Thursday, July 28, 2011

It's HOT outside!!

Well, y'all, it seems as though we went straight into the heat and humidity of Summer without even a nod at Spring...
And if your gardens are anything like mine, they do NOT like it. It's been a real struggle to keep things blooming, producing, growing and just simply LIVING.

As a careful and close observer of my Garden inhabitants, it seems to me as though they are reacting to this weather as if something is "missing" from their Life-cycles...
Whatever they derive, and need, from the milder weather of Spring, they are developing...or, in some cases, NOT if that certain "something", now gone from the environment, is truly an ESSENTIAL.

And while I have tried everything under the Sun...yes, pun make up for whatever that critical element IS, I have come to the conclusion that, for now, all I CAN do is feed and water when needed... 

And yes, there is something very important to REMEMBER here...

I know that it is very tempting to load up your struggling plants with more nutrients...after all, they seem so sad...but the big risk with this "help" is burning the roots and/or bulbs.  Right now, they may be wilty and not much to look at, but most stuff will come back next Spring, or Growing Season. If you give them too much fertilizer, you take the chance of permanently damaging the root ball or the bulb, which can not only kill the entire plant, it will prevent regrowth or blooming.
So, go easy on the nutrients, especially on the weaker guys...

Rain Gauge    
As for WATER...I know it is hard to just watch the Garden as it struggles to be in its full glory, but over-watering results in root rot, fungus in the soil, mold and mildew on bulbs and root balls, and diseases such as Brown Spot. So, resist the temptation to "Save the Garden"...only water when your plants really NEED it. Use some kind of "water gauge" or "rain gauge" to keep track of levels around plants. If you don't have one, just stick your index..."pointer"...finger down into the soil...if the dirt is damp up to the second knuckle, then don't water.
Additionally, keep up with the weeding and deadheading and such...every little bit of regular maintenance helps the overall condition of the Garden.

I know, I's hard to do pretty much nothing but watch...
But know that, if you take CARE of your plants and flowers, and try not to kill them with kindness, chances are that NEXT SPRING, or Growing Season, your patience and diligence will be rewarded with stronger and healthier beauties.

As always, if you have any concerns or questions, please EMAIL me at:


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Easter Lilies

Beauty that delights the eye...fragrance that pleases the nose...purity and perfection that satisfy the Soul...I give you the Easter Lily...a FLOWER...and BULB...that anyone can grow.

Since Easter Lilies are dormant during the hot summer months when it takes extra effort simply to move about, they are ideal for Central Florida(Growing Zone 9). They withstand the occasional frosts, have almost no pests or diseases, multiply so rapidly that they more than pay for themselves, and need to be dug and moved about only every three years.
One of the easiest flowers to grow...the Bermuda Easter Lily...Lilium longiflorum a springtime joy. Bulblets an inch across will bloom, with the number of blooms increasing as the bulb grows larger. The average number of blooms for a mature bulb runs from 11 to 15, with 20 or more not unusual, held aloft on thick, strong stalks.
Set out the bulbs any time from mid-August to late October, about 2 feet apart, sun or shade. Since the soil of Central Florida is mostly sand, you need not prepare the entire garden space. Dig a hole about 8 inches square and 8 inches deep, drop in a big handful of fertilizer, mix it with the soil and set the bulb with its top 4 to 6 inches below the surface of the ground. Then leave them alone for three years.
Spacing them widely apart allows you to care for them with a hoe, without having to kneel or stoop. Cultivate only enough to keep down weeds. Let the weeds lie and hoe them into the soil the next time you cultivate.
When the plants are about 6 inches high, mulch with leaves, vegetable trimmings or shrub clippings. This keeps down weeds, helps to keep the ground cool, slows up evaporation of moisture and adds needed nutrients to the soil.
Any of these fertilizers gives good results: ordinary lawn or garden fertilizer, special azalea fertilizer, or a 4.8.6 formula. Don’t bother measuring...ust scatter by hand around the plants. Make sure to wash off with a hose any fertilizer which spills on the foliage. You don’t have to hoe it into the soil.

Give five applications of fertilizer: when plants are 6 inches high...when they are 1 foot high...when buds begin to show...when buds turn down...and after blooming in order to nourish the bulb for the next season. Water at least twice a week, giving enough to reach the roots, and continuing for a month after blooming. After the last application of fertilizer is made, all you need to do is keep out the weeds. When stems are dry and brittle. grasp them with a twisting motion and they will come away easily from the bulb.
When cutting blooms, leave 6 or 8 inches of stalk to feed the bulb. Cut at any time which is convenient for you; there is no hocus-pocus about time of day or wetness or dryness.
Dig your bulbs in August or September only when they become too crowded to care for easily. You can dig them more often but it isn’t necessary. The longer a lily bulb is left out of the ground, the more it deteriorates, eventually crumbling to powder. So reset them within a day or so and don’t expose them to the sun for more than a few minutes at a time. Then forget them until they come up sometime in November.
The only insects that chew on lilies are grasshoppers. To combat these, dust or spray with a natural pesticide made for flowering plants The only disease to contend with is MOSAIC. Signs of this are yellowed, stunted plants, flattened crowns, blasted buds and dappled white spots on the leaves. Dig out the infected plant immediately and burn it. As mosaic is said to be a virus in the soil, don’t set other bulbs in that location.
So, there you go: few set rules, no special fertilizers, no difficult technical care. They can be set at different depths, left alone for long periods of time and they multiply like bunnies. They are so well suited to this Growing Zone(9), that every garden in Central Florida should have a bed, or two, of them.

**Next on our Adventure...AZALEAS

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bulbs, continued...HYACINTH

Just the mention of this wonderful bloom conjures up memories of the most amazing favorite floral scent since I was a little kid. I used to wear Hyacinth Oil as my "cologne", until it became almost impossible to find it...but, alas, I wander a bit...

Over the years, I have often considered growing my own Hyacinth, but when Spring...primarily Easter...rolled around, I just never got around to getting one for my Garden. Well, this Easter Season, I saw the most delightful PURPLE Hyacinth in our local supermarket, and decided that I would explore this new and wondrous addition to our Botanical Kingdom. The photos in this Blog are of our Hyacinth.

But, even though BULBS, on the whole, are easy to grow and maintain, Hyacinth seems to be a bit of a Garden Diva. And the fact that here, in the Orlando area, we have gone from Winter right into the sweltering heat of "Summer" real SPRING to speak of...has made gardening in general...more sensitive plants specifically.... more of a challenge that it should have been. So, here I am...more watering without drowning the roots or causing root rot....misting when necessary...deadheading and clipping off dead leaves and such...doing ANYTHING to make growing and thriving in our Garden a good and healthy endeavor.
Did I mention that my beloved Hyacinth does NOT love intense heat...even the morning Sun is toastier than it should be in Spring...or a lack of rain and humidity? Growing our Hyacinth has become challenging, to say the very least, but I think we are doing OK. The blooms have been gone for a few weeks now, but I have new greenery coming up from the soil. Alas, Time will only tell...

For those of you thinking about giving the delightful Hyacinth a try, here are some excellent growing instructions..straight forward and easy to follow.
Just THINK about that wonderful fragrance, and go for it!

Planting Instructions...HYACINTH

The next BULB we will explore...LILIES.
Until then....


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bulbs, Continued...GLADIOLUS

Have you ever walked into the grocery store, and right there, near the front of the store...or sometimes at the checkout line...are the bouquets of cut flowers for sale? Do you remember how spectacular the bunches of GLADIOLUS were, with their dramatic colors and exotic cascade of blooms? Ever see one in the darkest of purples? Or a crimson red? Yellow with an orange center? Simply awesome...

Ah, yes...the majestic GLADIOLUS...the grace and color are always brilliant.
It would be easy to think that such a dynamic flower would be difficult to grow, but in all honesty, they are remarkably easy. What is even  more amazing, they seem to do really well here in Central Florida. Heat and sandy soil do not hinder great color and strong plants.
When I planted mine, though, I DID put a bit of potting soil down in the hole for the "corm", or bulb" before dropping it in. On the more mysterious side of Gardening, I HAVE had a couple of GLADS pop up in places I NEVER planted them, and in straight sandy soil...go figure.
I must say, though, their surprise appearance does tend to stir a SENSE of the MAGICAL..."sigh".

Here is a great web site for growing GLADIOLUS...take a few minutes and get inspired to grow these beautiful blooms.
This site looks at growing GLADS in the Garden and in CONTAINERS:

Once you realize that, with minimal work and care, this great flower can be added to the beauty you have begun to surround yourself with, you will want to plop a couple of corms...bulbs... into little spots all over your Garden, but in places where you will regularly tend to the plants that are already there. For a bit of magic, try to "forget" where you plant them. Then, when their next growing season comes around, and they break through the surface...their long stems and grand blossoms gracing your will find a renewed Sense of Wonder.

The next BULB to fall in love with...LILIES.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Ah, yes...BULBS

Amaryllis...Gladiolus...Lilies...Tulips...Hyacinth...and countless other glorious Flowers...all come from BULBS.
And nothing could be easier to grow, manage and cultivate than those underground wonders.
I will be talking to you about them in several "chapters", to give each its own spotlight.

I want to start with AMARYLLIS, not because they begin with the letter A, but because they were the first flowers from bulbs that I grew in my Garden.
Traditionally, they are associated with Christmas and the Holiday Season, I suppose that is because they are usually forced(more on this later) to bloom at that time, to keep with the red and green color scheme. But that is not the only time of year they bloom, or can bloom. My Garden is graced with them all year long, although they do seem to be more prolific in early Spring.
And they can be found in a variety of color, not just the more common bright and with red highlights...even some that are more of a salmon hue. I have the red and red and white "candy cane" colors, but will be looking to expand my color palette later this Summer.

Here is a great LINK for the growing and care of AMARYLLIS as a CONTAINER flower:

And here is a LINK for the cultivation of AMARYLLIS in your Garden:

I must say, I do love my AMARYLLIS, even when it is not in bloom...when in a fairly large group, the greenery is brilliant.
And as always, if the LINKS I provided don't answer YOUR questions, EMAIL me with your query and I'll get an answer to you as soon as I can...

Next, I will lovingly look at the magnificent GLADIOLUS...

Saturday, April 9, 2011

My NEW Email...just for the Garden

Well...I certainly hope you are having a grand weekend...spending time in your Garden, I am sure...:)

Just in case you might need to contact me with comments or questions about this Blog, or about YOUR Garden, here is my new email, just for all of the Gardeners and Plant Lovers who read my stuff.
Here ya go... 


Friday, April 8, 2011

Watering Your Garden

Well, it sure seems like Summer is in a big hurry to get here with us in the Central Florida area. 
What happened to SPRING ?...sheesh…

It goes without saying that our weather makes GARDENING a bit of a challenge at times, especially since we are still dealing with drought conditions.

HERE is some useful stuff to consider when it comes to watering your Garden. 
It focuses on hand…hose…watering, but may be applied to Gardens that use irrigation systems.

Watering Your Garden:

During the dry, hot months of the Summer, standard lawns and groundcovers will need one inch of water every week. Florida Native grass lawns and groundcovers need one inch every other week. Use a rain gauge or a clean, empty container with a large opening, like a coffee can.
When you water, soak the soil thoroughly. It is better to water more heavily and less frequently than to water lightly with much greater frequency. Deep watering promotes deep root growth, and discourages the growth of shallow-root weeds.
To minimize the frequent need for watering, mulch thoroughly. During hot, rainless periods…droughts in the Southeast fit in this category…a healthy, established annual or perennial plant should be watered one to three times a week. A woody tree or shrub in the same environment would need a thorough soaking once or twice weekly.

Watering New Plants:

When deciding how often to water your new delights, ask the following questions in order to get familiar with your Garden’s watering needs...
1.      How long since transplanting? Newly planted plants require more frequent watering.. Start reducing your watering after 2 to 3 weeks. Make sure that the plant roots start growing out into the surrounding soil and the above ground portion of the plant shows strong signs of new growth before doing so.
2.      How hot and windy is it? Heat and wind cause increased water loss by plants. When day time temperatures move into the 80’s, water newly transplanted plants every other day. Once the air temperature hits the 90 degree mark check the plants morning and evening, looking for wilted leaves as these indicate dry soil. In the beginning,, a daily watering WILL be needed for small plants.
3.      How deep did that last rain soak the soil? Rain amounts can be deceiving. Always stick a shovel…or other indicator with surface that is easy to see when it’s wet.…in to the ground after a rain and do a visual check as to how deeply the water soaked into the soil. The soil needs to be damp to a depth of at least 4 inches to do new transplants any good. 
4.      Have the plants been mulched? Mulching plants can cut watering frequency by half (every other day vs. daily...twice weekly vs. every other day).
5.      Sandy soils dry out very quickly and plants will need very frequent irrigation when first planted. Also keep in mind that when climate conditions are very dry, extra water is needed to replace moisture lost to the dry soil surrounding the plant.

Signs of over-watering:

When the soil stays wet and the leaves of recent transplants become yellow and slimy, cut back watering by half…NOT half the amount, but half of the frequency.
If you are watering regularly but the leaves look wilted all the time, the plant roots are dying of suffocation. Too much water keeps the soil waterlogged and oxygen deprived.
Move aside the mulch from around the plant and let the top inch or so of the soil completely dry out between watering.

Well, I hope this has helped with watering your Garden here, in Central Florida.
As always, please feel free to email me if you have any additional questions about this, or any other topic that will help make YOUR Garden an AWESOME ADVENTURE.


P.S. Just to add a tiny morsel of more information...Tom McCubbin, of Channel 13...just emailed me and said that a good basic rule for WATERING is to let the water soak down into the Garden soil about 4 - 6 inches, which is about 1/2 - 3/4 of an inch of standing water...;)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Priorities and The Garden

One of the hardest things for me to NOT do is spending too much money at the beginning of Spring, in an effort to make The Garden "pretty"...

I have learned, from experience, that the best stuff you can do in the beginning of the Season is to do a basic CLEAN UP of the flower beds and such.
Start with stirring up the mulch to loosen it and give it better air circulation and the ability to allow more water to be absorbed.
Cut back all of the "dead stuff"...dead stems, leaves and buds...and get busy on those annoying WEEDS !!

Then, once all of the basic "clean-up" has been accomplished, take a little Walk About and really LOOK at your Garden.

Are there "empty spots" that make it look out of balance?
Do you have "bald spots" in your mulch ?
Are some of your plants looking leggy and sparse ?
Start off by seeing which of your plants can be moved from one spot to another to "fill in" the empty spots without creating another "hole".
Make certain that the plant you move will thrive in the new space...water well after transplanting.
Next, cut off the leggy and less filled out bits of your plants, pruning back back to encourage new Spring growth.
Dead head any bloom remains or wilted buds...this will stimulate more blossoms.
Now, if you MUST spend money on your Garden for Spring, buy fresh MULCH and freshen what you already have, making sure to fill in any of the "bald spots" you previously noted.

After you have started doing the basic garden maintenance and establish a routine,  begin a watering schedule.
If you use a sprinkler, or water by hand, try to do so no more than twice a week, unless you have transplants. Transplanted stuff should be watered daily for the first few days, just to help the roots get settled in their new place and prevent shock.
Many people make the mistake of over watering...
This can lead to root rot...fungus in the soil...bacterial growth in the dirt and on the roots, often moving up to the main bits of the plant...and shallow root, which makes the plant less stable in the soil.
It can also encourage the growth of those WEEDS that we all do not love, as most weeds tend to be shallow-rooted, needing water closer to the surface.

So, now you have your Garden ready for Spring and all of the rain and warm Sun that inspire growth and blossoms and beauty !!
Take a few weeks just to enjoy what you already HAVE...
Appreciate the wonder of new growth and FLOWERS, paying close attention to which of your blooms entice the butterflies and the hummingbirds...provide awesome color to your landscape after the grays of Winter...and don't forget...

Early morning or just after sunset...go out to your garden and be still...LISTEN...
And take in a deep breath of the FRAGRANCES of Spring !
Even flowers and plants that are not known for their aromas still give off a scent that I call GREENSCENT.
Take it in...
And remember that your Garden is always a WORK IN Adventure in Creativity...
Enjoy the Journey...

Until next time...

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spring 2011...UPDATE

Wouldn't you know it...sheesh...
The LINKS I provided in my very first POST to this new Blog don't work.

So, here are the LISTS, in TEXT format.
After you read them, you can cut and paste the information if you want to...

As the Seasons pass, I will add new LISTS...more comprehensive and detailed as I find the necessary information to share... to your "inventory".


*****Flowers that Grow Well in Florida Zone 9

…a short list:






*****Shade/Part-Sun Plants that Grow Well in Florida

Zone 9

…a short list:

…Aloe Vera





*****Shade Trees that Grow Well in Florida Zone 9

…a short list:

…Purple Ash

…Tulip Tree

…Beech Tree

…Live Oak

…Sawtooth Oak


Spring 2011

Spring 2011... Time to shake off the remnants of Winter, and bring some color into our lives !!

Since I live in Zone 9...Florida and the Deep South...this means hot temperatures, strong Summer Sun and potential torrential rains.
So, I will focus on stuff that deals directly with our weather, and the flowers and plants that thrive in the Zone 9 environment.

Here are a few LISTS to get you inspired and motivated...

Flowers That Grow Well in Zone 9

Shade Plants for Zone 9

Shade Trees for Zone 9

As the Spring rolls along, I will provide information and resources for all kinds of stuff having to do with Gardening in Central Florida.
My next Blog Entry will look at WATERING and PEST CONTROL.

Until then,