What’s Blooming Now? We will tell you! Welcome to our Central Florida landscape! While everyone up north is enjoying the end of spring, down here we are already up to speed and heading into 90 degree temperatures. So, here’s a little update on what is blooming now at our home at the end of May.
The Hibiscus shrub or small tree is a Florida staple that is greatly underutilized in the landscape. There are several hundred varieties of Hibiscus and regardless of where you are there is one for you! Up north, they can be grown as container plants or there is a native Hibiscus (Hibiscus palustris) which occurs naturally in wet meadows. In the South, Hibiscus can be used just about anywhere and they have a striking trumpet shaped flower that compliments just about every color palette.
This particular Hibiscus is a little extra special. It is a braided plant meaning that at any early age, the main plant stems were braided together to give it more interest. We have the braided Hibiscus in a large clay pot and it was given to us at our daughter’s wedding rehearsal dinner! They are considered heavy feeders, so make sure to water and fertilize regularly.
Black Eyed Susan
Black Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia) are a Midwest staple and although they might be a little over used there, they do have some incredible varieties that are native to the Midwestern prairies. Instead of going with the tried and true variety of Rudbeckia fulgida and Rudbeckia hirta, look for some of the native varieties that include Green Headed Coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata) and Sweet Black Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia subtomentosa). The picture here is of Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldstrum’ and it still kind of freaks me out that it starts blooming in April! We also have a lot of Sweet Black Eyed Susan in the backyard since it is a Florida native and hopefully I can get my beautiful wife to post a couple of pictures. One of the reasons that I planted Black Eyed Susan was to remind me of the native prairies of the Midwest and also to try and make our house stand out from the rest of the typical Florida subdivision landscapes.
At some point and time, everyone has used or will use a Verbena! They are great little boogers for container, annual and mixed border gardens and there are hundreds of different varieties! I have to admit that this plant, Verbena bonariensis ‘Lollipop’ caught my eye as I strolled through the nursery looking for a couple of Birds of Paradise. While I typically don’t get pulled into the “impulse buying” black hole, this was the exception! It is planted at the base of the ubiquitous Ti Plant (Cordyline fruticosa) and will fill in nicely when the Cordylines get taller. I still believe that the Ti Plant should be the State Flower of Florida since it would seem that every house has to have one (or a dozen)!
Blanket Flower is one tough customer and native to many areas of the United States. Typically, your big box retailer has Gaillardia x grandiflora on display and it has been named one of the 20 best perennials by Sunset (for our Western friends). In Florida, we like to use Gaillardia pulchella since it is a short lived native. The plants don’t last for long (about 12 months), but they do self seed which helps to rejuvenate that planting area. I have to admit that we are still experimenting with this plant, but love it for the color combination that it provides. It is planted amongst a red and orange Cape Honeysuckle and multi-color Crotons.
While Crotons (Codiaeum variegatum) technically don’t bloom, we still wanted to include it because the foliage variations make it seem like it is constantly in bloom! Northern friends may be more familiar with Crotons as house plants, but down here we can have Crotons all year long. Hardy outside in Zones 9-11 they love hot weather and high humidity, which basically describes Florida! Our Crotons are planted in a side bed that includes other plants that have gold, red, orange and yellow color combinations. This side bed is a very special area for me since it also includes our 850 gallon rainwater harvesting tank, but more on that later!
So there you have it! This is what is blooming now in our yard at the end of May in Central Florida! We would love to hear what is going on in yours! Also, if you have any questions, recommendations or favorites that you would like to share, feel free!