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?

How to quickly add some color to your garden

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On February 11th

We’d all love to have this magnificent display of color in our yard, wouldn’t we? This is a recent  photo of the bougainvillea behind our ticket office.  We sell a variety of bougainvillea in our Garden Shoppe but if you don’t have the patience to wait for yours to reach the size pictured, consider some of the following flowering plants that will make your yard “pop” for the next few months.

We have bulbine – a South African clumping perennial with orange and yellow flowers that is extremely drought tolerant.  Choose from several colors of kalanchoe – a drought-tolerant succulent that may even flower year-round if you’re lucky!  Crown of thorns is always a good bet for winter-time color.  Mandevilla (formerly Diplandenia) is a woody vine with showy pink flowers that are usually out in the summer but may bloom year-round.  We also have plenty of Florida-friendly butterfly plants like plumbago and pentas.  Many citrus trees bloom now so if you have room for a small tree, consider one of the many varieties we have for sale.

If you do have a bit of patience, you might also consider queen’s wreath (Petrea volubis) – a spectacular vine with purple flowers.  The queen’s wreath covering the pergola between the Edison Home and Guest House is blooming right now.  We have a few small individual vines for sale – they were hard to come by so don’t wait hoping to find a larger plant!  If you plant one this spring, it should have a few blooms by next winter.

Britta Hanson Soderqvist, Plant Curator

What's Blooming at the Estates

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On November 1st

Here’s a peek at some of the plants currently blooming and fruiting at the Estates.  Check back tomorrow for more photos of additional flowers!

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Name That Plant X ANSWER: Lipstick Tree

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 19th

Congratulations to Colin Brenner for correctly identifying this week’s mystery plant!

Lipstick Tree, Bixa orellana

If you’ve eaten cheddar cheese, you’ve eaten the product of this plant. The seeds of the lipstick tree, or achiote tree, are used to make annatto, a common food coloring. It was once used as body paint, insect repellant, and ink for hundreds of years by people living in the Caribbean and Tropical Americas. Today it is mostly used to add a reddish yellow color to food and you can find annatto in the spice aisle of your local supermarket.

The seeds from the lipstick tree grow within a bright red hairy seed pod on the branches of the lipstick tree. The tree may reach a height of 20 feet if left untrimmed. It is rated for zones 9B-11 and does best in full sun. Although the pink flowers are quite pretty, it’s the seed pods that will really attract attention to your garden. And if you’re a chef, the seeds can easily be processed at home for use in your recipes. The Estates recently lost a large lipstick tree in the severe January freeze but two small ones managed to survive and are behind the large bougainvillea on the Edison property. We also have a few lipstick trees available in our Garden Shoppe.

Plant Spotlight: Fringed Hibiscus

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 21st

by Britta Soderqvist, Estates Plant Curator

Fringed Hibiscus, Hibiscus schizopetalus

The fringed hibiscus is a fast-growing shrub native to Africa.  Like other hibiscus, it has five petals and a long stigma, but the petals of this plant are divided and the whole flower hangs down, creating a unique, lantern-like effect.

Our records show that Mina and Thomas Edison enjoyed the beauty of the fringed hibiscus, purchasing at least one plant for the Estates in 1908.  Hummingbirds are known to visit the flower and it’s likely that is one of the reasons the Edisons, both avid bird lovers, planted it on their grounds.

Fringed hibiscus will grow in full to part sun although a full day of Florida’s summer sun is probably too much.  During drought, water heavily once a week.  Individual flowers will bloom for just one or two days but the plant should be in bloom during most of the warm months.  The shrub may reach ten feet in height and spread five to six feet on average.  Mature plants should recover from a light freeze.  Fringed hibiscus may also be grown in pots or hanging baskets.

You can see our mature fringed hibiscus behind the large bougainvillea near the Moonlight Garden.  Plants in six inch pots are available for $12 at the Estates Garden Shoppe.