Saturday, March 31, 2012

Plant Hunters - Science Careers - Biotech, Pharmaceutical, Faculty, Postdoc jobs on Science Careers

Plant Hunters - Science Careers - Biotech, Pharmaceutical, Faculty, Postdoc jobs on Science Careers

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cordylines and Crotons Galore

Scouting for awesome plants at the booths at the Leu Gardens plant sale, I met Mark Peter, grower-owner of Peters Croton Nursery in Fort Pierce, Florida.  He had a magnificent display of cordylines and crotons.

Colorful foliage is a great way to bring light to a shady corner. Cordylines and crotons cover the color spectrum with splashes of whites, creams, and pinks, to red, yellow, orange, and black frilly, elliptical, or piecrusted foliage.  Used in the Florida landscape frequently, both types of plants are often seen painfully in full sun conditions during the harsh hot summers, but cordylines and crotons thrive better and need less water when they get bright morning light but afternoon shade.

Do you know your cordyline or croton's cultivar name?  Their botanical names are cordyline fruticosa and codiaeum variegatum. When I worked in nurseries, I was just used to seeing and hearing Mamay crotons on labels or from the box store order sheet.  But there are several hundred named cultivars of crotons and cordylines.

My favorite cultivars out of Mark Peter's available product?  The creamy white and yellow or pink foliage varieties. I have never seen them for sale in the garden centers.  I do love to use the Picasso's Paintbrush and Zanzibars planted in chimeras representing a blazing fire.  Very nice accent for warm Spanish-themed outdoor rooms.

Both ornamental shrubs need partial sun or shade, moist, rich soils - do not let them dry out, even in winter - and can be fertilized on a monthly (or as fertilizer label recommends)  basis with slow release fertilizer.  They are tropical plants suited best for Zone 10 - 11 but can be grown in Zone 9A and 9B if protected in temperatures below 50 degrees.  Above Zone 9, plants should be grown indoors or in a greenhouse.

Take a look at these fancy plants:

Cordylines and Crotons

More links:

Croton Production and Use - UF/IFAS

The Croton Society

Floridata - Codiaeum variegatum

Leu Gardens Plant Sale Spectacular

The annual spring plant sale at Leu Gardens, in Orlando, never fails to be spectacular.  We went with wagon in hand looking for a plant we couldn't live without.  Hundreds of people were there, scooping up plants as fast as they could because if you blinked, someone might buy the plant you were looking at.  On sale were tropical fruit trees, ferns,  succulents, roses, herbs, orchids, flowering tropical and subtropical shrubs and trees, and many more types of plants.

We were able to get nice international variety of herbs:  African blue basil, French thyme, Spanish lavender, dill fenneleaf, pennyroyal, lemon-scented thyme, chives, extra triple curled parsley, and Foresteri rosemary ,that I'm going to add to flowering containers, while Tony found 'Window Box Roma' tomatoes, cubanelles, serrano 'del Sol', and banana peppers for his raised vegetable beds.

I was going to be stalwart and not buy anything else, but I eventually succumbed to getting Kangaroo Paws, Macropidia fulginosa an unusual Australian  xeric native in full bloom and a lovely  'Green Velvet' Alocasia, Alocasia frydeck. 

Kangaroo Paws

My determination to not buy any more plants was easy to keep under control through most of my search until I came to the Orlando Area Rose Historical Society's boothAntique roses are great to grow in Florida with very low maintenance, no pest - no disease issues. Depending on the variety, they can bloom over and over again all year round.  Reading the sign's descriptions, one caught my eye:  "Heavily fragrant, long-lasting pink cabbage roses." I fell for the 'Duchesse de Babrant' tea rose.  Into the wagon it went with my other terrestrial indulgences.

Another unique find was a bamboo obelisk that folded up easily.  Tony was adamant that the $15 cost was a bargain for all the details, material, and labor involved in making it.  We'll use it to allow our beans to grow up.  

Unusual plants and finds were the 'Mammalaria plumosa' and Episcia  cupreata 'Pink Brocade' hanging baskets, terrariums with fluttering butterfly devices, pvc bird garden accents and wrought iron plant holders.

Great start to our spring garden.

Episcia cupreata 'Pink Brocade'

Mamallaria plumosa

All three wrought iron pot holders are connected at bottom.

PVC Pelican and heron garden art

Leu Gardens Plant Sale Vendors

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Install Your Own Rain Barrel

We haven't had a lot of rain, but now is the time to start thinking of all the rain we get in the summertime and make good use of it. A great way to harvest the rainfall is with rain barrels.  They are easy to install and are now legal for use in all communities including HOA's.  The Florida-friendly statute states that HOA's cannot prohibit rain barrels. 

We'll be talking to Jerry Butler today from Industrial Containers Services in Zellwood.  His company recycles 55 gallon drums as rain barrels available to homeowners inexpensively.

The rain barrels cost $38 plus tax.  Very reasonable, especially when purchasing multiple barrels to irrigate your lawn compared to a water bill. To contact Industrial Container Services and purchase a rainbarrel, call 407-889-5500.

Jerry Carris, The Master Gardener

Jerry Carris, harvested more than vegetables and flowers.  An Orange County master gardener for over 20 years, Jerry harvested love, good will, and friendships. He loved everybody and encouraged them to be their very best. My heart ached when I heard that Jerry passed away yesterday.

Jerry, a redhead - with freckles, too - would stop by my office at the Orange County Extension office and give me hugs and encouragement. He was a strong supporter of myUF/IFAS Florida Yards & Neighborhoods program through the City of Winter Garden, and of my weekly gardening radio show, "In Your Backyard. Jerry would call in frequently into "In Your Backyard" with answers to my audience's vegetable questions and to promote the Master Gardener clinic open on Tuesdays at the Mid-Florida Research Center in Apopka.

Jerry was recognized in November 2009 as the Florida Master Gardener of the Year by the University of Florida.

I will miss you, Jerry. God speed home.

Jerry's Obituary - Orlando Sentinel