H.undatus , July 2014

Key West Cereus

There are approximately 20 species of cereus cacti ranging from Central/South America through Mexico and the West Indies to the southernmost parts of Florida.  While in Key West last summer, I removed some cuttings of unknown cereus origin (from a parking lot) and blogged about them here.  Although I assumed my purloined plant was Selenicereus pteranthus, now that it’s bigger I think I snagged a dragonfruit (aka Hylocereus undatus)

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Hylocereus undatus is a vining, hemi-epiphytic, broader and fleshier relative of the Selenicereus varieties.  As this sprawling cactus gains height, aerial roots assist the upward climb and ensure the plant’s survival if the soil bound roots should fail. What an adaptation!

Flowers in this genus are extremely fragrant and large–up to 14″ long x 9″ wide–and typically appear after 3 years..but only at night.  As a side note, the H. undatus along my vinewall just entered it’s 3rd year: I’ll let you know if anything happens!

I hope my American readers are having a fun 4th of July weekend and that Hurricane Arthur hasn’t wrecked your plans along the East Coast!  Yesterday’s weather was still unsettled here (as you can tell from the sky below) but Maggie and I spent it beachside anyway!

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Happy 4th of July Weekend from Vero Beach!

Until next time…

:) :) :)

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In a Vase on Monday: 6/30/14

Today I stumbled across a blog challenge called “In a Vase on Monday” which inspired me to trim some leggy perennials and bring a little sunshine indoors.  Because the flowers were all red and yellow, I paired them with the similarly toned 1960s ceramic rooster my mother bought for me when I was too cheap to ante up the 10 bucks at a local yard sale. (Thanks Ma! :) )

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Rudbeckia, Gaillardia, Mandevilla, and Cosmos: In a Vase on Monday

You’ve seen these GaillardiaCosmos and Mandevilla many times before, but this is the first year I’ve grown Black Eyed Susan (aka Rudbeckia hirta.)

Black-Eyed Susans are perennial daisies or coneflowers, members of the sunflower family (Asteraceae). The flower heads measure 2 to 3 inches in diameter with yellow rays circling a dark-brown, spherical center. Commonly found in fields and on roadsides, they bloom between May and August, reaching 2 to 3 feet in height. They are native to the United States, east of the Rocky Mountains but have naturalized throughout the entire country and into Canada.

Although quite boring common, everything in the vase blooms reliably in June/July despite the full-on sun of a Florida summer…and that’s good enough for me! ;)

For other Monday Vases, click on Rambling in the Garden and the Zemanta related links below.

Until next time…

:) :) :)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Between

Yesterday I noticed two blooming plants with characteristics that worked for this week’s challenge.  First, a Phalaenopsis (unknown origin) protruding between the Peace lilies along my back fence.

Second, an Aechmea fasciata I shared when it began spiking.  Two weeks later, the pyramidal head has lengthened and small violet-to-red flowers sprout between  pink bracts.

For other interpretations of this week’s challenge click here and on the Zemanta links below

Until next time….

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Summer Solstice, 2014

Happy Solstice Day!

Ever wonder what Florida looks like on the longest day of the year?  Here are two pictures I took today:

From this perspective,  I’m the “crazy lady with too many plants.”

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Sunny in the morning…..

But from THIS perspective, I’m not: ;)

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Clouding over by late afternoon…

Last weekend a heavy storm destroyed the passiflora vines and original trellis here and I’m fairly certain lightening was to blame: the vines were sizzled and trellis shorn in two beneath them. I guess it grounded out when it shattered the base of the large ceramic pot (lower left in the frame.)  Big mess!

Although I hated cutting down passion flowers in full bloom, I like how neat and clean it looks now.  I hope the newly added Yucca gigantea, Amaryllis, and Lily bulbs do well here.

You all know I’ve been revamping my blog and I’m excited it’s finally done! I added the last piece this morning: an audio widget in the sidebar!

I listen to hours of music daily and often wish I could share it without writing entire posts no one cares to read.  So if you’re a music fan, keep an eye on that widget–right now my son’s song “Spiral” is uploaded, but I’ll be changing artists frequently.

A word about Spiral: T.C wrote it a few years ago, and it took my breath away even before he’d arranged and recorded what you’ll hear today. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Happy Summer to all of you, especially Timogarden whose Midsummer Party dance floor must be CRAZY right now!

Until next time….

:) :) :)

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Wordless Wednesday: 6/18/14, Seagrass Planters

Every Saturday, the Beachside Farmers’ Market offers fresh foods and horticultural products to the residents and tourists of Vero Beach.  One day I may actually break down and buy a few of these beautifully crafted containers at the Akamai Accents Booth.

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For more on Wordless Wednesday, click the WW Blog/Linkup at The Jenny Evolution

Until next time…

:) :) :)

Scadoxus multiflorus subsp. Katherinae

Scadoxus multiflorus ssp. Katharinae (first bloom cycle)

I was a bit surprised when a Scadoxus pushed through the soil last week.  I remember planting it 2 yrs ago and digging it up when it looked mushy and rotted a year later: I must’ve left some healthy rhizome behind. :)

Like so many plants in my garden, Scadoxus hails from tropical Africa.  There are 9 species in this genus of the Amaryllis family,  mine being S. multiflorus subspecies Katharinae.  Katharinae’s leaf bases overlap and press together to form a sheaf-like pseudostem that is sometimes purple spotted:

Scadoxus multiflorus subsp. Katherinae emerging flower and pseudostem, 6/11/14

Although other Scadoxus species don’t show true leaves until their flowers open, Katharinae’s thin, wavy leaves emerge with the stalk.  As it continues growing, a total of 9 leaves form a hosta-style rosette along the soil line.

The Scadoxus flowerhead is comprised of 200 individual flowers in a spherical umbel above the foliage. The tiny “florets” are coral/red with bright yellow anthers on protruding stamens.  The photo on the left was taken Sunday (6/15) and the one on the right, this morning.

When the flowers are spent, berries appear on the pedicel tips in a process like that of Iris domestica.  These decorative berries change from green to scarlet, remaining on the plant ’til spring when they shrivel and dry out. At this point, any remaining pulp can be rubbed away to harvest the soft, fleshy seeds within.

S. multiflorus Katharinae should be planted in shade for optimal growth and appearance; too much sun can burn the thin leaves.  The entire genus is toxic to humans/small animals so plant with caution if your children are young.

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Until next time….

:) :) :)

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Extra, Extra!

This week’s photo challenge asks us to share an image with a unique, unexpected element, and I just snapped a few that fit the criteria perfectly.

Take a look at this “little extra something” on an Aloe saponaria that recently bloomed in the Ranchero.  Note how the healthy, original flower spike (middle right in the frame) looks nothing like the new, extra-wierd one!

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A. saponaria (aka Soap Aloe) is native to South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe and well suited to Florida’s salt air and gravelly, sandy soil.   A single plant will expand considerably by producing offsets (pups) so over the years I’ve watched many enter the flowering stage. Newly emerging spikes typically look like this:

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So what is causing the strange growth in pic 1?  Eriophyes aloinis (aka Aloe Gall Mite) an extra-tiny “extra” I’d rather live without!

E. aloinis can attack any part of an aloe plant, but seems particularly drawn to flower spikes and the tops of rosettes. As they feed, the mites secrete a growth hormone regulator that induces a solid mass (gall) to form around them. Safe within the gall they eat and reproduce, wreaking havoc with their host’s normal tissue development and disfiguring the affected leaves and flowers.

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Can you spot another “extra” in this picture? Hint: it’s alive!

Although the mites seldom kill, their aesthetic damage is irreversible. To prevent spreading, surgically remove any tumorous plant parts and dispose far, far away from your garden!

#extraannoying !

For other interpretations of this week’s challenge, click on the Zemanta related links below.

Until next time….

:) :) :)