The photo below is of my orange hibiscus and rose bush after planting in my yard. This past April, 2017, I dug up a little patch of grass in the back yard to create a space for a colorful flower garden.
The pretty double-flower orange hibiscus is a typical plant to grow in Florida. I prefer the double type flower, and I thought the color was lovely. You can see that it was a small plant.
Roses are such a bother, but this one was pretty and I decided to try it. The rose bush looks awful now, but the hibiscus has grown like crazy. This just goes to show that if you plant what likes to grow in the local climate it will flourish.
Here it is 7 months later.
The hibiscus plant was watered regularly after it was planted, as was the rose. There were some mites on the buds, so I picked off the buds and threw them away. I’ve noticed that sometimes there are still mites on the plant, but it is not affecting the growth. I never water it now and it is flourishing in the sunny spot by the house.
Hibiscus are tropical plants and I fully expected it to survive quite well. I didn’t realize it would grow so fast. It constantly buds and blooms and the leaves are nice and green.
All I do is occasionally pick off the bug infested buds and give it fish fertilizer and sprinkle some bone meal around the base for good root strength.
I have plans to plant more like this in the front yard. The wind blows from the front and it’s also more shady, so I don’t know if that will be a good location.
Something I’ve always enjoyed is watching my plants grow and change. I once took photos of the Pinky Winky hydrangea in my New Hampshire yard for an entire blooming season to show the changes in the flowers from summer through fall.
It’s easy to start new croton plants from cuttings.
Finding plants that will propagate easily has always been a goal of mine. Starting new crotons from old plants is easy. In fact it’s easier than propagating most things I’ve tried. Cut the stem, put cuttings in water and wait a few weeks. More detailed explanation below.
It is possible to propagate hydrangeas, but that takes time. It’s worth it, because in the end you have a new, lovely hydrangea bush. In fact my baby hydrangeas grew quite large before I had to move.
But back to the crotons. These plants love sun and heat and can live through a draught. The wilted leaves come back after getting some water. Crotons like well-drained soil, and the sandy soil of Florida helps this plant to love it outdoors. It can even survive the cold nights we sometimes get here in Central Florida.
This first photo below was taken over the winter months, when the leaves are duller in color with more green and dark purple colors. Or maybe this one just needed better care.
In this second photo, you can see that this plant’s leaves have turned stunning red, orange, yellow and pink from the bright Florida summer sun. I’ve also given it fertilizer and cleaned out the pot a bit. It was full of ferns.
So, to propagate this croton, I waited until Spring when it began to grow some new leaves. Then I cut off the top of a longer stem, also making the stem long enough to drink from a vase of water. Remove the lower leaves of that cutting, and put it in water.
You will want the stem to not be touching the bottom of the vase, so find one that leaves it hanging. The new roots will grow out of the bottom of the cut stem. Wait a few weeks and the roots will emerge. Be sure to change the water in the vase daily! Once you see roots, it won’t be long before they are long enough and you can plant the new croton in a pot or the ground. Don’t plant until the roots are at least an inch long.
These are my three new croton plants. Their leaves are not as bright because I took the cuttings before the mother plant’s leaves turned so pretty. But once these new plants are in the ground, in a sunny location, they will turn just as bright.
As you can see below, the baby croton is turning color. I need to fertilize these plants for better result, but even without much attention, crotons will grow beautifully.
When I was given this flowering plant as a gift I was told it was a Plumeria. After seeing this same plant at the local Home Depot store, I discovered it was a Desert Rose. But before I knew what it was, I had taken it out of the original pot and put it into a sunny location in the backyard.
Sun is exactly what this flowering plant craves. But the word “desert” caused me to believe less water was better. The truth is that this plant did well with and without water.
Today I am watering it frequently, and it is thriving! So much for the “desert” title.
At the time I planted it, we were have a long dry spell here in Florida. The Desert Rose did well. I avoided watering it when I watered the hibiscus next to it, and the plant even sent out new buds, which you can see blooming at the bottom of the stalk.
Florida is a tropical place, but some areas are more tropical than others. I am in the central part of the state and it can get very cold (below freezing) here overnight in winter. I was afraid the Rose would die, so I ended up digging it up and putting it into a (bright orange) pot.
The Secret to Growing a Desert Rose in Florida
Sunlight is most important, with plenty of heat. The plant can deal with lack of water (I’ve tried that), but it also loves a daily spray with the hose.
These plants develop a very thick “stem” or caudex (see them in the photo below). This is the part that holds in the water to keep the plant thriving in drought conditions. But apparently it does not need to grow in a desert to thrive.
Keep it in a pot so it can come inside when temperatures drop – some sites say below 60 degrees and others say 40. Just bring it inside when it gets cold to be safe.
Pictures of My Desert Rose and How It Has Grown
As I mentioned above, this plant was a gift to me shortly after I moved into my house in 2016. I’ve had the plant for nearly 2 years now.
After a period of dormancy during the winter, suddenly lots of buds began to show up. New little leaves began to grow from the base of the stem. This was about the time when aphids were appearing on all my plants outside. A daily check, and I would spray the buggers off with the hose. I let the lady bugs take care of most of the aphids in my garden, but the Rose is not near the vegetables.
In the photo below, lots of greenery is showing on the plant, which has stopped blooming for now. It will take this time to put effort into growing stems and leaves before it begins to flower again.
Right now I am not sure when that will be. This plant flowers more than once a year, so I expect to see buds forming soon.
More Information About The Desert Rose
The Desert Rose is similar in appearance to the plumeria / frangipani tree and Oleander. The unique aspect is the thick stems. The Oleander does grow in Florida, but I have not seen Plumeria trees. Maybe they will grow in the southern part of the state. For more information about growing the desert rose elsewhere, read my friend’s article: Desert Rose Adenium Plant for Gardening and Bonsai.
Like the Oleander plant, the Rose contains poisonous sap. It may not be a good choice as a houseplant for families with young kids for this reason.