Tag Archives: sun-loving flowers

Cooler Temps Bring Out the Gerbera Daisies

Gerbera Daisy - brt pink - mlm c

We’ve been away recently on two genealogy research trips. After the first one, we came home to a beautiful rich pink gerbera daisy blossom. We were home one week, then gone again. We returned last night from the second trip and, of course, I couldn’t wait for morning to see how my garden had fared while we were away. This time, returned to gerbera blooms in multiple colors, and to lots of white mandevilla flowers. (My mandevilla plants have suffered lately, too, but that’s another story.

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Gerbera daisies (Gerbera jamesonii) grow as mounding plants with slightly fuzzy dark green leaves. They bloom with large single flowers are on tall stems. Mine bloomed sporadically during the summer, but are performing beautifully now.

yellow-gerbera-close-mlm-c

These jewel-toned flowers are considered annuals in most areas, but in Zones 8 – 11, they are grown as perennials. They need plenty of sunlight, but suffer in the harsh afternoon sun of summer, so be sure to plant them where they will have shade or filtered light in the afternoon. When grown in the ground, they will need to be covered if the temperatures drop to freezing or below.

Gerbera’s, like geraniums, are not annuals, but are tender perennials. Tender, because they will survive winter in some milder climates only if protected from freezing temperatures. They prefer rich, well-drained soil, and should be planted with the crown of the plant slightly above ground. Burying the crown could suffocate the plant.

Be sure to deadhead the plants by removing spent blooms and their stems as soon as the flowers fade. This will prevent early seeding — early seeding will tell the plant there is no need to bloom again, as enough seed has already been produced.

red-gerbera-new

 

Pink Gerbera - mlm c@

If you live in an area where gerberas are grown as annuals, you can always dig them up, and pot them for winter, and reset them outdoors in spring. My mother used to plant her geraniums (shown below) in clay pots, then sink the pots into the ground. When autumn came, she would slip a shovel under the pots, and take them indoors for the winter. She had some of the largest geraniums I have ever seen. Fortunately, here in Florida, I don’t have to do that.

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Shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day

Today, everyone is Irish, so here are some shamrocks from my garden for you.

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In the spring and summer, shamrocks have a profusion of lovely white flowers.

Shamrock Flowers - mlm c@

Shamrocks are happiest in moist, but well-drained soil. They enjoy full sun. You can buy them almost anywhere that sells plants at this time of year. I bought mine at the grocery store several years ago, and they are dong well. They did suffer a bit from the freeze we had in February, but are coming back now.

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Wordless Wednesday 3-16-16

Purple Wetlands Flowers - mlm

Red Leaf Hibiscus

At our farmers’ market last Saturday, I saw this red-leaf hibiscus (Hibiscus acetosella). At first glance, I thought it was  a Japanese Maple, but then I saw it had flowers. Did I buy it? You bet I did!

New Hibiscus Flower mlm c@

This gorgeous plant can grow up to 15 feet tall, so if you love Japanese Maple, (Acer palmate) but don’t have the shade it requires, this one is for you. The the shorter days and longer nights of autumn trigger the purplish leaves to darken, and the deep red or maroon 2 – 4 inch trumpet-shaped flowers to appear. The flowers are smaller than the hibiscus most of us are familiar with, but the colors of these flowers are stunning

Now, where am I going to put it? Probably close to the house for protection in case of a freeze like the one we had in February, 2015. See you in the garden.

I Cut Down My Beloved Bougainvillea

Hot Pink - full bloom - mlm c@

I have always loved bougainvillea (pronounced “boo gan vee ah”) from afar. The first one I ever saw in person was in San Francisco. It had climbed two stories, and was rambling all over a 2nd floor terrace. I was enchanted with that beautiful vine. So, when we moved to central Florida, I knew that was the first tropical plant I would buy, and it was. Sadly, our tiny yard does not have a great place for this flowering vine to climb and roam. It needs a fence or garden wall to tumble over and sprawl to its heart’s content. We don’t have that place.

With a heavy heart, I cut down my bougainvillea this week. I have loved it and fretted over it for 2-1/2 years. When in full bloom, people walking their dogs would stop by and ask about it, or comment on it. It was absolutely gorgeous each spring, and very pretty in the fall. The rest of the year, it was very high maintenance with frequent pruning required to prevent it from hanging out over our front walk, and constant spraying with insecticidal soap in a failing effort to rid it of those pesky caterpillars.

On House - mlm c@

This photo was taken shortly after a severe pruning to remove it from the gutters, sofit, and roof. It had even wrapped around the downspout.

Bougainvillea grows rapidly here. Who am I kidding? Everything grows rapidly here. That can be a wonderful thing. It can also be a not so good thing. My bougainvillea was against the wall of our garage, which is parallel to the walk that leads to the front door of our home. Frequent pruning was required to keep the upper limbs from hanging out over that walk. I could walk under a lot of them, but most folks had to dodge the thorny branches of this prolific vine.

More Caterpillar Damage - mlm c@

It was once taller than the house, and soon would have been lying on the roof. Not good.

This fall, it has had only a few flowers because the caterpillars were eating the newest growth before it could mature. We’ve had a  hotter than normal summer, so insecticidal oils that don’t wash off when it rains, melted off in the heat. We’ve also had a very rainy summer, so after each rain I had to spray insecticidal soap again, and again, and again.

 

And then, there were those thorns. Those huge thorns.

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 It all got to be too much trouble for this gardener.

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The droppings of those caterpillars were all over our front walk, and had to be swept away daily, sometimes twice daily.

Here you see the tiny droppings on my day lilies. They are so small, they could have gotten in between our dog’s pads, or the soles of our shoes, and been tracked into the house. That presents a potential health threat. Those caterpillars had to go. Unfortunately, that meant the bougainvillea had to go, too.

Do You Know Which Part Is the Actual Flower?

Hot Pink - zoomed mlm c@

Although the showy colorful bracts everyone loves are the most dramatic part, the tiny white blossom in the center is the actual flower. They’re like poinsettias in that way.

Each bract has 3 sections with a tiny flower emerging at its base.

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Will I miss the show bougainvillea puts on each spring?

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No, I can still enjoy them in other peoples’ gardens, such as this one a couple of miles from my home.

It’s kind of like being a grandparent. You get to enjoy the kids without having to be the primary caretaker.

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

Do I Need to Dig Up My Dahlias Here in Florida?

Barbara’s Question About Dahlias:  Barbara G-H. moved here from New York where dahlias have to be dug up every autumn, stored over the winter, and replanted each spring.  At lunch after a golf outing, she was telling me about her dahlias that had become quite ragged-looking last summer, and how she and her husband had pulled them up and trashed them.  She asked about growing them here in central Florida:

Dahlia - Pink

This photo by “criminalatt” can be found at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

My Answer:  Most likely, Barbara’s dahlias were suffering from the heat and periods of dryness we experienced last summer. Here in Zone 9-A (central Florida), dahlias can be left in place year-round. They will likely suffer during times of extreme heat, but if they begin to look too badly, they can be cut back. When the heat wave is over, they will perk up and begin to bloom again. I have not grown them here, so I don’t know for sure whether they will die down during the winter, but probably not, because my geraniums don’t and they are just as tender as dahlias.

I had beautiful red dahlias when we lived in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, much farther north than we are here in Florida. There, of course, the dahlias died down every winter, and came back every spring. Barbara was disappointed to learn that she could have simply trimmed off the ragged part of the plants, and waited for them to put out new growth. I wish we had had our conversation a month or so earlier — her dahlias could have been saved.

Here’s another beautiful dahlia, photo by:  Mister GC:

Dahlia - Purple

Mister GC’s photo can be found at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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

Lantana

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.

Vinca

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 @

Daylilies

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

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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.