Tag Archives: vinca

Walter Asks About Options for Flower Boxes Mostly in Shade

SunPatiens – hot pink

I received this question from Walter, an old friend from my high school years:

I’d like your opinion on the best flowers to put in my boxes on the porch this summer. I have flower boxes that I put on my porch rails that are about 3′ long and 5″ deep. They will get full morning sun for about 3 1/2 – 4 hours then total shade the remainder of the day.

I had impatiens in them last year and they did well for a while but began to fizzle out in July. I know they don’t like the sun a lot but I didn’t think that much would hurt them. Anyway I wondered if you had any ideas.”

I replied to Walter right away by e-mail, but I’ve just now had time to turn his great question into a blog post. So, here are my suggestions:

Off the top of my head, impatiens do seem like the best choice for planter boxes that get mostly shade. It was probably the intense summer heat that caused them to fizzle out last summer. Impatiens, petunias, and vinca tend to get long and leggy during the hottest part of the summer. I have found that, when they become leggy, cutting them back severely will encourage new growth, and helps them to bush out more. I haven’t had good luck with regular impatiens here in central Florida, probably because I have very little shade, but I’m creating shade as fast as I can. With my lack of shade, I have used SunPatiens (a brand name of sun-tolerant impatiens) and vinca instead, so I don’t have any photos of regular impatiens.  Below are some photos of leggy vinca, showing how beautifully they  recover from severe pruning of the “legginess”. The same effect can be obtained with impatiens.

Near the base of this leggy plant is a lot of new growth that can’t be seen in this photo. That new growth will be encouraged by removing those long, bare stems.

Below is some vinca that I cut back a few months ago. It filled out quickly, and looks better than it did before:

This white vinca in my backyard night garden has filled in beautifully after being cut back when it got leggy.

Another Shade Lover – Waxed Begonias

These waxed begonias would be a beautiful option for your planter boxes. They can take morning sun, but need to be shaded from the afternoon sun. They are available in this darker pink, a lighter pink, white, and red. There is also some variety in the colors of their heart-shaped leaves.

Waxed begonias have either these dark-colored leaves or a lighter, true green. Both are complimentary to your garden.

 

One More Shade Lover – Caladiums

Another good choice for an area of mostly shade like you described is caladiums. There are some newer varieties of caladiums that can take more sun than the older varieties. Below are some photos of my caladiums that can tolerate partial sun are Red Flash, Gingerland, and Florida Sunrise.

Red Flash

Florida Sunrise

Gingerland

These three caladium cultivars perform beautifully. You could combine them with impatiens for a little variety; and when your impatiens get leggy, the caladium leaves will act as a type of camouflage.

Caladiums in Winter

North of Zone 9, be sure to dig up your caladiums before the first freeze. Wash the bulbs to remove all soil. Lay them out to dry, then store them in a cool, dry, and dark place. A cardboard box or vented or net bag in your basement should be perfect. Replant them the following spring after all danger of freezing temperatures has passed.

A Substitute for Impatiens

Another option is vinca, which likes full sun, but does well in part shade, too — and it comes in lots of colors, just like impatiens. Here are some photos of vinca:

Vinca – hot pink with white center

Vinca – White

Vinca – Peppermint

Walter, be sure to let me know how the flowers in your planter boxes do this summer. See you in the garden.

Gardening is Difficult with a Sprained Ankle

About a month ago, I sprained my ankle, so I have not been doing much in the way of gardening lately, and may not be for a while, yet. It could be a tiny stress fracture, but is probably a severe sprain, so until I find out, and likely for a while after that, I will be hobbling around in a walking boot. Rest assured, I have big plans for both the yard and the herb/veggie garden for when I am released. At least I can admire the things that are blooming. Below are photos of a few of the flowers I have blooming now. All of them can take full sun.

Arugula mlm c@

Baby arugula in better days.

My arugula has bolted (gone to seed) and, therefore, has developed a pretty hot flavor, at least to my taste buds. My beautiful cauliflower also bolted before I could cut it. The chili peppers are a beautiful red, but I can’t get to them to pick them. The collards look great, but I can’t pick them. If anyone near here wants any or all of them, call me, leave a comment below, or e-mail me at the address on the “Contact Me” page of this site. They are free to a good home.

Gerbera Daisy - brt pink - mlm c

Bright pink gerbera daisies

Yellow - mlm c

Yellow gerbera daisies

Reblooming Iris - mlm c

Reblooming bearded iris — blooms twice per year. This is the only iris I brought with me from Alabama because I was told they wouldn’t grow here.

Meanwhile, in addition to enjoying my flowers through the windows and from the patio and front walk, I have begun a genealogy project that I have planned for years. I was amazed at what I found, but much documentation is still needed. I’ll see you in the garden soon. For now, I’m back to doing genealogical research. Wish me luck.

Hibiscus - Pink Double - mlm

Pink double hibiscus

Vinca - Hot Pink2 - mlm c @

Hot pink vinca — never stopped blooming all winter

 

 

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

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.

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:

Hollyhocks

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.

Shamrocks

Shamrock Flowers - mlm c@

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

Vinca

Vinca - White mlm c@

 

 

It’s Too Hot to Do Gardening

 

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

I’ve Been Away Too Long, But I’m Back to Gardening Now

I  have been sick, but I’m back to writing and blogging.  Meanwhile, for my friends farther north, here are some of the flowers blooming in my yard now:

Azalea, Pink & White

I bought this white Encore azalea about a year ago. Last fall, I noticed some tiny white stripes in the flowers. It appeared as if someone had brushed across the petals with a tiny artists’ brush. This year, the plant still has mostly white flowers, but has two pink flowers, with buds that hint of more pink to come.

 

Vinca - Hot Pink

This one little vinca plant is a volunteer that came up from seed dropped by last summer’s flowers. It is near our front door, and is bright and cheerful. I have a lot of white vinca growing in the back yard, but this is the only pink one.

 

Poinsettia, pink - florettes, MLM 1

The poinsettias are still blooming, too.

SunPatiens - MLM1

This is the only one of my New Guinea impatiens that survived the heat last summer. It has never stopped blooming. I just noticed that all my flowers are some shade of white or pink. There are some bright yellow marigolds that have come up from seed dropped last fall, but I don’t have photos of them yet.

The Sad Sob Story:

Last fall, my husband, Bo, and I left on a trip to tour the New England states. Unfortunately, I got bronchitis, and we had to cut our trip short, and return earlier than planned. In a few weeks I got better, then relapsed, and was sick for quite a while. My husband got sick, too, and even our little dog, C.C., got a case of kennel cough.

I’m back now and ready to answer your gardening questions, and to share photos of my plants, and of interesting plants that I see around our town. While on our trip, we did see some of New England, and I did take some nice photos, which I shared on my blog, Down Hibiscus Lane. I have been away from that blog, too, so I will be posting more photos of New England soon.

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.

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.