Plant Spotlight

New Caladium Varieties

New Caladium Varieties

These new caladium varietes are sure to impress with their new colors and habits. Most of these are part of the Florida Flower Trials this year and are just making their debut to the industry. After a very warm fall left production a bit of a mess, these new caladium varieties are now starting to take hold and really put on a show.  It is amazing to see the development of these new caladium varieties in recent year and leaves me looking forward to what is coming down the line in the future. The varieties are from Classic Caladiums, Bates Sons & Daughters and Happiness Farms. New Caladium Varieties by Grower: Caladium ‘Fiesta’ from Bates Sons & Daughters. What a color combination!  … Read Full Post
Agaves and Aloes at the South Coast Botanic Garden

Agaves and Aloes at the South Coast Botanic Garden

Agaves and aloes are two of the toughest groups of plants for a dry garden. In Florida we can use these plants for punctuated form and interesting textures. In California agaves and aloes are becoming increasingly essential as water supplies are limited and plants and landscapes need to be more drought tolerant. Lucky for me, I love these plants and couldn’t wait to explore more when visiting southern California recently. The South Coast Botanic Garden in Palos Verdes, California has a wide variety of plant collections and amazing plants where you could spend an entire morning or afternoon exploring the meandering paths and discovering trees and plants from around the world. There was so much to take in on a recent visit I just couldn’t decide where to start! … Read Full Post
Pruning Crape Myrtle

Pruning Crape Myrtle

The controversy of pruning crape myrtle is heating up. Do you need to prune? Can you just let it grow? Read on my friends. It’s the time of year when I find myself cringing when I drive around town. It’s begun. “Crape Murder” is running rampant through our neighborhoods. Where did it start? Who decided this was a good idea? If you get anything from this article: Do NOT cut your crape myrtles to nubs! The process of turning the naturally beautiful vase-shaped growth of a crapemyrtle tree into a deformed stump with little nubs is a practice that has no scientific basis. In fact, the University of Florida writes, “Properly placed, crapemyrtle is a low-maintenance plant needing little or no pruning.” That pretty much says it all.… Read Full Post
Lipstick Tree, Bixa orellana

Lipstick Tree, Bixa orellana

Bixa orellana, or Lipstick Tree, isn’t supposed to grow in Central Florida. It is extremely tropical in nature and shouldn’t tolerate temperatures near freezing as we occasionally experience in Orlando. Don’t tell that to these lovely Lipstick Trees! With the right care and a slightly warmer microclimate, Bixa orellana is a very interesting small tree for the home garden. Lipstick Tree, also called Anatto in some cultures, can be grown as a large shrub or as a small tree. Grown from seed it naturally has a strong stem to support the tree form, but can be pruned to a multi-branch shrub easily. The large heart-shaped leaves are almost 10″ from top to bottom and form a dense canopy up to 20′ tall.… Read Full Post
Clerodendrum for Florida

Clerodendrum for Florida

Browsing through the photos on my iphone, there seems to be a recurring theme: plants, pugs and Mike. And probably in that order. I couldn’t help but notice that lately I have quite a few photos of clerodendrum in the mix, both in flower and in seed and it seemed I need to pull all of my favorites into one place. You guessed it, this piece. There are so many great clerodendrum for Florida that I will probably miss a few here but I will include a few favorites Clerodendrum paniculatum, Pagoda Flower With large 12″ flowers in bright orange colors, this clerodendrum always noticed when in flower. Pagoda flower can get very tall after several years of warm winters and has reached upward of 8′ tall in central Florida.… Read Full Post
Save Money by Planting Bromeliad Pups

Save Money by Planting Bromeliad Pups

Bromeliads are one of the plants that I find to be perfectly Florida. I love the variety of colors and textures, sizes and heights, and different growth habits for every nook and cranny in the garden. Whether full sun or deep shade, there is a bromeliad for that part of the landscape. Why Plant Bromeliad Pups? One thing about bromeliads is they can be fairly pricey to purchase. But, if you can find someone with an old garden then there are often more bromeliads to share than they may have friends. But until you find that treasured neighbor with a plethora of plants to share, buying bromeliads can be expensive. One way to cut down on that cost is to purchase bare root plants or “pups.”  Pups are the off shoots from the parent plant and depending on the species of bromeliad they can take 1-4 years to form.… Read Full Post
Winter Flowers for Florida

Winter Flowers for Florida

As the weather begins to cool, fall is the perfect time to add color to your yard and landscape. While some of our more tropical plants will require extra care to get through cool night time temperatures, there are many annual flowers that will flourish in the cooler, drier weather. You will find great success during our Florida winter months by simply selecting the correct plants for this time of year. It can be difficult, however, to pick out the correct cool season flowers from the out of season plants that may still be offered at garden centers and this post will be a great tool in finding the best plants! Petunia ‘Boom Veiu Red n Yellow’ Before purchasing plants, decide on the best location for your flowers.… Read Full Post
Vanda Orchids

Vanda Orchids

Have you ever walked by something so pretty you just couldn’t resist? Or maybe a piece of food that just smelled so good that you had to have a bite? Well, that is me and my love for Vanda orchids. I neeeed them. Vanda orchids come in the most amazing colors and have huge flowers that will stop you in your tracks. A single flower can be nearly 3″ across. Vanda orchids are distinctively different from other types of orchids in that they do not need to be in any type of orchid bark or moss, and prefer to grow simply hanging in the air. The name ‘epiphyte’ comes from the Greek word ‘epi’ meaning ‘upon’ and ‘phyton’ meaning ‘plant’. You may find these along a tree trunk or even grown in a basket.… Read Full Post
Is Bamboo Bad?

Is Bamboo Bad?

I am often asked, “Is bamboo bad?” I know that the fear is that the bamboo will go crazy, swallowing house, home and pool, but no, bamboo is not bad. The key is to make sure you buy your bamboo from a reputable source to ensure that it is a clumping, not running, bamboo. Bamboo is one of my favorite plants for screening in narrow areas. The very upright habit makes it ideal for creating privacy without taking up a huge amount of square footage. At our house we use Slender Weavers bamboo, Bambusa textilis gracilis, to hide the two story house behind us that looks right into our yard. As if reading my mind, Thompson’s Bamboo (my go-to source for all things bamboo related) writes, “This clumping bamboo is possibly the ideal bamboo for the residential landscape.… Read Full Post
Rex Begonia Vine, Cissus discolor

Rex Begonia Vine, Cissus discolor

Rex Begonia Vine, Cissus discolor, is a vine that you will see once and remember forever. I first saw this plant at my friend Sonya’s house in Virginia when we visited one weekend during graduate school. Avid plant collectors, out of all of the pots on their porch, this is the one that I remember. A tender tropical, Rex Begonia Vine is worth the effort. The leaves look like they should feel like velvet and have a metallic silver color. The bottom side of the leaves, vines and tendrils are all a deep purple color. When the sun shines through the leaves the green and silver disappear and just a burgundy purple colors glows through. Cissus discolor is not an extremely aggressive vine.… Read Full Post

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My name is Keri and I am as comfortable speaking to a group about color in the garden as I am covered in dirt.

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