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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.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Divide and Conquer

I've had the opportunity to be in the garden quite a bit over the last several days. My list of things to do while it is officially still autumn has almost dwindled down to the end.

Flax lilies, Dianella tasmanica 'Variegata' are an easy plant to dig up, divide, and place in more locations. With visions of creating more borders using this easy-to-maintain plant I got started by digging out the border (shown in the above photo). Flax lily is a clumping evergreen perennial that grows in the ground or in containers in warmer climates. If you'd like to see the tiny flower they produce on wispy sprays that willow above the top of the plant you can click on the link here where I featured them in a former post.

When one plant is dug up, I always replace that spot with one of the smaller plants I've separated out from the larger one. That way I'm not losing whichever perennial I'm dividing from that location. It will then get established and grow large again for another division by the end of spring. The flax lily grows in shade or sun. You can't lose with a plant with those kind of habits. The upright blades are a nice substantial width and the variation of white and green adds interest through every season. They require very little water once established.

When digging each one up, I shake off the dirt, use my hand pruners to cut at the base of the plant making several smaller plants. You can see in the above photo how the five plants I started with became nine replaced into the same border. One of my goals was to elongate the width of this particular planting. I accomplished that by taking the edge of the border a little further over in front of the purple queen on one side and taking the other side right to the edge of the variegated liriope.

But wait there's more...

Eleven more from the divisions were planted on either side of the clay pots that make their home in this bed brightening up the empty spaces left from long gone summer caladiums.

The mexican heather I've been depending on to fill this space just haven't been performing like I'd like. I'm counting on the flax lily to perform substantially better. When the caladiums come back around by May next year they'll have some new friends bordering them to help them stand out even more than usual.

So let's do the math. That makes 15 more plants than the 5 I started with... now that's math even I can appreciate.

Two For One
My visit to the local nursery last week with a gift card burning a hole in my pocket was a productive trip. Among some other things a plant I'd never before heard of caught my attention. It is maple leaf hibiscus, Hibiscus sabdariffa . They were a little tall and lanky but full of buds. The price tag really caught my attention - buy one, get one free at $3.99 for one.

The intriguing deeply colored bloom is almost the same color as the branches and leaves. I've read that they can almost be black. Since I planted them they have new blooms each day that open in the morning and like most hibiscus they only last that day. It will be interesting to see this plant when it bushes out after I cut back in the spring. The deep burgundy is remarkably striking placed next to greenery in the garden.

Happy Thursday All, Meems.


  1. What a great way to use your existing plants to work on your future expansions. Like the new hibiscus as well. Both are great "buys" when things are a little tight!

  2. mjm, HEY NOW... who said anything about my jeans? :-)

    Future expansions- very key words here. The price was right on both for certain.

  3. Wow, your lilies are great. You will have a nice thing border soon.
    That hibiscus is gorgeous. What a bargain. I would love to visit a nursery there.

  4. Lisa, wouldn't it be fun if you came to visit Florida and we could go to a (several in fact) nursery together? The thing abuot nurseries here is that they are not only open year round but they have very tempting plants to buy all year long. I do my level best not to visit unless I'm ready to purchase because without fail I cannot just walk through to see what they have.

  5. It sounds like gardeners need to migrate to Florida in the winter! I've never considered being a snow bird, but you keep telling us about your gardening in winter--and now, the fact that the nurseries have flowers year-round! :-)

    Your flax lilies are beautiful in your setting. It's great to be able to divide your favorites to produce more plants.


  6. Cameron, It's about that time when snow birds descend on our state. So you could join them if you get the hankering. :-)

    Actually, I have always dreamed of migrating to NC for the summer. I would so love to spend my summer in the cool air of the mountains. Mr. Meems and I talk about it all the time. Of course that means I couldn't have my garden because I could never leave it unattended for that long... and round and round we go.

  7. A girl after my own heart! It is so wonderful to divide your own plants and have so many more. With all the work you have done lately, your jeans can't be tight!
    I've never heard of that type of a hisbiscus either. Curious to see larger photos in the spring. Great post as usual.

  8. I really like those, the variegation shows up so nicely. They would add a lot to a shady area.

    Not to change the subject but I noticed the Spathiphyllum on your side bar. We have one blooming in our lobby now. They make a nice indoor plant in a sunny area.

  9. Your flax lily border looks wonderful. What a massive root system they have. Always fun to reuse your plants like that.

    We sold that hibiscus at our nursery. The blooms were much more darker than the one you show. They were actually so dark you never noticed them.

  10. Dear Meems,

    Have I told you how much I am enjoying your blog background! What fun you are having!

    Divide and conquer is exactly what makes gardening so much fun! Too often I forget that dividing not only multiplies a plant but is often absolutely necessary to keep them vigorous!

    Sales are the other joy of gardening! I love the maple leaf hibiscus you found at an excellent price! That was a good find! I grew Hibiscus acetosella which also has a sweet maple leaf...Are they the same plant with a new botanical name? Oh these botanists!

    Your beautiful garden makes me sigh with delight! Have a delicious time in your garden.


  11. How wonderful to increase your garden...for free! :) Good job.

  12. Darla, It is wonderful and so rewarding, too. I wish all this gardening would take the place of cardio workout but it is not to be...

    I am curious to see the hibiscus fill out. they can get very tall so I will have to watch it and keep it snipped back I think. I'd rather it be a shrub.

    Marnie, I do like the lighter color for the shade as well as the full sun.

    Feel free to talk about anything you wish here. The spath makes a nice indoor plant which is where my first ones started. When they got tired of being indoors, I moved them outdoors into the ground and I have some now that are 4 feet tall. Speaking of divisions... I have divided these up as well and now have them in great places in the front and the back gardens.

    Susie, I do think the bloom can be much darker. Maybe mine will change once they get established in the ground. I like the idea of darker with their yellow center. There aren't that many flowers that come in that shade so adds to the interest even though it doesn't contrast with the foliage.

    Gail, I think you have mentioned my blog background. But thank you again. You know, I don't think I have any plants that require division in order to flourish. I know day lilies do but mine are so not great anyway that for some reason I've never had to divide them. I do read about that on other (northern) blogs.

    The name could very well have changed. I don't know that much about it yet to answer your question. It is quite possible since, as we know, that happens all the time.

    Thanks for stopping by. You are welcome to sigh upon arrival every time. :-)

    Nancy, Free is always a good price! thanks.

  13. I've read somewhere that Hibiscus sabdariffa can be used in cooking - for desserts - have you ever tried that?

  14. Hi Meems~

    What a great deal you got on the plants!
    I have two varieties of the maple hibiscus in my garden, a dark red one like yours and a green leafed one. Somebody told me a common name for them was tropical hollyhock.
    They seem to reseed a lot here in S. Fl.
    The blooms really are pretty.

  15. The variegated foliage on your flax lilies really brightens things up. They make a lovely border!


  16. Hi Meems wonderful post, it is so nice to pop oven to a warmer climate garden, lovely colours.
    Have a great weekend / Tyra

  17. Hi Meems, I grow the flax lily too but never knew its name!! Glad I stopped by today...thanks! That hibiscus is gorgeous...stunning pink!

  18. i really like the 'bargain' hibiscus! let's just pray it survives any frost/freeze we may suffer this winter. it looks somewhat mexican - do you know it's origin? and speaking of mexican, i am sure you already know the poinsettia is a native of Mexico. it is quite interesting as to how it came to be known as the Christmas flower. maybe you can do a little post on that sometime.

  19. Lovely, lovely, lovely, Meems. Please share ... when you are working, do you stop to photograph? When I'm in the garden, especially digging and dividing, I simply 'go crazy' and never think to photograph the 'fruits of my labor' while scratching my head, wondering ... now where shall these beauties reside. Then wish 'to kill' my proud husband who sends friends back to visit (I'm not a pretty gardener). Same in the kitchen ... when I cook, enough to co-ordinate getting hot food to the table (never think to photograph my journey). You're a grand gal! Kudos, dear friend for sharing.

  20. katarina, Having just heard of this hibiscus when I purchased it last week I can't say that I know the answer to your cooking question... but now you have my curiosity aroused... I'll be trying to finding out. Thanks for the tip.

    Karrita, Here are all the common names I swiped from Dave's plant files... Roselle, Jamaican Tea, Maple-Leaf Hibiscus, Florida Cranberry, October Hibiscus, Red Sorrell. AND I did see some hisbiscus with the green leaves on his website as well... which I didn't know was possible either. Always learning is a good thing. Your tip on re-seeding is intriguing too... thanks.

    Amy, I like the way the lighter greens and variations of stripey-strappy foliage contrast too. thank you.

    Tyra, I sure am enjoying your new blog format... you are one talented girl. Good thing you have that gorgeous green house to look at all winter and imagine what your spring will bring to you in a few short months. In the meantime, pop over for some green here anytime. :-)

    mjm: You made me laugh first.

    Kanak: Is the flax lily pricey in India? One of the reasons I'm so eager to divide it myself is the demand for this plant here has hiked the price out of proportion to its purchase size. It is a very easy to plant to work with and I am enjoying the addition of it to my garden.

    sg aka:Mom,
    I liked the price too. I am risking frost or freeze but in a typical winter those two things are not likely. This season the weather has not been normal so we shall see... Very interesting information about the poinsettia. I do remember vaguely reading of their origin but obviously I didn't retain it. LOL.

    Joey, Thank you for your kind remarks and I do understand your getting in the middle of things and not remembering to be snap happy. I almost always have my camera with me wherever I go. I've learned to keep it close by in the garden mostly to capture the little critters who don't pause too long for a photo shoot. But, yes, the day I took the photos in this post I was stopping to take the root photo and the before and after photo. I'm not as good to take photos while cooking.

    Funny you mention the condition of yourself while gardening. My daughter just commented this week when she dropped at the end of one of my long days in the garden... "Mom, no one that knows you would believe you ever look like this." We got a good chuckle out of that.

  21. I love plants like these that "keep on giving." And what a buy on the Hibiscus!

    I'm catching up on blog reading after being away for a week. I enjoyed your last post, Meems, about being distracted by the garden; unfortunately, I don't have that excuse, but my Christmas decorations still aren't all done!

  22. Hi Meems! You'll really enjoy the color of the maple-leaf hibiscus. I've always called it Cranberry Hibiscus but it has several different names. The flowers, while pretty, aren't it's strong suit, it's the beautiful leaves. These like to get long and lanky so it's good to keep them pruned. They are fast growers and can take heavy pruning. They will reseed like crazy but the little seedlings are easy to remove and replant. :-)

  23. Rose, Welcome home. You do have the excuse of being gone for a week and that's even more valid don't you think?

    GreenJeans, I agree - the leaves are the attraction. That deep foliage is a wonderful contrast against all the green in the garden.

    I look forward to cutting the hibiscus back. I'll wait until chance for frost is over then hopefully they will get bushy and full. I may have to move them then as well... not sure I'm giving them enough room. Seedlings from hibiscus -- who'd have thought.


Have a blessed day,

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