Coastal Breeze News » Plant Talk http://www.coastalbreezenews.com Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:59:59 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Home Remedies, Myths or Facts? http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/07/22/home-remedies-myths-or-facts/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/07/22/home-remedies-myths-or-facts/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 20:35:36 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=40219 PLANTTALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Horn worm

Horn worm

There is a saying that insects will inherit the earth. Well, in Florida they already have so we better just get over it.

You aren’t the only one looking forward to harvest time in your flower and vegetable gardens, so are your neighbors. I’m referring to insects, of course. And, you don’t want to be hosting a veggie buffet for all the bugs in your neighborhood.

Sure, there are effective pesticides that will quickly rid your garden of these hungry invaders, but before resorting to harsh chemicals, why not give some of these popular home remedies a try. Most were passed down through generations in my family, and the rest I picked up during long chats with fellow gardeners.

Romaine lettuce

At dusk, place Romaine lettuce at the base of plants with obvious snail damage. In the morning, gently retrieve the snail-covered lettuce and toss out.

Chicken grit

Sprinkle chicken grit at the base of snail-infested plants. When snails slide or move across it, the course texture cuts them, and they subsequently die. An elderly lady shared this tip with me, and claimed she’s never had reason to use toxic snail and slug baits in her garden.

Pickle juice

Before discarding your used dill pickle jars, pour the remaining juice around your gardenias to promote flowering. Just one more reason to polish off another tasty jar of pickles.

Marigolds

If you’ve been growing tomatoes for a while, you’ve probably heard that marigolds help repel garden insects. Common knowledge is that if you plant them around your tomato plants, hornworm moths will become confused, and lay their eggs elsewhere.

Garlic

Try planting garlic around blueberries, raspberries and roses. The strong scent is said to be an effective beetle repellent.

Lavendar (lavendula angustifolia)

Lavendar (lavendula angustifolia)

Lavender

Plant lavender around your leaf crops, and its intense scent should eliminate any problems you’re having with white flies and aphids. Definitely bring some inside, too, and your house will smell heavenly for weeks.

Basil

A personal favorite of mine, and, not just on my plate with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and garlic. Basil is also said to repel white flies, aphids and spider mites from garden tomatoes.

Dill

The strong smell of dill is believed to repel many insects. It is also the host plant (a plant female adult butterflies lay their eggs on) to the Black Swallowtail — one of Florida’s most beautiful butterflies and one of 10 varieties of swallowtails in Florida.

Funny story: One Friday night a while back, a friend of mine decided to chop up some fresh dill and sprinkle it into his homemade sauce. He put the remaining dill in a glass of water and left it on the kitchen counter. Then, he left town for the weekend. Upon returning home on Monday, he found mysterious black droppings all over his kitchen counter. Unfortunately for my friend, his fresh dill was infested with Black Swallowtail eggs. The eggs, of course, hatched into caterpillars. The hungry caterpillars proceeded to eat the dill, and soon after relieved themselves on his kitchen counter. Guess what the secret ingredient was in the sauce!

Peppermint (Mentha pulegium)

Peppermint (Mentha pulegium)

Nasturtiums

Planting nasturtiums alongside cucumber vines is widely thought to repel hungry leaf-eating beetles. Their bright leaves and vibrant flowers make eye-catching potted plants. Nasturtiums are edible, too, with a somewhat peppery taste.

Catnip

Plant catnip between rows of radishes and eggplant, and say goodbye to pesky beetles. Share some with your cat, and you’ll have one happy cat. Seriously, cats love this stuff!

Parsley

Planting parsley in your asparagus beds will help repel hungry asparagus beetles. Did you know that this pretty plate garnish is also very nutritious?

Most people don’t realize that 99 percent of the bugs in their garden are beneficial. Unfortunately, applying pesticides will kill the good bugs right along with the bad.

Bug Catcher. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Bug Catcher. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

These past few years, Naples has been experiencing a white fly epidemic. The good news is that ladybugs, or lady beetles as they are called, have proven to be super white fly predators. In fact, I release 5,000 ladybugs into my garden every spring, which has all but eliminated unwanted pests. Last year, however, I had to release a few thousand more mid-season, which still beats dousing my garden with harsh chemicals.

I readily admit that these home remedies for your garden have not been scientifically proven. Nonetheless, there are legions of seasoned gardeners out there who swear by them. Give them a try, and you be the judge. If nothing else, companion plantings will add splashes of color and interest to your vegetable garden.

Like I always say, time spent in your garden is never time wasted. It’s supposed to be fun not experimental physics, and if nothing works, you are not harming anything.

KEEP BUTTERFLYING!

 

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com


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The Magnificent Trees of Spring http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/27/the-magnificent-trees-of-spring/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/27/the-magnificent-trees-of-spring/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 14:48:39 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=39978 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Royal Ponicana Flower

Royal Ponicana Flower

Those of us who have a large piece of property and want some shade need to take these three trees into consideration. All you need to do is take a ride around any of the older neighbors in town and you will fall in love. Try 6th Street — right off of 5th Avenue in Naples — and also 4th Avenue, you’ll be happy you did.

First is the royal poinciana (Delonix regia), also known as the flamboyant tree from Madagascar, and once you have seen, it you will know why. I think it is the showiest tree we have here in South Florida. This tall tree (40 feet) is fast growing and has a spread as wide — if not wider — than it is tall. In spring and summer, it is covered with clusters of bright red to orange flowers that look neon-colored in the sun, but its foliage alone is very lacy and fern like. It is a wonderful landscape tree when it is given enough room and sun to strut its stuff and supply some shade. As a specimen tree in the garden, it has no match.

Jacaranda Tree

Jacaranda Tree

In the winter, the Poinciana will go deciduous and produce large brown woody seed pods, which are so hard they can bend a lawn mower blade if run over by accident. The downfall with the Poinciana tree is it will shed its leaves and pods, and brittle branches snap easily. So, some picking up of debris is necessary in the winter months, but for me, it is worthwhile for the show of shows it puts on in the spring and summer.

Poinciana trees require very little care once established, and acclimate to almost any soil. Poinciana will grow in containers with rich soil and must be kept wet. Do not plant Poinciana near pavers or walkways because of its large spreading surface roots some consider works of art. The Poinciana tree pruned properly will withstand high winds and can tolerate severe pruning to be kept at a manageable height. The Peltoptorum pterocarpum, or yellow form of Poinciana, has mostly the same characteristics as the orange Poinciana tree.

Jacaranda Flower

Jacaranda Flower

The Jacaranda tree is a spring bloomer with clusters of blue-purple flowers that can be 14 inches long and 10 inches wide. It also has vey feathery foliage and announces spring in South Florida. The Jacaranda tree makes a beautiful specimen tree on medium to large lots. It grows to about 20 feet and produces a dappled shade.

Some people actually think these trees are messy because they create a blanket of flowers on the ground beneath the tree, which looks like purple snow. I can think of a lot of things that create a mess, but I don’t think flowers are on my list.

Jacaranda and Poinciana trees are very similar in that they needs little care, are drought tolerant, adapt to almost any soil conditions and can take severe pruning. Leaves fill out the branches after the flowers fall.

Royal Ponicana Tree

Royal Ponicana Tree

The third beauty in spring in South Florida is the golden chain tree (Laburnum) has pendulous yellow flowers that are very dense and 10-12 inches long, but depending on variety, the flower stems can grow to 20 inches long. The leaves are somewhat clover-like, and like all three of these beauties, they are all eye catchers even when not in bloom. The golden chain will get about 20 feet, and a huge yard is not necessary. They also bloom in the spring.

Let us not forget the native Tamarind tree which is also a host plant for the Cassis Blue Butterfly with its white powder puff like blooms. Pruning after blooming will encourage flower production for the next year, and cutting out dead branches, seed pods and small limbs makes the tree stronger and healthier. It usually takes seven years to produce blooms and will not bloom as a container plant. It usually is not bothered by damaging pests. All parts of this tree are poisonous and can be lethal if enough is ingested. This plant also is a larvae food plant for some species of butterflies.

Golden Chain Tree. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Golden Chain Tree. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

All of these trees are traffic stoppers and deserve a spot in Florida gardens. I have three in my yard, and I think down the road my beautiful butterfly garden might evolve into a beautiful shade garden.

KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!

 

 

 

 

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com


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Plumeria in Florida http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/13/plumeria-in-florida/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/13/plumeria-in-florida/#comments Fri, 13 Jun 2014 10:12:52 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=39606 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

B7-CBN-6-13-14-4Like a beautiful butterfly emerging from a plain brown chrysalis, magnificent blossoms sprout from seemingly lifeless branches every spring. Plumeria, also known as Frangipani, are colorful tropical shrubs or small trees native to Central and South America, Mexico and the Caribbean. They are readily available in pink, red, yellow, white and every combination in between.

Plumeria are extremely popular in Hawaii, where they grow in abundance. Leis, the famous flower necklaces given to tourists upon their arrival, are made from Plumeria blossoms. Fun fact: In many Polynesian countries, women wear a blossom behind their ear to signify their marital status. A flower behind a woman’s left ear means she is taken.

Many varieties of Plumeria have an intoxicating scent, especially at night. Drawn in by the enticing fragrance, Sphinx moths — the Plumeria’s natural pollinators — are frequent nighttime visitors. During the day, Plumeria attract butterflies, bees and a fast-growing fan base of enthusiasts.

B7-CBN-6-13-14-5Plumeria are deciduous plants, which explains their barren appearance during the winter months. Some find their bare branches unsightly; others, like myself, admire their unique gnarly branch structure forming garden art.

Evergreen with oak-shaped leaves, Plumeria pudica has become very popular in Naples in recent years. Unlike other Plumeria, this particular variety does not drop its leaves and will bloom beautifully for months. It’s currently only available in white, but it won’t be long before those tenacious hybridizing experts work their magic.

Plumeria grow very well in South Florida’s so-called soil. Requiring minimal care, they can grow to a height and width of 15 to 20 feet. Plumeria have a slow growth habit, and should be under-planted in well-draining soil. They love sunshine, requiring at least a half day’s worth to reach full blooming capacity. Plumeria also do well in screened-in pool cages, provided they receive full sun. They make excellent container plants. Use a large, sturdy pot so the plant won’t topple over. When choosing a fertilizer for Plumeria, look for one that is high in phosphorus (the middle number).

B7-CBN-6-13-14-6One more thing: In the fall, rust fungus is extremely common in Plumeria. My advice is to relax and leave it alone. Your Plumeria will be going deciduous soon anyway. If you must treat the plant, use Neem oil and a little soap. Remember, never spray anything on your plants in the heat of the day, as it will burn the leaves.

The National Plumeria Collection is housed right here in Southwest Florida at the Naples Botanical Garden. Their expansive collection attracts Plumeria fans from around the country during the spring and summer. Take a stroll through their magnificent collection of more than 300 different varieties, and remember to stop and smell the Plumeria.

KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!

 

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, www.naplesbutterfly.com. He also can be heard every Saturday at 4 PM on his call-in garden radio show, “Plant Talk with Mike Malloy,” on 98.9-WGUF


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On the Shady Side http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/03/on-the-shady-side-2/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/06/03/on-the-shady-side-2/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 13:41:33 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=39402 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Diffenbachia. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Diffenbachia. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

When most of the flowering plants and shrubs are struggling to thrive in the hot summer sun and waiting for the “cooling” afternoon showers, there is a group of plants that might be a little bit smarter. They thrive in the shade. Not only are these shade plants doing just fine, they are blooming.

In Florida, shade takes on a different meaning than the shade “up north.” I don’t think we have the same deep shade areas in Florida as they do up north because the sun is so intense here. It’s lower in the sky, and there are more wide-open spaces with less to distract from or interfere with the sun’s rays and intensity.

When I first moved here more than 20 years ago, I remember driving around looking for a spot where I could wax my car in the shade on public property. Never found one. Try finding a spot where you can park your car without turning you dashboard into a Weber grill.

Shade in Florida is dappled sun that filters through our so-called shade trees. Even the north side of my house is pretty bright a good portion of the day.

Orange Plume (Spicigera)

Orange Plume (Spicigera)

When most people think of planting in these shady areas, the first things that come to mind are ferns and philodendrons. While both of these are good examples of green plants that will do well, let’s go one step further by thinking of something that not only give different shades of green but also produces flowers.

There are also several groups of plants where the flowers are inconspicuous and the foliage is the attraction because the foliage is so spectacular. Alocasias are one such group in which the foliage comes in many different sizes, shapes and colors. These plants with their colorful tropical leaves can hold their ground with any shade loving flowering plant.

One of the most popular plants for shade is Firebush (Hamelia patens). It blooms year round and is wildlife friendly, attracting hummingbirds and all kinds of birds and butterflies for its berries and nectar. Firebush also does well in medium to bright light.

Brazilian Snow (Ctenanthe lubbersiana)

Brazilian Snow (Ctenanthe lubbersiana)

A couple of years ago I found two new plants that bloom almost continually in the shade on and off all year. The first one is Spicigera. Part of the shrimp plant family (justicia) commonly called orange plume, it is a 5-6-foot shrub which will bloom on and off all year long with orange plume-like flowers. Another is White Candle plant (Whitfieldia elongate). I first saw this plant growing and blooming underneath a stairway. The flowers are white and look like candle tops, while the foliage is a beautiful shiny dark green. This plant not only blooms year round as a container plant on my lanai but has been in bloom for more than three years.

Another is giant White Begonia (Odorata). This plant not only grows and blooms in the shade but does double duty. It also adapts to sunnier locations. It has white flowers and large shiny green foliage. As a matter of fact, almost all begonias will do well in shade.

Farfugium japonicum commonly known as “tractor seat” — its leaves are large and resemble the seat on a tractor — has blooms like a Black-eyed Susan (yellow) that protrude from stalks that can reach 2 feet with each stalk having multiple blooms. Not very common, but if you can purchase one, it is an unusual plant that will bring a lot of inquiries and be a real find for your shade garden.

White Candle (Whitfieldia elongate)

White Candle (Whitfieldia elongate)

A larger plant for shade is Brazilian Snow (Ctenathe lubbersiana). It will reach 2-4 feet. Leaves are white-to-yellow and green. This one does real well as a container plant and is very showy. Flowers are inconspicuous.

Last but not least are Bromeliads, which are some of the most colorful plants and so easy to care for. Some of their blooms can last for months, and another bonus is they put out pups (new plants) every year. So buy one, get many. It’s the plant that keeps giving. Share them with friends.

These are just some of the shade plants that are out there. Have fun searching for others. KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com


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Mosquito Repellent Plants http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/05/19/mosquito-repellent-plants/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/05/19/mosquito-repellent-plants/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 13:40:41 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=39123 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Bee Balm. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Bee Balm. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

With the snow birds leaving, the temperatures rising and the rains on the way, it is a sure sign summer is fast approaching. This all means the year-round residents of South Florida begin to retake paradise. To help us enjoy the outdoors more, we can plant certain plants that help repel mosquitos from our outdoor living spaces.

Most insect–repelling plants do so with their natural fragrances that come from the oils in the leaves and flowers. Be sure to plant them in containers on patios or by the front and back door. The plants I will list for you will not only repel mosquitos but they will emit wonderful scents throughout your garden and patio areas. Plus, most mosquito-repelling plants also serve a second purpose. Most can be used in cooking like herbs.

Horsemint (Monarda citriodora)

Horsemint (Monarda citriodora)

Some of my favorites are listed below:

• Lemon grass is the No. 1 choice to plant in your landscape and in pots on your patio, deck and other outdoor living areas during the summer to keep mosquitos at bay. Before having an outdoor event, brush lemon grass to release more of its fragrance, thus making it more effect.

• Of course, we all have head that marigolds will keep insects away from our vegetable gardens, and yes, they do work. Another member of the marigold family — tagettes Mexican — repels mosquitos and also is a butterfly larval and nectar plant.

• Rosemary is a great mosquito-repelling plant with benefits. Its wonderful scent will please us year round, and it thrives in hot, dry climates. While keeping pests away, we can enjoy its sent, and use it to make great rosemary chicken on the grill.

• Basil is another herb that doubles as a pest repellent. All these herbs do equally as well in pots as planted in the ground. There are several different varieties.

• Peppermint is not only a mosquito repellent, but it is used in cold and hot teas. It is also a butterfly nectar plant.

• Lavender’s scent comes from the essential oils that are on its leaves. Some say that it not only repels mosquitos but also stops the mosquitos ability to smell. It is drought tolerant and loves full sun.

• Most scented geraniums work as a mosquito repellent, but lemon and pineapple seem to work best. These fast growers do well in gardens and containers, and love sun and dry climates.

• Both horsemint and bee balm are great butterfly and hummingbird nectar plants as well.

Lavendar (lavendula angustifolia)

Lavendar (lavendula angustifolia)

Other tips to keep mosquitos out of your backyard living space are to keep bird baths clean, make sure pots are turned upside down so water does not collect in them, and never use saucers under your planted pots in the rainy season. They hold too much water, and can cause a plant’s death by overwatering.

As in the garden, I really don’t use pesticides so these plants to repel mosquitos are right up my alley. They all can be used in cooking and provide a great number of different scents in your garden. So when you go and get hot dogs and beer for your next outdoor party, you might want to think about picking up some of these plants. If not, just go ahead and wear head netting to keep mosquitos at bay, but remember how hard it is to drink beer through one of those things!

lemon Grass(Cymbopogon cirates) Peppermint (Mentha pulegium) Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Keep butterflying, and enjoy the outdoors!

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com


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Mussaendas in Bloom http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/05/01/mussaendas-in-bloom/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/05/01/mussaendas-in-bloom/#comments Thu, 01 May 2014 14:00:39 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=38715 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Mussaenda 'Marmalade'

Mussaenda ‘Marmalade’

Sightings of the Tropical Mussaendas are becoming more frequent in South Florida gardens. Making them colorful standouts amongst the mainly green Florida landscapes. There are over 150 varieties with only a handful seen here in South Florida landscapes. They are native Africa to Asia and are members of the coffee family (Rubiaceae). This plant also is commonly known as Tropical Dogwood. The names of the different Mussaendas were derived from the names of the First Ladies of Philippine Presidents.

Mussaendas are attractive shrubs that can reach the height of 12-15 feet, but can easily keep at a height of 5-6 feet and in a container even smaller, if so desired. They will stand a heavy pruning, but this should be done in the spring. They also may as they get older lack bottom branches. This is a perfect place to plant an understory plant to make the perfect landscape statement.

The flowers are small and tubular that both butterflies and hummingbirds love. The big show is the colorful bracts which come in pink, red, white and yellow and various combinations, and all show up well against the sometimes light or dark green foliage.

Mussaendas can tolerate a lot of sun, but in Florida mid-day, full sun will not only cook an egg but will cook most plants. I have found that when labels on plants call for full sun it does not pertain to the state of Florida. It seems that whoever is in charge of information on plant labels has never spent a summer afternoon in Florida. I have found that most Mussaendas prefer some afternoon shade. Mussaendas can tolerate semi-shade, but when exposed to more light, it seems the shrubs will develop a stronger structure.

Mussaenda 'Dona Luz'

Mussaenda ‘Dona Luz’

Mussaendas are not drought tolerant, so place them in your landscape with plants of equal water requirements. Do not overwater; like any plant, roots will be affected by over watering and may cause death. Use a slow release fertilizer as you do on your other landscape plants every three to four months. It is also a good idea to do a couple of foliar applications of fertilizer a year. Using pine straw as mulch helps with the organic matter which helps the mussaendas with their nutritional needs.

Shrubs need a yearly pruning to reduce branches from becoming flower and leaf heavy and causing branches to break. If possible, plant them in a protected area to shield plants from heavy rains and strong wind damage.

Mussaendas have little problem with pests and are pretty disease resistant. Mealybugs and scale can infest a multitude of plants, including Mussaendas. Also be on the alert for spider mites and white fly. Remove clumps of old flowers to avoid any fungal problems.

I hope soon we get back to our normal winter temperatures so we don’t have to discuss this any longer, but if plants are damaged from cold temperatures it usually is limited to leaf drop. Plants will normally flush back out with the warmer weather.

KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!!!!!!!

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com

[email_link]

 

Mussaenda Erythrophylla Mussaenda Flava Mussaenda Philippica
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Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia species) http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/04/23/crape-myrtle-lagerstroemia-species-2/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/04/23/crape-myrtle-lagerstroemia-species-2/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 18:25:53 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=38452 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Crape myrtle blooms in a vast array of  bright and vibrant colors.

Crape myrtle blooms in a vast array of bright and vibrant colors.

I’d like to introduce you to one of South Florida’s most magnificent landscape plants…Crape Myrtle.

Originally grown in Japan, China and parts of Southeast Asia, it’s the supermodel of the plant world. It’s beautiful and a real head turner, of course, but crape myrtle is versatile too. You can have it in either shrub or tree form and in a myriad of colors, including purple, white, pink, red or a combination of colors. Even the bark on this plant is attractive!

The lovely crape myrtle blooms all summer long and into the fall, with long-lasting, crepe-like textured flowers that form large clusters of 1 to 2-inch flowers at the tip of each branch. The blooms on the crape myrtle are so large and profuse that its branches appear to be weeping toward the ground.

The crape myrtle is deciduous. Still stunning in Florida landscapes during the winter months, its bark takes on a striking exfoliated appearance that ranges from tan and white to coffee brown. And, for us Northerners who miss fall color, crape myrtle amazes during the autumn months in hues of red, burgundy, yellow and orange. It’s almost like being back in New England…almost.

Amazingly, this “supermodel” is not high maintenance. Crape myrtle thrives in full sun and high humidity, and is drought tolerant. Plus, it’s not the least bit finicky. It even flourishes in poor soil, which makes it perfect for South Florida landscapes. My personal favorite is the raspberry-colored cultivar, which is drop-dead gorgeous!

Crape myrtle bark

Crape myrtle bark

In order to maintain your crape myrtle’s pretty appearance, you’ll want to prune it in winter or early spring. Trim off all suckers and branches up to about 4 feet. Proper pruning will expose its beautiful bark and improve air circulation, which is very important for maintaining a healthy appearance. Never chop your crape myrtle down to a stump. This will ruin its natural shape and weaken its branches. Strong branches are vital during the summer months because they support the massive flower clusters growing on the tips of the limbs. I recommend using hand pruners and trimming 2 to 3 feet off the top of your crape myrtle. During flowering season, you can promote a second light flush of flowers by deadheading old blooms.

If you’re looking for a large evergreen specimen, choose the queen crape myrtle (lagerstroemia speciosa), known as one of the most spectacular flowering trees in the world! Originating in tropical India, this majestic tree blooms in June and July. The queen crape myrtle’s leaves will turn red before falling in the winter, but soon recovers. It’s fittingly named queen crape myrtle because it produces massive profusions of pinkish blooms on foot-long panicles, and can reach 40 feet in height. Of course, you can maintain a smaller height by regular trimming.

The queen crape myrtle is not just beautiful on the outside; it’s strong on the inside too. The weather here in South Florida can get downright ugly at times. Queen crape myrtle is able to withstand high winds better than most trees due to its hard wood. Several gorgeous queen crape myrtles can be admired right now in the medians on most of our major roads. KEEP BUTTERFLYING!

 

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com


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Copperleaf: A Rainbow of Colors in the Garden http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/04/09/copperleaf-a-rainbow-of-colors-in-the-garden/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/04/09/copperleaf-a-rainbow-of-colors-in-the-garden/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 15:41:44 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=37816 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

To fronds.

To fronds.

Native to Fiji in the South Pacific, the Acalypha — better known as Copperleaf — group of plants has the most colorful foliage I’ve ever seen. They can turn your garden into a spectacular, unending kaleidoscope of color.

Under perfect conditions, they will grow to 10 feet and just as wide, but they can be kept to any desired height with just a little trimming. The flowers are small and inconspicuous, mostly hidden by the colorful foliage. Copperleaf comes in a large variety of leaf shapes, ranging from large and oblong to round and fringed to slim and string-like. They also come in a broad range of colors. They can be pink, green, white, red, maroon or a combination of all of the above.

Copperleaf does well in well-drained, alkaline soil, and will thrive in full sun to partial shade. The leaf colors intensify when they receive the most light. Unlike more fragile plants that cannot survive a sun-to-shade transition, the Copperleaf is very resilient. It simply adapts to the sun’s changing positions throughout the year by changing its leaf colors. This makes it very interesting to observe over time.

Trimming Copperleaf should be done with a pair of hand trimmers, which eliminates only the unwanted growth. Never use power trimmers that are designed to box, ball and mushroom plants into a formal shape or hedge. I could never figure out why anyone would want that in a beach community anyway.

To thin, oblong-shaped leaves…

To thin, oblong-shaped leaves…

You can use Copperleaf in the garden in various ways. Use it as a hedge to give you a dense privacy screen with loads of color. It also can be utilized beautifully as a specimen plant, integrated into your garden and creating islands of color where needed. Having pots of Copperleaf on your lanai adds life to an existing living space without the mess of flowering plants that drop leaves and flowers and can stain surfaces. Whatever way you choose to use Copperleaf in your home or garden, it will be a striking and colorful addition.

One of my favorite Copperleaf plants is the Chenille, or red cattails (Acalypha hispida). This plant has long, fuzzy red hanging tails, and is a beautiful specimen in tree or shrub form. There is also a dwarf version called dwarf chenille (Acalypha reptans). This one makes a great ground cover where grass is hard to grow. It also is a beautiful in a hanging basket. Both plants take sun to partial shade; require average water; and blooms repeatedly.

Frost can do damage to Copperleaf, just as it can to so many other plants that are accustomed to growing in our usually mild South Florida winters. In the past, winters have been harsh on our tropical landscapes here and in other areas surrounding Naples, but my experience has been that almost all plants make a comeback, and most actually look better than ever.

KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!

Copperleaf foliage ranges in shape from To fronds. bright red cattails with solid green leaves… To creamy white and green. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com


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Small Trees but Big Show http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/28/small-trees-but-big-show-2/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/28/small-trees-but-big-show-2/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 10:43:23 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=37631 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Dwarf Poinciana (Caesalpinina pulcherrima)

Dwarf Poinciana (Caesalpinina pulcherrima)

For all of us who want to have one of the showiest trees in town in our gardens (Royal Poinciana) and just don’t have the room because of their size, here are some of my favorite small trees that can be grown in courtyards, containers and small yards here in Southwest Florida. They also can be as special as the big boys.

Dwarf Poinciana (Caesalpinina pulcherrima): This is the little brother to the Royal Poinciana but a much smaller size. This evergreen shrub can be pruned and trained into a specimen small tree, usually about 10-12 feet in height but can grow up to 15 feet. This tree also can be called Peacock Flower or the Pride of Barbados.

The foliage is similar to that of mimosa and comes in a range of colors from the all yellow to red, yellow and orange variety, which is most common, to a rosy red flower combination. It blooms on and off several times a year, and tolerates sun to partial shade.

Hibiscus Tree (Hibiscus fijii): This group of small trees is probably the most used here in Southwest Florida. The flowers range in size from dinner plates to small lanterns on weeping branches, exploding in every color of the rainbow and almost any combination. Hibiscus starts out as shrubs that are trained into standards (shrubs trained into a single trunk). They can be used for color and height in the gardens, flower beds or as a single specimen plant. Hibiscus trees make a strong statement when planted singly rather than in mass.

Ylang-Ylang Tree (Cananga odorata). photoS By Mike Malloy

Ylang-Ylang Tree (Cananga odorata). photoS By Mike Malloy

Dwarf Ylang – Ylang (Cananga odorata): First things first, these flowers are used to make Channel No. 5 perfume, so they are very fragrant. I mean total garden fragrant. It will permeate the entire yard. It grows only to about 6-8 feet tall and blooms all year. My large Ylang-Ylang tree in my garden has been blooming for over two years straight, and at night, we have a ritual of standing in the driveway gasping for air. It likes dappled light to partial sun with average water needs. For very little work, you receive big benefits from this little beauty, and it grows well as a container plant.

Glory Tree (Tibouchina): This has showy purple long lasting flowers that bloom from early summer to fall. Planting it in a protected area (from winds) helps with its happiness as a small Florida flowering tree. Partial sun, lots of fertilizer and average water will make this a focal point of anyone’s garden. Heavy pruning in the spring also keeps this tree happy and shapely.

Jatropha Peregrina (jatropha integerrima): This one blooms all year round with fiddle and oval shaped leaves. It used to be you could only get this plant with red flowers, but now, it comes in a pink and coral too. It is a major nectar plant for all butterflies, particularly the Florida State butterfly, the Zebra Longwing. They have been used in the medians in town with great success and give our roadways color. They can reach heights of up to 15 feet and with widths of 10 feet, but can be held at any size with a little trimming. They also have come out with a ‘compacta,’ which grows smaller and more compact only with red flowers. Full sun to partial shade and drought tolerance rounds out some the bonuses of this small tree. This has been one of my long-time favorites. Not only as a focal point in your garden, but Jatropha also makes a great hedge and a great container plant.

Desert cassia (Senna polyphylla)

Desert cassia (Senna polyphylla)

Desert Cassia (Senna polyphylla): This grows to about 10 feet. It also is the slowest growing plant I have ever come in contact with. My tree has not grown three feet in 10 years, not kidding. It also happens to be the host plant (plant that butterflies lay their eggs on) for the sulfur or yellow butterflies here in Florida. It makes a great focal point for any butterfly garden and for that matter any garden. Bright yellow flowers appear a couple times a year but bloom a long time, making it seem like it blooms all year. It likes full to partial sun and is drought tolerant. Leaves are tiny and feather-like.

Crape Myrtle (Crape myrtle spp.): This one blooms in the summer and lasts till fall. Flowers come in shades of white, pink, red, purple and more. If dead headed right after blooming the crape myrtles will most likely bloom again. Leaves give fall colors of purple, red, orange and rust just before they drop for the winter. In the winter, the bark of crape myrtle peals and takes on shades of brown, cream, white and gray. In my opinion, that makes the crape myrtle one of the showiest trees in South Florida. Trimming in spring will produce lots of blooms because flowers appear on the new growth.

(Jatropha Peregrina)

(Jatropha Peregrina)

Orange Geiger Tree (Cordia sebestena): This is used in South Florida as a container plant, street tree and small shade tree growing to about 20 feet. The Geiger produces brilliant orange flowers all year, especially in June and July. The salt tolerance is high, so it does well by the beach. The Orange Geiger also is drought tolerant, which makes it perfect for the Naples area. The trees will do well in full sun and are used in the medians here in South Florida. With a little pruning, they produce a beautiful full canopy. The Geiger’s small fruit has a pleasing fragrance. Geiger trees also are thought of as native trees, but they are not.

These are just some of the trees available to us in South Florida. Just ask your favorite nursery, and they can get it for you if they don’t already have it on hand. KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!

More Small Trees

Cassias (Sennas)

Angles Trumpet (Brugmansia)

Pink Tabebuia (Tabebuia heterophylla)

Carribbean Trumpert Tree (Tabebuia aurea)

White Geiger (Cordia bossieri)

Weeping Bottlebush (Callistemon viminalis)

Lignum Vitae (Guaiacum sanctum)

Milky Way Tree (Stemmadenia galeottiana)

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com

[email_link]

 

 


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Gardening for Honey Bees http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/11/gardening-for-honey-bees-2/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/03/11/gardening-for-honey-bees-2/#comments Wed, 12 Mar 2014 02:04:00 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=37155 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Passifloria incense host plant

Passifloria incense host plant

Honey bees are more important than you think. One-third of all food consumed in the United States is pollinated by honey bees, and hundreds of crops rely on the tiny honey bee for pollination. The value of those crops is estimated at $15 billion annually. Truth “bee” told, the future of the American agricultural industry depends on the honey bee.

The demise of the honey bee is a very complex issue. Since 2006, U.S. beekeepers have seen about one-third of their honey bee colonies disappear due to Colony Collapse Disorder, a phenomenon caused by a number of factors including parasitic mites and viral and pesticide poisoning. This is not a doomsday article about the future of farming or agriculture. My goal is to educate gardeners on the importance of planting bee-friendly plants, which are critical to the survival of the honey bee and other precious pollinators.

Honey bees are industrious, tireless and hardworking. Hence, the term “busy bee.” Their sole mission is to collect pollen. Seriously, they are not stalking you in the garden! When I’m sipping my morning cup of coffee out in the garden, there are so many bees buzzing around that I’d swear there are high-voltage cables dangling over my head. And guess what? I have never been stung throughout the many years I’ve spent gardening. As long as you don’t bother honey bees, they won’t bother you.

Up close and personal with a honey bee.

Up close and personal with a honey bee.

People around town know me as the “Naples’ Butterfly Guy,” and I’ve been happily butterfly gardening for many years. Butterflies are another important pollinator in nature. In addition to their natural beauty, they also play a big part in the pollination of crops and flowers.

Here are my favorite honey bee-friendly plants, which will also be popular stopovers for butterflies and hummingbirds visiting your garden. My number one favorite is Vitex the Chaste Tree. There are two different species. One features white and the other blue flowers. On both species, the leaves are shaped like marijuana leaves (Oh My!). It’s loaded with happy honey bees all spring, summer and fall. My second favorite is Vitex trifolia. This coastal shrub or small tree is special because the top side of the leaf is green and the bottom side is a silver-purple. When the wind blows, it’s spectacular.

In the category of favorite bush, I’m going to go with Fire bush. It comes in native, dwarf and glabra varieties. Another honey bee-friendly recommendation is Sweet Almond (Aloysia virgata). It’s extremely fragrant and blooms year-round. I have at least four in my garden right now. I can personally attest that all of these plants will attract honey bees, butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden.

Honey bees at work. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Honey bees at work. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Here are a few more of my favorites:

• Pentas
• Yellow Alder
• Blanket Flower
• Shrimp Plants
• Porter weeds
• Elderberry
• Lantana

And the list goes on.

One last thing: Pesticides are obviously not honey bee-friendly. So stop using them. After you allow your garden to return to its natural state, Mother Nature will take over with a little help from live ladybugs. Protecting the honey bee population is in everyone’s best interest.

KEEP BUTTERFLYING or KEEP HONEY BEEING!

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com

[email_link]
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The Family and Fragrance http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/21/the-family-and-fragrance/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/21/the-family-and-fragrance/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 19:47:38 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=36753 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Clerodendrum Incisum (aka Muscial Note)

Clerodendrum Incisum (aka Muscial Note)

Clerodendrum is a beautiful flowering plant that can be found blooming and thriving all over our South Florida landscape. With more than 300 species of vines and shrubs in the genus, they are as plentiful as they are lovely.

Some are grown primarily for the large, beautiful flowers that emerge in clusters. Others are wanted mostly for their fragrance. Either way, they’re a great addition to anyone’s garden. Many of the varieties can be found easily; others are rarer, and must be hunted down a bit. Finding them is part of the fun of using them in your landscape.

Like most shrubs in South Florida, they prefer morning sun and dappled sun or shade in the afternoon. Once established, they are very drought-tolerant, and can survive with little water during our dry season. Depending on the size and location of your garden, some species can spread aggressively, so watch out. They can be controlled easily by removing volunteers when they sprout. This trait can be an asset because a large grouping can be obtained with no expense and little work. Clerodendrum will do it all for you with no help.

Star Burst Clerodendrum

Star Burst Clerodendrum

These versatile plants not only brighten our Florida landscapes, but they also can be grown in containers for beautifying smaller spaces.

Some of my favorites:

• Clerodendrum minahassae: Native to Indonesia, this plant is very fragrant with white flowers that bloom mostly in the warmer months. It prefers sun or light shade.

• Clerodendrum quadriloculare (starburst): Very common in Southwest Florida, this plant is native to New Guinea. It can be grown as a large shrub or small tree, and has tubular white and pink flowers that bloom in late winter. The leaves are green on the top and maroon on the underside. In the past few years, a tri-color leaf has been produced.

• Clerodendrum paniculatum (pagoda flower): It is native to Asia, and has tubular red flowers that form a symmetrical shape, such as that of a Japanese pagoda. This summer bloomer can grow 3-4 feet tall and is a very showy landscape shrub.

Clerodendrum Ugandense (aka Butterfly Bush)

Clerodendrum Ugandense
(aka Butterfly Bush)

• Clerodendrum bungei (pink glory flower): This one is native to China, and has large clusters of pink flowers. It is very fragrant and can grow 4-5 feet tall.

• Clerodendrum thomsoniae (bleeding heart): This is one of the most common of these plants. It grows as a vine and prefers shade. The flowers, which can be red and white or red and purple, appear in clusters on the ends of the new growth.

• Clerodendrum speciosissimum (java glory bower): This one is 4-5 feet tall with clusters of scarlet red flowers; it blooms in warmer months.

• Clerodendrum ugandense (butterfly bush): This is a very common Southwest Florida plant. It is native to Africa, and produces blue and white flowers that resemble butterflies. Horticultural names are always changing, so it is also sometimes called Rotheca ugandense.

Clerodendrum Splendes (aka Glory Bower) PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Clerodendrum Splendes (aka Glory Bower) PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

• Clerodendrum incisum (musical note): This plant blooms repeatedly all year long with white flowers that resemble musical notes or bean sprouts when first emerging.

• Clerodendrum wallachii (bridal veil): One of the showiest plants of the species, this one has pendants of white flowers 6-10 inches long cascading from the ends of the green branches. There is one called (Smithianum) where the pendants of flowers are a little longer and its stems are reddish.

These are just a few of the many beautiful and fragrant clerodendrums that are out there to enhance your Southwest Florida gardens.

Clerodendrum Wallachll (aka Bridal Veil)

Clerodendrum Wallachll (aka Bridal Veil)

Rumor has it the large and colorful flowers are a favorite of all Florida’s butterflies, especially the swallowtail. The flowers are so large that the swallowtail can come to rest on them and enjoy the nectar without doing a lot of work. Hummingbirds also have a fondness for the clerodendrum’s large, semi-tubular flowers.

Keep butterflying!

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com

[email_link]
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Bougainvillea — Kaleidoscope of Color http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/07/bougainvillea-kaleidoscope-of-color/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/02/07/bougainvillea-kaleidoscope-of-color/#comments Sat, 08 Feb 2014 00:18:33 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=36397 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Alabama Sunset. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Alabama Sunset. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Native to Brazil, Bougainvillea is truly one of the showiest shrubs we have during the fall and winter months here in South Florida. Its spectacular color comes from its heart-shaped papery bracts. The tiny flower itself is usually white and located in the center of the colorful bract. A sprawling shrub with long thorny branches, Bougainvillea is commonly mistaken as a vine. Unfortunately, it lacks the tendrils that allow it to attach itself onto fixed objects. Bougainvillea’s come in a myriad of colors, including orange, pink, purple, red and white.

Bougainvillea begin blooming after the rainy season, when the length of days and nights are almost equal. Once established, Bougainvillea require little to no water. In addition to being drought tolerant, it is also highly salt tolerant, which makes it a perfect plant for our many homes and communities on our water ways. It should be a real winner in Marco Island. I have one in a sheltered spot that has been blooming continuously for three years with very little water.

It’s common in Naples to see Bougainvillea trained to hang above garages. Don’t get me wrong; I love this look. I just love it more when it’s allowed to grow and really spread up and out, engulfing turf grass as it goes. For maximum Bougainvillea color, plant in wide open areas, and allow it to spread naturally. Remember, less grass means less mowing.

Beba Pink

Beba Pink

Bougainvillea needs minimal pruning. If a shoot goes wayward, go ahead and trim it. Just don’t turn your Bougainvillea into topiary, and please, don’t prune it into geometric balls or boxes. Bougainvillea should never resemble mushrooms, lollipops or any assorted cartoon characters. Also, don’t plant Bougainvillea in confined spaces because it will require constant trimming and will attack anything that gets within striking distance (walkways, etc). To ensure maximum color, hand prune or skip pruning altogether. If a hard cut back is absolutely necessary, do it in the spring.

Bougainvillea is practically pest free. However, there is a nocturnal caterpillar out there that can defoliate this shrub in no time. I recommend treating an infestation with Thuricide, a bacterial-based spray. When ingested by caterpillars, it causes loss of appetite and death soon after. Thankfully, it is harmless to butterflies, birds and humans.

Bougainvillea does very well as a container plant. As far as the container is concerned, the bigger the better. However, even root-bound Bougainvillea will thrive. Make sure there are plenty of drainage holes. Use a potting soil that drains fast because these plants seriously hate sitting in water. Place your container in full sun, or at minimum half day of sun; water sparingly; and fertilize once a month. Bougainvillea prefers harsh conditions and will bloom profusely under stress. If your Bougainvillea is not blooming, it is probably not getting enough sun.

If you’re looking for lots of color without lots of yard work, plant Bougainvillea, and sit back and enjoy the show. Hummingbirds and butterflies are also big fans. KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!! 

 

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com

[email_link]

 


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Crotons: Colorful Indoor or Outdoor Plants http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/29/crotons-colorful-indoor-or-outdoor-plants/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/29/crotons-colorful-indoor-or-outdoor-plants/#comments Wed, 29 Jan 2014 14:22:35 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=35997 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Picasso Paint Brush Croton

Picasso Paint Brush Croton

Crotons (Codiaeum variegatum) were used years ago to decorate East Coast Florida hotel lobbies, as flower arrangements and planted extensively in Florida landscapes for their beautiful tropical color. They come in a kaleidoscope of colors: yellows, pinks, reds, greens, rusts and an occasionally purple and black. They also come in a multitude of leaf sizes and shapes. Flowers of the Crotons are small in size and are secondary to the more ornate colorful leaves. Crotons make wonderful year round colorful container or landscape plants without a lot work. Popular in the 1940s and 1950s, the Croton is making a well-deserved comeback. Like everything else, plants also go in and out of fashion. “THEIR BACK!”

The Croton is classified as an old world evergreen shrub with origins in Asia. It is a true Tropical shrub that can only tolerate mild winters with no freezes. When injured by the occasional frost — which we can get here in Southwest Florida — Crotons respond to this stress by dropping leaves, leaving them unsightly until regeneration starts. They rebound, though, when the temperatures begin to rise. This was very evident last winter, when we had the coldest winter in the 20 or so years that I have lived here.

Croton Flowers. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Croton Flowers. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

I have found that when plants damaged or defoliated by frost — not only Crotons but most plants — come back, they usually are in better condition than before the frost. They begin to flower at all different times because the freeze tells the plant they are about to expire. As a result, they begin to set flowers to produce seed so they can live on with many more generations in the future. A freeze also helps with pests, which in Florida are numerous. The freeze either kills them, or their cycle is broken by the cold.

I personally think that plants welcome the freeze. It gives them an opportunity to rest, which they normally don’t get, and reward us with unusually healthy, pest-free, flowering plants. Only for a while until Mother Nature catches up.

Crotons are very slow growing, and do not require much fertilizer. If you want to fertilize, low nitrogen is the key. All you have to do is live in Southwest Florida one summer, and you might think twice whether anything needs fertilizer because sitting on your lanai having your evening cocktail you can hear the grass growing.

Dread Lock Croton

Dread Lock Croton

Mulching you garden helps keep up the humidity, which Crotons love, and also helps to keep the weeds down. Pine Straw is my choice for mulch. Crotons do not require a lot of water but need to be watched in a drought. Their leaves will wilt, telling you they needs water. Do not over water (ANYTHING); fungus and root rot can develop.

Crotons attain full color in partial shade to full sun. This makes it a must for condo complexes in Naples where they have a mostly green landscapes adding color without a lot of work. Grown as a container plant or in the landscape, this plant will attract attention with very little care making it must for all those gardeners whose thumbs are not so green.

Rex Croton

Rex Croton

Crotons also take to hard wood stem cuttings with ease. Take off bottom leaves, and soak them in water for about two days. Then use sand as a potting mixture. Always keep cuttings of any kinds in shade to semi shade and at a temperature of at least 60 degrees at night. For the more advanced, air layering also works. So put a little color in your life in containers or in the landscape with Crotons.

KEEP BUTTERFLYING!

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com

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Alternatives to a Ficus Hedge http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/16/alternatives-to-a-ficus-hedge/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/16/alternatives-to-a-ficus-hedge/#comments Fri, 17 Jan 2014 03:46:36 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=35787 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Sooty Mold on Palm fronds.

Sooty Mold on Palm fronds.

Right plant, right place” is one of the nine principles of Florida-friendly gardening. It is the key to maintaining a beautiful landscape or garden, will reduce your maintenance costs, and quite possibly, prevent future headaches.

There are many beautiful shrubs in south Florida that can be used to create a spectacular hedge. Ficus (Ficus benjamina) is just not one of them. Sure, it’s fast growing, inexpensive, has shiny green leaves that can be trimmed into balls, mushrooms and assorted Disney characters. Unfortunately, ficus also is capable of growing 90 feet tall in the wild. Therefore, this seemingly inexpensive shrub may end up costing you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars in yearly upkeep.

Let’s consider the cost of maintaining a tightly-sheared ficus hedge. Did you know that ficus roots are very thirsty, and can crack sidewalks, foundations and driveways? Or, that ficus may eventually lift pavers and destroy pool plumbing and irrigation systems?

With the arrival of a new species of thrips a few years ago, ficus leaves began to resemble pea pods. Homeowners, unknowingly, just kept spraying more and more insecticide with no success. The insecticide wasn’t getting to the thrips, however, because they were hidden deep inside the folded up leaves.

Then, came the arrival of the whitefly. It started along the beach, and quickly moved inland, depositing sooty mold all along the way. In some cases, it was so severe that gardens looked like they had suffered fire damage. Many homeowners paid ridiculous amounts of money attempting to contain whitefly. Just in case you didn’t know, whitefly WILL kill your ficus if left untreated. Ficus plants have always been notorious for attracting insects. Plan on spraying lots of insecticide to maintain those shiny green leaves.

Hopefully, by now, you’re seriously considering replacing your ficus plants with more Florida–friendly shrubs, and throwing in the towel on that never-ending trimming battle you’ve been waging with your ficus.

Take your time when choosing a new shrub for your hedge. Consider the height and width of your chosen shrub at maturity. Also, will it attract wildlife, and does it have a pleasing fragrance?

Clusia. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Clusia.
PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Here are some of my favorite ficus alternatives:

• Non-native firebush (Hamelia patens var glabra): This is a “must have” for attracting Zebra Longwing butterflies and hummingbirds. Blooms almost year-round. Features orange flowers with dark green leaves.

• Native firebush (Hamelia patens): Features a light green, hairy leaf with a red flower. This shrub will go semi-deciduous (partial to complete defoliation in the winter). Remember, plants are often unlabeled or mislabeled.

• Copperleaf (Acalypha spp): Not known for its blooms, but for its bright multi-colored foliage. Provides year-round color.

• Fiddlewood (Citharexylum fruticosum): Grows 6-15 feet tall. Will bloom spring through summer. Very fragrant.

• Jamaican caper (Capparis cynophallophora): Grows 6-15 feet tall. Features spectacular white and pink flowers.

• Texas sage (Leucopphylum frutescens): Silver and green varieties feature lavender flowers.

• Thryallis (Galphimia gracilis): Grows 4-6 feet tall. Features yellow flowers that bloom summer into fall. Can withstand summer’s intense heat.

• Clusia (lanceolata): Creates a dense hedge. Features beautiful pink and white flowers.

This is what white flies can do to Ficus.

This is what white flies can do to Ficus.

Some other hedge-friendly plants to consider:

• Necklace Pod (Sophora tomentosa)

• Myrsine (Myrsine floridana)

• Mirror-leaf viburnum (Viburnum odoratissimum “Awabuki”)

Do your homework, though, as some plants are not cold-hardy east of Interstate 75.

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com

[email_link]
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Winter Show in the Garden http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/01/winter-show-in-the-garden/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2014/01/01/winter-show-in-the-garden/#comments Wed, 01 Jan 2014 19:17:32 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=35450 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Dombeya wallichii (pink ball).

Dombeya wallichii (pink ball).

The Dombeya burgessiae (Seminole) puts on one of the best flower shows of any shrub in Florida. It is sometimes called the Tropical Hydrangea because its flowers are similar to the Hydrangeas we know from up north.

The flowers are pink to rose color and bloom from fall to spring. Blooming all winter here in Naples during tourist season, when the most color is desired and appreciated. Last year in Naples, they bloomed all the way into June.

Dombeya Seminole is a large shrub growing seven feet tall and the same in width. It can be kept to about five feet tall with pruning. I usually cut my Dombeya down to about four feet after the spring bloom so it remains manageable all year. If we happen to get cold temperatures here (which we are not) it will rebound quickly and continue on its blooming way.

Dombeya seminole. Photos by Mike Malloy

Dombeya seminole. Photos by Mike Malloy

This shrub will grow in full sun to partial shade and will tolerate our so called soil here in Florida without amending. The more sun the fuller the shrub with maximum flowers. It is also fairly drought tolerant once established. Propagation can be done by air layering or six-inch cuttings rooted in perlite, coarse sand or peat moss.

Dombeya Seminole is truly, in my opinion, one of the showiest landscape plants we have in Naples for its color and massive blooming capabilities all winter long. A real show stopper and a bonus of this already great shrub is that it will also do well in a container. On the flip side, there is the Dombeya wallichii, or Pink Ball tree, which in January, will produce hundreds of flowers that are the size of softballs, pink in color and hang on pendants covering the entire tree.

Euphorbia leucocephala (Snow Bush).

Euphorbia leucocephala (Snow Bush).

One last note, a really great shrub that also is one of our winter show stoppers is Euphorbia leucocephala (Snow Bush), which stays pure white from late fall into the new year. This plant combined with Dombeya make the best winter color combination there can be in any garden. Surprise! It also serves as nectar plant to a large number of our Florida butterflies.

KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!!!!!

About The Author

Mike Malloy, local author and artist known as “The Butterfly Man” has been a Naples resident since 1991. A Collier County Master Gardener, he has written two books entitled “Butterfly Gardening Made Easy for Southwest Florida,” and “Tropical Color – A Guide to Colorful Plants for the Southwest Florida Garden”, and currently writes articles on various gardening topics for several local publications. Mike has planted and designed numerous butterfly gardens around Naples including many schools, the City of Naples, Rookery Bay, the Conservancy and Big Cypress. Bring your gardening questions to the Third Street Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings or on Thursdays at the Naples Botanical Garden where he does a Plant Clinic or visit his website, 
www.naplesbutterfly.com

[email_link]
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