Tropical Florida Gardens - What's in Bloom at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates?

Tropical Florida Gardens

What's in Bloom at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates?

Archive for October, 2016

Golden Rain Tree: Pretty But a Potential Pain

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 28th

Many visitors of the Edison and Ford Winter Estates have noticed our trees with what appear to be salmon-colored flowers. In fact, these are the seed pods that followed yellow flowers of the golden rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata, which started blooming in early October. While quite attractive in the fall, the seeds are plentiful and determined, with hundreds of new seedlings sprouting up wherever they fall.

In southern Florida, the tree is considered a Category II invasive plant, which means it has the potential to crowd out native species if not planted wisely. For example, planting a golden rain tree in a heavily landscaped suburban lawn is probably not going to lead to nuisance trees as the seedlings will be destroyed during lawn maintenance. However, planting one near wooded areas is not recommended as the tree is likely to spread into the natural landscape.


Seed pods of the golden rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata.

Stop by our Garden Shoppe and find flowering trees and other great garden plants for your yard. We will be starting some golden rain tree trees from seed, so check back in 2017 if you want one for your home.


The salmon-colored seed pods of the golden rain tree.


Golden rain tree with peach-colored seed pods over our Garden Shoppe in Fort Myers, Florida.

New Self-guided Tour: Plants in Your Cupboards

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 21st
Ylang ylang flower

Come find out how this flower is transformed into one of the world’s most famous perfumes on the Plants in Your Cupboard self-guided tour.

Ever wonder how cheese gets it’s orange color? Or how cinnamon is harvested? Or what a vanilla plant look like?

You can find out the answers to these questions and more on our new self-guided tour, Plants in Your Cupboards. The tour takes you to thirteen botanical sources of common household items (including the spice in Worcestershire and the scent from Chanel No. 5) right here in the Estate’s gardens. It’s free with regular admission and for members. Kids will enjoy discovering the plant source of items they know, like Vicks Vaporub and aloe. Ask for the tour brochure at the Historian’s Desk inside the museum. If you like palms, pick up a copy of our self-guided palm tour as well.


Florida Fall Color: Pink

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 19th

Close-up of pink silk floss petal from the Edison and Ford Winter Estates.

Who says Florida doesn’t enjoy fall colors? Our colors are just a bit different than those in the northern latitudes. If you’ve traveled through Southwest Florida lately, you’ve probably noticed a few trees covered with pink blooms. This is the display of the pink silk floss, Ceiba speciosa. In Fort Myers, there are three pink silk floss trees in bloom just south of Cortez Blvd on the west side of Cleveland Ave. Their petals are a deep pink. A silk floss tree at Alcazar Ave and McGregor Blvd in Ft. Myers has pale pink petals but hasn’t bloomed just yet. At the Edison and Ford Winter Estates, our pink silk floss and a newly-planted yellow silk floss are just starting to bloom. Both are between the Edison Guest Home and the Caloosahatchee River. We also have a “mystery” silk floss that was supposed to be pink but has an almost all white bloom with tiny pink streaks.


Pink silk floss tree blooming near the Downtown River District in Ft. Myers, Florida.

Like the related kapok, silk floss has numerous, sharp prickles on its trunk and branches. Silk floss typically drop their leaves in September to prepare for blooming in October. After blooming, the tree may produce seed pods that are full of a silky material that is similar to cotton in appearance. It tends to be leafless all winter until the temperatures warm a bit in the spring, when new leaves appear. If you see younger trees with green trunks, that is chlorophyll in the trunk, which allows the trees to produce energy even when leafless.

Native to South America, silk floss do very well in southern Florida but can tolerate temperatures down to 20°F. They are tolerant of south Florida’s winter droughts and one of the few flowering trees that put on a show this time of year, giving us fall color.

Stop by our Garden Shoppe, where we stock many varieties of flowering and fruiting trees (including the pink silk floss), plants, gingers, orchids, vegetables and herbs for your home.


Pink silk floss, Ceiba speciosa, with flowers and characteristic branch and trunk prickles.


Yellow silk floss bloom between the Edison Guest Home and Caloosahatchee River at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates.


Our “mystery” pink silk floss with faint bright pink streaks on white petals.

Garden Shoppe Spotlight: Vines

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 12th

Following up on our recent Garden Talk on vines, we have some new additions for sale in our Garden Shoppe.


Corkscrew/Snail Vine


Snail Vine


Skyblue Clustervine


Gold Finger Plant

Corkscrew Flower: You have to smell these flowers to believe them! The corkscrew flower or snail vine, Cochliasanthus caracalla, has a very intoxicating scent and an equally interesting flower. This is a fast-growing vine that flowers in summer and late fall. It likes full sun and a moderate amount of water, so this isn’t a vine you can plant and forget about like some of our Florida native vines like coral honeysuckle. It can even bounce back after a freeze, surviving as far north as Zone 9.

Snail Vine: A similar vine, also sometimes called the snail vine, Sigmoidotropis speciosa, has purple flowers throughout most of the summer. It can thrive in sun or part sun but needs regular watering.

While both of these snail vines attract bees and butterflies, both are pollinated by ants. Each is labeled as “snail vine” in our Garden Shoppe, so look for the flower to distinguish the two.

Gold Finger Plant: If gold is more to your liking, check out the gold finger plant, Juanulloa aurantiaca. This vine is considered an aggressive grower and needs a lot of light and water. It should survive a light freeze.

Skyblue Clustervine: A reliable Florida native is the skyblue clustervine, Jacquemontia pentanthos. This twining vine requires a bit more water than most natives, but can survive short droughts. It’s blue flowers tend to bloom after rains and during the cooler winter season. It prefers full sun.

Our Garden Shoppe is open 7 days a week, 9 am – 5:30 pm.

Scare Plants for Sale!

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 6th

20161006_124537Check out our newest arrival in the Garden Shoppe: little ceramic pumpkins with a Tillandsia air plant! Just a few inches in size, these “air” plants are perfect for your desk and will add a touch of the Halloween season to your space. Mist the air plant a few times a week to keep it healthy. After the holiday, transfer the plant to another houseplant or, if you live in a warm climate, a tree outside, to enjoy it year-round. Just $6 each in our Garden Shoppe at the Estates.

New Tour for Palm Afficianados

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 5th
Cliff Date Palm

Cliff Date Palm near the Moonlight Garden

Did you know we have more than sixty species of palms at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates? We just put together a self-guided tour with a map of the palms so you can find each one in our gardens. This is a free option with your paid General Admission to the grounds or with your Estates membership. Pick up a map at the Historian’s Desk in the museum.


Bottle palm

Bottle Palm

Gardening Up, Not Out: How Vines Add Drama to Your Landscape

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 4th

Did you catch our Horticulturist’s latest article in the News-Press? Debbie Hughes explains how vines can help you grow your garden up and not out. Click here to read the article.

Garden Talk: Vines for Your Garden

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 1st

● October 8, 10:00 a.m.

garden talk vines for your gardenIf you have been paying attention to the structure being built off of Larchmont near the Edison Ford Propagating Nursery, this “Chinese Red Pergola” will be the site of the new vine demonstration built by the facilities and ground team. Edison Ford has many types of vining plants ornamentally, as well as, for rubber research.  Our site has many other interesting vines tucked away throughout the gardens. Come join the horticulturists and learn how to grow these magnificent vines and learn which vine might be the best for your home garden.

Participants will receive a 20% discount certificate to be used at the Edison Ford Garden Shoppe. Meet under the pavilion next to the information booth after signing in at the ticket office. Wear comfortable shoes for walking the gardens and bring a hat, sunscreen, and water.

Cost: Edison Ford Members $10; non-members $15. RSVP to Leeanne Criswell, Edison Ford Program Registrar at
239-334-7419 or