Mulch and Compost – Form and Function

May 21, 2010 by Rick

Organic matter is the secret to growing better garden plants in Florida. It is the most important component to gardening. Organic matter is leaves, wood, fiber and bark from trees, shrubs and grasses and manures and sludge and peat mosses. These break down by a process known as composting. The breakdown occurs naturally or you can concentrate and control it for your benefit. Some plants need lots of compost and mulch to thrive and others just need mulch.

You can grow a garden in the sand like the farmers do but you need chemicals to kill weeds, root pests like nematodes and grubs, plastic to prevent erosion of the sand and fertilizer and a constant supply of water and nutrients. But instead of this… If you have enough organic matter you can grow a better garden with the use of few chemicals and fertilizers and much less little water. A rich soil is full of micro organisms like good bacteria and good fungus that grow symbiotically with plant roots and make available the nutrients from the organic matter. There are also macro organisms like earthworms, good nematodes, pillbugs etc that play a big part of breaking down organic matter and making it readily available for plants to use for nutrients and protection from bad organisms. It is hard to visualize what is going on down there but the results are amazing once you see the difference yourself. Rich soils also hold onto the water whereas sand lets it pour right through.

 

Composting can be more work than you are willing to do for all the places you want to add flowers and vegetables around your home garden. An easy alternative way to garden is to focus your organic growing in a container you bury in the poor sandy Florida soil you have. We call this method Pot-in-Pot Landscaping and here are all the posted details.

Dropping in Pot-in-Pot a

Drip irrigation allows you to focus a small and appropriate amount of water to your plants so you are not wasting the resource or adding to the fertilizer runoff problems in our rivers and bays.

Pot-in-Pot Landscaping with Drip Irrigation and Eucalyptus Mulch = Success

From our Frequently Asked Questions Page

4. Why is the Riverview Flower Farm potting soil superior to other grower mixes and how does that help me garden?

Our organic potting soil is alive with beneficial organisms. It is a rich blend of compost and peat moss that allow your plants to absorb natural nutrients and water much better than light weight mixes with lots of inexpensive fillers. Salt based liquid and slow release fertilizers can be used at the labeled rate or less so you do not harm the beneficial organisms that will multiply and spread into your garden. These beneficial organisms form a symbiotic relationship with the plants root system and grow as the roots grow to protect against disease and nematodes which are microscopic root destroying worms. Adding organic matter (peat moss, compost, leaf mold, cow manure) enhances this symbiotic relationship so your plants can grow better with less salt fertilizer and less water. The labeled fertilizer rates were developed for less fertile light weight mixes. You can and should use less fertilizer when growing in a rich organic potting soil or flower bed. Spend a little more on building the soil and save a lot on the fertilizer while keeping the waste and runoff to a minimum.

 

MULCHES

Mulches are as important as compost rich soil is in having a healthy, thriving garden and flowers. Having stated that, there are many Florida Friendly Plants, Shrubs, and Trees both native and non native that do not need compost rich soil but they benefit from surface mulches. Many plants that thrive in Florida have adapted to grow with the nematodes and other soil organisms that kill vegetables and flowers.

All plants benefit from the mulches breaking down (composting) and supplying nutrients naturally. Mulches cool the soil and prevent weeds, erosion and leaching. They are more important than they look and not just for the esthetics they create.

Modern Cypress Mulches are a blend of various wood types and some cypress wood. Overharvesting of cypress trees in Florida wetlands has caused this shift in the mulch components. We are familiar with the name Cypress Mulch but in reality the amount of cypress is much lower in the bag you buy. This is a good thing because we all need to mulch and save the cypress swamps too. Feeling less guilty? A better way to mulch is to use thick layers of oak leaves which are so plentiful and then cover them with your favorite looking mulch as a top dressing.

Two other mulches are available that you can feel good about using are Maleluca mulch which is harvested from areas of the Everglades being recovered from this invasive tree and farm raised eucalyptus mulch made at a eucalyptus plantation that is continuously harvested in sections that rotate every 6 years for just this purpose. The Florida Native Plant Society has a blog post on mulch the furthers this information.

Change your life and garden for the better by discovering all the virtues of compost and mulch.

Shirley Bovshow posted MULCH 101: THE ART OF SELECTING THE PERFECT GARDEN MULCH! You will also enjoy her Garden World Report Show.

 

 

 

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Longwood Gardens

May 15, 2010 by Rick

Enjoy this beautiful garden and images from their Flikr photo pool.

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Wishbone Flower – Originated in Vietnam

May 12, 2010 by Rick

Torenia fournieri - Wishbone Flower - Summer Pansy. These durable, heat loving annuals thrive in our hot humid and sometimes very wet summers. Torenia is native to Vietnam where it is steamy hot, wet and tropical. Try these hybrids and add some blue to you Florida summer garden.

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Torenia do not like to dry out so you have to add water holding rich soil to your bed and top it with a thick layer of mulch to keep the soil cool and prevent evaporation.

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Try our Pot-in-Pot method for sure success and then you can swap them for more color with ease when that time comes.

Optimal Light:

Sun – Part Shade
Mature Height:
1ft-2ft

Light Range:
Full/Part Sun
Mature Spread:
1ft-2ft

Soil Moisture:
Well-drained to Wet
Soil Texture:
Any

Salt Tolerance:
Low

Florida Native:
No
Florida Region:
N,C,S

Drought Tolerance: 
Low
Hardiness Zone:
9-11

Season of Color:
Year-round

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.

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Farm fresh delivered to frequently to your Florida Home Depot.

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Butterfly Beauties

May 8, 2010 by Rick

This group of butterfly photographers have captured Florida butterflies exceptionally well. See if you agree with me. 

 

 

At EPCOT this week we visited the popular butterfly garden and butterfly pavilion where visitors walk among hundreds of butterflies and learn about their life cycles and the Florida Friendly Plants that attract them with their nectar, pollen and tasty leaves for their larvae to consume.

 

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These topiaries are better than signs to direct you to the butterfly garden.

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Florida Friendly Perennials are the main draw for the butterflies.

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Children enjoy the Fairy Garden adjacent to the butterflies and call the names of each of the fairies that are well positioned in floral displays for photographing memories.

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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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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Butterfly Garden | Warm Season Gardening
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St Bernard’s Lily a Tough Grass Like-Plant

May 1, 2010 by Rick

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.

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Showy white flowers with yellow stamens persist throughout the year. Give it well drained soil and it grows to 3 feet or less. 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.

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Clumps are well behaved and dependable. St Bernard’s Lily can thrive on rainfall alone once it is established. It will grow rapidly and flower more with some irrigation and fertilizer if you feel the need.

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Anthericum tolerates a fair amount of shade and will grow as a companion to shade lovers like Impatiens and Persian Shield. Here is a link to the Top 10 Florida Friendly Shade Tolerant Plants.

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Categories: Design | 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Florida Friendly Landscape | Cold Hardy Perennial | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Design | Florida Friendly Landscape | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept
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Sunken Gardens

April 27, 2010 by Rick
In the words from the city’s website …Discover the Beauty

Sunken Gardens is a botanical paradise in the midst of a bustling city. As St. Petersburg's oldest living museum, this 100 year old garden is home to some of the oldest tropical plants in the region.

Unwind as you stroll through meandering paths, lush with exotic plants from around the world. Explore cascading waterfalls, beautiful demonstration gardens, more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers.

Sunken Gardens provides garden tours, horticultural programs, special events, field trips, weddings, private and corporate rentals. Call 727.551.3102.

 

 

Just a stroll through these images gives you ideas of how to add Florida Friendly tropical color to your home garden. Extensive use of butterfly attractive plants make this a haven for the flying flowers. I highly recommend a visit and you ca refuel at one of our favorite restaurants just up the street, Red Mesa.

Map picture

 

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Categories: Butterfly Garden | 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Design | Environmental Awareness Education | Florida Friendly Landscape
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Brazilian Red Hots are in Most Fl Home Depots Now

April 20, 2010 by Rick

 

Common Name: Brazilian Red Hots Alternanthera

Colors: Pink Red Variegated

Who would have guessed this plant would become one of the most popular new plants for Florida gardeners? We get more requests for this plant and more reports of how well it performed than any other plant we grow. That is saying a lot. It really stands out and is so easy to grow. It has it’s best coloration in the full sun but can grow in partially shaded areas very well. 

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The information below is from our searchable database. http://floridafriendlyplants.com/plant_database.asp

 

Optimal Light:
Sun
Mature Height:
2ft-3ft

Light Range:
Full/Part Sun
Mature Spread:
2ft-3ft

Soil Moisture:
Well-drained to Medium
Soil Texture:
Any

Salt Tolerance:
Med

Florida Native:
No
Florida Region:
C,S

Drought Tolerance:
High
Hardiness Zone:
9-11

Season of Color:
Year-round

Brazilian Red Hots - Alternanthera dentata 'Brazilian Red Hots', a Josephs Coat - grows 20 to 28 inches tall, and up to 18 inches wide and is trouble-free in full sun or partial shade. The bright foliage of this new favorite perennial for the Florida Friendly garden has been a welcome addition to garden designers. They stand tall in containers for sunny locations and make a great THRILLER component. Once established it is fairly drought tolerant. The color is most vibrant in full sun. Ball shaped white flowers stretch out above the foliage in mid winter. Cut these back as the days become longer in early spring for a vigorous flush of color. 1 Gallon Pots are available at most Home Depot garden centers today. Brazilian Red Hots is a great tall edging plant for your garden beds and is also available in the Warm Season in our Innovative SausEdge format for easy planting and an instant manicured look.

Brazilian Red Hots SausEdge

Check out the SausEdge video. You can 'slice your SausEdge' into smaller 'links' and stretch your dollars and get the same look and performance and more value. The hot pink and rose shades make these plants adaptable to use with cool or warm colors. They can be the 'THRILLER' in stunning and long lasting perennial combination containers mixed with Lantana, Pentas and many other sun loving annuals.

 

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | SausEdge get the edge on your beds.. | 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | SausEdge get the edge on your beds.. | SausEdge TM | SausEdge TM | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept
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Natives & Fragrant Bloomers That Work Well in the Florida Garden

April 16, 2010 by Rick

I just got back from the California Spring Trials where all the new plants for 2011 were introduced to the US and World growers. It was a great trip. I was on a bus with 50 other really smart horticulturists and growers. Lots of questions and most were answered. I started my trip with a visit to my nephew, Peter Burns, a computer scientist solving the worlds data mining problems while working for MIT folks in San Francisco at Metaweb. Way over my head. I will post more of my trip and new plants later…

 GG Bridge

I did a little shopping at a favorite store in Sausalito, one of my favorite places on the planet and took this GG bridge picture on the way there.

SanFran Home

Flowers and fragrance was everywhere in San Francisco in the springtime.

SanFran Home Wisteria

Wisteria was easy to find with the eye and the nose. It is more suited for north Florida.

Winter Jasmine Pink Jasmine Vine Closeup

Winter Jasmine – Pink Jasmine, Jasminum polyanthum filled the air in California and at my home when I returned.

Winter Jasmine Pink Jasmine Vine

Winter Jasmine requires cool nights to get a chilling requirement for it to flower. The last 2 winters have met it’s needs well. Is this a sign of Climate Change? My yard is filled with this sweet fragrance.

Fringe Tree Closeup 

Our Fringe Tree waited on my return to pop into full bloom. I was envious of all the Cherry Blossoms family and friends were posting to Fb but glad to see and smell these blossoms when I returned.

Fringe Tree

I was glad to get back to my wonderful wife and home and farm and our dogs.

Itea Sarah Eve closeup 

Itea ‘Sarah Eve” is a native Sweetspire selection the Bissetts named for their daughter and we planted about 20 years ago. It has bloomed every spring and put on it’s beast show ever this year.

Itea Sarah Eve

You might find here or at other Florida Native Plant Society sources.

http://www.afnn.org/find-plants

The Natives, Inc.

Sarah Kiefer
2929 JB Carter Rd
Davenport, FL 33837 (map)
Phone: 863-422-6664
Fax: (863)421-6520
Email: natives@gate.net
Web: www.thenatives.net

 

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Persian Shield, a Popular, Dependable Shimmering Star

April 7, 2010 by Rick

 

Persian Shield Strobilanthus dyuranus

Persian Shield – Strobilanthes dyerianus, is native to Myanmar and survives as a long lived easy to care for perennial in the right place in your garden. It is one of the Top 20 Florida Perennials and very suited to our subtropical climate and usually pest and problem free. It is nearly always available at Florida Home Depot Garden centers in the south and after freezing weather chances pass in north Florida. Not more than 3 hours of direct sun and less if you can fit it in a shady place. It likes Florida’s heat and humidity. Too much moisture and shade and it will stretch tall and tend to fall over in the heavy summer winds we get with afternoon storms. Pinch and the plant will stay full and bushy. To Pinch or Not to Pinch…

 

 PersianShieldLandscape

In South Florida, this Persian Shield barely noticed the few frosty nights. In central Florida, 80-90% of the tops were frozen and in North Florida I have not heard that so many survived this unusually cold winter.

PersianShield&Potato&ImpatiensCombination

Persian Shield is a dependable THRILLER component to containers designed to accent a shady part of your garden or patio.

 

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Categories: Container Gardening | Design | Florida Friendly Landscape | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping
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