Saturday, July 08, 2006

Central Florida Gardening in July

(Above: Buds on a tuberose)
The rainy season started in earnest while I was away on a research trip from mid-June to the Fourth of July. I came back to an overgrown, weedy garden that needed a few hours of care and a sharp mower blade. Considering they were sprayed very irregularly, my roses have done superbly, particularly the OGRs, which have grown considerably. 'Mr Lincoln', a grandiflora, wins the prize for the most growth: It has four basal breaks and is now almost five feet tall. (I bought it back in November for $1.50 from a local home improvement store. It was stunted and leafless then. Clearly this plant loves growing on 'Fortuniana' and lots of water.)

Zinnias and Cosmos that I started from seed in April are blooming madly, and those I started in May and transplanted mid-June are just now coming into bud. The Crepe Myrtles I planted last spring are in full bloom and have reached about fifteen feet, though they still look a bit gangly. The 'Knock-Out' Roses (not the cherry red ones, but the light pink sports) that I planted this spring are thriving: They've grown from one foot to three feet and doubled their spread since March, when I planted them. They show absolutely no signs of black spot, despite having never been sprayed. I managed to start two cuttings, which are merrily growing in pots in partial shade. I'll plant them out in fall, when things cool down.

Many plants have flourished: Buddleia davidii, Spicy Jatropha (Jatropha integerrima) and Thryallis (Galphimia glauca). Bulbs like Gladiolus callianthus (the Peacock Orchid) are up and ready to bloom. The Dune Sunflowers (Helianthus debilis) that I've planted around the property have spread broadly and are in full bloom now. Other plants that seem to thrive in the heat and rain include Alternathera 'Purple Knight', Ruellia elegans, and African Purple Basil.

However, with the hot and very wet weather, many plants are easing into dormancy in the coming weeks, to reawaken when the first cool, dry breezes begin to blow in November. I lost a camellia, a Professor Charles S. Sargent. It was growing with other camellias that I planted at the same time - these other camellias are fine. I don't know what killed this one.

It's a good time to start plants from cuttings, which is what I am heading out to do right now on this hot and sunny Saturday...

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