Coastal Breeze News » Plant Talk http://www.coastalbreezenews.com Sat, 19 Apr 2014 13:03:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 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

[email_link]
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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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What’s lurking in your Garden http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/12/23/whats-lurking-in-your-garden/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/12/23/whats-lurking-in-your-garden/#comments Mon, 23 Dec 2013 15:10:01 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=35561 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Calypso Olenader

Calypso Olenader

Are there dangerous plants lurking in your garden? That pretty flower or leaf, or even the colorful bark you’ve been admiring, may cause redness, itching, blisters or even death! Because many tropical plants are toxic, those of us in South Florida have to be knowledgeable about selecting safe plants for our gardens. And, if children and/or pets frequent your garden, then you need to be extra vigilant of what’s growing out there.

I’m going to first dispel the age-old assumption that the Poinsettia plant is poisonous. It’s not. It was proven in a well-known university study to be, at best, a mild irritant. Unfortunately, it’s been given a bad rap. It is an innocent and lovely holiday plant. In fact, in California, they use Poinsettias as hedges, similar to the dreaded ficus we use in South Florida.

Diffenbachia

Diffenbachia

As for the truly poisonous plants, knowledge is your best defense. If you haven’t already taken an inventory of your plant collection, do it soon. Every gardener should know exactly what is planted in his or her garden. That’s just common sense.

Here is a list of plants that you might want to think twice about before planting in your garden:

• Oleander: A drought-tolerant plant that likes full to partial sun, it features spectacularly colored flowers and a pleasing fragrance. A popular plant found on roadway medians and highway overpasses, and hopefully, out of harm’s reach of children, pets and tourists. Don’t be fooled by its beauty. It is one of the most poisonous of all common garden plants. The entire plant is poisonous. In fact, mild irritation can occur by simply touching it.

Angles Trumpet Cherub PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Angles Trumpet Cherub PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

There is an old tale about a group of George Washington’s men who mistakenly used Oleander wood for an evening campfire. By morning, they were all dead. The smoke is extremely toxic. Foxglove is also in this same category.

• Castor Bean (Ricin): An outdoor ornamental plant, it can cause burning and respiratory failure. I’ve actually seen this growing on U.S. 41, along the East Trail, about 10 minutes outside Naples. Rosary Pea is also in this category.

• Croton: Its milky sap can cause skin irritation or rash.

• Sego Palm: The enticing red seeds from this plant are deadly. They look like candy and are very inviting, especially to dogs. Be careful if you have children and/or pets.

• Lantana: Every part of this plant is poisonous, but the berries are especially toxic. Ingestion will cause seizures and difficulty breathing.

• Brazilian Pepper: It causes mixed acute reactions in humans, including itching, redness, swelling and blisters, either by direct or indirect contact. Ingestion can be poisonous. This is the most exotic invasive plant in South Florida.

Atropa Belladonna (deadly Shade)

Atropa Belladonna (deadly Shade)

• Deadly Nightshade (Atropa Belladonna): Both the berries and the leaves of this plant are extremely toxic. It also seeds easily, as I have pulled out more than my fair share while landscaping in South Florida.

• Rhubarb: Most of us enjoy a piece of Rhubarb pie now and then, which is made from the stems of this plant. However, eating a large quantity of its leaves can result in difficulty breathing, burning of the throat and mouth, and even death. Symptoms usually set in one hour after ingesting the leaves, and include convolutions, coma and death.

• Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia): If you lived up north, you probably had Dumb Cane as a house plant. Down here, it’s a native tropical landscape plant. It’s also one of the world’s most poisonous plants. A couple nibbles of this plant can cause voice loss, excessive salivation, and in rare cases, swelling of the throat leading to strangulation and death.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to never plant these varieties. Just be mindful that they present a hidden danger to unsuspecting visitors in your garden. Sometimes, certain plants don’t play well with others and have to be somewhat isolated.Just like certain people.

KEEP BUTTERFLYING!!!

Join Mike Malloy every Saturday at 4 PM for “Plant Talk with Mike Malloy,” a call-in gardening radio show on WGUF 98.9 FM, Naples talk radio, starting December 7, 2013. Listen in and all him with your gardening questions and success stories.

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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Caring for Holiday Plants after the Holidays http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/12/04/caring-for-holiday-plants-after-the-holidays/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/12/04/caring-for-holiday-plants-after-the-holidays/#comments Wed, 04 Dec 2013 18:58:32 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=34983 Pointsetta.

Pointsetta.

The poinsettia (Euphorbia pilcherrima) is probably the best known holiday plant. In the past years they have hybridized this plant into many different colors, but I still believe red is the most popular. I have been asked hundreds of times how to care for them after the holidays so they will bloom next year. The price of poinsettias are so reasonable that most end up in the garbage after the holidays and new ones are bought next year. But if you’re like me, as I hate to see any plant being thrown away, here’s what you have to do to revive your plant for next year.

Poinsettias

1. After bringing your plant home, keep it in a sunny window and water until spring as if were a house plant. It should continue to grow and flourish.

2. In the spring (May) cut the plant back to three to four inches and repot in a pot one size larger than what it is now in. Watch for new growth, and begin fertilizing with a water soluble plant food every two weeks; follow the directions on label.

3. In June, move the plant outside in a partially shaded area. Stay on your fertilizer and water schedule.

4. Summer (July and August), cut back three to four inches. This will keep plant full and not let it get leggy.

5. In late August, pinch back slightly and bring inside to a sunny window and continue water and fertilizing.

6. As of September, begin taking care again as a regular house plant care.

7. October is the most important time. To have your poinsettia bloom for Christmas, keep it in complete darkness from 5 PM to 8 AM. You can do this by keeping it in a box, basement or closet until Thanksgiving. You should see buds at this point. Place the plant in a sunny window during the day and continue to water and fertilize plant.

8. If this is all too much, throw it away and buy another one. Merry Christmas

Just in passing, the reports that poinsettias are poisonous have not been proven and are believed to be an “old wives tale.”

Christmas cactus

Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera ) is native to Central and South America and has been a favorite houseplant not only around Christmas but year. Everyone’s grandmother had one and was passed down in families for years because it lives long and is fairly easy to care for. Keep in bright indirect light – out of direct sunlight which could burn plant.

The Christmas cactus is more tropical than desert so it needs a little water than if it were a desert cacti, but be careful not to overwater because most plants do not like to be overwatered. You can create humidity by placing the plant on a tray of stones which will create humidity when water is placed in the tray. This is actually a better way to water than watering from the top.

To get your cactus to rebloom in the fall, plants should be watered less and kept cool until buds appear on the tips of the plants.

In the spring and summer, plants should be watered and fertilized on a regular basis. Spring is the best time to prune when the new growth appears. Christmas cactus does well if it is kept pot-bound and in the right location will bloom several times a year.

The key to getting Christmas cactus to bloom during Christmas is bright light during the day, total darkness at night and cool temperatures with very little water. The rest of the year, treat like any other house plant. Bud drop can be a problem with Christmas cactus; this is usually caused by insufficient light or overwatering.

Christmas cactus should not be placed near any drafts – hot or cold – that goes for most plants. I have actually had my Christmas cactus to bloom every Christmas with very little care from me. It just seems to do its own thing.

Amaryllis.

Amaryllis. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Amaryllis (Hippeastrum)

This is truly a fun Holiday plant. Usually it is sold pre-planted and only needs a little water to get it started. You can watch the buds shoot and leaves grow every day. They are prized for their blooms, sometimes having four to five huge blooms on each flower stalk and are extremely easy to grow. Colors range from white to red and many combinations in between. Placing your potted bulb in a sunny warm window will help speed up development. The flowers are long lasting – lasting for weeks.

After the flowers are gone, cut the flower stalk to the top of the bulb, but leave the leaves as they act as nourishment for the bulb itself and help it get larger and multiply. Only remove leaves after they turn brown. Keep the bulb in a sunny window, watering and fertilizing it until the warm weather returns. Then, put it outside until fall.

In the fall, bring the bulb in and cut off the leaves. Put it in a cool dark place for eight weeks. Then, repot and begin to water; new growth will begin to emerge and the process starts all over. I have kept bulbs in the vegetable bin in my fridge for that eight week period and it has worked. In Florida, a lot of people grow Amaryllis outdoors because our weather is warmer, and they make a great landscape plant with a lot of color.

Rule of thumb the larger the bulb the bigger the flower.

Norfolk Island pine (Araucaria heterophylla)

This plant is usually used as a small Christmas tree around the holidays – sold everywhere in clay pots. They make great little decorations, but remember, do not plant this in your landscape. It is on the invasive do not plant list. They have a bad habit of blowing over or breaking apart in wind events. Do yourself a favor, and if you decide keep it, leave it in the pot to avoid any future problems

Remember, all these holiday plants usually come wrapped in colorful foil. Just be sure when you water it is not building up in the bottom of the foil otherwise you could drown your plant.

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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Moringa… The Tree of Life http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/11/20/moringa-the-tree-of-life/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/11/20/moringa-the-tree-of-life/#comments Wed, 20 Nov 2013 15:59:07 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=34771 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

The nutritional value of Moringa is off the charts.

The nutritional value of Moringa is off the charts.

If you’ve read the newspaper, watched TV or surfed the Internet lately, chances are you’ve probably come across a story about a specific miraculous, multi-purpose tree. Moringa grows easily and amazingly fast and is almost entirely edible by humans or farm animals. An important food source in developing countries, it has been aptly named the “tree of life.” Moringa is also highly sought after worldwide for its numerous health benefits. Its seed meal can even be used for purifying water.

The nutritional value of Moringa is off the charts. A single fruit contains seven times more vitamin C than oranges, four times more vitamin A than carrots, four times more calcium than milk, three times more potassium than bananas, and twice as much protein as yogurt!

This tree grows fast, so prune often and accordingly. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

This tree grows fast, so prune often and accordingly. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Moringa isn’t a new discovery. The fruit from the Moringa tree was highly valued by ancient Roman, Greek and Egyptian civilizations. It is native to the foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India.

Cultivation of the Moringa tree is currently on the rise in Africa, Asia, South America, Jamaica, and throughout the tropics. Moringa can be grown year-round in tropical and sub-tropical climates and annually in more temperate zones. It’s the sole genus in the flowering plant family Moringaceae. The two most widely cultivated species are (oleifera) and (stenopetala).

Moringa does well here in South Florida as it is drought tolerant and loves warm weather and sunshine. However, be forewarned, it will die back in a freeze. But like most Florida-friendly plants, it will come back.

Did I mention that the Moringa tree grows very fast? In order to keep it manageable and encourage branching, pinch back some top growth and cut the branches in half, length-wise. I recommend maintaining its height at around 6 to 12 feet. A smaller stature will come in handy when it’s time to harvest its fruit, seed pods (also known as drumsticks) and blossoms. If the Moringa’s growth is left unchecked, before you know it, you’ll have a really ugly tree on your hands with sparse lower branches and unreachable fruit.

The tree is sought after for its numerous health benefits.

The tree is sought after for its numerous health benefits.

Moringa has a taproot similar to carrots and small feeder roots, but no problematic branching roots. Moringa can be grown as a hedge or a specimen tree. If you choose the container method, make sure the pot you select is deep enough, and use well-draining sandy soil.

For you chefs out there, the flower buds should be cooked before eating. The seeds can be eaten either raw or cooked. Leaves can be eaten raw directly from the tree or shredded into salads, etc. Take a pass on the root, though. It supposedly tastes horrible, and in fact, can be fatal.

If only 50 percent of the amazing nutritional claims about Moringa are true, I’m going to start incorporating its seeds, oil and leaves into every meal I eat. I started using Moringa about two weeks ago and have found it to be working as an appetite suppressant. As far as the arthritis in my hands, knees and shoulder – nothing YET.

Stay healthy and

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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Autumn Colors in Southwest Florida http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/11/08/autumn-colors-in-southwest-florida/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/11/08/autumn-colors-in-southwest-florida/#comments Fri, 08 Nov 2013 16:04:04 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=34517 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Florida Flame Vine.

Florida Flame Vine.

Fall, also known as football season, has arrived. And that means some of the best weather of the year is right around the corner for South Florida. “Chamber of Commerce” weather, as we like to call it in Naples. While our friends and relatives up north are battening down the hatches in anticipation of winter, soon we’ll be flinging open our windows and lanais.

One of the best known and first-to-bloom vines this time of year in Naples is the Florida Flame Vine. Look for a blaze of brilliant orange color on Goodlette-Frank Road, just north of Golden Gate Parkway. A personal favorite, and very popular with plant enthusiasts, is the Dombeya Seminole. The reason for its popularity will be apparent when you see its large raspberry-colored blooms, which will grace your yard well into spring. Speaking of Dombeyas, be sure to check out the magnificent Dombeya Wallichii Tree, which features downward hanging huge pink balls. If I had my way, you would see them both on every block in South Florida.

Panama Rose is another great fall bloomer that produces a flush of pretty pink flower throughout the winter I also like Euphorbia leucocephala, which features tiny white flowers that, when clumped together, resemble a big snowball. It smells great, too. Euphorbia leucocephala had been a challenging plant to find in recent years, but since being propagated, should be in good supply now. If an extraordinary orange-blooming shrub is on your must-have list, you can’t go wrong with Lion’s Tail. It’s a unique winter-blooming shrub and a magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds.

Bougainvillea. PHOTOS by MIKE MALLOY

Bougainvillea. PHOTOS by MIKE MALLOY

For a luxuriously fragrant garden, nothing compares to the intensely scented Ylang-Ylang Tree. You and your neighbors will know as soon as this elegant plant is in bloom. Petrea vines (Queen’s Wreath) will also bloom repeatedly for most of the winter, producing numerous sprays of gorgeous purplish-blue flowers. And, let’s hear it for the always popular Dwarf Poincianas. You can always count on a stunning display of either iconic red or yellow flowers from Dwarf Poincianas. Cape Honeysuckle will soon be putting on an exuberant seasonal display of orange, red, and yellow flower power. The only Frangipani variety that does not go deciduous is the Pudica. It features profusely blooming winter white flowers and makes a big statement.

Dombeya.

Dombeya.

For a tree that looks like it’s bursting with yellow fireworks, check out Cassia. It has, unfortunately, been plagued by a fungus problem for the past few years. Let’s hope this season’s Cassia has acquired some resistance. With the return of fall temperatures, expect Firespike to begin blooming soon. It serves as the official welcome wagon for returning South Florida Ruby Throated hummingbirds. Firespike comes in a variety of colors such as red, pink and purple, and delivers spectacular color during the winter months. The only exception is the native variety, which is almost totally deciduous in the winter. Native Firebush features vivid red flowers, while the Dwarf and Glabra varieties feature reddish-orange flowers. The latter is the best choice for winter color, and preferred two to one by overwintering hummingbirds.

And, of course, there are hardy Bougainvilleas. Available in a rainbow of colors, they are literally year-round blooming machines. Remember, the color is in the bracts, and the tiny white flowers are inside the bracts.

Here are a few more top-performing fall/winter bloomers you should check out: Coral Vine, Congea tomentosa, Shrimp Plants, Sweet Almond and Asian Snow.

Now, put down that TV remote. Pick up your gardening gloves. And, let’s kick-off a new gardening season.

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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Adventure and Beauty in the Everglades http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/10/27/adventure-and-beauty-in-the-everglades/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/10/27/adventure-and-beauty-in-the-everglades/#comments Sun, 27 Oct 2013 21:42:13 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=34291 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

Muhley Grass.

Muhley Grass.

For many years, the South Florida Plant Pickers have traversed the East Trail (US-41) through the Everglades. Bound for either Miami or Homestead, we are on a mission to find the most beautiful and unique tropical plants to bring back to Naples. We are constantly searching for that rare and special plant not found at your local gardening center. And, when we find it, we feels like we’ve struck gold!

The South Florida Plant Pickers are a group of dedicated local plant enthusiasts who provide entertaining and informative YouTube videos and articles on the purchase and care of tropical plants.

Every week we brave the elements as we peruse hundreds of plant, tree and flower varieties unique to South Florida. We frequently cross paths with various tame, and not-so-tame, wildlife on our plant-seeking quests. Kudos to our videographer Maureen Imes, whose bravery, patience and sense of humor has served us well throughout our adventure-filled journeys.

Morning Glory.

Morning Glory.

Nearly 2,000 horticultural species and a plethora of wildlife thrive in the Everglades, also known as the River of Grass; a unique and unparalleled ecosystem located just outside of Naples. The South Florida Plant Pickers can only hope to scratch the surface in exploring this vast botanical wilderness.

The adventure usually begins as we’re driving down the highway. One of us spots something that catches our eye, and we instinctively pull over to examine it more closely. As we walk toward our newest discovery, we spot something else in the distance that is even more spectacular. Next thing we know, we’re miles from our van and suddenly notice that it’s really hot in the Everglades during the summer! And quiet, too, except for an occasional vehicle driving by. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to witness this vast natural beauty firsthand on our weekly trek to the East Coast.

Yellow Top.

Yellow Top.

Speaking of natural beauty, on a recent trip we discovered a sea of spectacular yellow wildflowers in bloom as far as the eye could see. Such intense blooming commonly occurs after a prescribed burn, which highly benefits the land. We also came across miles and miles of striking white star-like blooms dotting the fields and marshes. Upon closer examination, we identified them as Swamp and Spider Lilies. There were also an abundance of pretty native Morning Glories, Pickerelweed, Alligator Flag and Splatter Dock. Unfortunately, there were plenty of Water Hyacinth, too, an evasive, exotic plant species that requires immediate attention. They are progressively overcrowding our South Florida waterways, but I’ll save that discussion for another article.

The next time you’re in the mood for a mini adventure, along with some amazing scenery, head south on the East Trail through the Everglades, and experience what South Florida is really all about. 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]

 

Seaside Goldenrod. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Seaside Goldenrod. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Several wildflowers you’ll see during your journey through the awe-inspiring River of Grass:
Alligator Flag
Seaside Goldenrod
Native Milkweed (Tuberosa)
Bladderwort
Native Suberosa Passion Vine
Duck Potato
Tickseed (Bidens Alba)
Coreopsis
Native Aster
Wild Petunia
White Wild Sage
Pickerel weed
and about 2,000 more.


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Curcuma: Tropical Flower or Medical Miracle http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/10/11/curcuma-tropical-flower-or-medical-miracle/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/10/11/curcuma-tropical-flower-or-medical-miracle/#comments Fri, 11 Oct 2013 14:18:00 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=34049 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

A view from the top. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

A view from the top. PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Curcuma, although tropical in origins, (mostly from Southeast Asia, India and Malaysia) does not like to be in the sun all day. A filtered morning or afternoon sun is best. Like most plants in Southwest Florida, the summer sun is deadly. The plants in the curcuma family are often called gingers but are really Zingiber. The Curcuma longa species is solely used for the harvest of the spice turmeric. The rhizomes are ground into a dried powder which is turmeric.

Turmeric is the main spice in curry. It is used to color and flavor butter, cheese and mustards – to name a few. It is also used as a medicine for many different aliments. The oil is used in the fabrication of many perfumes and soaps. In the past years, numerous studies have even shown the medicinal benefits of turmeric and its anti-cancerous properties.

Curcuma parvifbra.

Curcuma parvifbra.

Not only is this one of the most tropical oriental looking flowers I have ever seen, but the foliage when not in bloom has truly a tropical appeal. Curcuma is grown from either rhizomes or can be purchased as potted plants.

Curcumas are a hardy perennial here in south Florida, blooming from spring to fall. The ones sold in stores are usually of the dwarf variety, (Siam tulip) which mean they don’t grow very tall.

The large, full-sized curcumas sometimes grow up to three feet with a larger flower and showier foliage. My Favorite!

Curcumas offer red stems and beautiful foliage for arrangements.

Curcumas offer red stems and beautiful foliage for arrangements.

Both dwarf and regular size curcumas will die back to the ground in the fall and reappear next spring. Mark the area where they are planted so you don’t dig them up in the late fall. Better yet, a great tip from Brian Galligan, Head Horticulturist at the Naples Botanical Gardens, is to plant them in ground covers so there are no problems when they die back. The new foliage in the spring appears like needles protruding from the earth that unfurls into the beautiful tropical foliage. When planted together in mass, curcumas make for a spectacular flower show in any garden. Remember curcuma likes well drained soil. In Florida we have a lot of sand in the soil, which is a must for them. Also curcuma likes organic material which we know we don’t have, so it should be added. Curcuma makes a great container plant or just plant the whole container in the ground at a depth of the rim of the pot. So when fall comes and you’re not fortunate enough to live in zone ten, you can over winter the curcuma in the garage and replant it in the garden next spring.

Dwarf Curcuma in pink.

Dwarf Curcuma in pink.

Curcuma foliage and flowers provide a long-lasting source of cut flowers for your arrangements. The tropical foliage, some light green and some with red veins in the leaves, are also great in arrangements.

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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Garden Shrimps!!! http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/09/27/garden-shrimps/ http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/2013/09/27/garden-shrimps/#comments Fri, 27 Sep 2013 13:03:51 +0000 http://www.coastalbreezenews.com/?p=33791 PLANT TALK
Mike Malloy
mikemalloy@naplesbutterfly.com

justicia lutea (Yellow Shrimp)

Justicia lutea (Yellow Shrimp)

Shrimp plants are becoming very popular in South Florida gardens. I don’t know if it is because of their colorful bracts with tubular white flowers that seem to explode out of the top and sides, or if it’s that the flowers look like the pink crustaceans so many of us Floridians consume by the pound every year. Whatever the fascination, they are great plants; unique and wildlife friendly.

For those gardeners who are not familiar with these little beauties, first let me tell you that they are drought tolerant and can take the summer heat and humidity. Still not convinced? How about that most of them bloom year round. Shrimp plants are also butterfly and hummingbird magnets. When planted in mass, like everything else, they definitely make a statement.

There are two different plants that are called by the common name shrimp plant. I was surprised they did not have the same genus. The yellow shrimp (Pachystachys lutea) is probably the best known and can be found at most nurseries. The yellow shrimp can grow four to five feet tall here in Florida, but has a tendency to get leggy, which can be remedied by cutting it way back once a year. It will flush back out quickly. You can also plant new young plants in the front of the older, leggy ones. The latter makes a huge statement in the garden, but severely cutting it back usually produces more blooms and stronger stock. This is one of my favorites.

Justicia betonica (White Shrimp) PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

Justicia betonica (White Shrimp) PHOTOS BY MIKE MALLOY

The other option is the red or pink shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana). It will grow into a nice, full shrub but does not get four to five feet tall, like its cousin the yellow shrimp. There is also a white shrimp (Justicia fulvicoma). The blooms have white very erect bracts with small purple flowers popping out along the sides of the flower stem.

Then there is my new favorite: the orange shrimp plant (justicia spicagera) or commonly called orange plume. It will grow into a five to six feet tall shrub. The blooms are BRIGHT orange and explode away from the plants like the fourth of July fireworks display.

Fruit cocktail (Justicia brandegeana) is another shrimp plant that has appeared in nurseries in the last few years. The bracts are a yellow-green with red to pink flowers popping out of the sides of the bracts. I’ve had mine for a couple of years and it has only grown about three feet high.

Justicia brandegeana (Red Shrimp)

Justicia brandegeana (Red Shrimp)

Still another is King’s Crown (Justicia carnea). This plant is another shrimp that is smaller size and works well as a border plant. It really stands out because of its upright, full, pink clusters of flowers which bloom on and off several times a year.

All shrimp plants will do well as container plants as well as in the garden and they like to be fertilized a few a times a year. I have read that they prefer sunny locations but I personally have had better luck placing them in a lower light, not shade (as if you could find shade in Florida).They also perform well in our sandy soil.

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]

 

Shrimp plant

Family: Acanthaceac

Plant category: Perennials, shrubs

Pests: Shrimp plants have a few insect problems, some scale but not enough of a problem to deter one from planting these beauties.

Uses: Shrimp plants make great cut flowers, garden borders, hedges, container plants and, in masses, a big statement in the garden.


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