About Central Florida Gardener

Welcome and thank you for visiting Central Florida Gardener. Florida is a unique state in which to garden. It can be frustrating but also rewarding for gardeners who persevere. This blog was created as a resource for Florida gardeners, both new and experienced, in search of information specifically for Florida gardens.

You are invited to participate by leaving your comments, suggestions, tips and recommendations relevant to Florida gardening - don't be shy! Thank you for dropping by to learn more about gardening in the Sunshine state. I look forward to hearing from you! Susan

Friday, November 13, 2009

Who said you can’t Grow Roses in Florida?

Now that the weather is cooler you'll notice the rose blossoms are larger and more beautiful. In the summer heat they look dwarfish and stressed, but then again, so do I :-).

You’ve probably heard many newcomers adamantly state that, “You can’t grow roses in Florida!” Roses may be a little more challenging in our zone 9 climate but it is possible to grow them if you know the TWO BIG SECRETS to success.

The FIRST BIG SECRET is rootstock. It seems boring and unnecessary but it’s of the utmost importance when it comes to growing roses in Florida. There are two kinds - fortuniana and Dr. Hughey. If you buy a rose that isn’t grafted onto one of these rootstocks, you might as well bury your money because it won’t last long in our heat.

The SECOND BIG SECRET is the variety. Choose roses that tolerate our hot and humid climate. You’ll enjoy more success and your roses will be happy, too. And, after all, a happy rose leads to a happy rose grower. :-)

Fortunately, there are plenty of rosarians in our area who have already done the hard work for you. So whether you prefer to grow hybrids or antique (a/k/a vintage or old-fashioned) varieties, start with their list of favorites, and then take their well-seasoned and hard-earned advice. You’ll save a lot of time and money!

Central Florida Rose Society
Central Florida Heritage Rose Society
Gainesville Rose Society
Orlando Area Historical Rose Society
Sarasota Rose Society
Tampa Rose Society
Volusia Rose Society
- Jeanne Savoie, President Deland FL jeanne617@yahoo.com (386) 734-9371

These TWO BIG SECRETS are 90% of what you need to know to grow roses in the Sunshine State. The other 10% is - soil preparation, location, fertilizer, pesticide, water and mulch.

So why not give it a try!

Favorite roses growing in my yard are knock-out (picture shown above - great color & great performers), 4th of July (a climber) and a handful of antiques - Louis Phillippe‘, Sombreuill and sea foam. My best tip is adding coffee grounds and Epsom salts to the soil. If you are an experienced rosarian or a newbie, we welcome your best “tried & true” tip and a list of “favorite” roses growing in your garden.

Monday, November 02, 2009

A Walk in Monica Brandies Garden

Florida garden writer Monica Brandies is hosting an open house (or should I say "garden") on November 7 and 14 from 10 am to 1 pm. Free cuttings, autographed books, and plants for sale. Enjoy some herbal tea and pommelo tasting. 1508 Burning Tree Lane, Brandon.

Monica has written a number of helpful books for Florida gardeners. Landscaping with Tropical Plants and Shade Gardening for Florida are two of my favorites that I refer to often when selecting plants for my shady garden. The next book on my list to buy is A Cutting Garden for Florida.

She is a wealth of information, and when we chatted online recently she agreed to share some information we may not know about her.

Q - What person or event brought you to gardening?
A - Probably my Aunt Joan who always grew flowers and made bouquets for every room in the house, but other people, too.

Q - What was the first plant you grew?
A - Zinnias and peanuts in a victory garden. I don't remember how they did, but I had measles and Mama had blankets at all the windows, but I kept peeking out to see my seeds sprouting and drove her crazy.

Q - What 3 landscape plants are proven winners in your central Florida garden?
A - Many, many, many: citrus, herbs, aloe, cassia, croton, pentas, firespike, tunnera alata and T. Ulmifolia (yellow alder), shrimp plants, all gingers, especially pinecone, butterfly and false blue ginger, cordylines, especially Dr. Brown, silver dollar eucalyptus, nasturtians, salvias, bromeliads, queenswreath vine, plumbago...I could go on forever.

Q - What's your favorite blooming plant?A - I love them all, but pentas is one of my favorites because it blooms 365 days a year and brings butterflies.

Q - What fruit plant/tree is a must-have in your garden?
A - Citrus. I have about 15 different kinds and keep looking for space to plant more. We make juice from November to June and eat many, especially the Poncans out of hand.

Q - What garden tool can you not live without? And why?A - The snippers in my pocket. I never go out without them. I have overplanted so much that I have to keep trimming constantly, but I don't mind. One of my friends says, "If you have weeds, you don't have enough plants." Of course, I also have to have a hoe, shovel, small hand cultivator, and larger pruners.

Q - What's your best frugal gardening tip?
A - Recycle everything. I do that mostly as mulch and compost, but I also reuse pots, and anything else I can. I think mulching is the best thing anyone can do for any garden, but especially in Florida's sandy soil.

Q - Describe your gardening style.A - Casual and Natural. Sometimes people are shocked at my jungle, but it suits me. And it takes less time to care for than if it was grass to cut and is much more fun and productive. Much of it is edible.

Other great books by Monica include: The Newcomer's Survival Guide (a must-have for those new to Florida gardening), Xeriscaping for Florida Gardens and Herbs & Spices for Florida Gardens.