Tag Archives: petunias

What Plants and Flowers Will Survive a Freeze?

Snapdragons (Antirrhinum magus)

I’ve been walking around my yard, checking on my garden after the hard freezes we had twice this month. The first time, I wasn’t able to cover my plants, because I had bronchitis, and my hubby was out of town on business. So my plants, tropicals and otherwise, were on their own.

Those yellow snapdragons (Antirrhinum magus) above, and the pink ones below are cool-season annuals. They came through with shining colors, after both freezes. I have already added a few more of them, and will definitely plant more of them next fall, either late November or early December here.


This next one is called firecracker plant  (Russella equisetiformis) because if you squeeze the tiny tubular blooms before they open, they make a little popping sound. It did fine during the first freeze, but suffered a bit the second time.

Firecracker Plant  (Russella equisetiformis)

Here in central Florida, 4 hours at or below 32 degrees, is considered a hard freeze. The first time it lasted about 5 hours. The 2nd time it was well below freezing for 8 hours, so my plants experienced more damage even though they were covered that time.

Easter Lilies (Lilium longiflorum)

 These Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum) above, began coming up in late November, and they have multiplied like crazy. I’m amazed they didn’t succumb to the first freeze. I covered them the second time mostly with pine straw — they still look great. They are directly across a little stepping stone path from these pink snapdragons and the hot pink poinsettia  below. The second freeze hurt the poinsettia, but didn’t kill it.
The petunias (below) look great, too. Okay, some of the older blooms suffered a little, but the overall plants are healthy and thriving. The fact that they handled the cold so well should tell you that ordinary petunias (Petunia xatkinsiana) cannot take the summers here. I’m told the Wave petunias can take the heat, but I haven’t tried them yet. 

Petunias (Petunia xatkinsiana)

Another cool season crop that did very well is dianthus (Dianthus chinensis). These needed to be deadheaded before the freeze, and still do, so there is some brown foliage on them that was already there.

Dianthus (Dianthus chinensis)

What About Foliage Plants, You Ask?
Some foliage plants that did well were foxtail fern (Asparagus aethiopicus), variegated ginger (Alpina zerumbet variegata), and a native wild fern whose name I don’t know.

Foxtail Fern (Asparagus aethiopicus)

A caveat about the variegated ginger below:  this one was sheltered by a sort of alcove leading up to our front door. Another huge one that’s on the back of the house had little protection, and looks pretty bad.

Variegated Ginger (Alpina zerumbet variegata)

Some of My Plants Really Surprised Me
Some that surprised me were the Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) with flower buds (already!), wax begonias (Semperflorens cultorum), white Encore azaleas — this one is Autumn Starlight, (Rhododendron roblem)  and even a couple of caladiums that were still hanging around. You can see the small white leaves of those caladiums peeping out from behind the large leaves of the variegated ginger in the bottom left corner of the photo above.

Gerbera Daisy (Gerbera jamesonii)

The wax begonias are very small. They are grown from cuttings I took in early December, and are finally thriving. I really did not believe they would survive the harsh weather.

Wax Begonias (Semperflorens cultorum)

The Autumn Starlight azaleas have little streaks of pink that don’t show up in this photo. They showed no damage after the first freeze, but we covered them the second time, and they still had a some damage to buds that were beginning to open. 

Encore azalea — this one is Autumn Starlight, (Rhododendron roblem)

The things that suffered most were canna lilies, coleus, hydrangea, and most of my poinsettias. 
Often freeze damage takes 2 or 3 days to show up. That happened with my Bird of Paradise and Split-leaf Philodendron. My decision to buy a Bird of Paradise was risky, as this plant is native to areas much farther south than my yard. If it dies, I will probably replace it with a native plant.
Florida has several hardiness zones, and within each zone are micro-climates, so we say, “Right plant, right place.” Keeping this in mind when choosing plants for your garden, will save you money, time, and labor. You will find micro-climates in your yard. Think about how your azaleas that are against a retaining wall or your house, and how the side closest to the wall blooms earlier than the rest of the plant. That plant probably blooms earlier than those not near a wall. Knowing where your micro-climates are will help you to put the right plant in the right place every time.

Crazy Weather, Gorgeous Flowers

Along with much of the eastern United States, central Florida has set record high temperatures lately. While we don’t want cold weather, some cooler temps would be appreciated. The local weather guy says it will cool down to normal temps of high 60s and low 70s this weekend, and that soon, we should see some cold weather. So I thought I would share some of the local beauty before Jack Frost hits, such as these azaleas, courtesy of our weird weather:

Snow Single - mlm c@

Pale Pink - mlm c@

Many of the azaleas around here are the Encore azaleas. These two are not. We had a slight cool spell in November — had to wear a sweater — now they seem to think it’s spring again.

These hibiscus seem to think it’s still summer:

Yellow Hibiscus - mlm c@

Orange Hibiscus - mlm c@

Even my impatiens haven’t missed a beat:

Impatien - mlm c@

Day lilies are blooming right along:


Yellow with Bud - mlm c@

Even the petunias will bloom all winter, assuming no hard freeze comes our way as it did last winter.


Petunias - Red-White mlm c@

There are other flowers, vines, and shrubs blooming, such as firecracker plant, mandevilla, bougainvillea, and lobelia. We are looking forward to some sweater weather, but not coat, hat, & glove weather. Wish us luck, and Happy New Year!

Planting a Night Garden

Night gardens are are bright and pretty in daylight, and ethereal and romantic at night. If you ever plant one, you will never want to be without one again. These Florida Sunrise caladiums are the beginnings of my new night garden; and they will brighten up a dark corner of our back yard. This is part of the overall design of our back yard. As you can see, the turf grass in this spot is not doing very well because the area stays very damp because it wasn’t graded properly, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.  So I am filling this spot with plants that don’t mind  having wet feet. Caladiums are in the same family as elephant ears, and they need lots of water. What better place to put them?

Rear Caladium Sweep - mlm c@

By next summer (2016) the sweep of caladiums above will look like the ones below.

Sweep - mlm c@

This photo was taken in the late-afternoon, so the sunset has cast a yellow-ish light on the mostly white leaves.

A night garden is a flower garden that shows up well at night. On a moonlight night, it can appear to be almost iridescent. There are some very simple steps to having a night garden. They are usually made up of white, bright yellow, and/or very light-colored flowers:  pale  yellows, pinks, and lavenders. Some people prefer to use only night-blooming flowers.


Moonflower - mlm c@

I prefer flowers that bloom both day and night. I have not had a night garden since we relocated, but I plan to have one by next summer. I love my hot pink flowers, and other bright, cheerful colors. So when I decided to plant a night garden again, I knew I would simply tuck the white flowers in among my foliage and brightly colored flowers.

Peppermint Vinca

Pepperming - mlm c@

This vinca is not a true white. It is more of an off-white with a slight pink tinge, and then there is that gorgeous rosy-pink center that gives Peppermint Vinca its name.

Vinca , impatiens, and petunias will bloom all summer. In fact, here in central Florida, they bloom year-round; and you can never go wrong with a white mandevilla.


Behind Starbucks 2 - mlm c@

It is absolutely NOT necessary to limit your garden to only white or pale flowers. They will show up at night when the darker colors will simply recede into the background. So you see, there really are some very simple steps to having a night garden.

Here are a few more of my favorite white flowers:


White Hollyhock - mlm c@

Hollyhocks are great for the back of a border, as they grow quite tall — sometimes as high as 15 feet. For that reason, they also make a great “living fence” to separate spaces, or to block an unsightly view. They have large leaves — plants with large leaves require more water than the average plant/flower.


Shamrock Flowers - mlm c@

Shamrocks bloom profusely in spring, but will bloom sporadically throughout summer and warm autumns.


Vinca - White mlm c@



Mountain Flowers

A Little Color - mlm c@We just returned last week from a wonderfully relaxing trip to the North Carolina mountains, more specifically Blowing Rock, NC. We hoped, but didn’t expect to see much fall color. To our delight, while there was only a little, there was far more than expected.

Orange-Green Branch - mlm c@

We usually stay in local bed and breakfasts or the Chetola Lodge. This year, we rented a cabin near Boone, NC. The weather was lovely:  70’s in the day and high 60’s at night. For the first time since childhood, we slept with the windows open.

Front Porch - mlm c@

Of course, I Snapped Photos of Flowers Everywhere We Went

Geraniums - wht w pink ctr - mlm c@Dahalia - white - mlm c@Blowing Rock has plants and flowers everywhere, and I do mean everywhere. Nowhere is there any ugly gravel or bare dirt. The town has a very active garden club that keeps the area beautified year ’round. Hostas and ferns abounded, but petunias, geraniums, poppies, candytuft, purple and white coneflowers, impatiens, and nasturtiums, to name a few. The beds looked slightly like small English gardens because of the way the flowers of complementary colors tumbled over each other.

Brown-Eyed Susan

Brown-Eyed Susans - mlm c@

Balloon Flower
Balloon Flower - mlm c@

See how the bud is puffed up like a tiny balloon? It gets larger and larger until it pops open. I had these in my garden in the Charlotte, NC, area. I’ll have to find out whether or not I can grow them here in central Florida.

Autumn Joy Sedum
Autumn Joy Sedum - mlm c@

This is another flower I grew when we lived in NC. There are many types of sedum, and this one is my favorite. Sometime in late July or early August the flowers open to a pale pink. They gradually become darker pink, and finally almost a maroon color that is perfect for fall gardens. I haven’t seen it in gardens around here, or in garden centers, so I suspect it may not do well here. Darn it!

We Explored the Mountains Again, Too.

Did you know that, a few million years ago, the Appalachians were taller than the Rockies were at their highest point? The Rockies, too, have begun to lose height at a rate of about 1/2 inch every 10 years or so. I learned that little tidbit when we lived in Colorado.

The tallest point we reached was at Rough Ridge Overlook where the elevation is 4,293 feet above sea level. Entering Blowing Rock from the south on US Hwy. 321, the Eastern Continental Divide elevation is much lower.

Blue Ridge - mlm c@

Eastern Continental Divide - mlm

Entering Blowing Rock from the south, we were just barely into the mountains.

We drove up onto the Blue Ridge Parkway and looked out over the Blue Ridge Mountains, and walked a short trail where we saw many beautiful, but unfamiliar wild flowers.

Appalachian Wild Flowers

Here are some of the mountain wild flowers we saw. All were growing in dense shade. I still need to learn their names. Because they are native to a colder climate, and higher elevations, they will likely grow well in a lot of places, but not here in central Florida where we are less than 100 feet above sea level.

Wild Flowers at Viaduct - orange mlm c@

This one looks to me like a tiny orchid. Unfortunately, this was the best shot I could get. I had left my micro lens in the car, and had to lean out over a lot of snaky-looking weeds to shoot this one.


Viaduct Wildflowers Budded - mlm c@

I would have loved to have stayed long enough to see what this one looks like when the the buds open.

Wild Flowers at Viaduct - yellow mlm c@

We’re back home now, trying to catch up on work that was left behind. I love it here, but I miss the mountains sometimes, too. We’ve decided to go back every year, but a bit later in the season for more color. Also, so we can use the fireplace in the cabin. It just wasn’t cool enough this time. We also can’t wait to go back to some of the restaurants we discovered while there. I will write about those, but in a food-related blog/website that I am building.  It’s not yet ready for prime time.

I cut more basil today, so I need to go now and dry it. Gotta have plenty to last through the winter, you know.






What are Some Sun-Loving Flowers to Plant Here in Zone 9-A?

At a neighborhood gathering, Ginger T. described her problems with planting flowers in her new yard, saying that soon after being planted, they died. She wants bright, colorful flowers in her yard, and asked what to do, and what flowers will do well here.

Gerbera Daisy

Pink Gerbera - mlm c@

Gerbera Daisy, often mis-pronounced as “Gerber” Daisy, is one of my favorite perennials. It is available in many beautiful colors. I have them in red and yellow. This photo I took in the florist section of my local grocery store a few years ago. When we put our former home on the market, I blew this photo up to 8 x 10, framed it, and put it on the wall. Most of our paintings, and my artwork were already on the walls in our new home.

Tulip Ginger

Another perennial I recommend for this area (and not just because of my friend’s name) is a variety of ginger called Siam Tulip (Curcuma alismatifolia).  Below are some photos of those in my yard. This is NOT an edible type of the popular plant.

Ginger - Siam Tulip 2 MMP2

These beauties multiply like crazy, making them an excellent investment in your landscape. Last summer I bought 5 pots of these; there were 3 plants in each pot, which I planted without dividing. Now each of those has multiplied into clumps of about a dozen. This fall I plan to divide them and spread them across a larger area of my garden.

Ginger - Siam Tulip 1 MMP2

Recently, I needed a last minute centerpiece for a casual birthday dinner party. Last minute because I forgot to arrange for one. I cut some of these beautiful flowers and a few pieces of white vinca, put them into a small crystal bowl, and voila, a lovely centerpiece that drew lots of comments. That was on August 29, and that arrangement was still beautiful on September 3. The vinca still looks as if it had just been cut.

Ginger - Siam Tulip Bouquet


Another long-blooming and sun tolerant flower that I highly recommend is lantana, a member of the verbena family. It is drought-tolerant and comes in many colors, both solid and variegated.

Lantana is sold with flowers at garden centers everywhere, but I think of it as a flowering shrub. This is because it can grow to about 3-4 feet wide and about 2 feet tall, but mostly because its stems become woody.

This pink and yellow one grows in our front yard. In the backyard, I have a red-orange-yellow variety. As you can see, the leaves are a beautiful deep green that add depth and texture to the garden even when between blooming cycles.

Lantana - mlm c @

I snapped this photo of purple lantana at Colony Plaza shopping center recently. It will need a haircut soon. Unfortunately, the grounds crews rush by with gas-powered shears and chop it off into little box-shapes. This plant grows too large for some of the small spaces they have planted it around most of the shopping areas here.

Lantana - purple

If you live in Florida or any tropical area, be sure to get your lantana from a nursery or garden center, as Florida has a wild lantana that is very invasive. Lantana from a garden center is NOT invasive. Instead, it will grow into a spreading mound. Mine has grown from about 6 inches across to about 2 and 1/2 feet across, and about 18 inches high. If lantana spreads to cover an area larger than you want, it can be clipped back. Please resist the urge to shear it off all at once. Instead, clip individual stems, preferably at a joint. To maintain the natural appearance of the overall plant, clip some stems shorter than others.


Some annual bedding plants I recommended to Ginger were petunias, vinca (shown here), and marigolds, as these prefer full sun. These are normally thought of as annuals, but here in central Florida, petunias often survive our mild winters. My waxed begonias survived the winter here and even in North Carolina (Zone 7), but they did not survive the summer sun here. They need protection from harsh afternoon sun. Last summer mealybugs killed my hot pink vinca, so I don’t know whether it would have survived the winter or not. So far, this year, the vinca in the photo is still going strong. We’ll see how it “weathers” the winter.

Vinca - Hot Pink2 - mlm c @


One of many perennials that love the sun, but also do well in partial shade, is the daylily. Here are two of mine.

Orange Double - mlm c @

Yellow with Bud - mlm c@

Perennials are a bit more expensive but multiply each year.  My daylilies never completely died down here in Florida or in Alabama (Zone 7).  Because they multiply rapidly, daylilies, like most perennials, are a good investment, unlike most annuals which will need to be replaced year after year — unless they re-seed themselves, of course. As far north as Charoltte, North Carolina, my lantana had to be cut back each fall and heavily mulched, but it returned every spring. Here, it survived even our colder than average winter last season (2014-15).

The sun is intense, not only here in central Florida (Zone 9-A), but throughout the South. If you have no shade in your yard, or if the place where you want to put your flowers is in the sun,  it is best to plant those flowers in the late afternoon or even just before dark. This is because the planting process is traumatic for the plant. Planting them when the sun is not bearing down on them gives them time to adjust to their new home, and to recuperate overnight. They will need special attention and frequent watering until they become established. After that, water them only when they are not getting enough rain.