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 & 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.

Blooming at the Estates

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On November 18th

A sampling of the blooms and fruits you can see at the Estates today…

Name That Plant VII ANSWER: Angel's Trumpet

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On July 28th

Congratulations to Megan Kissinger for guessing correctly, a mere 5 minutes after the contest began!

Angel’s Trumpet, Brugmansia spp.

The large pendulous flowers of this large shrub will surely attract attention in your Florida yard.  Growing to a height of 15 feet, angel’s trumpet makes a great accent plant for homes within zones 10-11 and have been reported to survive in zones 8B-9B.  As natives of South America, they require regular watering and do best in full sun or light shade.  There are several species of Brugmansia and many hybrids have been developed, each with a different color including white, peach and yellow.  Blooms are at their largest at night and tend to “perk up” a bit as the sun goes down.

In a 1931 survey of the Estates, Angel’s trumpet was noted in the gardens. However, the flower color wasn’t recorded so we don’t know which species of Brugmansia the Edisons enjoyed.  Today,  white and peach varieties are on the grounds near the Edison Caretaker’s House.  The Estates Garden Shoppe has a few angel’s trumpets for sale if you wish to plant them in your garden.  Please note that all parts of the plant are toxic if ingested and some people do have skin reactions to the plant material.

Plant Spotlight: "Buttered Popcorn" Tree

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 9th

by Britta Soderqvist, Estates Plant Curator

There is a tree at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates whose small white flowers smell like buttered popcorn!  It just started blooming in late May.  The plant’s name is False Rubberwood (Mascarenhasia arborescens) although the common name is not really used much.  We typically refer to it as the “buttered popcorn tree”.  It grows to about 20 feet high and although the online resources say it prefers full sun, ours is growing in partial shade.  The False Rubberwood is native to tropical regions of Africa and requires a moderate amount of water . 

Visitors can smell the flowers on the tree that is next to the kapok tree behind the Banyan Café.  It’s fairly difficult to find these in Florida but the Estates Garden Shoppe has a few of these trees for sale in pots.