Fresh Friday: Miniature Roses

miniature rose
©National Gardening Association

Miniature roses are small plants that pack a lot of personality.

Their flowers are small–about the size of a dime or a quarter–but come in almost every color of the rainbow.

Given their colorful nature, it’s not surprising that they’re popular gift plants. But miniature roses need a high amount of light, so they’ll perform best if they’re grown outdoors.

Try planting them in containers with a rich, well-drained potting media. Or you can also plant them in mixed borders.

Just be sure to place them near the front of beds so that they won’t disappear behind other plants. By definition, miniature roses are small plants–they’ll grow only 8 to 24 inches tall.

With proper care, these little plants can be big stars in your garden!

See Growing Roses in Florida for more information about these and other roses.

Fresh Friday: Perennials for the Shade

Shade gardens are a wonderful way to utilize the areas under trees, beside fences, and along foundations. But be sure to choose the right plants for your shady spot.

Check your garden’s shade patterns. High tree canopies give partial or dappled shade, while buildings or low trees provide full shade. Some shade-loving plants also love the sun, so if your shade shifts, look for plants like flax lily that adapt.

Many shady areas are also dry, so use drought tolerant shade lovers like devil’s backbone.

Shade-loving perennials include ferns, crossandra, and gingers, but many more are available.

Perennials with white or brightly colored flowers or variegated leaves, such as jewels of opar, will stand out, and turn that shady area into a garden showpiece!

Blue ginger flower and foliage
Blue ginger (Dichorisandra thyrsiflora) thrives in shade

Learn more about plants for shady landscapes at UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions.

Fresh Friday: Redbud Trees

redbud treeFor today’s Fresh Friday feature, we decided to focus on this beautiful tree.  You’ve probably noticed, but redbud trees are in full bloom in Florida.  Here’s a little more information about them.

Eastern Redbuds grow well in some shade in Florida. Best growth occurs in a light, rich, moist soil but Eastern Redbud adapts well to a variety of soil including sandy or alkaline.

redbudTrees look better when they receive some irrigation in summer dry spells. Its native habitat ranges from stream bank to dry ridge, demonstrating its adaptability.

Trees are sold as single or multistemmed. Young trees are easiest to transplant and survive best when planted in the spring or fall. Containerized trees can be planted anytime.

The beans provide food for some birds. Trees are short-lived but provide a wonderful show in the spring and fall.

Fresh Friday: Fakahatchee Grass

fakahatchee grassFakahatchee grass, or gamma grass, is a southeastern ornamental native that’s gaining popularity among gardeners. Easy to grow and virtually pest-free, this grass has rich green spiky foliage rising upright from five foot tall clumps.

Distinctive wine-colored flowers appear in late spring to mid-summer on slender stems above the leaves. Fakahatchee grass will freeze to the ground, but returns in the spring, and is evergreen in sub-tropical areas.

This grass prefers sunny to partially shady fertile soils, but will tolerate most soil as long as it’s moist. It’s frequently found growing along river banks, hammocks, swamps, and other wet sites throughout most of Florida.

Fakahatchee grass is easy to grow, easy to propagate, and makes a wonderful addition to any garden.

Fresh Friday: Poinsettias

white poinsettiaVery few plants are as closely associated with a holiday as poinsettias are with Christmas. The poinsettia, native to South America, was given the botanical name Euphorbia pulcherrima, which literally means “very beautiful.” Its popular name honors Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, who introduced the plant here.

Listen to the Gardening in a Minute show.

Read more about poinsettias.

Check out photos from the 2007 and 2008 Poinsettia Field Day.

Fresh Friday: Holly

hollyHollies are bright and festive landscape plants that meet many landscaping needs. Some species make great hedges, while others are best as accent trees.

Berries are an attractive feature of many hollies, but only the female plants have them. Holly berries are a great source of food for wildlife.

Holly plants have many different leaf shapes, varying from small to quite large. The growth forms also can vary from upright to weeping types.

Hollies will tolerate a wide range of light and soil conditions. They require minimal pruning, except to train the plants for special purposes or to remove diseased or dead branches.

Once your holly is happily established in your yard, use its attractive foliage in indoor arrangements or enjoy watching birds feed on the berries outside!

Read about Hollies in Florida.

Fresh Friday: Christmas Cactus

Today on Fresh Friday, one of our favorite holiday time plants: Christmas cactus!

Christmas cactusChristmas cactus is a popular gift plant during the holiday season because of its colorful blooms and easy-care reputation. Plus these plants are widely available at garden centers and supermarkets.

Like poinsettias, Christmas cactus start the flowering process when the days become shorter and the nights become cooler. In order to flower, Christmas cactus typically need at least twelve hours of darkness.

Christmas cactus are most often treated as houseplants, though they can be grown outdoors in the warmer areas of the state if they’re protected from freezing temperatures.

Planting and care

Christmas cactus grow best in bright, indirect light. Try placing them within six feet of a south-, east-, or west-facing window. Fertilize every one to two months during the growing season (April to September).

Use a well-drained potting medium and only water the plants when the upper inch of soil feels dry. Christmas cactus prefers to be a bit root-bound, so be sure not to choose a pot too large for your plant.

Pruning the plants will encourage branching and flowering, but don’t prune beyond mid-summer. You can use the trimmings to propagate new plants. Just place cuttings that have two or three jointed sections in a well-drained sterile media. Keep them moist and in bright indirect light until roots form and new growth appears.

Preventing problems

Christmas cactus can be prone to bud drop, so avoid extreme environmental changes. Keep them away from drafts or heat sources (vents, fireplaces, or televisions). Avoid letting the plants get too dry between waterings.

The stems and roots can rot if the soil holds too much water, so be sure to use a well-drained potting medium and water only when the potting medium begins to dry out.

Be sure to keep your Christmas cactus away from artificial light during the night from October through December if you want it to bloom during the holiday season.

Check out more info about Christmas cactus and other favorite holiday plants!

Fresh Friday: Chrysanthemums

We’re starting a new series on the Fl MG blog called Fresh Friday.  Every Friday, we’ll post info about a favorite plant of ours.  It could be anything – annual, perennial, tree, vegetable, native, houseplant.  This week, we’ll feature a fall favorite: Chrysanthemums.

Chrysanthemums (Mums)

Chrysanthemums, or mums, are popular and colorful perennials. These flowers come in many colors, from white to deep red, and a variety of sizes. Mums are easy to grow and can live for years.
chrysanthemum flower
When buying potted chrysanthemums, look for healthy, well-shaped plants with many flower buds. It’s better to buy a plant with many partially opened buds since it will have a longer period of bloom than a plant in full bloom.
Garden mums like sun, but can also thrive in partial shade and are fairly cold-hardy.
When planting mums, incorporate plenty of organic matter into your soil. Water as needed and apply a slow-release fertilizer. Some varieties need to be pinched once or twice a season to maintain a compact, well-branched form.
chrysanthemum plant
Mums naturally set buds and flower fall through spring, when days are short. But flowering mums can be purchased blooming at any time.
Nothing says fall like a garden full of mums!