Monthly Archives: August 2015

Cat’s Whiskers

Cat's Whiskers - Bloom - mlm c@

Yesterday I was shopping at Lowe’s and, of course, I had to wander into the garden shop. Whenever I walk into a garden shop or nursery my heart sings. And, boy, oh boy, was it singing. I had to force myself not to buy a lot of plants because, of course, I wanted all of them — well, okay, most of them.

One in particular was this tropical plant that is completely new to me. It’s name is Cat’s Whiskers (Tacca chantrieri). It is also often called “black bat flower” or “devil’s flower”. The leaves look much like a large peace lily, but that flower… oh my. The colors seem to change as you move around it, first appearing to be deep purple/green/brown, then looking almost black in places.

Cat's Whiskers - mlm c@

Unfortunately, I could not get a camera angle that would exclude that rack of plastic pots on this particular bloom. It was the largest flower, and the only one with one of its “budlets” partially open.

At first sight, I thought the flower was a bit creepy, but it was so exotic, so majestic, I had to stop and take a closer look. I was completely enamored. Charmed. Smitten. Bewitched. Hey, maybe it would be good to put by our front door for Halloween. You think? Here’s a closer look:

Cat's Whiskers - Zoomed - mlm c@

That Open Bud — Will It Have More Whiskers?

Cat's Whiskers - Open Bud

Near the top left of this photo,  you see one of those smaller buds about halfway open. I was curious about whether all those little balls inside it will open to produce more “whiskers” or maybe some tiny flowers, so I “googled” it The photos I found showed a cluster of tiny pinkish-purple flowers inside each of those pendulous buds.

I want it. Gotta have it, but I can’t have it right now. It needs light, but can’t handle the harshness of afternoon sun. The tag said “morning sun only”. My heart sank. I have nowhere to put it that gets only morning sun. The tag also said it blooms spring, summer, and fall. There’s another reason to add it to my expanding garden. That does  it. I have to create more shade.

 

 

Lovely Multi-Colored Lantana

Bridget's Lantana - bkl c@

Last night I received a text message from my cousin. She had attached two photos of lantana. This is one of them. Her message read, “These two flowers grew on what I thought was a weed! They are about 2″ wide. I love them. Do you know what they are?”

Of course I knew. I have a yard full of this easy-to-grow plant. I especially love its variety of colors, and the fact that it is drought-tolerant. Of course, that hasn’t been an issue around here this summer. Usually, drought-tolerant plants suffer with too much rain, but lantana seems to keep on going, no matter what.

Lantana is usually a mounding plant. Some types, though, are more vining, although they don’t climb (see the lavender/purple one below). Here in Florida, there is also a wild type of lantana that is extremely invasive. Stay away from that one. The only color wild lantana I have seen is an orange-red. It can be seen growing on the roadside. It will climb fences, power poles, and anything else it can find. If it gets into your yard, rip it out.

 More Lantana Photos, But First a Warning

If you live north of Zone 8, however, you will need to cut it back before cold weather arrives, and mulch it heavily. This is what happened to mine after eleven hours below 32 degrees Farenheit in February, 2015. It bounced back quickly, but if it had to endure a whole winter of those conditions, it would have been toast.

Frozen - mlm c@

Cutting lantana back and mulching before the first freeze is helpful because its stems are hollow. If it is cut back a few weeks before the first freeze is expected, it has time to seal off the opening created by the cut. If it is cut back too late in the season, cold air can enter the hollow stems, and get into the base of the plant. If this happens, it will likely die. When living in the Charlotte, NC, area, I cut mine back & added about 4 inches of pine needles in mid-to-late October. It was usually late November before the first extremely cold weather arrived.

 More Lantana Photos

Lantana comes with multi-colored flowers as shown above and here. It is also available in solid colors (shown below). It even grows with both solid colors and multi-colored flowers on the same plant.  Lantana is one of many sun-loving flowers that will add beauty to your yard and garden.

Lantana - mlm c @

 Solids

Lavender - mlm c@

This lavender creeping type can be seen at Colony Plaza on Hwy. 466-A.

Yellow - mlm c@

One of my favorites. Note those gorgeous deep-green leaves.

Purple - mlm c @

Multi-Color - mlm c@

Multi-Colors AND Solids on One Plant. Pretty cool.

 

 

It’s Too Hot to Do Gardening

Vinca - White - mlm c @

My gardening is at a stand-still. It’s too hot to do much gardening. Each evening that’s cool enough, and not all are, I go out to my tiny garden and pull a few weeds, deadhead some flowers, and tuck new strands of the mandevilla vine around the next rung on the trellis. It’s simply too hot and sticky to garden. I can do a lot of planning, though, and am I ever!

The next thing I plan to do is dig up the very invasive asparagus fern near our front door and replace it with another varigated ginger. At least the ginger will stay in one place. I’ve been finding little sprigs of baby asparagus fern all over my yard. It has to go.

Asparagus Fern - mlm c @

Very Invasive Asparagus Fern

 

Vinca - Hot Pink2 - mlm c @

Vinca

The only flower I have that seems never to give up, no matter how hot or cold our weather is vinca. Even that hard freeze last February didn’t kill it. So I will most definitely be putting in more. Vinca it is available in white (shown above) hot pink, (shown below), pale pink, red, and purple/blue.

My Wish List:

I’m already planning what to buy this fall when it’s finally cool enough to work in the yard. I’m just getting started on my wish list. Here it is:

Bird of Paradise - mlm c @

Bird of Paradise

White Dynasty - mlm c @

Caladium – White Dynasty

Yellow Hibiscus - mlm c @

Yellow Hibiscus

Mandevilla Leaves Turning Yellow

Another Mandy - mlm c

Ann S., a neighbor and friend, described her Mandevilla to me last week. It’s leaves had begun turning yellow and falling off. This was an easy one. We’d had so much rain already, and have had  about 5 more inches since we talked. This is a plant that requires good drainage.

My suggestion was to dig up the plant, and rake more soil into the bottom of the hole, or to use a garden fork to lift the plant up, push more soil underneath it, and set it back into place. Then to build up the entire planting bed, creating a raised bed. This should provide enough drainage for her beautiful vine to flourish.

More Mandevilla Vines

Behind Starbucks - mlm c

Close Up on Post

The first two of these photos were taken at an outdoor patio behind our local Starbucks coffee house. They have planted red ones, pink ones, and white ones. I’ve really enjoyed watching these vines grow this summer.

Mandevilla is also available in a cherry bright yellow. I’ll have to get a photo of one somewhere.

 

The third photo is one of mine, having a visit from a very accommodating dragonfly. He seemed to be posing for me to take several photos.

 

Dragon Fly - mlm c