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 ‘plant care’ Category

Grow cut Flowers to Enjoy Indoors

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 3rd

Summer is a great time of year to snip flowers from the garden and bring inside to enjoy all day long! They can add both a lovely fragrance and cheerful colors to your home, and if you’re feeling patriotic, a vase full of red, white and blue blooms will complement your holiday décor!

There are countless plants that can be used for cut flowers. The demonstration gardens in the Garden Shoppe at Edison & Ford Winter Estates includes a wonderful display of annuals in raised beds. Many of these flowers are long-time northern favorites, such as Zinnias, Marigolds, Sunflowers and Snapdragons.

Flowers for cutting can be grown all year long in Southwest Florida, and many provide repeat blooms in a variety of colors. Because our winters are generally mild, seeds can even be sown in prepared soil during the cooler months, so by springtime the garden is full of beautiful blooms.

Cut flowers don’t have to be grown in a garden spot reserved just for them – seeds can be mixed in with vegetables and herbs. For example, Cosmos seeds can be grown between rows of beans and tomatoes to add a splash of color. Gardening from seed is also very economical, as a packet of seeds usually only costs a few dollars and the amount of flowers harvested is well worth it!

To make sure your garden will be successful, it’s important to prepare the site properly before planting seeds. With raised beds, the best soil possible can be used for plants that require a rich, loamy growing medium. Florida’s sandy soil is not conducive to holding the amount of water or nutrients that most cut flowers require. It’s a good idea to fill garden beds with a mixture of compost, planting mixes, worm castings and cow manure to employ nutrient and water-holding capabilities.

Raised beds can be made with 4×4 or 6×6 pressure-treated wood boards (the wood is now treated with copper instead of arsenic) stacked on top of each other to create a place to sit down. If you don’t want to build a flower bed, you can use Smart Pots made of a geo-textile material that’s BPA free. There are many reasons for using this system of diverse containers that are available in many sizes and shapes. Long beds with built in partitions can perform just like a wooden raised bed for half the cost. Fabric-made pots are also breathable, flexible and lightweight.

When choosing what to grow, it is important to select seeds from a reputable seed catalog or garden center. Many seed catalogs offer seeds from flowers that are not readily available as potted plants. For example, Dara (a flower similar to Queen Anne’s Lace) is not sold in pots, but grows easily from seed.

The Edison Ford Garden Shoppe has Johnny’s Selected Seeds and Renee’s Garden Seeds for sale all year long. Native Florida wildflower seeds also are regularly available. A ticket is not required for the Garden Shoppe area, so you can stop by as often as you like to see the cut flower and butterfly demonstration gardens and get ideas for your own little piece of paradise!

How to Care for the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow Plant, Brunfelsia grandiflora

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On December 8th
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The Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow plant with Thomas Edison’s home in the background in Ft. Myers, Florida.

One of the most beautiful flowering shrubs you can plant in Southwest Florida is also pretty easy to please. The Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Brunfelsia grandiflora, starts its show with a purple bloom that fades to lavender and then white over the course of a few days. And as long as you can provide some dappled sunlight and regular water, the YTT (as we sometimes call it) will provide years of enjoyment and create a conversation piece in your landscape.

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The purple, lavender and white flowers of the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow at the Edison and Ford Winter Estates in Ft. Myers, Florida.

If you’re lucky enough to find one of these shrubs (hint: check our Garden Shoppe), select a location that is bright but not in the full sun all day. We have two YTT bushes in the gardens off the Edison and Guest Home porches and they receive quite a bit of full sun but do get some relief in the early and late parts of the day. For the most blooms, select a site that gets morning sun but is shaded later in the day. Water yours regularly until it is established and then check the soil above the roots on occasion, keeping the soil moist when possible. The YTT can tolerate some drought, but if it’s forming buds, you’ll get better blooms if you water during the dry season. Depending on the size of your plant when you install it, it might take two years or so before it produces copious blooms. You can try to encourage earlier blooming with fertilizer, like a 6-8-10 to help with roots and blooming, but it’s not necessary.

Our Garden Shoppe is full of native and tropical plants for sale, including the Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. Open seven days a week, it’s your one-stop-shop for your Southwest Florida gardening needs.

 

 

Gerber Daisies and other Plantings for Spring

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On March 28th

Many of the flowers we are drawn to because of their bright cheery flowers and ground cover growth are actually in the Composite family (asters, daisies and chrysanthemums).

plantings for spring

Several of these great flowers grow well in Florida.   Zinnias and Sunflowers are easy to grow from seed-look for fresh seed packs with interesting names like “Teddy Bear” sunflowers or “Green Envy” zinnias.

As a general rule of thumb, don’t go by what is on the back of the seed packs when planting seeds in Florida; most seed information is written for northern climates.  We can plant zinnias in Florida any time of year and plant no deeper than the size of the seed (probably just on the surface).

planting for spring

Gazanias

Self -sow zinnias seed among your other annuals such as gazanias.  They come in a multitude of bright colors, and close-up in the nighttime waiting for the morning sun to start their day.  They are from South Africa where the flowers are used to drier days.  I like to plant mine in morning sun near my front door; when I walk the dog in the morning they are the first to greet me.

Planting for spring

Bush Daisy

Euryops, or African Bush Daisies, are also very cheerful.  The African Bush Daisy can get to be bushier (hence the name) at approximately 2-3 feet.  It will last more than one season if cut back after blooming.  Euryops does bloom frequently and for long periods of time.

plantings for spring

Gallardia

Another happy Composite plant that thrives in our Southwest Florida landscape is the gaillardiaGaillardias love to reseed themselves wherever they are planted, which is perfect for filling in an area where the sun shines bright and is very drought tolerant.

plantings for spring

Gerber Daisy

One plant that is often sold as a cut flower in the florist trade is the Gerber daisy, but they also grow in containers superbly.  Fertilize with a slow release at the beginning of planting season (winter), and continue with a weak solution of water soluble fertilizer every time you water.  Let them dry out completely before watering again, and not through overhead irrigation.  This may be the key to keeping the foliage clean (powdery mildew is a problem).   Excess water causes most of the problems, and a nutrient-rich,  good draining soil mix  (not our sandy soils) helps to keep Gerber daisies happy .

Most of these flowers will reward the gardener with blooms throughout the year so get your flower on and get planting-you won’t regret planting any of these beauties.  All of these flowers and more are available in the Edison Ford Garden Shoppe.