hydrangea Wedding Invitations