I’ve taken a little time off from my blog. But I am back this week and I thought I would talk a little bit about the garden. As many of you know, I love flowers and this week is the Citrus Spring Home and Outdoor Living Show. (Saturday, April 7, 2018 from 9 am to 2 pm at the Crystal River Armory on HWY 19 across from Home Depot.)
I was reading the latest edition of the UF/IFAS Extension Newsletter (link included) and it reminded me about bugs! Before my move to Florida, people said to me… so many bugs in Florida! Actually, I think I had more trouble in Michigan with bugs: Japanese beetles , ants, and aphids! I was fighting them all the time! The only “bug” that I seem to have a lot of trouble with here-and not that much-is the huge looking grasshopper pictured included. (SEE BELOW from the same newsletter.) Keep on the lookout for this Lubber grasshopper…it will annihilate your garden! For those of you who want to know what to plant, I have also included an earlier blog about what to plant. Happy Gardening!
2017 was a tough winter…lost lots of plants and garden was left very brown…so much work!
MY EARIER BLOG: If you like to “Play in the Dirt” Citrus County, Florida will provide you with year round enjoyment—if you so choose to participate. And a good thing is, plants in Florida are relatively inexpensive-at least I find it that way in Citrus County.
As a Northerner come south, you can say goodbye to growing tulips and other spring bulbs unless you “force” them by refrigeration and a planting schedule. I buy them already blooming in pots from the grocery store. You can say yes and maybe hello to tropicals and some old favorites. Now, I was an avid gardener in Michigan before I moved to Citrus County, Florida and that meant planting annuals in late May to early June, watch them grow to fruition and then die in September. Well, in Florida, to my husband’s dismay, one can plant annuals probably every 4 months. He swears he has to put two hands on the wheel of our car as the car tries to automatically turn into Color Country automatically as we drive by the nursery. (Yes, a great spot for flowers as well as: Lowe’s, Wal-Mart and Home Depot.
Starting in November, you plant frost hardy annuals like pansies, petunias and snapdragons. We can get several frosts in Citrus County from December up until St. Patrick’s Day—March 17. After March 17, I plant verbenas, begonias, cleomes, marigolds, impatiens, vinca, cosmos, pentas, coleus, geraniums, etc. all of which will grow to maturity fast, some will likely dry up with a hot, dry summer and then you can plant more!Zinnia, cosmos, vinca periwinkle and torenia are great and re-seed themselves (or I harvest the seeds for the next year and plant the seeds when I plant flowers in early spring). Impatiens have become hard to find because of a disease but they are also great re-seeders. To attract butterflies: plant pentas and milkweed. (Caution: the milkweed will send out its seeds on silky wings — or whatever they are called- and show up all over the summer yard but so will butterflies.) Coleus are a nice color addition to the summer yard. You can pinch the stem and put it in water to root—free plant! Marigolds add nice color to the yard—but to me, they require too much attention: deadheading and a lot of water!
Everyone’s favorites are of course, perennials because you just let them do their thing. My favorites are gardenias, hydrangeas, cannas lily, Gerber daisies, daylilies, jasmine, and wild ginger. Roses-the carpet and knockout roses varieties are great since they do not get the diseases other roses do and they have showy color. You do have to deadhead and trim them. I planted a passion flower vine in front and back and it is all over the place. You have to grow it on trellis otherwise it just takes off strangling other plants…but butterflies and the caterpillars love it…So I just pull out the vines where I do not want them as they pop out. If you want some of this vine…just ask—glad to share…Poinsettias will grow and bloom again with the right conditions…no frost and no artificial lights. Starting in October they need several hours of darkness to bloom again. I used to replant potted chrysanthemums also into the garden after enjoying them inside. However, they dry up very easily in the hot Florida summer…so not so much replanting anymore!
Thinking about planting Tropicals? Try frost tender bougainvilleas. My former plant seemed to grow and grow and then when it was ready to bloom in December—frost came and wilted its leaves. I may have had it in a bad spot. Many people have great success growing them in pots. I took our plant out—since it grew profusely and stabbed me once too often as I trimmed it! A hibiscus must be planted where it is safe from any continuous winter cold. I grew one in a pot for many years; put it undercover when the weather became cold until it got too big for the pot and pot was too heavy to see moving in and out of the cold. I put plants in the ground but my luck has not been good with them coming back. It’s best to buy new hibiscus plants each year and replant or pot them. The same is true with mandevilles vines which are showy until the frost comes. I love amaryllis. I buy a new bulb each December to bloom at Christmas and then plant it in the ground. The following spring it will bloom and then continue to bloom every year after. They are gorgeous once left to spread out in the garden. Easter lilies are the same scenario: buy, enjoy inside, plant outside and they return to bloom-as long as the bunnies don’t find them popping out of the ground and eat them! I love a Desert Rose to grow in pot and bring in during the winter. I like kalavancoes. After enjoying the plants inside the house, I pinch the plants back, put them in a pot outdoors and watch them bloom again. I have had some luck with growing orchids. LOVE THE VANDA ORCHIDS WE HANG INSIDE OUR LANAI! Fertilize with orchid bloom and time-release fertilizer.
Landscaping is a whole other story. Crepe myrtles are showy in the summer and ligustrums and bottlebrush bushes provide good landscape privacy. A spectacular bush to have for fall color is the Cassia bush. Brilliant yellow flowers bloom in late fall and it continues to bloom until hit by the frost several times. It too, is a massive grower, so you can keep trimming a mature bush until late July and then let it go to bud and flower. Sago palms are nice and add a tropical feel to the landscape-although they do not like frost, so protect or plan to cut them back each spring. They do get big! Magnolia trees are gorgeous… flowers smell wonderful but some varieties like mine, continually drop leaves which are very stiff and numerous—they are just a lot of to pick up after!
Fruits and Vegetables I have had good luck with my grapefruit tree and now the orange tree is producing more fruit. In the past, I had a nice key lime bush but it was killed by a frost. I guess my vegetable gardening days were in Michigan. I tried to grow tomatoes in Florida, but could not keep up with their needs for perfect weather! I do grow herbs in pots.