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"Possibility and promise greet me each day as I walk out into my garden. My vigor is renewed when I breathe in the earthiness and feel the dirt between my fingers. My garden is a peaceful spot to refresh my soul." Meems

Welcome to my Central Florida Garden Blog where we garden combining Florida natives, Florida-Friendly plants, and tropicals.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

10 More Blooming Plants for Fall Color

You may recall my post a few years ago, 10 Great Plants for Fall Color. It listed mostly foliage plants with a few flowering perennials included. I've grown to love my fall garden more and more each year. That love is from a combination of the cooling weather and the fact that so many of Florida's best plants bloom in the fall. That's my observation. Here's a look at some of the flowers that are brightening up my fall garden. I'm not going to include the sunny Swamp Sunflower again. I think I have lauded those yellow flowers sufficiently already.
Queen Emma Crinum Lily ~ I transplanted 2 of these beauties from my old garden. I left 4 of them there.
You might remember that almost every single plant I've planted in my new garden was either moved as a transplant from my old garden or it was a division or root cutting from my old garden along with a few root cuttings from some friends. I wrote here about the challenge I gave myself to start all my new beds without spending any cash. Now that I've been gardening here since June, I am beginning to see some results. The rooted cuttings are growing and many of them are actually blooming.
Celosia spicata grown from seed. Sunny garden.
Fall is an exciting time in most Florida gardens. We've just passed our rainy season which causes the whole garden to explode. Celosia spicata started blooming in summer, I admit. Here we are well into fall and still it is full of magenta spikes. It is 10' tall and bushy so you need a bit of space when planted in full sun.
Cat's Whiskers (Orthosiphon aristatus) was given to me as a small cutting. I moved it as a small bush from my old garden to the new sunny garden.

Cat's Whiskers has been blooming its spiky white flowers for three months. It likes a good deal of sun, but not full sun. I've put it where it gets some shade from the small bottlebrush tree nearby in the sunny garden.

S. Mexicana I think this one is 'La Placita'
I started cuttings of Salvia Mexicana from plants I had in my old garden. These bloom somewhat all spring and summer. When fall rolls around they come into their prime covered in spikes of deep purple loveliness for bees and hummingbirds to visit.

Belinda's Dream 
I put this pretty rose in here because she deserves a mention. Belinda's Dream pretty much blooms all year. I moved her from my old garden. She recently was trimmed back to canes. It won't take her long to burst out in bloom again.
Spotted Bee Balm (Monarda punctata)
You can't rush spotted beem balm. It definitely waits for fall to bloom. Slightly scented and unquestionably a pollinator magnet. Its pale pink flowers stack on top of each other 3 and 4 tall. If you have a sunny location you'll want to grow this Florida native.
Pentas ~ all from root cuttings.
If you've followed this blog you know I'm a huge fan of Pentas. Why? They are easy-to-grow flowers for Florida gardens that bloom all year long. I mostly plant and propagate (from cuttings) the large heirloom varieties. They are hardy in winter with the least amount of tree cover to protect from cold and extremely drought tolerant.
Marlberry (Ardisia escallonioides) is a Florida native shrub that blooms in the fall. Insignificant flowers? Maybe. Small pollinators love them. The flowers turn to berries later in the season just in time to feed the wildlife.

Hardy Hibiscus~ Swamp Mallow
This is not the tropical variety of hibiscus. Each large pink flower of this hardy hibiscus only lasts a day and requires some moisture for best blooming. You can put these near the edge of a pond or in spot that stays moist. Mine was given to me as a cutting. I rooted it and then made more plants from that one and brought one with me from my old garden. It does not have wet feet in my garden but does get plenty of sunshine.

Firespike (Odontonema strictum) is an all-time favorite. All the ones I planted in my new garden are short and producing a few blooms as you can see above.  There are so many reasons I love this plant. You can read more about firespike here and see more photos!  It's RED!!! Okay. That's number 1. All the other reasons have to do with hummingbirds. They love them and since they flourish past fall (as long as we don't have a hard freeze~or several) the hummers will have nectar all winter.

What are your favorite fall blooming plants? There are so many to choose from in Florida.

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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Swamp Sunflower

Once in a while I get so enamored with a particular plant/flower that I want to stare at it, take photos daily, talk about it and share it with anyone who will listen. Swamp Sunflower. Yes. Here we go.
My friend and fellow Hillsborough County Master Gardener, Nanette, over at Bay-Friendly Landscaping heard that I was trying to create my new sunny garden without spending any money. One day when we were volunteering together she showed up with 4 baby swamp sunflower plants and a couple of scorpion tail plants. I planted them all in June.
I gave my baby swamp sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius) plants the sunniest possible conditions because that's what they like. Wow. Did they ever grow fast and they grew tall! They were every bit of 9' (probably taller) in height by September with tiny tight buds from top to bottom. Even those were cute. I'm not kidding.

If you live in Florida, you have probably seen these sunny yellow wildflowers along the roadside this month. They don't grow as tall there, but they are full of bright yellow faces and brown buttons in the middle.  I have seen some gorgeous groupings of them on my trips over to the center of the state. We also saw them along country roads on a recent trip to North Florida. 

They are so bright and cheery, you can't miss them.  Each flower is about 3" across. They will catch your attention even if you aren't looking for them. 

Give me blue skies and swamp sunflowers any day and I'll be just as cheery as their happy faces. It's the simple things y'all!
This is the back side of my sunniest bed. Only the perennial peanut ground cover was planted here when we moved in. I'm letting that spread as it wants to.
Placed in the middle of my sunniest flower bed seems to be a good place for swamp sunflower. They are so tall I can see them as I round the corner from the central pathway. I staked the center stalks with rebar before they bloomed. I suspected they might get top heavy. I think that was wise because some of the side shoots drooped and snapped during that week of constant rain we had in late September. 

I'm going to give them a hard prune next June to try to keep each bush a little more compact, but that's not to say I mind the height they are at all. Just thinking I might not need to stake them if they are bushier.

The purple flowers you see are Celosia spicata. Don't they make a nice pairing. Native bee balm (Monarda punctata) is blooming pale pink flowers right next to both of them. There are so many pollinators buzzing around this area that you can hear their music.
My only wish is that swamp sunflower would last through spring. Alas, they are a fall flowering native plant to Florida. I've been told they will self-seed. Oh, what a glorious thought. More swamp sunflowers next year. Oh my.

I hope you're enjoying this excellent fall weather Central Florida is having this week. Pretty perfect for outdoor activities.

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September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway