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

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fragrance in the Garden

There's a sense of calmness that overcomes me when I walk through a lush green garden, and I always get a happy feeling deep down inside when I see a bed of beautiful flowers...but it's the sweet scent of  fragrance wafting through the breeze that  makes the garden a memorable place for me.

 I'm sure all of you know what I'm talking about...strolling through the garden and inhaling the heavenly fragrance of citrus trees or confederate jasmine hanging heavy in the air. Or, brushing up against a rosemary shrub, and catching the unusual scent released from the leaves. The scent of fragrance in the air causes me to stop and take a deep breath...while letting my whole being soak up the scent.

Recently, as I got out of a car inside a parking garage I immediately noticed that the air was saturated with fragrance. Generally, a parking garage does not smell that great, so I kept inhaling the scent trying to figure out what it was, and as I walked outside my eyes immediately began to search out the source. It ended up coming from 8 large ligustrum trees covered in flowers. I couldn't believe those 8 trees created such a powerful scent.

In my humble gardening opinion, I think adding touches of fragrance all around your garden...in all four seasons...adds to the whole experience of the garden. Imagine dining on your patio surrounded by the musky scent of gardenias. Even your non-gardening family or friends will stop and take notice of your garden.

Placing fragrant plants close to a patio or porch will allow you to enjoy them even when you're not in the garden. Plants with fragrant foliage such as rosemary and basil or low-scent flowers like nasturtians are best placed along a pathway so their scent can be released when someone brushes up against them or reaches out to touch their foliage.

If you'd like to add a touch of fragrance to your garden, here's a short-list of some deliciously scented plants and trees to choose from:

Nasturtiums Tropaeolum majus
Spider flower Cleome hassleriana
Sweet alyssum Lobularia maritima

Lemon Grass Cymbopogon citratus

Butterfly ginger Hedychium coronarium
Flowering Tobacco Nicotiana tabacum
Four o’clock Mirabilis jalapa
Garden phlox Phlox paniculata
Garlic chives Allium tuberosum
Ginger lily Hedychium coronarium
Oregano Origanum vulgare
Peppermint Mentha X piperita
Pineapple Sage Salvia elegans
Spider lily Crinum
Sweet marjoram Origanum majorana

Angel trumpet Datura species
Angel trumpet Brugmansia species
Banana shrub Michelia figo
Florida Anise Illicium Floridanum
Gardenia Gardenia augusta
Night-blooming Jessamine Cestrum nocturnum
Rosemary Rosemarinus officinalis
Sweet shrub, Carolina allspice Calycanthus floridus
Sweet Viburnum odoratissimum or suspensum
Tea olive Osmanthus fragrans
Virginia sweetspire Itea virginica
Yesterday-today-and-tomorrow Brunfelsia australis

Carolina cherry laurel Prunus caroliniana
Citrus species: Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, etc.
Frangipani Plumeria
Fringetree Chionanthus vagrancies
Ligustrum Ligustrum japonicumLoblolly bay Gordonia lasianthus
Magnolia - Southern Magnolia Magnolia grand flora, Sweet bay Magnolia virginiana,
    Saucer magnolia Magnolia x soulangeana, Lily magnolia Magnolia liliiflora
Orchid tree Bauhinia variegata
Silk tree Albizia julibrissin

American Wisteria Wisteria frutescens (this is a non-aggressive variety unlike the Chinese wisteria)
Chalice Solandra maxima
Confederate Jasmine Trachelospermum species
Moonflower  Ipomoea alba

Click here for Printable List

We can't end the discussion on fragrant plants without including roses. Two garden blogger friends kindly agreed..without too much arm twisting from me...to contribute to this post with a list of the most fragrant roses in their gardens.

You know them from reading their blogs - Flowerlady at Flowerlady's Musings  and Sherry at If only Sweat were Irrigation... are partial to roses, and both are very successful in growing them here in Florida.

They were so generous with their contributions on roses that I'm going to create a second post on fragrant plants solely for roses so that I can share all the wonderful information they provided to me. So stay tuned...

What wonderfully scented plants are growing in your garden?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Changing Over to Summer Annuals

Wishbone Flower - Torenia fournieri
 As the weather continues to warm-up you'll notice the pansies, petunias, snapdragons and other winter annuals in your garden steadily declining. Now's a great time to replace them so they'll have a chance to become established before the really hot weather arrives.

When you visit the garden center you will find a large selection to choose from...but beware. On my last trip there I noticed lots of petunias and pansies...which are winter annuals in Florida...still for sale. In addition, there were very pretty dahlias, fuschia, tuberous begonias and Asiatic lilies not suited to this area. 

I'm always amazed to see these plants in the garden center at this time of year, and when I see people scooping them up I fear they will become frustrated Florida gardeners and give up. Don't get me wrong...if you love the dahlias, fuschia, tuberous begonias and Asiatic lilies you CAN buy them and enjoy them while they last but don't expect them to thrive in your Florida garden.

Every winter I buy a container of tulips to enjoy just because I like them, and a friend of mine bought 2 beautiful tuberose begonias that she enjoyed in a container all through the winter months. They're an enjoyable splurge, but I wouldn't invest a lot of money in them.

What annuals will take the Florida summer heat? 

Wax begonia - Begonia semperflorens

Fortunately, we have a large selection to choose from: ageratrum,  begonias, celosia, cleome, cosmos, dalburg daisy, impatiens, lisianthus, lobelia, marigold, melampodium, nicotiana, periwinkle, portulaca, purslane, rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan), salvia, sunflowers, torenia (wishbone flower) instead of pansies or violas, verbena and zinnias.

Some of my favorite hard-working summer annuals are: impatiens and the green-leaf wax begonias for the shade. The burgundy-leaf wax begonias, periwinkle, portulaca, purslane, salvia, torenia and zinnias for the sun.
Impatiens - Impatiens wallerana
What favorite summer annuals have done well in your Florida garden?