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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, December 27, 2008

Winter, Warmth, and Mystery Plant

Winter Veggie Garden

The tomato plants are very tall. So tall, in fact, I am having difficulty reaching the very tippy tops of a couple of them. It took me almost two hours to stake them... again.

There was untangling of limbs involved. Just so you know.

We've been nice and warm since winter began. The days full of sunshine mostly and low humidity with daytime temps topping out at around 78 or 80 and nighttime only dropping to the high 50's, if not, staying in the 60's even. I'm sitting on my back porch right now in 70 degrees of perfect... and it's 8:00 at night. This kind of weather encourages lots of growth in the garden.

What Am I??
In the same side yard where the veggie garden is located there is a very tall and bushy shrub happily growing beyond its bounds.

First planted last February from a 3 gal pot, I am sure I remember the tag indicating this to be a Firespike. I am doubting myself now, but I would have told anyone it had fading red blooms (like a Firespike) on it when it was purchased.

Towards the end of summer/beginning of autumn I was fully expecting it to bloom at any moment. But as new leaves continued to unfurl, not a single sign of budding was to be seen. My hope of discovering red firespikes were further dashed when it became necessary to trim back its branches a couple of times as it insistantly stretched over and beyond the border of Amaryllis at its feet.

Lo and behold a few weeks ago these lavender-magenta-ish spikes appeared along each tall and almost willowy-acting branch. As they emerged I'm further befuddled about its I.D. When the plant wasn't blooming, I started several new plants from the trimmings and now have them planted in the back forty. Those are not blooming but I suspect they will copy this one in its bushy, lanky habit and bloom by next year at this time.
When not blooming, the shrub is lush and full and very green with large, shiny leaves flanking each long, stretched out branch. Its immediate and most conspicuous neighbors are the bright yellow bush daisies that bloom incessantly all year and the blue porterweed close by on either side. Newly planted maple leaf hibiscus has joined their company, too.
If anyone knows anything about the identity of our mystery, of course, sharing it would be much appreciated.
Sunday morning update: Thanks to my two friends south of me, GreenJeans at Central Florida Gardening and Helen at My Rustic Bajan Garden, we have a positive identification for the pretty "pink" firespike. Apparently it is not as common as the red firespike I thought I was purchasing. Thank you to Beckie at Dragonfly Corner also for taking the time to google this tropical plant for me and she was on the right track! You all are the BEST !!!!


  1. I don't know the name of your plant (did anyone really think I would?!) but I love the color! Also, wanted be the first one to comment on your new post.

  2. Hope you had a Merry Christmas! Should I mention that I just made a fire in the fireplace, am all alone, and about to watch a movie? :) And I too have no clue what the name of that plant is, but just thought I would check in!

  3. Meems,

    That plant is beautiful. I'd like to have that in my garden :) If I find out what it is, I'll let you know!


  4. Whatever it is, it's very pretty! I hope your Christmas was a wonderful one - I envy you your beautiful garden at this time of year!

  5. That sunshine sounds divine...we are buried under 18 inches of snow and it is still coming down.
    Your tomato plants look awesome!
    Hope you had a lovely Christmas? I had 5 wonderful days with my sweet granddaughter!

  6. Sorry I'm no help with your mystery plant, but I am impressed with your tomato plants. Those look great! You've become quite the vegetable gardener.

    Happy Holidays,
    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  7. arissamae, No, I didn't imagine you'd have the answer for me tonight but I can see that you would like the color! Thanks for jumping on board so quickly... you beat all my thousands of readers to the punch. LOL

    mjm, Ahhhh... a fireplace and a movie... sounds cozy and wintery. Keep enjoying your restful time while you can. Sounds like the vacation is working out just fine.

    Susie, well, if we find out what it is we can also find out if it works in your zone 8. Thanks for stopping by with your new blog address, too.

    Nancy, Thank you. I hope you had a very lovely Christmas as well. Ours was extremely relaxing and wonderful.

  8. Connie, How very wonderful for you to spend so many days with your little one. They are the best part of Christmas aren't they? The wonders of the season expressed so beautifully through their excitement.

    I would love to imagine drifts of snow falling magically on the garden... only then I wouldn't have tomato plants and green beans... I guess there's no way to have it both ways. LOL

    Carol, It's okay. I'm expecting another Florida gardener to come to the rescue for me on the mystery plant. Thank you, but it is still quite a small plot of veggies. The winter garden has been a breeze compared to my first one in the spring since the weather is not nearly as brutal. I'm working on expansion for the spring now that I've gotten a taste of growing veggies. Thanks for your continued encouragment.

  9. Can't help you on the name, but I'd like to know. The color is great.

  10. Wow, your garden is amazing. I can't imagine having tomatoes in December. A fresh tomato sandwich sounds really good right now!

  11. Meems, your weather sounds wonderful. I would just love to see the sun for a change here-now that the ice and snow are gone we have had rain, fog and clouds.

    Your tomato plants look great.It always amazesme how tall they get in the warmer climes.

    Could your plant be a 'pink' firespike? I googled firespike like and came upwih a site that has a pink one.You will have to see if it looks like yours.I can't really tell about the foliage.

    Happy New year!

  12. Hi Meems! Yep, I'm with Beckie and I think it's a purple firespike or Odontonema callistachyum. I only have red ones but I know there are also purple ones (the flowers range from pink to purple) out there.

    It's a keeper! Hummingbirds & butterflies love them and they are easy growers. They are tropicals so they need water. They'll wilt if they are dry. Congrats on this fantastic mystery plant!! :-)

  13. We had a taste of Fl-like weather yesterday. It got up to 72F but it was windy. It felt good to go outside, wander around the garden without a coat on. Winter has returned today though. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted.

    I don't know what your bush is. It sort of looks like a amaranth to me.

  14. Meems the plant looks like a Brazilian fire spike I have the red to it. I would love a cutting of that colour. Wishing A Happy Healthy and Prosperous New Year to you and your family.

  15. Meems it could be this plant I am almost sure this time Brazilian Plume
    check it out on this link

  16. Your garden looks great Meems! Glad to hear you had a good Christmas with family and friends.

  17. Meems,

    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas with your family.

    As to the plant, it's just beautiful decked out in my favorite magenta color. Don't know what it is, but it is a beauty.


    looks like your plant here am back to my first identification a firespike

  19. WG: It looks like I've gotten some help from my good friends south of me on the I.D... It is pretty isn't it?

    Robin: Thanks. I crowded too many plants into my small plot even though I tried not to do that after my spring garden was too cramped. I would not have imagined the tomato plants to get this large either.

    Beckie: I'm convincing myself tomatoes would rather grow in our winter weather than in our summer. Of course this can't be true since it is a summer industry down here in Ruskin... but for ME... it has been so much easier without the bugs to think about. Naturally one freeze would wipe them out so it is a risk.

  20. GreenJeans: You ARE THE WOMAN! Thanks as always for your wealth of research and knowledge. I didn't even think about googling "pink" firespike as I didn't think there was such a thing. I honestly was leaning more toward a plume of some sort but knew that didn't really match up either. When I googled "firespike" the only one that ever came up was RED. I'll still have to go buy a red one now but that works out too.

    Does the red one root from cuttings as easily as this one does? Just stick them in some good soil and they take off... Thanks again mucho!

  21. Lisa, how nice that you were able to get out in the garden yesterday with some mild weather. What a nice relief for a day. Hope you stay snuggled up and cozy now that your cold weather has returned.

    islandgal, Thanks so much for all your help. I have looked at each of the links you sent to me and they are very helpful! I agree with you and GreenJeans that what I have is the "Pink"Firespike. Who knew there was such a one??? Ya'll did and I'm grateful for your interest to help me. The good thing about the Brazilian Plume at is I think you've helped me ID another plant my neighbor recently gave me. Hers is blooming like crazy now. My cuttings are doing well and now I need to decide where to put them in the ground. She never knows the name of plants but she is so generous to passalong cuttings to me and she has so many tropicals you don't find in the nurseries around here. Also, you've shared a good blog I've never been to before... I'll go back and read some her posts too. Thanks. Have a great 'island day' and same back to you on the new year wishes.

  22. Dani, We had a most peaceful and yet busy all day with grandkids and family Christmas. Thank you.

    Cameron, I am now going to embrace the fact that the bright red (my favorite) I was expecting to bloom will not ... but since it is performing so well decked out in magenta... she will stay put and she will be made to multiply with cuttings. Well worth her original $10 last February '08!

  23. Good morning meems,

    The garden looks lush and hardly winter like! But then you don't have the same winter we do. The firespike is gorgeous...really. The magenta/pink is always attractive to my's these magenta pink glasses I look at the world through! I am going to follow the links that several of your commenters left to see more about the beautiful firespike...aren't bloggers the best!

    We, too had a bit of nice weather, but winter wants to be the freezing weather is in the forecast. But, I did get my hands in the soil and transplanted a Redbud and started removing the Vinca minor that is a problem here.

    Happy New Year dear meems,


  24. Your veggie garden is looking lovely. Mine had to be smaller this year due to time constriants but I am happy to see yours flourishing.

  25. Hi Meems~

    You got lucky with the mystery plant. I think the pink firespike is much prettier than the red one, it's also more expensive at my local nurseries. I bet the cuttings you made in the back forty will be gorgeous next year.

    Happy New Year!


  26. You're welcome!! :)

    Yes, cuttings from both kinds will root very easily. My red ones are still blooming and have been for months. I'm not sure about the blooming habits of the kind like you have but maybe they'll give more color throughout the winter?

    Firespike is one of my favorites. I almost never see hummers in my yard but the few times that I have, they've been drinking from my red firespike flowers.

    A couple of links for ya:
    Red firespike
    Purple firespike

  27. Tomatoes, veggies, fushia and color in the garden, 70 degrees perfect evenings ... you are such a tease to us Northerners, Meems, lucky not to have blown away in our gusting 50 mile/hour winds! Just kidding ... your garden is lovely and I can think of nothing lovelier than enjoying the fruits of your labor, relaxing on your porch enjoying a warm December evening. Wishing you a peaceful and healthy New Year!

  28. Ok - Pink firespike is on my offical wish list. :D

  29. Meems, it is beautiful there this time of year. I think Winter agrees with you and your garden. It's very cool here today. Glad they i.d. your plant.~~Dee

  30. Glad you were able to ID your pretty new shrub Meems. Ah, just one more tropical lovely to lust after. . . !

  31. I am imagining the scene, Meems reaching up to untangle her tomato plants, and it's making me smile.

    Oh, Meems, thanks for letting us into your garden while many of ours are asleep for the winter.

    Happy New Year, and I'm glad your pretty plant was identified.

  32. hey meems, really cool to get an unexpected surprise plant. lovely! your having way too much fun in that veggie garden with your nice warm winter december days. meanwhile, we are having torrents of rain, gusts of wind and cooling temperatures. uuggghhhh! hope the tomatoes are ready mid january.
    well enjoy your mild winter days!

  33. This is my first time running across your magnificent site. I must say, the colors and pictures are GREAT!!

  34. Gail, You are so correct... bloggers are the best... always ready to help. I like your magenta glasses... makes your PPPP look even pinker I imagine. Glad to hear you've gotten your hands in the soil even in winter... makes me feel not so alone down here in the garden. You are going to be way ahead of the game come spring.

    Nicole, Thanks. Time is always a consideration when determining the size of a garden. I've had to ask my neighbor to water for me on several occasions while I was away... he is ever my rescue.

    Karrita, Now that I know what it is I'll be considering several more locations for it. It grew extremely fast in just one year. And how nice that it will bloom in partial or full shade! Good to know these things.

  35. GreenJeans: Great links... thanks. I didn't see any hummers this year. Last year only a few... and this year I had more red flowers. Hmmmmm. I was really hoping for a red firespike but I can remedy that fairly easily by purchasing one now. Maybe then I 'll have better chances for hummers by summer.

    Joey: It does seem somewhat unfair we have such a vast difference in weather. But then again I'm pretty sure our really great winter weather is reward for surviving our brutal summers. This is the time of year I think everyone should be a Floridian and wonder why anyone would choose to live elsewhere...LOL. A very Happy New Year to you, too.

    WG: It will be a good one for your garden, too.

    Dee: Thank you... It is a great time of year as long as any frost or freeze stays away. If so, the garden really seems to like the reprieve from the intense, long days of summer.

  36. Linda, It's fun to finally know what it is. It's a hardy thing, too. And trying to grow way large... I'm going to have to make its bed bigger just to accomodate.

    Sue, More untangling and tying up was done today. Those plants are growing like crazy... I guess that's what indeterminate means!!! Happy New Year to you and your family.

    Marmee, sometimes it's hard to make time to get in the garden during the holidays. But nevertheless it demands my attention. At least I don't have to make sure I get out there very early in the morning like in the summer. these days just about any time of day it is comfortable and that makes taking time for it much easier. Hopefully we will have ripe tomatoes in a couple of weeks... just in time!

    Brad: Welcome and I'm glad you came across Hoe & Shovel.Visit anytime.

  37. Your garden looks so fresh and beautiful. It is good that somebody found the name of your mystery plant, it is very pretty. I have just copied your recipe for the mini muffins. I am generally not a "muffin person" but they sound very delicious. My granddaughters love muffins. So,when we are feasting on those muffins I will tell them about Meems who bakes them only for special occasions. Thank you for the recipe. I wish you and your family all the best in the New Year.

  38. Your vegetable garden (as well as all of your garden) looks fantastic. Beautiful mystery plant, too.

  39. Your weather sounds heavenly! I'm glad someone else was able to identify your shrub for you. Frankly, I like the pink spikes much more than I would have the red ones. Aren't you lucky to get an unusual variety?

  40. Oh how I envy you those tomatoes. We have such a short season, well, it just isn't fair;) I'm glad you got an id on your mystery plant.

  41. I hadn't a clue there was pink firespike. I also know that the red ones root very easily. I have two inside now a waiting spring to plant. I love reading all of the comments back and forth, very helpful!!

  42. Titania, there is something about knowing the name of the Pink Firespike that endears me to it even a little more. I hope you like the muffin recipe... it is a sure winner around my house. I made a double batch on Christmas morning and there wasn't a single one left.

    Patricia, Thank you... it is a happy time for the garden with our beautiful weather. I'm sure you are enjoying these days as well around your Pollywog!

    Rose, I didn't know it but I guess I am fortunate to have a lesser known variety... I will cherish it more now with this new information. :-) I still want the red variety but when I acquire it I'll be all the more happy to have both types.

    Marnie, the tomatoes are doing so much better in this milder weather than they do in our hot spring/summer clime. It's a good thing because with all the holiday hoopla I haven't the same time to devote to the garden.

    Darla, You and me both. So nice to learn new things as we blog along. LOL

  43. Hi Meems, your weather seems like perfection, no wonder so many spend their winters in Florida. Good deal on the plant ID too, it is a beauty and with the cuttings you will be able to have a nice mass planting of it. Those tall tomatoes are going to be supplying you with luscious goodness, if they aren't already. We have the same problem with more limb growth than cage height!


Have a blessed day,

September 2010

Back Garden: October 2010

Louise Philippe: Antique Rose

Tropical Pathway