Last Call for Planting Sunflower Seeds!

It may be the end of summer, but Sunflower growing season can stretch as long as the sun keeps shining and the weather stays warm!  As a general rule, sunflowers bloom 60-75 days after germination; if your first frost is at least that many days away, there’s STILL time to plant (and bloom!) these cheery annuals!

Helianthus Annus, Sunflower, 8/26/13

The best thing about sunflowers is their ability to reseed. The sunflower in my rear cutting garden (above) is third “generation” from seeds originally sown in late winter.  In contrast, the plants in the photo below are first generation, sown during the intense heat of early July.

American Giants Hybrid Sunflowers, 8/26/13

Pulling the focus back a bit, you’ll notice the stressful conditions this group endures.

Solanum Diphyllum Tree with Sunflowers, 8/26/13

Unlike the soil in the rear cutting garden, this little plot on the west side of my house is extremely sandy, with no soil amendments.  A year or so ago, an invasive Solanum Diphyllum (aka Two Leaved Nightshade tree) sprouted near the fence. Birds love the berries, so I’ve let it grow, transplanting a few handfuls of Helianthus Debilis (aka beach sunflower) as surrounding groundcover.  Then in late June, I tossed some leftover “American Giants” sunflower seeds around the tree and let nature take its course.  Although this first round of plants is leggy, thin, and struggling, most should bloom and reseed themselves when the weather is a bit cooler.  Prediction: by this time next summer, the entire spot should be completely filled in! 🙂

If you’re laying in a fall vegetable garden, why not plant a row of sunflowers along the northern edge and see what happens?  Bear in mind: due to a reduction in daylight hours, sunflowers planted now may yield shorter plants that bloom quicker than those planted in Spring.

Sunflower in rear cutting garden, 8/26/13

In closing, I’ll leave you with two little known facts:

  • the head of the sunflower, often erroneously referred to as a flower, actually consists of 1000 – 2000 individual flowers.
  • The petals surrounding the head are called ray flowers.

Until next time……..

butterflysmiley

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Wordless Wednesday: July 24, 2013

Mid-summer and my vine wall has reached its peak.  Take a look at this series of pics and see if you don’t agree! 🙂

(ps. I hope you’ll scroll to the very bottom! I included a picture from when I started it, last summer.  WOW! )

Wild Alamanda, Passiflora Incense, Beach Sunflower, Red Cypress vines 7/23/13

Wild Alamanda, Passiflora Incense, Beach Sunflower, Red Cypress vines with Gulf Fritallary Butterfly, 7/23/13

Passiflora Incense Vine, 7/23/13

Vine Wall, June 24, 2013

and here’s the photo from last July (2012) when the 💡 switched on:

vine wall July, 2012

“I think I’ll start a vine wall!”

Until next time…….

waterandgro

I’ve got company! :)

I had SUCH a memorable Memorial Day!  A family of unexpected guests arrived just in time for breakfast!

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Hmmmmm…..beach sunflower buffet? Mighty enticing! 😉

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Of the 20 known Armadillo species, only one resides in the US: Dasypus novemcinctus aka the nine-banded or longnose variety. The next two photos show how well they live up to these common names!

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D. novemcinctus are somewhat opportunistic eaters.   Their pig-like snouts function as foraging tools, seeking out insects, earthworms, small reptiles and amphibians.  Plant roots, carrion, small birds and mammals may also be consumed.  If they head to your garden, beware!  Even the briefest foraging session leaves behind holes and misplaced garden soil…especially around new plantings like the banana and small cactus in my ranchero!

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The Florida armadillo population was the result of a few animals released from a small zoo in 1924, combined with several more that escaped from a traveling circus in 1936. They’ve multiplied and spread thoughout the state due to a fast reproductive cycle. Female armadillos reach sexual maturity between 1-2yrs of age, bearing 4 pups from a single egg that divides into quarters before implanting!  Interesting fact should you ever appear on Jeopardy➡ armadillos are the ONLY mammal to give birth to identical quadruplets all the time!

If you look closely at this next picture, you’ll notice a few “dings” in the rear armored plates of the animal nearest the street:

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When they came back on Tuesday, I got a closer look and noticed another mark towards the head:20130528_105639-1

In person, these looked more like claw marks (or scrapings) than indentations.  In terms of local wildlife predators, bobcats and hawks have been known to hunt armadillos, although most fall victim to car accidents when crossing urban streets.  An armadillo’s natural escape reflex is jumping instead of running…jumping is what typically puts them at odds with grilles of oncoming vehicles! Eek!

If you think it odd to see armadillos during daytime, it isn’t!  Juveniles are more apt to seek food during daylight, largely to avoid adult armadillos who forage during dawn and dusk, and behave aggressively toward youngsters at “adult feeding time.”

I had hoped to see these fascinating prehistoric holdovers again Wednesday, but it rained (HARD!) intermittently all day.  I think they’re living among the plumbago hedge along my house’s concrete slab, an ideal, safe spot of well concealed brush!

Here’s one final glimpse:

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Until next time…..

🙂 🙂 🙂