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.

Name That Plant XII Answer: Cherries Jubilee Allamanda

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On September 8th

Congratulations to Deborah Aldridge for correctly guessing this week’s Name That Plant!

Cherries Jubilee Allamanda, Allamanda cathartica ‘Cherries Jubilee’

Need a summertime bloomer for your garden?  The allamandas are always a good choice and the ‘Cherries Jubilee’ variety provides a rosy pink flower against dark evergreen foliage.  This is a fast growing vine that does best in full sun, is drought tolerant and is rated for zones 9B-11.  It may grow to 8 feet or more and will need a trellis or other support to maintain some form, so consider its location before planting.  Some gardeners have been able to train this plant into a shrub and Cherries Jubilee should do well in a hanging basket.

If you know any Latin, you probably recognized that this plant has medicinal properties.  The species name “cathartica” should give you a hint.  The leaves, roots and flowers of this plant are used in some countries to make a cathartic and all parts of the plant are considered toxic if eaten.  The milky white sap may irritate the skin of some gardeners but this shouldn’t stop you from considering this easy, prolific bloomer for your yard.  The Estates has a Cherries Jubilee on the trellis next to the Shaving Brush tree between the Edison and Ford homes and our Garden Shoppe has several Cherries Jubilee plants for sale.

Britta Soderqvist, Plant Curator

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.