Summer is here and it came quickly! One of the most frequently asked questions I get is what will grow and flower here in Naples and South Florida during the summer months?
Summer in Florida is one of the most trying times, not just for us human beings who are bombarded with constant panic weather forecasts about fires turning the State of Florida into a large charcoal briquette, and upcoming storms which are going to sweep our children and pets into another world, but for our flowers and shrubs as well. It’s a wonder we go out of the house at all. Flowers and shrubs in our garden are the real survivors, because of the intense heat and the chance of torrential downpours every day. Many people assume the afternoon wilt of the foliage of plants in their yard is lack of water, when in reality most of the time it’sjust the intense heat that builds up in the afternoon. So when panic sets in, our first reaction is to go get the watering can or hose and over water everything, creating a perfect micro climate for fungus and insect infestation. If we had just a little patience and restraint, and waited for the afternoon showers to roll in, or waited until the sun gets a little lower in the afternoon sky to cool things down a bit, most of these wilting plants would rebound to its natural and healthy look without any assistance from us.
While talking with many people with problem plants, I got the idea that many gardeners have the “baby it” syndrome, meaning at the first sign that something is wrong or just thinking something is wrong, they begin to torture their plants with all kinds of sprays, wipes, rubs and drenches of all types in the nameof love – which most times leads to serious problems and sometimes death of the plant, shrub or lawn. In fact, most plants would be a lot better off and healthier with less interference from us, and letting Mother Nature do her job. Remember the saying, don’t mess with Mother Nature? This is very true when it comes to gardening. With just minimal help from us, everything should do just fine. Sometimes with no interference from us they actually will flourish, bloom and live a long happy life.
Below I have listed some of my favorites. Remember, if you have any gardening questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will try to answer them. You can find us on Facebook (Mike Malloy) or You Tube under South Florida Plant Pickers. Keep Butterflying!!!
Porterweeds – Four different colors, (red, purple, coral and blue.
Tacoma stans (Yellow Elder) – Can be a large shrub, canbe kept any size with a little trimming. Bright yellow flowers hang in clusters. Blooms appear almost all year. Drought tolerant.
Plumbago auriculata (Leadwort) – Light blue flowers, host plant for the cassius blue butterfly and blooms almost year round. Drought tolerant.
Calliandra emarginata (Power Puff) – Blooms all year. Likes full to partial sun. Flowers are pink to red.
Bauhinia galpinii (Orchid Shrub) – Brilliant red flowers all spring and all summer.
Hamelia patens (Fire Bush) – This is drought tolerant shrub that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds. It blooms year round. Depending on which variety you use it makes a great privacy hedge or a low shrub. Use the Firefly variety for a lower shrub.
Mussaenda (Tropical Dogwood) – This plant is a show stopper in the warm summer months. Blooms range in color from pink, white, marmalade, red and combinations.
Clerodendrums (Pagoda Flower) – A huge red flower almost a foot long, shaped likea pagoda. This is one of my many favorites.
Aristolochia (Dutchmans Pipe)
Aloysia (Sweet Almond)
Brugmansia (Angels Trumpet) and there are many more.
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.