The weather has been beautiful around here - except for the "very high" pollen counts. Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) is having a very good year here in Northern Kentucky and was prolifically producing pollen just as bad down in the Smoky Mountains when I visited last week (it didn't matter though, was still really fun!) Steve did a bunch of new Plant Profiles and I'm back at work now so stop by later in the week to see whats new. Please visit Floridata often this fall and be good and grow. Jack
In Florida and similar warm winter climates, we can grow many very beautiful cold resistant flowering plants at this time of year. The nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) is one of these that likes cool weather. In Zone 8 where I lived, they are planted in fall and bloom throughout the winter - unless it gets really cold and then they don't. The big fat seeds are easy for kids to handle and they are fast growing and quick to produce showy flowers (which are not only non-poisonous but edible as well!). Here are a few more of my cool flower favorites for the winter garden:
The lovely southern maidenhair fern (Adiantum capillus-veneris) is the subject of Floridata's newest plant profile. The delicate maidenhair fern is among the prettiest of the cultivated ferns. The lacy foliage works well as a backdrop for other semi-shade loving plants. They do well in hanging baskets, rock gardens, shady borders and woodland margins where it is hardy in Zones 7-11. If provided suitable conditions (above average humidity), the maidenhair will succeed indoors too. Read profile » and check out this sampler of links to representative profiles of a few famous fern families:
The gerber daisy (Gerbera jamesonii) has huge colorful flowers, is easy to grow and is one of the few plants that I've ever managed to get to bloom indoors. Even where they are not hardy, the gerbers are a favorite container and bedding plant. Instead of letting yours freeze to death when cold weather arrives, consider bringing them indoors for the winter. Even if you don't take very good care of it, your gerber will survive and recover quickly when you plant it back outdoors in spring. Click to download a large version of this golden-yellow gerber to display on your desktop.
... but if you take care of your gerber when you bring it indoors you will be rewarded with colorful flowers - like these spectacular scarlet blossoms - right in the middle of winter when you'll appreciate them the most. Read more about this easy-going beauty in the profile ». I made a list of link to profiles of a few more species that you'll have fun getting to bloom indoors:
It's not really a strawberry nor is it a begonia but the strawberry begonia (Saxifraga stolonifera) does resemble those plants in some respects. Strawberry begonia is a low-growing, tender perennial noted for its handsome foliage and interesting flowers. Gardeners in warmer climates use strawberry begonia to create colorful groundcover plantings suitable for shady areas beneath trees and other low-light situations. Read more about this pretty little perennial that is hardy in USDA Zones 7-10 and that is grown everywhere indoors in containers and especially hanging baskets where the slender stems can gracefully cascade over the edges.
Although one of the smaller of the Hawaiian Islands, Moloka‘i incorporates a rural life style all but vanished from the larger islands and a quiet beauty of its own. Its nickname, The Friendly Isle, could not be more apt. Click here for a botanical tour of this uniquely beautiful island.
The Hawaiian Islands are home to an array of native plant species that has attracted the attention of botanists, naturalists, horticulturists and world travelers ever since Europeans first visited the islands near the end of the 18th century. Read more »
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Mexican sunflowers (Tithonia rotundiflora) are big beautiful plants that are easy to grow and that bloom throughout the summer. Best of all, they attract butterflies from all over the neighborhood for sips of nectar. Steve sent us these pictures of two butterflies dining on his plants. Download a large version of this image.
The Zebra Longwing is one of my favorite butterflies and their black and white color scheme is especially attractive against the bright orange Mexican sunflower. Download a large version of the zebra longwing.
Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) is a big, showy perennial with bright burgundy stems and purple berries. Many bird species enjoy gorging themselves on fresh pokeberries prior to pooping on just washed automobiles. Click to download a large version (800x600) of these pokeberries that have dried into what looks like pokeberry raisins (but they are poison to people so never eat any). This is the plant of Polk Salad Annie, a song made famous by Elvis but Tony Joe White is the original: (click for video). PS "poke" or "polk" are both OK...
The black or American walnut (Juglans nigra) is one of North America's most spectacular trees. It's wood is hard, dark and takes a lustrous finish. It's nuts are delicious and able to awesomely enhance chocolate chip cookies. Click here for more on this beautiful and useful giant of the forest that would also look great in your Zones 5-9 yard (providing you have a really big yard to accommodate its ultimate size!)
Drive through cental Ohio at this time of year and you will see some of the most beautiful and productive soybean (Glycine max) fields in the world! The foliage is beginning to yellow and the fat bean pods are about ready for harvesting. Did you know that soybean and edamame are this same species? Read more »
Unlike many other tulip varieties, the Darwin Hybrid tulips (Tulipa spp.) return year after year to produce beautiful blooms. 'Salmon Impression' is a Darwin Hybrid and one of my favorite tulips. Click to download a large version (800x600) of this picture. Now is the time to plant tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs.
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