Florida Friendly Landscapes Add Beauty and Easy Care

July 31, 2010 by Rick

The first thing you notice is there is minimal turf to mow, water and fertilize. You need some turf for pets and children but putting all that energy into a lawn can be a waste of time and resources. Mulch is a big time and water saver. Put it on thick and enjoy a lush garden with few weeds. Check out Laura’s video and see if this is an appealing way to decorate your outdoor space.


Pot-in-Pot Landscaping has a place in many Florida gardens. Check out how easy it is to install and maintain the beauty in your garden with this technique.

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Rethinking the Lawn

July 26, 2010 by Rick

“Lawn out front, flowers in the back. It's the landscaping equivalent of a mullet haircut: Business in the front, party out back.

And it's headed the same way.

More homeowners are giving up on staid front-yard lawns and putting gardens front and center instead. Many choose native and Florida-friendly plants that, placed in the right spot, save time and money, water and fertilizer.

But not everyone's doing it just for the savings.”

Read the full article in this link

Penny Carnathan’s article in The Tampa Tribune Getaway on Sunday


Using Florida Friendly Plants as the article suggests has been a theme of ours for 28 years. Check out this post for a great plant that will add beauty and the savings discussed in the article.


Shrink the Size of Your Lawn Today!



Another low growing drought tolerant Florida Friendly Plant that is a perennial is the Ornamental Sweet Potato. It is a spreader that covers a lot of mulched area and requires minimal care.




Something to entertain you as you ponder the subject… Taking out the Grass is a Gas


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Leu Gardens is Always Stunning - even in July

July 23, 2010 by Rick


Disney has beautiful gardens that amaze visitors for days but for a combination of beauty and diversity of plants, The Harry P. Leu Gardens is the crown jewel of Orlando and Central Florida.

Just as you wouldn’t miss the Chicago Botanical Gardens in the windy city, you shouldn’t miss this Botanical Mecca if you visit our state. Allow plenty of time, wear comfortable shoes and bring extra batteries for your camera.


Robert Bowden is the director and fellow committee member who showed the FNGLA marketing team the highlights and stunning views and garden rooms.



Click this link to our Facebook Album for more Leu Garden Images.

RFF Donar Sign Perennials Leu Gardens 7-21-2010 2-53-23 PM




Leu Gardens features many potted specimens and combination planters. They use the Thriller-Filler-Spiller concept to demonstrate how to make a beautiful container garden you would be happy to have on your porch or patio.


Profusion Zinnias are a disease resistant type on display throughout many sunny spots in the garden. The butterflies were plentiful and highly attracted to these zinnias.


Weddings are a big thing at Leu Gardens. They are booked over a year out. They have excellent facilities for multiple weddings and are located near downtown and near I-4 for easy access.


The largest formal rose garden in the south is a central feature of Leu Gardens.

Photographers flock to this garden to take images of plants and flowers that are used in magazines and books published all over the world. Fashion photographers find many beautiful settings at this garden.

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Beneficial Organisms and Humates for Your Garden

July 20, 2010 by Rick



What is TurfPro? As this Link Says:

    TurfPro is the ultimate 100% naturally organic humate soil
    conditioner. It is a powerful nutrient converter and bio-
    stimulant that is very easy to apply. Use it as a root drench
    and also as a foliar spray where the benefits are systemic,
    providing the necessary nutrients and resistance to pests.

Read the whole story on their web site and you will see why it is in all of our soils and how the benefits carry over to your garden from our plants. It has been well worth the cost in fertilizer and water savings for us. Our annuals and perennials produce better root systems and flower faster. The soli mix stays moist longer and rewets easier.




We use the AgriPro Natural – Dry at 18 lbs per cubic yard and get the full microbial charge, good mixing and distribution on dormant microbes and nutrients all at a lower cost than alternative microbial amendments and organic additives.



We buy it in these 1 ton bulk bags and use a tractor mounted spreader to apply it to the compost before disking it in for blending.

We hope you find our plants survive better and establish quicker in your garden. The microbes in our soil will prevent root rot disease long after you plant and you are enjoying the Florida-friendly flowers they produce in your garden. Remember to never exceed the label rate when using synthetic fertilizers or you will kill the microbes and increase the plants susceptibility to disease. If you want to read how this product works and why it would be good for everything you grow (including your lawn) and the Florida environment you can read this summary – To Improve Your Soil, Think Organic!

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Aphids in the Butterfly Garden

July 15, 2010 by Rick


Milkweed, Scarlet - Asclepias curassavica is a Caribbean and tropical native that is widely found in Florida. The flowers are attractive to all butterflies and the Monarch and Queen larvae depend on the leaves of these plants to feed their voracious appetites. We often deliver them to your Home Depot with live eggs or small monarch caterpillars as we do not spray milkweed with harmful chemicals that would kill them. These are available nearly year round especially in central and south Florida stores. Milkweed will grow in sandy soils and will reseed readily in your garden.


Pachypodium catctipus 4-7-2010 10-18-59 AM

Optimal Light:
Mature Height:

Light Range:
Full/Part Sun
Mature Spread:

Soil Moisture:
Well-drained to Wet
Soil Texture:

Wildlife Wildlife
Salt Tolerance:

Florida Native:
Florida Region:

Drought Tolerance:
Hardiness Zone:

Season of Color:


Monarch and Queen butterflies feed on the nectar of milkweed flowers. They lay their eggs on these milkweeds and as the larvae eat the leaves they acquire the plants toxins which in turn makes them distasteful to predator birds.

Milkweed Aphids exist on every continent and there are Lady Bug predators everywhere there are aphids. If you just wait a few days the Lady Bugs will show up and clean up the aphids. If you must spray them use nothing harsher than soapy water to wash them off.


In a story from Cornell University scientists explain how plants control the food chain through evolutionary changes.

ladybug eats aphid

In this image from the Cornell article we see a predatory ladybug feeds upon a milkweed aphid (Aphis nerii)

Pachypodium catctipus 3-23-2010 5-54-37 PM

A hard spray from the hose can be used to knock aphids of the stems of plants. You can also gently smash their very soft bodies between your fingers as you slide them along the stems.

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Butterfly Garden | Environmental Awareness Education
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Riverview Flower Farm is Big on Sustainability

July 1, 2010 by Rick

I have just returned from 9 days in New York and have some interesting garden and horticulture facts and photos to share on upcoming posts. The Seeley Conference was our primary destination and the title this year was “Floriculture’s Environmental Footprint: an inconvenient truth or consumer opportunity” Among the speakers were many of the brightest people associated with agriculture as well as non industry experts that shared enlightening facts about environmental policy, economics and marketing.  I was honored to present with three other growers on how we each are “Operationalizing Sustainability” as a topic. Included in my presentation were facts on how we save water, pumping cost and fertilizer by using drip irrigation and capillary mats for irrigation. We reduce the amount of peat moss by using compost that incorporates local yard and tree waste compost in our potting soil. We use friendly soil bacteria instead of chemicals for root disease control. Our primary cold protection is with the use of frost cloth like you can also use at home instead of using warm ground water as a source of heat. I also focused on how we recycle all of our components. If you would like details about our procedures and processes please leave a comment below or on our Facebook page. Below are images from my presentation.



Some of the many Florida Friendly Perennials we grow.


Check out our Floridafriendlyplants.com for the complete list and database.



Annuals add lots of color to Florida landscapes.




Drip irrigation saves 10 cents per pot in terms of fertilizer saving and reduced pumping costs. That’s a lot of dimes. 6-8 ounces of water is applied as needed saving 95% of the water lost in overhead systems much of which is lost to evaporation.


Zone management and spot fertilization save even more money and water and allow for precise applications. Often we inject garlic oil extract to make our plants distasteful to certain insects.


Frost cloth is used for freeze protection down to 20F instead of using ground water for heat.


Expert growers are masters of Integrated Pest Management systems (IPM) making for safe plants and a safe working environment by using the lowest toxicity products available.


A custom software program makes all the systems flow and reduces waste and effort.


Grower Live is available as a subscription service for other growers seeking web based solutions.


Efficient monorails and carts take the place of 50 tractors and 200 tracking trailers. Monorails don’t add as much to the carbon footprint and are safe to use resulting in very few accidents like those associated with motorized equipment.


Efficient use of delivery equipment and matching orders to the rate of sale reduces the fuel, miles and carbon use.




Scan a QR coded calling card with your smart phone the next time you visit the garden center.

It will direct you to our informative website. Floridafriendlyplants.com


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We are big users of composted municipal tree waste and yard waste compost.


We blend in TurfPro with humates and 14 active bacteria that protect the roots from disease and help keep the soil moist and active.



The final product is a affordable organic soil mix that holds these good microbes all the way to your garden for added success. More on this in our F.A.Q. page.




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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Compost | Drip Irrigation | Environmental Awareness Education | Plant Production
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Florida Wildflowers are Putting on a Show

June 18, 2010 by Rick

The wetter than normal spring has given us a better than normal show this year. Earlier we had a beautiful roadside display of Blue eyed Grass. The ditches are now full of many other showy plants like Tickseeds and Black Eyed Susans.





Florida Hikes will give you information on where you can go to see so many different habitats and their wildflowers. You are sure to see Florida’s Gopher Tortise on these hikes.


Don’t forget to look up for wildflowers too. Our native oncidiums are in full bloom right now.


Enjoy this video from The Florida Wildflower Foundation.

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Categories: Environmental Awareness Education
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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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Categories: Drip Irrigation | Succulent Success | Succulents | Warm Season Gardening | Design | Drip Irrigation
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Feed Readers Make Your Web Experience Better

June 5, 2010 by Rick

The best way to get up to date on your favorite blogs and news sources is to read them all on one page in a Feed Reader. You can open one page and scan headers, text and images. If you find something that you want to read on the sites page you just click the header and it opens in a new tab.

Try it and your time on the web will be reduced and you will get much more information in the time you spend. Here is a short video that tells you how to do it in just a few steps.



Another way to speed your surfing is to install the Google Chrome Browser It is the fastest and safest browser that will not crash any system and cannot be hacked. Once installed you can click Options and select On startup open the following pages then add all the sites you check each time you log on. This way your Facebook, Gmail, Feed Reader, Bank, Newspaper etc all open in tabs.


Follow us on Facebook where you can learn and share and ask questions that you will be sure you get the right answer too. Sites where I can be found are: Florida Friendly Plants, Florida Gardeners on Facebook and I Wet My Plants. I hope to Friend you there.


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The Chelsea Flower Show

May 27, 2010 by Rick

My friend, Paige Worthy, is in London at Chelsea and shares these images for us since we cannot be there. Someday, I hope to go.

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