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 the ‘Name That Plant, Win That Plant’ Category

Name That Plant Answer: Jackfruit

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On February 17th

What can reach three feet in length, weigh up to 60 lbs and smell like decaying onion? A jackfruit, the largest tree-borne fruit in the world.

Sometimes called jakfruit, it is edible and despite its unpleasant odor when mature and unopened, the flesh is said to smell like pineapple and banana.  Many people prefer to eat the fruit before it ripens.  The seeds are also edible and prepared a variety of ways according to local customs worldwide.  The wood is quite strong and termite-proof – it is used in a variety of applications including furniture and home construction.

Although the tree’s exact origins are unknown, it is likely native to India and has been introduced to tropical locations worldwide.  In south Florida, the jackfruit tree is evergreen and grows well in frost-free areas, up to a height of 40 feet.  There are several cultivars available that can be kept much shorter, even under ten feet.  More information on the cultivars and planting and care of jackfruit can be found courtesy of the UF IFAS Extension Service here.

The Edisons, who had a great interest in unique tropical trees, had at least one jackfruit on their property in 1931.  Mina Edison also included the tree on her tour of the gardens in 1938.  Our jackfruit, located between the Guest House and McGregor Blvd, recently started producing its fruit.  During the next 4-5 months, it will be fun to watch the fruits grow!  Will they reach 60 lbs?  Stay tuned or come by and see for yourself!

Britta Hanson Soderqvist, Plant Curator

Name That Plant, Win a Plant!

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On February 10th

The first person to correctly name this plant wins a free purple firespike plant, which was featured last week.  Contest ends Feb 15 – we’ll add a few more clues over the next few days if no one guesses correctly.  If you sign up for the email alerts (top right of the blog), you’ll be the first to know when new clues have been added!

Contest Rules: Leave a comment on Facebook or the Garden Blog with your answer.  The person with the first correct answer will receive a free purple firespike plant.  The winner will be announced on the Estates Garden Blog and on Facebook.  Plants must be picked up from the Edison & Ford Winter Estates within 7 days of contest end (and, no, we can’t ship them!).  If you have won previously, please wait 60 days before guessing again.

Name that Plant – Because We Can't!

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 31st

Mystery plant

Know what this plant is? Good! Please tell us! It sprouted on its own in one of our raised beds in our Heritage Garden and we don’t know what it is.  It’s just over six feet tall and the newer leaves are fuzzy on both the top and bottom of the leaf.  The older leaves are rough. We haven’t seen any flowers on it yet. You can click the photos for larger images or come by and see the plant for yourself – it’s right outside the ticket office.

If you’re the first to correctly identify the plant for us (post your answer as a comment on this blog or on Facebook) and we’ll give you a FREE firespike plant. Previous winners, no matter how recently they won, are eligible for this contest.

Mystery plant - bottom of leaf on left side, top of leaf on right.

Mystery plant leaves

Firespike are great butterfly plants.  I’ll post more about them in the next few days, but here are a few pictures…

Firespike flower - win this plant by identifying our mystery plant.

Win this butterfly plant by identifying our mystery plant.

Name those Plants – Win a Plant!

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 25th

Win this hanging basket of gazania by being the first to correctly identify eight of the plants featured in yesterday’s What’s Blooming post.  Number and write your answers as a comment to this blog post below. Include the common name and the genus in your answer.

We’ll check the comments at least once daily and the comments will be hidden until someone correctly guesses all eight.   Click on the picture for a larger image.  If no one gets all eight, the person with the highest number correct will win!  Contest ends Friday, Jan 28 at noon.  Prizes cannot be shipped. Good luck!

Jan 28 update: we have a winner!

The correct answers are below and the reader with the most correct answers is listed in the comments section.

1  Giant dioon, dioon spinulosum

We made this one easy – you could read the plant’s name in the lower right corner when you enlarged the photo!

2  Pink ball, Dombeya x cayeuxii

Another easy one – this was posted Jan 11!

3  Red powderpuff, Calliandra haematocephala

4  ixora, ixora sp.

5  Papaya, Carica papaya

6 mango, mangifera indica

A wide shot of this was posted on Jan 21!

7 cherries jubilee allamanda, allamanda cathartica

Another easy one if you’re a regular reader of our blog – this was featured as a “Name that Plant” in September.

8  Calomondin, ×Citrofortunella microcarpa

Puzzle Junkies – Win a Plant!

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On January 4th

Our “Name That plant, Win That Plant” game is popular, but for those of you who aren’t good at identifying plants from photos, maybe this new contest will help you add some plants to your collection.

Unscramble the two words describing the type of plant pictured and you’ll win that plant! You don’t need to know what type of plant it is (although it might help) – just be the first to post the correct answers to both words in the comments below or on Facebook and you’ll win!

1) cetuslcun

2) calogimusuin

Contest Rules: Leave a comment on Facebook or the Garden Blog with your answer.  The person with the first correct answer will win the plant pictured. The winner will be announced on the Estates Garden Blog and on Facebook.  Plants must be picked up from the Edison & Ford Winter Estates within 7 days of contest end (and, no, we can’t ship them!).  If you have won previously, please wait 60 days before guessing again.

Name That Plant, Win That Plant XV Answer: Roselle

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 28th

Roselle, Hibiscus sabdariffa

Who wants tea? Not only is the roselle a pretty plant with cranberry red stems and fall season blooms, but the dried flower can be used to make tea.  Also, at the base of each flower is the calyx, which is harvested about 10 days after the bloom opens for use in teas, juices, and jellies.  Like many hibiscus, the roselle, sometimes called Florida cranberry, has several medicinal properties and it’s used in herbal products.

Native to Africa, roselle does well in South Florida and is rated for zones 8 and higher.  It is an annual that can regrow easily from seed.  In zones 10 and 11 roselle may even survive a few years if the winters are mild.  The plant will continue to produce flowers during October and November as long as the flowers are harvested regularly.  False roselle, H. acetosella, is similar to roselle but has maroon-colored leaves.  Both species may sucker and can reach ten feet or more if not kept pruned.

You can find numerous recipes online that incorporate roselle.  Do any of you have a favorite roselle recipe to share?

We have a few roselle plants for sale in the Estates Garden Shoppe for just $4 – most are blooming and ready for your recipes!  If you buy yours before November 1, you can save 10% on ALL your Garden Shoppe purchases by telling the cashier the secret discount phrase.

Name That Plant, Win That Plant XV

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 19th

Be the first to identify this plant and win that plant or a peace lily!  The correct answer will be announced Wednesday, October 27.  We’ve made this one challenging and if no ones guesses correctly in the next few days, we’ll reveal a little more of the picture.

Contest Rules: Leave a comment on Facebook or the Garden Blog with your answer.  The person with the first correct answer may choose to receive the mystery plant (if available) or a peace lily.  The winner will be announced on the Estates Garden Blog and on Facebook.  Plants must be picked up from the Edison & Ford Winter Estates within 7 days of contest end (and, no, we can’t ship them!).  If you have won previously, please wait 60 days before guessing again.

UPDATES: October 21:  No one has guessed our mystery plant, so here’s another piece of the puzzle.  October 22: We have this plant for sale in our Garden Shoppe right now.  October 27: Here’s a wider shot of the Oct 21 update that includes the leaves (hint, hint).

Name That Plant, Win That Plant XIV Answer: Desert Rose

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On October 6th

Desert Rose, Adenium obesum

Don’t let this plant’s common name fool you.  It is not a “rose” and although native to sub-Saharan Africa and the deserts of the southwestern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, this interesting plant grows well in South Florida’s humidity.  It has a beautiful bright red, pink and white flower, but many enthusiasts grow desert rose for the caudex, or base, which can be manipulated to form unique shapes.

Desert rose is suitable for container gardening or will thrive in your yard if planted in full sun and well-drained soil.  Plants should never be in standing water and should not get much water at all in the cooler months, as this species is prone to root rot.  If temperatures regularly fall below 35°F in your area, it’s best to grow desert rose in a container so the plant can be moved inside during cold snaps.  Leaves may drop during winter but the plant should recover nicely each spring, providing months of beautiful blooms in the summer.  All parts of the plant are toxic if ingested and the sap may irritate skin, so use caution when planting.

We have a desert rose growing in a container in front of the Caretaker’s house at the Estates.  We also have several for sale in our Garden Shoppe.  Don’t forget, garden blog readers save 10% off their Garden Shoppe purchases by mentioning the phrase of the month at check-out!

Name That Plant, Win That Plant XIV

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 29th

Be the first to identify this plant and win that plant or a peace lily!  The correct answer will be announced Wednesday, October 6.

Contest Rules: Leave a comment on Facebook or the Garden Blog with your answer.  The person with the first correct answer may choose to receive the mystery plant (if available) or a peace lily.  The winner will be announced on the Estates Garden Blog and on Facebook.  Plants must be picked up from the Edison & Ford Winter Estates within 7 days of contest end (and, no, we can’t ship them!).  If you have won previously, please wait 60 days before guessing again.

Name That Plant, Win That Plant XII Answer: Tamarind

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 15th

Tamarind, Tamarindus indica


Did you know you can grow one of the ingredients in Worcestershire sauce right in your backyard?  The fruits of the tamarind tree are used throughout the world in chutneys, drinks, candy and sauces.  In the US, tamarind is sometimes used in barbeque sauces and can be found in sweetened drinks available at ethnic restaurants and stores.

Although native to tropical Africa, this tree is now grown worldwide.  In Florida, it is rated for zones 10-11, may grow up to 90 feet, and will be evergreen except during long droughts.  Our horticulturist, Debbie, loves the weeping form of this tree and says the tamarind makes an excellent shade tree.  Flowers are produced in the summer and the fruits that follow may hang on the tree for several months.   Our tamarind tree is next to the friendship walk on the Edison property.  It is flowering now and produced more than 50 fruits last year, even though it was planted just six years ago.

Our friends at the University of Florida extension service compiled a few recipes for tamarind, including “Tamarind Chicken with Mangoes”.   Lucky for you, our Garden Shoppe sells tamarind and mango trees.  Sorry, no chickens.

Britta Soderqvist, Plant Curator