Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In Your Backyard: "Winter Blooms That Thrill, Crape Murder That Chills"

I was rousted out of bed in the wee hours with a neighboring electric transformer blowing as lightning hit it as a cold front and storm cell went through Central Florida. But thankfully it provided us with 1.5" of rain. That's enough water for ten days if the temperatures hover between the 40's and low 70's this week. Looks like we are going to get another downpour on Saturday as well, so El Nino is living up to her reputation of cold, wet winters. No need for irrigation at all.

Central Florida's subtropical below freezing temperatures this winter sent chills through everyone but one plant that loves the cold and even brightens up our landscape December through February are the lovely camellias.

Camellia Japonica © 2010 Teresa Watkins, Garden With Soul

Carl Linneaus, named lovely Asian native flowers after a Jesuit Missionary, Father George Kamel who traveled to the Phillipines in the 17th century.

There are two types of camellias sold and grown in Florida: camellia sasanquas and camellia japonicas.

Camellias love acidic soils, shady conditions, and consistant fertilizing. They're easy to grow and if you have a oak trees and azaleas, camellias would be a perfect compliment.

Great links on Camellias:

A great place to see beautiful camellias as large as citrus trees is Leu Gardens. Leu Gardens has the largest collection of camellias outside of California. The beautiful estate gardens in Orlando recently had their camellia show. They are a must see for true garden afficianados.


The annual massacre continues as Crape Murder butchers are wrecking havoc in the streets. Some homeowners just don't realize or don't care that taking a chainsaw to their crape myrtles is a horrible way to manage them.

Don't commit crape murder!

Call in with your garden questions and I'll post them here after the show.

  • Ed from Bassvile Park, and Cecil from Eustis asked separately about their frozen citrus trees. The only thing to do is be patient and see if they survived. Don't prune back limbs until late May or June to see what comes back. Don't overwater the citrus trees and don't overfertilize. We still have several weeks to go before we are out of frost-danger so we don't want to encourage new growth too quickly.

  • Elaine, here's Tony Avent's Plant Delights website to request a catalog. The plant catalog cover is extremely funny and such great plants ~ I could spend more than the TARP bailout trying out all his new plant finds!

  • Georgia from Webster wanted to know if she could plant her ligustrums, yes, it's okay! Here in Florida, we can transplant most hardy species year round unless there is an extreme weather event (immenient freeze or hurricane) happening soon.

  • Mea Culpa Mea Culpa on the radio show today - Cecil also asked about pruning grapes in Florida. My multi-tasking mind (Thank goodness you can't see what's going on during the radio show!) immediately went to the Grape workshops hosted in August at the Lake County Extension and I mistakenly said to prune grapes in August. Jerry called to correct me a few minutes later and Jerry was right. You need to prune your grapes mid-January through March before the grapes flush out in April. Thank you, Jerry for keeping me straight!
Here's more on growing Muscadine grapes and Bunch grapes .
Guess I've found my topic for next week! Note to self: Correct growing techniques for grapes!

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