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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!

Succulent Success

June 29, 2009 by Rick

Variety is the spice of life they say and with our Classic Creation 9 packs you get a nice variety of succulents with which you can make some very interesting gardens. Succulents are the perfect plant for many folks. The are very forgiving of water and fertilizer deficiency. Succulents grow in sun, part shade and moderate shade and are often used as houseplants. Plant them in a well drained soil.

Succulent Strawberry Jar 1


Classic Creations include 9 different succulents for any container

you might choose.


Maraca Portulaca molokensiensis Riverview Flower Farm

On a recent visit to the Farm, garden writer, Penny Carnathan from the Tampa Tribune, was very excited when she saw our trials with Maraca. Based on Penny's reaction we will be moving up the time table on production of Maraca. look for it to appear in Florida Home Depots by sometime in October. You can thank Penny for this.

Portulaca Maraca

Florida Friendly Landscape FAQ's

June 25, 2009 by Rick

Frequently Asked Questions about Landscape Irrigation for Florida-Friendly Landscaping Ordinances

This FAQ link answers many questions but there is still more research being done by the U of F to get the best answers for protecting our environment.

State bill 494 is important since it will require BMP training for all lawn companies that apply fertilizer. In addition, it may ease watering restrictions for those who incorporate moisture or rain sensors as part of their irrigation system. Research shows that watering twice a week with less water improves turf and reduces water usage. U of F research also shows that there is little difference in water requirements between the different turf grasses. Turf uses more water in the spring when coming out of dormancy and then again in the fall when establishing roots

Phosphorus leaching from turf fertilizers is a big problem for our water supply. St Augustine turf uses and holds phosphorous, the P in N-P-K on your fertilizer bag, 30 times better than highly promoted Empire Zoysia. That also holds true for nitrogen recycling making St. Augustine more environmentally friendly than Zoysia.

The best thing you can do with your St. Augustine lawn is to only fertilize in the fall and only use a slow release N-P-K formula. Lawns overgrow and become thatched if you fertilize in the growing season when they do not need it. Overfertilized lawns are more prone to disease and insects and then require properly timed pesticide sprays to prevent decline. If you want a greener lawn in the summer you should just use iron fertilizer.

Empire Zoysia has shallow roots and goes dormant faster than St. Augustine. It is susceptible to brown patch and requires no less water than St. Augustine turf. It is slow to spread and slow to come out of winter dormancy.

The governor has not to signed the into law the bill that ties Florida Friendly Landscaping principles to protect homeowners rights if they employ them in their communities that may have laws or deed restrictions requiring turf. According to a story in the Bradenton Herald, Manasota 88 objected to late amendment language that lessens permitting requirements. See also Florida-Friendly Landscapes Pass the Legislature

The Dirt on St Bernard's Lily

June 21, 2009 by Rick

Penny Carnathan from the Tampa Tribune posted on her Blog, The Dirt, comments and pictures from her recent visit to our farm to view new and current production items. Here is a picture of St. Bernard's Lily that will give you a good look at why I like this plant so much and promoted it to Penny.

St Bernards Lily

Saint Bernard's Lily - Anthericum saundersiae. This grass-like plant has long, narrow leaves that are dark green forming a clump with upright arching leaves. Showy white flowers with yellow stamens are produced throughout the year. Give it well drained soil and it grows to 3 feet. We have found that if you cut it to the ground every other year it sprouts back rejuvenated and to a similar size quickly. Use it as a 'THRILLER' in the center of a large combination planter for a long lived and trouble free focal plant. Mass plantings are very attractive especially when they are flowering heavily. You can check out a beautiful mass planting at The Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden that has been in place since the garden was first planted.

Sanford Florida is Florida Friendly

June 21, 2009 by Rick

We recently visited my father in law, Dr Charlie Park, in Historic Sanford. Sanford has a very interesting history. You could easily spend a day driving around Sanford and visiting all the restored 1800 era homes, buildings, waterfront, park, zoo and the museum.  Mayor Linda Kuhn is the driving force behind the efforts in this community and Linda is an enthusiastic gardener. Linda invites you to enjoy the efforts of an inspired community. As you drive around Sanford you will see beautiful plantings of flowers, trees and shrubs and flowering combination baskets hanging from ornate lightposts.

I can highly recommend the Stones Throw Bistro for lunch or dinner in downtown. Fried Green Tomato Crab Cake with White Wine Hollandaise might be the best appetizer I have ever eaten.

Bulbine is a very drought tolerant Florida Friendly Plant and used extensively in the Sanford landscapes. I will get some pictures of the city and how they use Bulbine for a future post.

JellyBurnPlantBulbineFrutescensHalmark  JellyBurnPlant

Jelly Burn Plant - Bulbine frutescens 'Hallmark' - Orange Stalked Bulbine, similar to Aloe this plant also contains the same glycoprotiens that ease burns, rashes and itches but this variety blooms year round and is hardy down to 20 degrees. Bulbine is an FNGLA Plant of the Year and favored by gardeners wanting to replace thirsty turf areas with drought tolerant, carefree ground covers. Find it at your local Florida Home Depot.


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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Cold Hardy Perennial | Environmental Awareness Education | Turf Substitute
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Real Turf vs. Fake Turf and the Environment

June 18, 2009 by Rick


Have you seen the modern Astroturf? The 2009 version is very nice and can be seen at EPCOT. It feels really good to walk on and you can add a rubber under layer for play areas.

Artificial Turf 1 Artificial Turf 2

Artificial Turf Artificial Turf 4

Artificial Turf 5 Artificial Turf 3

There is an interesting pro and con article at Sustainable Gardening Australia if you think this is appealing to you. In some Florida counties we have Energy from Waste plants where the synthetic turf product will be incinerated 10-25 years after installation rather than land filled which adds to the facts of this article.

Artificial Turf 7 Artificial Turf 6

For more inspiration check out  Felders New Lawn

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Categories: Design | Environmental Awareness Education | Florida Friendly Landscape
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Tell Us About Your Community Garden

June 15, 2009 by Rick

Seminole Heights Community Garden in Tampa is one of many around the world building stronger communities and sharing ideas and learning together how to garden. Leave us a comment and a link to your community garden so we can share your efforts and accomplishments with other Florida gardeners. Florida Yards and Neighborhoods puts on a rain barrel workshop for Seminole Heights Community Garden members. 


Sarasota county runs 4 community gardens. Here are the addresses and information about joining their community gardens.

UF/IFAS Sarasota County Extension
Community Garden Program

Community Garden Benefits
  • Provide you a place to garden even if there is not enough space or soil nearby your home.
  • Improve your family’s health and nutrition.
  • Utilize open space and help improve unsightly neighborhood locations.
  • Promote a sense of community pride and social fellowship by meeting and learning from other gardeners.
  • Reduce food costs by providing fresh vegetables, fruits and herbs.
  • Provide valuable recreational and therapeutic benefits.
We Provide
  • educational materials and information
  • a garden plot
  • compost and water
  • basic gardening tools
  • demonstrations and instructions to help you start a vegetable garden
  • soil testing and recommendations for soil improvement
  • help with gardening problems
  • guidance on how to harvest and use the vegetables
  • instructions on how to preserve and store garden produce


Think you might want to start a community garden? Here is a link with what you need. Community Garden Toolkit

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Environmental Awareness Education | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

June 9, 2009 by Rick

Hillsborough, Polk, Pasco, Pinellas, Lee and Palm Beach county citizens should feel good about their leadership in developing Energy-from-Waste (EfW) programs also known as waste-to-energy (WTE). Each Floridian produces 1 ton of recoverable waste per year. That 1 ton of waste is converted to the equivalent of 1 barrel of oil or 1/4 ton of coal. The county government leaders in the 1980's made these plants possible in response to Federal programs requiring recycling and by using the corresponding grants to get them started. The citizen response to curbside recycling and bulk recycling by local farms and businesses have made these programs overwhelmingly successful and models for similar action around the world. We hear about China opening a new dirty coal fired plant every week but what gets little press is they are contracting 130 Energy-from-Waste plants for the future. China is far ahead of the US  with their National Geographic Greendex Score.

With more cooperation from our global, federal, state and county leaders there is plenty of room to displace more coal fired power companies growth with Energy-from-Waste (EfW) programs. Bone up on the facts so you can throw your support behind the right people and the right programs. Florida utilities and coal producers around the country are lobbying hard for more coal fired plants. Check out this climate change update from Al Gore on TED TALKS.


Fact Sheet

Quick facts from Covanta's web site - It All Adds Up

250 million tons of municipal solid waste processed to date is equivalent to:

  • the annual amount of waste landfilled in the U.S.
  • over 30 million garbage trucks full of waste, that if placed end to end, would circle the earth over 4 times.
  • If landfilled, the waste would have buried the National Mall from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial, completely covering the Washington Monument.

Annually, Covanta facilities process:

  • enough MSW to fill 18 Empire State Buildings

250 million tons of greenhouse gases avoided is equivalent to:

  • planting 6 billion trees
  • pulling more than 41 million cars off the road for a year
  • the growth of a forest the size of Minnesota in a year
  • offsetting the use of 49 coal power plants for one year

Annually, Covanta facilities offset:

  • nearly 16 million tons of greenhouse gases

250 million tons of municipal solid waste converted into electricity powers:

  • over 11 million homes for a year

Annually, Covanta processes enough MSW to power:

  • over 1,000,000 homes
  • all the homes in a city the size of Philadelphia and suburbs

In processing 250 million tons of waste, Covanta has recycled over 5 million tons of metal, enough to build 60 Golden Gate bridges.

Annually, Covanta facilities recycle:

  • 360,000 tons of metal, enough to build 275,000 hybrid cars


The Hillsborough County site produces enough electricity to power 100,000 homes. They cleanly burn and convert 12,000 tons of waste per day. Hillsborough County is adding a third incinerator at this site on Faulkinburg Road to greatly increase energy output and further reduce the demand for new coal fired plant expansion.

Categories: Environmental Awareness Education
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Mama Mia - Garlic Extract Controls Garden Pests

June 4, 2009 by Rick

Garlic_cloves clip_image001

When thrip or aphid insects blow in at Riverview Flower Farm we use Alsa once per week, a garlic extract, to control these pests. We add it to irrigation water that is applied to the soil at the top of the pot through our drip irrigation system. It is in a solution of the 8 ounces of water we give each gallon pot on hot sunny days when pests are in the plants. This is absorbed into the plant roots and translocated throughout the plant and flowers and stays active for about a week.

Alsa is a natural crop protection product that relys on the odor and taste compounds derived from garlic. These compounds, effective against harmful insects such as thrips and aphids, are present in garlic and effective when they are correctly dissolved in oil.

When garlic extract is applied, the scent and flavor of your plant changes in such a way that insects no longer find it attractive. The insects become restless and leave their hiding-place. Natural predators are then much more effective in the fight against pests. Preventative use of garlic extract ensures your plant remains in healthier condition. Garlic extract is not 100% effective and no pesticide is but it significantly reduces the use of synthetic Chemicals so there is less impact on the environment.

Garlic extract remains active in the plant for approximately 7 to 10 days. After this active period, the compounds are transformed within the plant which are recycled and used in natural plant metabolism. Thus, weekly doses of garlic extract are recommended when you have thrip or aphid infestations. Garlic extract can be used on any plant, any stage of growth, and cannot be mistakenly over-used. Garlic extract is natural and safe.

Chili thrips are a problem on roses in hot weather. Garlic extract disrupts their destructive feeding tendencies. You will find ready to use garlic extract in stores and online. Homemade garlic extract recipes are easily found with a Google or Bing search. Look for ones that recommend soil drenching for absorption by the plant roots. The trick is to allow the crushed garlic to steep in the oil long enough to release effective levels of odor and taste compounds. Pay attention to their cautions and warnings so you are not destroying beneficial insects or your plants by misuse. You can learn much more reading these books by Jeff Gillman.

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Categories: Drip Irrigation | Environmental Awareness Education
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The Orange for Every Garden

May 31, 2009 by Rick

Crossandra 'Orange Marmalade' - Crossandra infundibuliformis is one of the best Florida Friendly Plants to be developed in the last 3 years. It is a reliable perennial in sunny or partially-shaded Florida gardens. It is moderately drought tolerant once established and is insect and disease free. It blooms heavily in all the warm months of the year and a little less in the winter. Protect from hard frost and freeze for best year-to-year performance of these long-lived plants. Orange Marmalade is a sterile hybrid that holds its flower petals for several days longer than the older types or seed produced varieties that have exploding seed pods. Older varieties are also very tender to moderately chilly weather and often show damage when temperatures dip into the 40's. You will easily notice the major performance difference once you try Orange Marmalade. Use it as a 'FILLER' component in a complimentary container design with flowers that are in the blue shades. Go Gators! You should readily find this at The Home Depot stores in the Warm Season.

Image Title 

Orange Marmalade 

 Orange Marmalade Crossandra

Orange Marmalade has been on the market 3 years now and I am begining to see more of this perennial in home gardens as I travel around the state. Tell me if you think it is as great a plant as I do. I would like to share any photos of Orange Marmalade you have. Please leave a comment and I will contact you about posting them.

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Categories: Container Gardening | Florida Friendly Landscape | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Warm Season Gardening
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