I took a trip to North Florida this week where the weather was spectacular and spring in well under way. South of Montgomery, Alabama I saw redbud Cercis canadensis and Chickasaw plum trees (Prunus angustifolia) blooming in the woods and Japanese (Magnolia x soulangeana) and star magnolias (Magnolia stellata) were bursting out in people's yards. Even the 'Purple Formosa' azaleas were breaking into bloom. It won't be too long and spring will be here for all of us. Please tell your friends about Floridata and be good and grow. Jack
The 'Susan' magnolia in my yard in North Florida (Zone 8) blooms at this time of year. 'Susan' is is hybrid cross between Magnolia stellata rosea and Magnolia liliiflora 'Nigra'. Click here to download a large version (800x600) to display on your computer desktop.
These Magnolia species also bloom in spring before, or at the same time, the leaves appear:
Our newest plant profile is of a the hoptree (Ptelea trifoliata), a small deciduous tree that is native to the forests of eastern North America where it grows in the shade of the forest understory. The hoptree is a host plant of the beautiful giant swallowtail so plant it in butterfly, wildlife and woodland gardens in USDA Zones 4 - 9. Read the profile now »
Native cross vine (Bignonia capreolata) grows all over my North Florida neighborhood. They bloom in April, the vines becoming garlands of bright blossoms draped over, up and through the pines and baldcypress trees around my pond. This vine and nearby trumpet creeper vines (Campsis radicans) are two of the main reasons that my place is a favorite hummingbird hangout. Here are links to some of my favorite spring-flowering vine profiles:
The Japanese plum yew (Cephalotaxus harringtonia) is an interesting evergreen shrub with several distinct forms. I saw this low-growing cultivar called 'Prostrata' planted as a shade-tolerant ground cover at the edge of a small pond where it helped keep things neat by "swallowing" litter and small pieces of debris. Here's a sample list of links to other shade-tolerant shrubs that might look good in your landscape:
I found a tiny myrtleleaf holly (Ilex myrtifolia) seedling at the edge of my pond a few years ago. I cleared away the competing vegetation and its grown into a nice little tree that bore its first berries last year! I like all of the holly species because they're easy to grow, durable and many are drought tolerant. More holly species to know or grow:
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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The native Carolina cherry laurel Prunus caroliniana is blooming now too at my place in Florida's Big Bend (USDA Zone 8). This attractive broad leaf evergreen is a small tree but is often trimmed and even sheared to maintain it as a shrub for use in hedges and screens.
At this time of year both flowers and fruit are present on the plant, but not for long! The migrating birds that flock by at this time of year for delicious Carolina cherry snacks soon leave behind only the blossoms. Read more » about the Carolina cherry laurel. Here are a few more trees and shrubs that will attract birds to your yard:
Steve says you should start your own pepper and tomato plants 6-8 weeks before they will be planted out in the garden (after all danger of frost has past! :-) If you want to grow unusual or heirloom varieties you must start your own as these are not typically offered for sale as plants so Start Your Own Pepper and Tomato Plants!
The Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundiflora) is an easy to grow annual that is a favorite source of nectar for many kinds of butterflies including the pipevine swallowtail (check them out in our Butterfly Gallery). Click here to read more about this easy-growing annual for Zones 5-10 and then read about these other annual flowers that are sure to lure butterflies to your garden:
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