Flower Performance Trials at EPCOT

May 28, 2011 by admin

This year we grew the starts for many of the trials plants installed at EPCOT during the Flower Festival for the FNGLA Field Day Performance Trials. Networking with growers, plant breeders, landscape contractors and all the associated folks in the plant business was extremely valuable and fun.

Preview the new plants and flowers for 2012

Flowering Field Trials EPCOT 2011


Flowering Field Trials EPCOT 2011 1

Flowering Field Trials EPCOT 2011 2


Flowering Field Trials EPCOT 2011 3

Chris Beytes filming for the segment above and Katy Moss Warner, Miss America In Bloom, Director and former Head of Landscape at Disney

Flowering Field Trials EPCOT 2011 4

Leu Gardens Director, Robert Bowden is amazed at all the new sun tolerant non blooming coleus released by U of F breeding. No doubt all of these will be at Leu Gardens soon for all to see.

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Vertical Succulents are Getting Our Attention

June 8, 2010 by Rick


We purchased these plastic containers designed to plant and hang on the wall.

We didn’t have a suitable wall so we thought using posts with the trees as a backdrop would let us view them from our back porch and place them in enough light to make them thrive.


Much of my inspiration comes from 2 books by Debra Lee Baldwin that you too might enjoy.



I rooted the succulents directly in this container in April for this early June hanging.


With the rainy season starting we are more worried about too much water than too little. We considered a drip system for the dry season to water them. Succulents need little so little water and can go for weeks without it. I think we will determine if drip irrigation is needed before we install it. There are plenty of succulent varieties to make your own vertical garden project. Using succulents would mean the wall container doesn’t need to be very elaborate. I  think you could hang pots close together and create some interesting effects.


The Spanish Moss hides the posts and blends in well with the moss covered plant stand holding the bromeliad planter. They are attached with 2 screws so I can take them down if we get a frost in the winter. It will be fun to watch them grow.


Below is an inspiring video of vertical garden images to get you thinking if this is something that will help you decorate your own space.


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Melampodium – a Tough Florida Friendly Annual

May 5, 2010 by Rick

Melampodium paludosum is one of the most resilient warm season annuals you can grow that will last through the summer. If we have a very wet year, slugs can be a problem for some annuals that you need to treat with a safe organic slug bait containing iron phosphate (Sluggo Snail & Slug Bait). It works! You can also use stale beer in a saucer that attracts them and then they fall in and drown…or something. Melampodiums are one of the Top 20 Florida Friendly Annuals and can reseed so you may be able to keep a crop of them going for years. They grow in varying amounts of sun to partial shade and flower continuously.

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Florida Home Depot Garden Centers are having an incredible sale right now on beautiful gallon annuals. Check them out now for the best value on color of the season. You won’t be disappointed by their performance.

 Unbelievable Value at Home Depot 5

Melampodiums and other gallon size warm season color plants and perennials are on sale at an unbelievable price. The Home Depot is making them available to you at values never before seen. These are all top quality items and quality you won’t find at Wal-Mart or Lowes. See it for yourself.


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2009 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

February 21, 2010 by Rick

Looking back at 2009’s Flower Festival helps us get more great ideas we can enjoy in our own gardens. Check out the Ornamental Sweet Potatoes used in this cleaver display as a pumpkin patch



This year we will have new Ornamental Sweet Potato varieties called “Bright Ideas”. They will be available with Lime (chartreuse), Black and Rusty Red foliage. Plant them in the spring or summer and then place your pumpkins in the foliage for a fall pumpkin patch display. They will be available in April at most Florida Home Depot garden centers.


 Bright Ideas

Ornamental Sweet Potatoes make great container and hanging basket plants. They are a SPILLER element in combination planters. Use the colors to echo colors in flowers or as contrast elements to make them pop.


2010 will surely be a great year at EPCOT for the Flowers. They just get better every year. Penny and Kim are talking a lot about the upcoming EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival on their blog over at The Dirt and in the Getaway section of the Tampa Tribune next Sunday.


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Successful Gardening in 2010

January 25, 2010 by Rick


1. Hardy Perennials – Gardeners are asking what plants thrive both frost and hot summer temperatures. These plants tolerate frost quickly recover after cold weather. These popular plants are what customers will have the most success with and will remove some fear of planting. Plant success!


                           Sedum Florida Friendly Gold


                                             Blue Eyed Grass


                                 Bulbine – Jelly Burn Plant 

                                            Dianthus Firewitch

2. Drought Tolerant Grass and Accent Plants – Gardeners looking for long lived, easy care plants that will survive the typically dry spring and fall growing seasons will be successful with these plants. For the Top 20 Drought Tolerant Florida Perennials go to http://floridafriendlyplants.com/

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                  Purple Showers                                       Purple Queen               


                                              Variegated Flax Lily

3. Butterfly Plants – For success in attracting butterflies to your garden you can use both the nectar host plants and the larval host plants. Plant them in a sunny site them in the landscape. Refer to the Home Depot tag information for suitable planting conditions.

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                Lantana                              Pentas                               Milkweed

For the Top 20 Drought Tolerant Perennials and the Top 20 Florida Butterfly Plants go to http://floridafriendlyplants.com/

SausEdgeTM is an innovative way to save money and time and get instant results in your garden. Several popular varieties make an instant border in your garden.



See the video at http://www.youtube.com/profile?edit=1#p/u/5/E1MObn0HqQc

or search Sausedge on Youtube

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                              Cuban Gold Duranta from SausEdgeTM


                                          Lantana from SausEdgeTM



Classic Selections are an economical way to plant perennials and use less plastic.


Classic Creations give instant results for combinations in your own containers.


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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Container Gardening | Cold Hardy Perennial | Butterfly Garden | Cool Season Gardening | Design | Environmental Awareness Education | Florida Friendly Landscape | SausEdge get the edge on your beds.. | SausEdge TM | Warm Season Gardening
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To Pinch or Not To Pinch - When is the Question

August 16, 2009 by Rick

The answer is detailed on our web site http://www.floridafriendlyplants.com/ on the Successful Gardening page under Maintenance by the need to do so and the reasons. Recent strong windstorms topple many fast growing soft stemmed plants like Coleus and Persian Shield.

Remove a few at time 

Time to take this coleus growing in partial shade down a bit at a time to stop it from flowering and accentuate it's shape and strength.

Flowering buds for removal

Look for the flower buds which appear at different stages depending on the coleus variety.

A good length to remove

Pinch a few tips each visit to your garden and sculpt and shape your plants to your liking.

Removing some tall falowering tips

Cup of coffee in one hand and a few pinches in the other.


Pinched Finger Paint Coleus

Finger Paint Coleus after a pinch at the right time still looks stunning. Don't wait until it is too tall and starting to fall apart.

Coleus Finger Paint Sports yellow red and painted leaves

Finger Paint is a red and yellow bicolor coleus that sports some all yellow and some all red branches and leaves. You can pinch the variants so you don't end up with all one color.

Pinche Defiance the most popular coleus

Coleus Defiance growing in the full sun looks good after a careful pinch to reduce height and create a fuller stronger plant.


These plants respond quickly to frequent pinching. If you remove the tender tips you will see new shoots develop from the sides of the stems below the pinch point. How much you pinch really depends on how fast the plant is growing and what the desired ultimate height is. Often you just don't know where you want the plant height to end up. A better rule is to pinch regularly and get a feel for how fast it is growing between pinches. If you don't pinch at all the plant may split open or fall over  under the wet conditions we have been having this summer. This is especially true if it is an aggressive grower like coleus or the Persian Shield pictured below.

Time to pinch Persian Shield

Pinching and pruning are tasks that are learned by doing them. Once you get the feel for how plants respond you will have some knowledge that you can carry with you for a better gardening experience and something worth sharing with another generation of gardeners.

pinch Pentas seed heads

Once the butterflies have pollinated all the individual florets, the florets fall off just leaving seed capsules exposed. The seed is generally not viable so you might as well pinch the seed clusters off so the plant can develop new nectar rich flowers faster. Italians are known to be the best pinchers.

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Butterfly Garden | Warm Season Gardening
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Bulbine Popularity Soars

July 31, 2009 by Rick



You can see struggling turf surrounding the thriving Bulbine here (above). Jelly Burn Plant is getting very popular in landscapes throughout Florida.

Drought Tolerant Bulbine at Epcot Demonstration

Bulbine is easy to establish in the hottest months when other plants take more water and TLC.




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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Cold Hardy Perennial | Environmental Awareness Education | Florida Friendly Landscape | Turf Substitute | Warm Season Gardening
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Timing is Everything in the Garden

July 28, 2009 by Rick
Gardening in Florida is seasonal dependant just like in other areas of the country. Just because we don't have freezing weather you can't succeed by planting anytime you get the urge. NOW is the time to get an urge and do some preparation. I know it is hot and rain is predicted but if you drive to the farming areas the farmers have already plowed the fields and are preparing to plant cool season vegetables, fall tomatoes, peppers, corn, onions and strawberries. Check out the newly updated Florida vegetable Guide from these links. Successful Vegetable gardening can involve composting and rainbarrels and timing that avoids major pests. Learn about this from the Cooperative Extension Service for free. This video is well done and illustrates a progression that gives you an idea of how much work you are going to have to do to get started. You sure want to do it at the right time if you plan to eat from your back yard. You also may want to get involved in a Community Garden to learn by doing before you start digging.

This Lawn is Your Lawn from roger doiron on Vimeo.

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Categories: Cool Season Gardening | U of F Cooperative Extension Service | Warm Season Gardening
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Pazazz Purslane is Turning Heads

July 9, 2009 by Rick

Florida gardeners have taken notice to this much improved series of patented purslane from plant breeder Danziger. Bred in Israel, Pazazz is the first purslane series to have open flowers all day! Pazazz even opens on cloudy days.

Pazazz has more vigor and performs as a perennial in areas of the state that escape hard freezes. It is only available at your Florida Home Depot's and only in the 1 gallon Florida Friendly Perennial pots and the Classic Selection 9 count handle packs. The Home Depot tag says annual but that is a national description you can ignore until new tags are available. All the purslane in the green 1 gallon pots are Pazazz.


NEW Pazazz_Vivid_Yellow_Purslane







Thanks for making Pazazz one of this years most popular new plant introductions.

From an earlier post .....  Penny Carnathan, garden writer for the Tampa Tribune, has written about and planted and enjoyed Pazazz and we are sure you will enjoy this major upgrade of an all time favorite Florida Friendly Plant. Check out this post in The Dirt.

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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!

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