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?

Planting & Care Tips for Your Star Fruit (Carambola) Tree

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 14th

The Carambola, also called Star Fruit, is a small to medium sized tree that produces a juicy tropical fruit. The flavor combines those of the apple, grape and citrus and is crisp in texture. The fruit can be eaten fresh and is often used in salads and as a garnish due to its unique star shape.

     When selecting a Star Fruit be sure it is fully yellow then allow to ripen on your counter until the fruit becomes golden and the ribs begin to brown. Some of the common varieties of Carambola include: King, Bell, Sri Kembangan, Arkin, and Fwang Tung. Once your Star Fruit is mature it is capable of producing up to 200 pounds of fruit a year.

TIPS for Growing Starfruit:

  • Temperature: Thrive in subtropical and tropical climates. Zone 10 to 11, but can be grown in zone 9 with protection from frost. Older trees are more tolerant of frost, but growth stops at 55 to 60 degrees and prolonged exposure to temperatures below freezing could kill the tree.
  • Best Dooryard Varieties: Arkin is the most commonly grown variety due to it sweeter flavor.
  • Avg. Height and Width: Varies with the variety, but Carambola trees range from about 12 to 30 feet tall. They are a smaller tree perfect for the average homeowner’s yard.
  • Native Range: Native to Malaysia, Indonesia and Southern China. Commercial production now occurs in Hawaii, Florida and other tropical regions of the world.
  • Fertilize: 4 to 5 times a year with balanced liquid fertilizer or use a slow release granular fertilizer several times during the growing season.
  • Water: Star Fruit does well with regular watering. Additional watering is not needed during the rainy season.
  • Plant in full sun. Trees will do better in an area that is protected or sheltered from the wind.
  • Soil: Carambola are not too particular of soil of types, but grow faster and produce more fruit in a soil with more organic matter. Needs good drainage and does not like wet feet.

We currently have the Arkin variety for sale in the Garden Shoppe and grow the Arkin and Fwang Tung varieties on the grounds of the Estates.

Visit the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Garden Shoppe to see some of the varieties we have available. The horticulture staff is available to assist you and to answer any further questions you may have.

Planting & Caring For Your Tropical Hydrangea (Pink Ball, Dombeya Wallichii)

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On April 28th

            If you are interested in adding a striking new specimen to your garden, then perhaps you might consider planting one of the Dombeya varieties. The Pink Ball, better known as Tropical Hydrangea, is a large shrub or small tree that provides a beautiful show of color in the first months of the year that last for over a month.

             Some say that Dombeyas smell like frosted cake. Their pendulous flowers are round in shape and resemble pompoms hanging about the leaves. Once the flowers have finished their blooming cyle they will remain for quite some time, so it is best to remove them in order to keep a neat appearance.

Caring for Tropical Hydrangea:

  • Watering your Dombeya may be necessary in the dry months as it an average to high water consumer
  • Plant your new shrub in a sunny to partially sunny location
  • Allow enough space for the shrub to grow up to 15 feet (it can be maintained at a smaller size with regular pruning after the plant is done flowering)
  • It can be pruned back as needed without deforming the shrub
  • Dombeyas are fast growers and need some fertilizer in the growing season
  • It is possible to grow Tropical Hydrangea in a container (however, they perform the best when planted in the ground)
  • It performs best in temperatures above the low 30’s and it will lose its leaves if the temperature dips into the 20’s
  • It is best suited for sub-tropical to tropical climates, but has been grown in zones 9B with some frost protection

            We have several varieties planted at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates; a pink variety called Dombeya wallichii and a white variety known as Dombeya pulchra. 

             The Tropical Hydrangea will be a great addition to your garden and will offer you an exciting display when in flower. Pink Ball is available for purchase in one gallon containers at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Garden Shoppe.

Name That Plant VII ANSWER: Golden Dewdrop

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On August 5th

Last week we tested your plant knowledge and asked you to identify this plant:

Congratulations to Barbra Goodrich Justice for correctly identifying it.  As this week’s winner, Barbra will be awarded her own golden dewdrop plant!

Golden dewdrop, Duranta repens

This Florida native is very versatile – it will grow as a free-form small tree in your yard or bloom just as happily in a hanging basket.  The purple flowers of the golden dewdrop are followed by small yellow fruits, thus the common name of this plant.  It is a great butterfly plant, rated for zones 9B-11, and is drought tolerant once established.  If allowed, it may grow to 15 ft tall by 15 ft wide, but will tolerate frequent pruning. 

Although it is unclear when the Edisons first planted golden dewdrop at the Estates, in 1935 Mina led a tour of the gardens and the golden dewdrop was included.  Come see our golden dewdrop behind the Estates ticket office or view the white-flowered variety across the street next to Mina’s Moonlight Garden.  We have several flowering golden dewdrops for sale in the Estates Garden Shoppe: most are the purple variety and are $6 for a one gallon container.

Plant Spotlight: Dwarf Poinciana

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 17th

by Britta Soderqvist, Estates Plant Curator

Dwarf Poinciana, Caesalpinia pulcherrima

This is a fast-growing shrub or small tree, growing up to 12 feet in height and sometimes 12 feet in width.  It blooms best in full sun and tolerates drought well.  A variety of flower colors are available, although the yellow and red variety (pictured above) is most common.  Flowers can appear year-round but are more prolific during the warm months.  The Dwarf Poinciana is thought to have originated from the West Indies and the tropical Americas.

Unlike its larger “cousin” the Royal Poinciana, the Dwarf Poinciana can grow in cooler temperatures.  It has been known to survive in temperatures as low as the high teens.  During extreme cold, it may die back to the ground but will likely recover.  Dwarf Poincianas will bloom when potted but they do better when planted in the ground. 

If you love the look of the Royal Poinciana Trees that are blooming all over McGregor Boulevard but don’t have the room for such a large tree, consider purchasing a Dwarf Poinciana from the Estates Garden Shoppe.  Plants in 6 inch pots are $10 and have been selling quickly. You can see our Dwarf Poinciana in full bloom next to the fountain between the Edison Main House and the Moonlight Garden.