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[ Bitter Gourd (Momordica charantia) | Posted on July 17, 2017 ]

Momordica charantia, a member of the Cucumber (Cucurbitaceae) family of plants, has escaped cultivation here in Florida, becoming a real pest in many areas. In 2013, the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council listed it as a Category II non-native invasive here in the state. Its range in Florida extends throughout the central and southern part of the state, but it is also present in parts of the panhandle. Bitter Gourd forms a dense groundcover and also forms dense thickets, covering shrubs and other vegetation as well as climbing high into trees where it grows along with native air plants (Tillandsia species).

The fruit and leaves of Momordica charantia are said to have medicinal purposes, but the seeds are highly toxic.

[ Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans) | Posted on February 20, 2017 ]

Parlor Palm (Chamaedorea elegans) is a compact, single trunk palm native to the rainforests of Mexico and Guatemala. It attains heights of 4 to 6 feet in bright, semi-shady, moist locations and as the lower fronds die and fall off, the attractive green stem comes into view.

The Parlor Palm is a popular house plant, often sold as groups of seedlings or small plants, close together in the container. It is a slow growing palm and more drought tolerant that other varieties. Although the Parlor Palm prefers the bright light and medium humidity levels of rainforest conditions, it seems to adapt very well to the lower light and lower humidity situations found in homes and offices. The plant should be kept away from direct sun which will burn the foliage. Although the flowers are not very interesting, if they plant is provided enough bright light, it may produce a panicle of yellow flowers in the spring.

[ Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex) | Posted on January 27, 2017 ]

Although Ruellia simplex has lovely blooms, due to its invasive tendencies it is not a good plant for Florida gardens. We moved into our current home nine months go and I've been trying to eradicate this plant from two separate areas of my yard ever since. It is a difficult task to remove and must be dug up due to the fact that that it travels via underground rhizomes; if you try to pull it by hand, the stems break off and you are still left with pieces of rhizomes in the soil. Mexican Petunia is a popular landscape plant because it is a prolific bloomer, it tolerates many different landscape conditions, from shade to sun, and it even thrives in poor soil. The plant is listed by the FEPPC (Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council) as a Category I invasive here in the state. To deter its spread, it is best grown in containers in Florida.

[ Corn Plant (Dracaena fragrans) | Posted on September 20, 2016 ]

Dracaena fragrans, commonly called Corn Plant and Cornstalk Dracaena, can get quite tall in nature, 25 to 30 feet or more, but it is a slow-growing plant, making it very popular as an office plant or houseplant. Cornstalk Dracaena has glossy, broad, green leaves with an erect to spreading habit; larger leaves cause the plant to have a drooping appearance. The plant does well in a broad range of conditions from full sun to low-light situations. If you are fortunate enough to see your plant in bloom, you will surely enjoy the fragrance!

There are several cultivars of Dracaena fragrans that have variegated foliage:
D. fragrans 'Massangeana' (Mass Cane) has green leaves with a yellow central stripe.
D. fragrans 'Lemon Lime' has leaves with yellow margins and a wide green central stripe.
D. fragrans 'White Jewel' has leaves with dark green edges and lighter green and white central stripes.

[ Wax Plant (Hoya australis subsp. australis) | Posted on April 13, 2016 ]

I acquired a small Hoya australis subsp. australis in August, 2008 and it was at least five years later before it showed any blooms. Compared to H. australis subsp. tenuipes, this one has smaller leaves and is not as prolific a bloomer as H. australis subsp. tenuipes, but I love the soft, pubescent leaves on this one. This plant blooms for me between mid November to mid December and the flowers are extremely fragrant in the evening and at night.

[ Fancy-leaf Caladium (Caladium 'White Queen') | Posted on April 13, 2016 ]

One of my favorite Caladiums! It has medium to large white leaves with green margins and dark red veins. It will sometimes show different leaf colorations depending on fertilizer amounts and soil type. Highly fertilized plants are more pink and red. Although this one is sun tolerant, I prefer the look in deep shade, where it seems to shine!

[ Aloes (Aloe) | Posted on April 11, 2016 ]

My Aloe started as a single small pup gifted to me by a co-worker in 1975. It was identified on another site as Aloe maculata, but a few knowledgeable growers have since told me that it is not A. maculata and I'm not sure of its exact identity, but I love it just the same. I kept it in a container for a few years and then planted it in the ground, where it took off and produced hundreds and hundreds of additional plants. They began overtaking a large area of the yard, so I had to begin digging them out and giving them away. For the past ten years, I've only grown them in containers in a full sun location and they bloom off and on all year.

[ Wild Petunia (Ruellia humilis) | Posted on April 11, 2016 ]

Wild Petunia can reach heights to 24 inches, but usually stays about 12 inches in height; it can have an erect or sprawling habit. The stems and leaves are soft and hairy and the flowers resemble small Petunias, varying in color from pale lavender-blue to a medium purple shade with darker purple lines radiating from the center.

I've grown this plant in both full sun and dappled shade, and in my opinion it looks prettier and performs better in partial shade locations. It blooms in my area from early April through October and into November.

[ Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens) | Posted on September 13, 2015 ]

Creeping Buttercup is a low growing, spreading herb with pubescent (hairy) leaves and stems; the small yellow flowers appear from mid March through August. The plant grows in moist to very wet, poorly drained locations as well as sandy, rocky areas that receive sufficient moisture. It spreads by long branching stolons that take root at each node where it touches the soil, forming thick mats to 36 inches or more. Each plant produces 100 or more hooked seeds, which remain viable for many years. The hooked seeds are dispersed by wind, water and birds and also distributed by wildlife by adhering to their fur.

Creeping Buttercup is native to Europe but has been introduced to other parts of the world. It is found throughout North America and is considered a noxious weed in many areas where it crowds out native plant species.

[ Niger Plant (Guizotia abyssinica) | Posted on August 17, 2015 ]

Guizotia abyssinica (commonly called Niger Seed) is an herbaceous annual native to Africa. The plant attains heights of 4 to 6 feet and bears 1 to 2 inch diameter yellow flowers. Niger plant is cultivated for its oils as well as its seeds. The seeds can be eaten fried and are also used as a condiment or spice. In some cultures, the seeds are pressed with honey or ground into a powder that is mixed with flour for making sweet cakes. Seeds of Guizotia abyssinica yield a clear, edible oil, which is also used in foods and sometimes used as a substitute for olive oil.
The seed of Guizotia abyssinica is commonly sold as birdseed, labeled "Thistle Seed" because of its attraction to finches and other wild birds, but in actuality it is not a Thistle.

Guizotia abyssinica is self-sterile, requiring bees for cross pollination.

[ Daylily (Hemerocallis 'Sweet Alpha') | Posted on June 20, 2015 ]

I purchased this Daylily last month from another All Things Plants member on the Classified Forum. I really didn't expect to see blooms so quickly. I thought it would be next year before any blooms appeared, so I was very surprised to see buds forming within a month after receiving and planting it. I love the color of this bloom and look forward to enjoying many more of these gorgeous flowers in the coming years!

[ Daylily (Hemerocallis 'Little Business') | Posted on June 20, 2015 ]

I purchased a couple of these plants at the end of the season last year from a local Walmart garden center. They were such a good buy that I got them to tuck into containers with other perennials. I love their small size and the bloom color, and they seem to be doing well with the heat and humidity, so I'm hoping they will survive and thrive for years to come.

[ Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum 'Mini San Marzano') | Posted on June 19, 2015 ]

I don't grow these but rather purchase them in small 10 oz. bags from a local supermarket. The label reads:
"Authentic Mini San Marzano - The sweet taste of heaven on earth" and I totally agree! I've been a tomato lover my entire life and I think these are one of the sweetest and best tasting little tomatoes ever! They make a wonderful addition to salads but they don't usually last long enough around here because I find myself grabbing a handful, giving them a quick rinse and eating them (sometimes the entire bag at one sitting) before they can be used for anything else. Wonderful little tomato!

[ Wild Petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis subsp. ciliosa) | Posted on April 15, 2015 ]

This Wild Petunia is a Florida native found throughout the northern and central parts of the state. A low growing plant attaining heights of approximately 4 to 6 inches with a spread of 12 to 24 inches, it is also called Ciliate Wild Petunia (ciliate meaning "fringed with hairs" ) and it forms a rosette of basal, soft, pubescent leaves. Blooms occur from spring through fall and may be purple to pale purple or almost white in color; blooms last only one day.

In my garden this plant has a low growing, spreading habit, sending out roots at nodes all along the stems. It produces blooms from early spring, throughout the summer and into the fall and is growing in morning sun areas as well as full shade locations in the garden. I've read that Ruellia ciliosa will also grow in full sun so I plan to transplant a bit of it to see how it fares in that situation.

[ Stinging Nettle (Urtica chamaedryoides) | Posted on April 13, 2015 ]

I came into contact with this stinging nettle this morning when I was weeding an area of the garden ... so I can attest to its common name of "Fireweed"! It causes an extremely painful stinging and burning sensation! Since I wasn't wearing gloves when I pulled a handful of weeds that contained the nettle, I got a good dose of the stinging on my right hand. I immediately ran inside and made a thick paste of baking soda and water, which I applied to my hand. The burning sensation subsided within 30 - 40 minutes, but even two hours later there's still a mild stinging sensation.

*** Note to self ... ALWAYS wear gloves when gardening!

This Nettle is native to the Southeastern United States and Northern Mexico. Here in Florida, Fireweed is often found in moist, disturbed areas, lawns, and pastures. The plants are usually avoided by cattle, but horses sometimes browse this plant, which can cause stress symptoms, such as breathing difficulty, difficulty swallowing, and weight loss. In extreme cases it can cause death in younger horses when they become exposed to the toxins by rolling around in the plants.

[ Florida Flame Azalea (Rhododendron austrinum) | Posted on April 12, 2015 ]

The Florida Flame Azalea is native to the panhandle area of Florida, as well as southern Georgia. This Rhododendron is a deciduous, sparsely branching shrub that attains heights from 6 to 8 feet and a spread of about 2 feet. It prefers a location of part sun to shade and is drought tolerant once established. In early spring the Flame Azalea bears clusters of trumpet-shaped, yellow-gold blooms that are blushed reddish to peach at the base. The flowers have a slight honeysuckle fragrance, which attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

[ Amaryllis (Hippeastrum 'Red Lion') | Posted on January 20, 2015 ]

Amaryllis Red Lion is the most common Amaryllis I see for sale in my area every winter. It is a popular holiday gift plant for forcing indoors during the colder months. One of the classics, Red Lion has huge, 8-inch-wide, vibrant red blooms ... perfect for the holiday season. Red Lion looks wonderful when grouped with a couple of the white varieties of Amaryllis or white Poinsettias.

[ Chinese Wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) | Posted on January 16, 2015 ]

Chinese Wisteria is indeed a beautiful flowering vine that can attain heights to 40 feet, with branches and stems 8 to 10 inches in diameter! The leaves of the Chinese Wisteria are wavy and tapered toward the tip. The fruit is a hairy, flat, approximately 6-inch-long pod that contains the seeds. Long, dangling panicles of very fragrant purple, white, or lavender flowers appear in spring.

One must be careful when planting this vine as it is considered extremely invasive in some areas. It will grow around and over everything in its path, displacing native vegetation and killing shrubs and trees. A much better alternative for gardeners in the U.S. is American Wisteria, Wisteria frutescens: which is just as pretty but much more easily contained, as it does not have the invasive habit of the Asian varieties.

[ Dominican Bellflower (Cubanola domingensis) | Posted on November 17, 2014 ]

Endemic to the Dominican Republic, Cubanola domingensis is a small, slow growing evergreen tree that attains heights of 10 to 12 feet. Although the growth habit and the flower size and shape resemble that of Brugmansia (Angel's Trumpet), they are not related.

The Dominican Bellflower is a cold sensitive plant and cannot withstand temperatures below 40ºF (4.5ºC). It can be grown as a container plant in 3- to 5-gallon pots, but must be protected from low temperatures and frost. Cubanola domingensis prefers bright, filtered light, but it will bloom more profusely when grown in full sun. This plant does not like wet feet, and whether it is grown in the ground or in containers it requires a well-draining potting medium. During the summer months, consistently moist but not soggy soil is required, while less water is needed during the winter months. Dominican Bellflower bears 10-inch-long, trumpet-shaped, yellowish-cream to greenish-white blooms that are highly fragrant.

[ Snake Plant (Sansevieria hyacinthoides) | Posted on November 13, 2014 ]

Bowstring Hemp is an ornamental, herbaceous perennial originating in Africa. The plant grows from thick rhizomes to heights of three to four feet. It is a non-native plant that has escaped cultivation and invaded wetland areas of central and south Florida. It can be found growing in disturbed hammock areas. The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FEPPC) lists Sansevieria hyacinthoides as a Category II non-native invasive that has not yet altered Florida's native plant communities.

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