Friends of THE DIRT - Field Trip to the Farm

October 31, 2009 by Rick

Penny and Kim, The Dirt girls, organized a trip to see Riverview Flower Farm in operation today as we planted and packed orders to go to 144 of The Home Depot stores throughout most of Florida. All of our plants go to Home Depot and we couldn't sell any at the farm even though many folks asked.

Penny and Rick get 190 Friends of the Dirt Field-trippers organized in groups for the tours.

The Packing Belts The Dirt Field Trip 03 Oct 31 09

Enthusiastic FODies learned how we grow Florida Friendly Plants using a blend of local yard waste compost and drip irrigation to use the least amount of water and fertilizer while growing the best plants. This cuts waste and eliminates irrigation runoff and reduces the need to spray because the leaves and flowers stay dry.

They also learned how to save the most amount of water and fertilizer while maximizing growth and health of their own plants in their home gardens by using the Pot-in-Pot method.

 

PotinPot 

 

 

The succulents FODies saw today can be identified using these links:

Virtual Plant Tags        The Cactus Collection     Cactus & Succulent Id

and this image..

Succulent Names 

Hawaiian Portulaca         Portulaca in Maui              A new species 1987

Hawiian Portulaca Portulaca molokinensis 

A field of blooming Muhly Grass and another of Butterfly Cassia about to explode were also highlights as well as detailed information about new and existing varieties of Florida Friendly Plants.

Butterfly Cassia 

FODies learned how to recycle The Tampa Tribune by making paper pots and planting milkweed and sunflower seeds. Paper Pots are a big part of growing better starter plants and the method is very sustainable.

Making Tribune Pots The Dirt Field Trip 07 Oct 31 09 

This is a great idea and a fun way for introducing children to gardening as we did last week at A Kids Place in Brandon.

PaperPot Making Kids 

From all of us at Riverview Flower Farm, thank you Penny and Kim and we hope you plan another field trip to our farm next year.

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Pot-in-Pot Updated

July 21, 2009 by Rick

In an earlier Post we detailed the Pot-in-Pot method of growing annuals and perennials in sleeves in the ground. This makes gardening easier and more successful in many situations and should be tried by Florida gardeners throughout the state for many different reasons. We listed 20 reasons on this previous Pot-in-Pot post.

A new twist is a method that makes it faster and easier to mulch for the first planting and for subsequent mulch applications. By inserting another pot in your pot sleeve before you mulch you make the mulching task easier. Adding this second pot allows you to spread the mulch quickly and to fill the second pot during the spreading process. Next you lift the inside pot full of mulch and spread it around in the bed. Now you have an empty sleeve to drop in your plant and complete you Pot-in-Pot landscape.

Post Hole Digging for Pot-in-Pot

Digging holes with a post hole digger is fast and just the right size. You can cut through roots with this tool and dig in difficult soil much easier than with a trowel. Root encroachment from surrounding trees and shrubs in your planting beds is a primary reason to use the Pot-in-Pot method.

DSCN7743

Using standard size gallon pots you can nest them so you have a collection pot for catching the mulch in the next step for easy removal.

Removing much collecting pot

Removing the excess mulch in the catch pot is a breeze.

Slow Release Fertilizing Pot-in-Pot Plants

Don't forget the slow release fertilizer. This is salt based so read the label and apply every 3 months as directed. Don't overdose or you will kill the beneficial organisms growing in our compost rich potting soil.

Dropping in Pot-in-Pot a

Drop you plants into the empty sleeve and stand back and admire your work. Best of all, when it is time to change the flowers this will be a snap. Next time you need to apply a layer of mulch. Lift your plants and insert your empty catch pot. Apply mulch liberally and not so carefully. Lift and dump the pot-o-mulch. Reinsert your potted flowers and stand back and admire. Now you have 21 reasons to try the Pot-in-Pot method.


Florida Friendly Coleus

July 2, 2009 by Rick

Select Coleus varieties for the long haul. Coleus often last as perennials in Florida if the winters are not extreme. One key is to grow varieties that are extremely late to flower. The second key is to find varieties that are not susceptible to leaf diseases. The leaf disease that is a problem is Downy Mildew. Chartreuse or yellow leaved varieties are most susceptible.

DownyMildewColeus

We sell varieties at The Home Depot in gallon pots that are late to bloom and disease resistant with vibrant colors. Below are just a few of our best varieties. All our varieties are suited to sun or shade.

ColeusOrange and Finger Paint

Coleus Rustic Orange and Finger Paint in production.

ColeusFingerPaint1

Coleus Finger Paint sports red, yellow and a mosaic of red & yellow. Pinch out the color you desire the least of and customize the color patterns of your Finger Paint. The yellow in Finger Paint is not prone to disease.

ColeusMariposa

Coleus Mariposa is a very large growing big leaved coleus. Pinch Mariposa before it gets too big and falls over in a windstorm. Mariposa becomes variegated in the fall with wide hot pink edges against dark red centers.

ColeusPetersWonder

Coleus Peter's Wonder is very strong and very popular too.

 

Diablo Coleus

Defiance is one of the all time best performing mildew resistant gold edged reds.

VersaColeusFlowering

This is the new Versa Crimson Gold that is also downy mildew resistant. It flowers quicker than the vigorous growers we supply to The Home Depot but pinching the flowers is not much more trouble than pinching non-flowering tips of the vigorous varieties to keep them compact so the windstorms don't topple them. This Versa series upgrades the quick blooming and mildew prone Wizard Coleus series that has been so widely used for many years. We are trialing the other colors of Versa to see if they are mildew resistant too. We sure need a chartreuse that won't get mildew like the one pictured at the top of the page. The Versa implies versatility for use in sun or shade. When pinching you should not remove more than 1/3 the length of any of the stems of the plant. Pinch often and you will enjoy your coleus more. Experiment with staggering where and when you pinch parts of a plant so it always looks full and stays relatively compact and windstorm resistant. Another problem with coleus is that they eventually succumb to nematodes, microscopic parasitic root feeding worms. You can grow coleus in containers and they will remain nematode free. A good deterrent in your flower beds is organic soil. The good bugs (bacteria, fungus and other microorganisms) in organic soils kill nematodes. Consider growing coleus and other annuals in our Pot-in-Pot method and you will be able to keep them longer and lift them to protect from frost or while mulching and getting rid of weeds in the garden. With this method you can better focus the water and fertilizer to the plant and waste much less while saving time.

Growing coleus in containers is very popular. Here is a window box with gallon containers featuring Coleus Peter's Wonder, Sweet Potato Vine, a great Spiller, and the most beautiful and popular grass, Red Fountain Grass which is also commonly called Purple Fountain Grass. Pennesetum setaceum 'Rubrum'. Such a Thriller!


Cora Vinca Headlines Huge Annual Sale at Home Depot

May 13, 2009 by Rick

Large, beautiful gallon annuals regularly $2.97 are on sale through Sunday at your Florida Home Depot for $1.67 while supplies last. See store for details and limits.

Vinca used to be one of the most popular bedding plants around. However, its popularity has suffered due to its susceptibility in the home garden and landscape to aerial Phytophthora. Realizing this weakness in the plant, Goldsmith Seeds set out on a twenty year breeding program to come up with a series of seed vinca that would be resistant to this devastating disease. The result of this effort was the introduction of Cora™ vinca, the only vinca series from seed with patented disease resistance to aerial Phytophthora. (NIRVANA vinca is a vegetative Phytophthora resistant variety, also bred by Goldsmith and with even larger blooms is available as a Premium Flowering plant)

This breeding breakthrough will benefit gardeners who have planted beautiful vinca plants only to see them perish in the garden during adverse weather conditions.

Benefits of Cora vinca include:

• Patented disease resistance to aerial Phytophthora

• F1 hybrid vigor

• A real heat lover that thrives under humid or dry conditions

• Large flowers

• A variety of beautiful colors are available

 

 


Worrying About Watering?

April 29, 2009 by Rick

With the New Proven Winners® WaterWise Easy Container Watering Kit your worries are over. Our easy-to-use, self-contained kit makes it simple to water container plants, hanging baskets, flower boxes, and landscape beds automatically. In fact, you can water up to ten containers or 30 feet of landscape beds from a single faucet. And, if your garden is larger than that, additional kits can be easily attached to water even more plants from the same faucet. Just set it and forget it.

Waterwise Easy Installation Video

Waterwise kit

The site says no products available but follow this link (Waterwise Kit) to buy the kits online or find components or something similar at your local Home Depot.

The Home Depot 2 for $3.00 6 inch annual sale ends Sunday May 3rd. Limit 10 per customer on these great Florida friendly annuals for summer color.


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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Container Gardening | Drip Irrigation
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Pot-in-Pot for Container Gardens

March 22, 2009 by Rick

If you followed the Pot-in-Pot concept from our previous article from March 3, 2009 and the benefits we described for garden planting then it is a natural step to think about this method for changing color in Container Gardens. Use this time-tested method:

  1. where you have container perennials and want to add seasonal annuals
  2. where you have container perennials and want to add holiday poinsettias
  3. where you have container perennials and don’t want disturb the root systems
  4. where you have container perennials and want move them to a different location and change the color theme with a different annual
  5. where you want to save time in refreshing your containers
  6. where you want to add a tender annual before the last frost free date and have the option to lift and protect it
  7. where you need the ability to experiment with color in the design

 

Pots that function as sleeves are the same size as the potted plants we will place in them. The tough and durable Vaiegated Flax Lily, the thriller or spikey component, is planted directly in the pot in a rich potting soil with 1 ounce of time release fertilizer mixed into the soil. An option you might find helpful is to connect a low volume sprayer for this container to an existing low volume irrigation system if you have one. You can buy one of the inexpensive and easy to install kits at your Home Depot to keep your plants watered and stress free. 

 

A pot of petunias is dropped in and acts as the spiller component. 1 Tablespoon of time release fertilizer is applied to this container. Too much and the salt will kill the beneficial organisms growing in our organic soil. Never exceed the labeled rates with salt based fertilizer or you will do more harm than good.

Drop in a pot of Lobelia as your filler component and you have an interesting, balanced and easy to maintain combination container.

Plectranthus Mona Lavender makes a nice filler component in this sunny location in the rose border where we have underplanted Knockout Roses with Euphorbia Diamond Frost for a year round bouquet of color.

When it is time for a change just drop in your new favorite plants.

 

 

Grow annuals or perennials in a large container and place an empty pot in the center when you first plant.

When you have your spillers blooming nicely drop in a thriller or a filler.

Change the center Pot-in-Pot when you need to decorate for a different location or occasion.

Containers are so versatile because you can move them into the right light to grow the plants and then decorate with them as you desire.

 

Bush Daisies compliment the burgundy petunia and verbena and make this combination pop.

As the Bush Daisy grows it will shade the petunias from direct overhead sun and they will last longer. Later you can plant the daisy in your garden for year round color.

Cordyline Red Star is the perfect Florida friendly spikey thriller component for containers. It lives for many years without problems.

Lobelias are so popular because of the colors and amount of flowers but they take special care to get them through the summer heat in Florida. Cut them back and grow them in bright shade and keep them from getting too wet.

When lobelias fade drop in a Strawflower or another durable bloomer or colorful foliage plant. Coleus and caladiums are great in midsummer.

Container gardening gives you more options for portable color. Pot-in-Pot in a container makes that even easier and quicker to keep you combinations beautiful when you need them most.


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Categories: Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Design | Drip Irrigation | 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Pot-in-Pot Landscaping | Drip Irrigation | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Container Gardening | Pot-in-Pot Landscaping | Design | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Drip Irrigation | Pot-in-Pot Landscaping | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept
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Gallon Color for Your Garden

February 28, 2009 by Rick

Why are more and more Florida gardeners relying on gallon size annuals and perennials as their primary size for their home gardens? The answer is Success and Value.

In this warm subtropical climate where soils are primarily sand and coral rock in south Florida it is difficult to build and maintain a rich organic soil for the best performance of annuals and perennials. Add to that the long dry season and the need to conserve water by limiting our irrigation days and you can see why larger pots filled with compost rich organic soils that hold water and nutrients are critical to your success.

Looking back over the history of bedding plants in Florida we see that in the early days gardeners had a choice of starting seeds or buying small 6 packs. As gardeners migrated to Florida from northern states they requested the familiar Michigan 6 pack. Trouble was the rich clay and loam soils from the temperate northern states didn’t exist in their new southern homeland. Faced with infertile, fast drying sand and marl rock instead of loamy soil the transplanted gardeners failed to make the 6 pack annual survive. The 6 packs often needed watering more than once a day for the first week then every day for the next 30-90 days. Rarely do we see them sold but newcomers from the north still request them. I even see letters to the editor about the absence of six packs and other weird sentiments about Florida not having any seasons. Some people just don’t adapt well to paradise.

The next phase was started in 1980 with the 18 pack landscaper tray and the 4.5 inch annual we see so many of in the stores today. Many more folks make these plants survive because they can set the timer to water every day and be assured of success. These 18 pack annuals and 4.5 inch are grown in ultra light artificial sterile media and are used to getting watered twice a day. Without daily water they are difficult to establish and that is why we have consecutive day water exemptions in many counties for our newly planted landscapes.

The evolution to planting gallon color solves most of these issues of water use for establishment, transplant failure, transplant shock and 1 day a week watering. This is especially true if you use plants grown in compost rich soils made with organic components and with water holding polymers like we use. The gallon plants still need a plan and attention to keep them moist and growing but this can be easily achieved with much less water wasted.

I want it now! The most significant change that led to the acceptance of gallon color is in our lifestyles. We are so used to fast food, instant credit, take it with you purchasing that it is just second nature for most people to want the instant satisfaction and assured survival that gallon color offers over small 18 packs and 4.5 inch pot. Start out with plants 3 to 5 times larger that are loaded with buds and bloom and you will get to enjoy them quicker, longer and as a sure thing. This trend is national and catching on in areas where the period between last spring frost and first fall frost is short. Compare the life expectancy, beauty and satisfaction you get from Florida Friendly gallon size flowering plants to a cup of Starbucks and decide which value makes you happiest.

 


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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Drip Irrigation | Florida Friendly Landscape
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