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 and Caring Tips for Your Lychee Tree

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 7th

The season is upon us for harvesting the fruit of the Lychee tree. Despite the fruits addictive flavor, it remains one of China’s best kept secrets. Lychees have a rough outer skin that separates easily leaving you with a flesh that is sweet to sub-acid, aromatic and tastes unlike anything else on earth.

In SW Florida, fruit is ready for a short time in late May through early July and has a very short shelf life.

The trees were introduced to Florida in the 1930’s and some of the larger commercial groves are in an area southwest of Miami. They grow best in the subtropical climates where temperatures are cool and dry for a short time in the winter months.

Lychees do not like wet feet, so be sure to plant your tree in well drained soil. Trees can also be planted on a mound to ensure proper drainage. The native soil of Florida is fine for successful growing.

Tips for Growing & Caring for Lychee trees:

  • Temperature: Thrive in subtropical environments. Heavy tropical environments may result in no fruit production. Mature trees can withstand a light frost, but prolonged temperatures below 32 degrees may result in damage or even kill the tree.
  • Best Dooryard Varieties: Hak Ip, Sweet Heart, Kwai Mai Pink and Mauritius. Commercial varieties such as: Brewster and Emperor are larger trees that may not be suited for a smaller yard.
  • Avg. Height and Width: Varies with the variety, Lychee trees range from about 20 to 40 feet tall. Average is 25’ X 25”.
  • Native Range: Common in areas of Southern China. Commercial plantations are common in Hawaii and Florida.
  • Fertilize established trees regularly 1 to 2 times during the growing season from spring to the end of summer.
  • Water: Lychees need regular watering during the growing season. Soils with too much salt in them, especially in the Southwest require regular watering to prevent salt build-up. Lychees should not be in standing water, as it will stunt their growth. Newly planted trees should be watered 2 to 3 times a week during the first weeks of planting, but can be reduced once the tree is established
  • Prune mature trees to help control the size and shape. The University of Florida Extension office recommends not cutting branches that are larger than 1 inch, or you risk having less fruit production.

During Lychee season, we will be selling Lychee fruit at the Downtown Farmers Market at Centennial Park Thursdays from 7am to 1pm.

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 questions you may have.

Planting and Caring Tips for your Avocado Tree

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 3rd

     The Avocado is not your typical fruit because it eats like a vegetable. In Florida, it is often called the Alligator Pear because of the fruit’s shape and rough textured skin.

     All Avocados are self pollinating with the male and female flowers occurring on the same tree. The best varieties for the home gardener are: Choquette, Simmonds and Miguel.

Tips for growing Avocados:

  • Soil: Avocado trees do not like wet feet, so be sure to plant your tree in well drained soil. Trees can also be planted on a mound to ensure proper drainage. The native soil of Florida is fine for successful growing.
  • Temperature: Avocados are best suited for growing in a lowland tropical climate or frost free subtropical areas along the coast. There are several varieties that are more cold tolerant and may withstand temperatures in the 20’s.
  • Most Avocados do not grow true from seed, so the common method of propagation is grafting.
  • Fertilizing: Newly planted trees should be fertilized lightly once or twice during the first year, then about 3 to 4 times a year after that. A packaged citrus fertilizer or other common mixes include 6-6-6-2 or 8-3-9-2.
  • Water: Newly planted trees should be watered every other day for the first week then 1 to 2 times a week for the first couple of months. In periods of drought, younger trees should be watered twice a week, but can be reduced or stopped once rainy season starts.
  • Avocados do not ripen on the tree, so you only need to harvest what you need. The rest can remain on the tree. Mature fruit ripens in about 3 to 8 days once it is removed from the tree.
  • A grass free area should be kept 2 to 5 feet out from the trunk of the tree. The best way is to mulch, which will also help retain moisture and improve soil quality at the surface. Keep mulch about 8 to 12 inches from the trunk to prevent rotting of the trunk base

 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 questions you may have.

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!