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.

A New Hibiscus Plant For the Yard

Living in Florida means growing at least one hibiscus in the yard.

One plant that every Florida yard should have is the fantastic hibiscus.

A hibiscus will bloom constantly for much of the year in Florida. It loves the sun and does extremely well in the hot and humid climate.

orange hibiscus shrub
Newly Planted Hibiscus Shrub

Hibiscus plants come in a wide variety of colors and types. Some can grow in northern climates, but the ones I refer to here are tropical. They will not die over the winter. It’s not really necessary to know your types (unless you are searching for something specific, or mail ordering) because local stores will sell the types that work in your area of the country, or world.

One problem I remember having is aphids that get on the flowers and plant, but this new hibiscus contained a tag that said it was protected from aphids, white flies, and some other bugs.  So we’ll see.

They are easy to plant.  Remove any grass in the area and dig a big wide hole.  Mix together some kind of fertilizer, bone meal, and or garden soil and add that back into the hole with some of the dirt that was removed.  Push the dirt down around the edge of the root ball and then water thoroughly… that means a lot.   If the plant still looks great the next day, then you did a good job.  Water again, and continue to water well until it gets established.

My new hibiscus has a double orange bloom, which looks like a ruffle compared to the flat types of flower. It was the prettiest flower I saw among the bunches of plants at the local Home Depot.  I planted it in a spot that should get a lot of sun year round.  Once I buy some mulch, I’ll put that all around the bottom to help keep the soil moist.  Then I can water it less often.

orange flowering hibiscus
Double Orange Hibiscus

Although I have mainly been shopping for plants at Home Depot, I prefer to support a privately owned nursery.  I am not very familiar with any around here.  I’ve already been to Lindleys, and wasn’t all that impressed.  One that I plan to visit is Garden Arts and is located on Flagler Ave. Generally I only go to the very touristy Flagler Ave. to eat at Breakers Restaurant. I will brave the crowds to eat a yummy fish sandwich while looking out at the ocean.

Some friends just told me about the Garden Arts nursery and suggested I visit.  I have a free parking pass for the beachside lot (yes, they charge to park now!), so I may do just that.  Then I will write a review about the place, and visit often … if I like it.

Now that I have a hibiscus growing in my yard, it’s a reminder that I’m settling into my new lifestyle which is a throwback to a very old life.  When I see my photos of the huge piles of snow, and remember suffering without power for days during ice storms, I really don’t miss dealing with those problems.  Walking out the door, without a coat on, day or night, is quite a sweet change of pace for me.

Tropical and Common Plants That Are Loving My Florida Room

Now that I live in Florida, I can grow some beautiful tropical plants in my sunroom.

plant in orange pot
Variegated Leaf Plant

In my new house there is a porch which is a little odd.  Someone visited and called it a “Florida Room” which reminded me that there are such things.  However my porch is not the traditional type that is on a corner or out back.  My Florida Room is situated between the dining area and the back bedroom.  Only one wall contains screens.  It is not enclosed and will get very hot (or cold) depending on the weather outside. More sun comes in during the winter months than will in summer, which is perfect.

It’s also not very big, considering we have a bar height table and chairs in the center, a chest freezer in the corner, and a long wooden table from my northern home along one wall. Amidst all this I have added some new tropical plants to the few I dragged with me from New Hampshire. (By the way, the New Hampshire born plants are loving all this sun and warmth!)

Some of these plants are new to me and some I am familiar with because I have grown them before. In Florida, only certain plants can take the full sunshine. It can be deadly to others by burning the leaves. Light (doesn’t mean direct sun) and warm conditions are what most of these need.

To be honest, growing plants in Florida is fairly easy. It’s almost greenhouse conditions year round. Keeping plants alive was nearly impossible in my New Hampshire home. They had hardly any sunshine and no warmth since I couldn’t afford to keep my house warm. I would set the plants near the wood stove to warm them up! And it was a very dry climate, which didn’t help either.

But I love to have plants inside. They clean the air and add a homey feel, in my opinion.

One of the plants I brought with me is this corn plant. It was not doing well, but has really begun growing like crazy in my Florida room. It’s happy now!  It’s hard to see, but there are two stalks growing here in this one pot.

The Corn Plant (as I call it) is easy to grow but it likes sun and warmth.  This one can take the full sun for part of the day.  Water when the pot feel light weight.

corn plant
Corn Plant

One of the new plants I have is a Ponytail palm. This was purchased in a small pot but I replanted it in a larger, cheap black pot. I had a nice ponytail palm a long time ago. I took it with me when I moved to New England and it died, of course. It was wishful thinking that a tropical plant would survive in a freezing cold climate, but I’d had it a long time and it was really big.
So I am growing one again for old times sake.  They are easy to grow.  Water when lifting the pot feels light.

ponytail palm in pot
Ponytail Palm

This next picture is my rubber plant. I love the unique look of this one. Those big, purple, rubbery leaves are so fun. I’ve grown them before and they can get quite large. They are shade tolerant and don’t like direct sunlight, as far as I know. But I’ve seen this type growing outside in a front yard here in Florida (in the sun) and it looks nice and healthy.  My landlady up north had a big one in her front window!  I was amazed when I saw it.  So I guess up north they will need more sun to stay warm.

For now, this one is small enough that I can take it outside when it needs water and spray the leaves too.

rubber plant
Rubber Plant

The Peace Lily is also called a “spath” which is short for spathiphyllum. This plant will grow well in a dark corner, but it can take some light too. The leaves will turn obviously toward any light, so it will have to be turned to grow upright and look nice. When the leaves begin to droop it’s time for water!

I take this one outside and spray it down when I fill the pot with water, but don’t leave it out in the sun!  This is a plant that will stay bright green without any sun.  Mine has a couple of white flowers, and hopefully it will get more.  It was recently re-potted.

peace lily spathiphyllum spath
Indoor Peace Lily

The pothos ivy, which is a common hanging plant, loves the warm and humid porch area. My hanging basket broke, so I had to put the pothos in the plant stand. It works out well because I can move the whole thing out the door and give it plenty of water outside when needed.  Most plants like to have their leaves sprayed, which gives them a good cleaning.

pothos hanging plant
Pothos

I also have some succulents scattered around the house and two orchids. I have managed to kill some beautiful succulents by overwatering. Certain types can’t be watered very often. If you are tempted to water them, set them someplace out of the way. It’s best if you can forget about them for a while! Believe me, you must be strong and NOT WATER THEM. Some succulents only need water every few MONTHS.
More on growing succulents in my next post.

Growing a Meyer Lemon Tree

meyer lemon tree flowers
Buds on Meyer Lemon tree

Although my new yard is fairly small, there is a lot of sunny space out front.  I planned to plant a row of Florida citrus trees out there, but now I have some questions about growing citrus trees.

I bought a Meyer Lemon tree and a Lime Tree from Pells a few weeks ago.  The lemon is planted in the ground out front, and the lime is in a pot on the patio out back.

The lemon tree has pretty, purple buds on it, but it’s December – almost January – and I don’t think this is the time of year it should be getting flowers… but I don’t know.

I did find a Meyer Lemon tree growing article at the Fast Growing Trees site.  Between the information in the article about watering, fertilizer, pollination, and light needs, the comments from people trying to grow these trees also adds good info.

screen-shot-2016-12-31-at-8-57-26-am
In the ground 3 weeks

My question is “Can I plant other citrus near my lemon tree?”  What if I put a lime next to a lemon?  Will the fruit end up tasting like a combination of the two?

I also wonder if it’s too early in the season for flowers to be forming on the tree.  We could have frosts and freezes in the months coming.  I thought that citrus began to bloom in Spring.

UPDATE: The staff at the “Fast Growing Trees” site have answered my questions.  Trees that have been growing in containers may take time to acclimate to being in the ground.  He said it is early for the tree to be blooming, but the tree will eventually figure it out.  

Also… it’s fine to plant citrus trees near each other.  It will help with pollination!  Thank you!  I can’t seem to figure out how I signed into that site so I can say thanks.

I’m new at this, but I live in a location where it should be easy to grow all kinds of fruit.  I know that I can cut the top off pineapples and stick them into the ground to grow.  It takes a couple of years before a little pineapple begins to grow out of the top, but it can be done.  I used to grow them when I lived here before.

pineapple welcome sign
Welcome address custom tile with pineapples and tropical flowers.

So I have posted my question with the above-mentioned site.  I’m always up for learning new things, and gardening of all kinds in Florida is something I must now learn.