Hedge Plans for our Front Yard

I've been talking about this hedge for about a year now...our friend, who is also mows our lawn, said he'd have his crew do the plantings for us. I don't know what the back layer is, but the middle is croton (Mamey) and the foremost is gold mound (duranta). Maybe the back layer is alamanda (I don't think so).

So, I googled croton, and found The Croton Society's instructions for propagation by taking cuttings. I think this is a fine way to get a ton of free plants. By the way, be sure to check out Mr. Brown Thumb's ideas about free plants. He's got a few excellenttips when it comes to taking cuttings.

Strawberry is cracking

This was a delicious strawberry! It's the first of the season, but it's skin looked like it was cracking. Anyone know what this could be from?
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Garden Rose Before and After

Before.......(roses still on the bush)

After.........(roses and clerodendrum on the table)

Today's photos have a neat story. The Clerodendrum is a vining, flowery bush that my neighbor has planted on either side of the garage door. It's beautiful and another neighbor wants to plant this variety in her own yard. We walked over to get a closer look at the plant because we didn't know what variety is was. It looked kind of like a bleeding heart, but it was not white and red. Turns out, after some research online, we found out it's a Clerodendrum. The bleeding heart is also a Clerodendrum...just a different variety.

Here's the bleeding heart

Here's what I think we found

Clerodendrum splendens or Clerodendrum speciosum

Now, two days ago, when we looked at the clerodendrum, we picked a few flowers to take back to the house. I put it in water and today I noticed that it's already begun to sprout roots!

Photos: courtesy of Top Tropicals in Punta Gorda, FL.


Sweet Potato Vine Cuttings

A few weeks ago, we had a freeze. Temps were in the high 20's for a day, but we still lost some plants which we were foolish enough not to cover with blankets. The sweet potato vine didn't die, but it looked bad, so took it out. It's an ornamental, but it had sweet potatos!

So, I put three cuttings into a cup with water and roots began to form overnight...literally. After a week, the roots looked like this.

So, yesterday I planted the young plants in the planter near the garage door and then mulched them. I anticipate they will do just fine.

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Rubber Plant + Two Mystery Plants

I know the dark one in the back is a rubber plant. I have blogged about his 1st year here in my garden. But, the other two are a mystery that I haven't had time to research. I planted the variegated yellow/green plant along with the rubber plant. The helpful tag from HD calls it a "tropical foliage".......gee, thanks.

The other green plant in front of the variegated one, was here when we moved in. It was very tall, but I just recently cut off the tall center stalk to see if it will sprout new stalks. It has a fierce root system...I tried hard to yank it out of the bed when I planted the other two, but it wouldn't budge.

I've been experimenting with taking cuttings of the rubber plant recently. Yesterday, I tried taking a cutting of the mystery variegated plant...we'll see how it works out. I'll check for signs of a root sytem in a few weeks. Here you can see two rubber plant cuttings which have begun to form roots, along with the mystery plant cutting.


Red-Shouldered Hawk in My Backyard

I want to thank my husband for this shot of a Red-Shouldered Hawk. Here's why.

As soon as he landed, I leaped off the couch and headed for my camera. I quickly swapped the small lens for the 300mm telephoto lens and was able to snap 3 dozen photos. Thanks for both my new Rebel XTI and the new lens, John.

After he tiptoed down the side of the fort roof, he swooped in on a frog, and flew him off to a nice tree-top "breakfast".

Here's the rest of the photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/7920525@N07/page2/
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South Florida Homeowner Slams SFWMD

Okay, so, it's me. I am slamming the South Florida Water Management District.

Before I get hate mail, I should say,
  1. I comply all with water restrictions
  2. I have installed 3 drip irrigations systems in an effort to be proactive
  3. I know some people from the SFWMD and like them

That being said, why do ALL their website links return "Error 500" when trying to access the latest info on restrictions? ...........and why do their top officials get to use state aircraft for personal use? The SunSentinel just completed an investigation on this abuse. Here's the link.

I am slightly bitter about how the water restrictions have been handled, but understand and accept it's GOING TO HELP and is a RESULT OF OUR INTERFERANCE. So, I don't resist this move, I just wish it wasn't so, and wish everyone abided by the rules.


Decided to try Taking More Cuttings of Rubber Plant

The top of the rubber plant always has a point. Anyway, I since the last rubber plant cutting was successful, I decided to try two more. I'll let you know you how it goes.

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How to Take a Cutting of a Rubber Plant

Several weeks ago, I snipped off the top part of one of the branches of our rubber plant because it was getting a bit large for it's space. Intead of throwing away the cutting, I clipped off all but one leaf and stuck it in the ground to see if it would begin growing. I noticed that the stems of the rubber plant have rings or segments. ...And I remember hearing that any segmented plant can be stuck in the ground and will grow a new plant.
Photo: needs to be rotated counterclockwise.

So, after about 1-2 months in the ground, I yanked the young cutting from the soil to see if it had started growing roots. It has roots forming! Here is a photo of the 4 little roots nubbies.
I probably could have used rooting hormone to force these roots out faster. I replanted this along my fence in the backyard and will post another photo in a month to track it's progress.
Want to see how much my rubber plants grew in 9 months? Here you go.


Ornamental Sweet Potatos Can Be Eaten

Ornamental Sweet Potatos Can Be Eaten...but I only ate two bites because it wasn't very good. And, who knows what presticides and genetic engineering has been done to it. It turned organi once it hit my garden, but it's young life could have been horrible.

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Mint Cutting Progress: 4 week update

For a Christmas party, I picked a bunch of mint and put it in a glass of water. It was to be a garnish for fresh lemonade I made for the party. I let the mint sit in the glass until it began growing roots. Here are the cool photos of the roots from December 3rd. One of the sprigs was planted in the basil boots pot on the kitchen counter. I'm happy to say the mint is doing well and has begun to sprout new growth! It took nearly two months to get to this point, but you can't beat a free mint plant.
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Rubber Plant Growth Rate: 9 Month Update

You can see the difference a year has made. This plant gets very little water. Only sprinkler water twice a week. I've trimmed it once, just 3-4 branches, and have not fertilized it. I'm loving it. I need to research it, but I think this is what they call a segmented plant. Segmented means it has rings around the stems and grows in segments. Supposedly, you can cut off segements, plant them, and another plant will grow. I tried this about a month ago, and the cutting seems to be doing great. I think I'll yank it tomorrow to see if it has sprouted roots.

Strawberry Runners How To

I have 5-6 strawberry plants on the side of the house, and recently, one of the plants has begun to bloom and set fruit. One of the plants is potted in a hanging planter that used to be home to the upside down tomato. Because the plant is hanging, the runners grow over the side. These two runners were hanging 3 ft down from the pot this morning.

Each of the two runners has two large clumps of leaves and roots growing from the node by the leaves. Even though they were growing int he air, roots still form.

I took one of two runners and shoved the roots and a small portion of the leaves into a strawberry pot that I have on the front porch. I did this with both clumps of roots on each of the two runners. Then, I watered the strawberry pot, and pretty soon, I'll have four new strawberry plants!


Best Hedges for South Florida

For the most part, I agree with this list.

Your South Florida "Best Hedge" List
Ilex Pics
#1 #2 #3 #4 #5
Podocarpus Pics #1 #2 #2
Podocarpus Pics #4 #5
Orange Jasmine
Lakeview Jasmine
Indian hawthorn
Ixora coccinea
Ixora Maui
Snow on the Mountain
Fire on the Mountain
Pittosporum, variegated
Silver Buttonwood
Night-Blooming Jasmine
(list from http://mgonline.com/hedgelist.html)

I don't like Night-blooming Jasmine at all. I think it stinks, but I know many people who consider it among their favorite plants.

I ordered a bunch of landscape and native plant books from the local libraries because we are going to do a fairly large hedge in the next month. Our friend and landscaper, Doug suggested we plant Variegated Schefflera. Sometimes schefflera can look ratty...sometimes it looks full and lush. If we pull off the second look, I'd be very happy.


Coleus Dies in Freezing Temperatures

We experienced weather in the 20s two days ago and lost several plants. Coleus was one plant which did not do well. Almost all of the basil died as well. I should have thrown blankets over the plants. That's my lesson for the day. These coleus were in 2 ft planters and received pretty strong wind as well as cold.
Here are shots of teh sweet potato vines and bougainvilea


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