With the Summer heat bearing down more each day it seemed like a good as any time to plan for the next three months.
Lots of plants are already struggling in the sun and wind. Ever since I lost my big Mango tree to a hurricane several years back my backyard shade is mostly gone. Best I can figure about 3/4 of the yard is in the tropical sun now as long as the sun is up.
It's kind of similar to growing plants on the beach. Full sun all day and no shade to escape to until the sun sets.
So here are some of my South Florida favorites that thrive in the tropical summer heat.
One plant that I can always count on is the Mandevilla.
It is a tropical plant and seems to grow better for me the hotter that it gets around here.
It doesn't like the cold at all and every year around March I cut the vine back to about a foot tall. As it warms up the Mandevilla vine takes off and produces flowers up until about January. This guy will grow a good ten foot tall by the end of the summer and will be continuously covered in blooms.
Another hot weather favorite at the sandpit is the Desert Rose.
It stays in the full sun and never complains. The Desert Rose is native to Africa and likes it hot.
This plant never gets much water from me and seems to bloom better being a little water starved or so I have concluded.
Had worms eat all the leaves off it once until it was just sticks. A month later the leaves popped back out and it was blooming again. This is one tough plant great for South Florida.
One other proven hot weather survivor in the sandpit is the Everglades Wild Tomato.
They grow dime to quarter size fruit and are the best tasting cherry size Tomato that I have ever eaten.
They reseed themselves and pop up all over the garden as volunteers. I suspect the birds who also love to snack on the fruits spread the seeds.
All the better cause I like to snack on a handful straight from the bush while working outside. There are like five bushes growing now in the garden. None of which I planted.
These guys take the heat when other Tomato's are long gone. They will continue to provide tasty handfuls of fruit all summer long. They are wild so if one plants looks bad you can count on more popping up to take it's place.
And here is my great hope to help with my lack of shade .It is one my baby Neem trees that has sprouted from seeds that I got from Zanzibar East Africa.
Actually I have three baby Neem tree sprouts growing for the nine seeds that I attempted to sprout. That is pretty good because the seeds are very time sensitive and must be planted quickly after harvest.
The Neem tree might not look like much now but it will grow quickly into a mighty pillar of a tree to solve my shade problems. Anyway that's what I keep telling the Neem sprouts.
They will have to stay in the pots until they grow to 50 cm tall. One cm is about the size of a pinky nail turned sideways so I figure by the time I figure how tall 50 pinky nails turned sideways is they should be ready to plant in the yard.
And as to strange new plant experiments here is my latest entry.
I picked up some hybrid Sunflower seeds a while back called Teddy Bear. Here is the results.
All I can report is that they are pretty weird looking and that the bugs absolutely find them irresistible.
Going to sprout some more later in the summer when the bugs calm down a bit.
I don't use pesticides anymore but have been spraying with Neem Oil to get some of the bugs under control naturally.
As for the pipe dream department here is my Zinnia attempts. I like Zinnia's and try to grow them every year with less than stellar results.
This one is a Giant Violet Queen. It has been afflicted with some unknown plant affliction as well as being ravaged by hungry bugs.
But with all that against it it still blooms for me. Now that's tenacity a trait which I admire.
So if the Zinnia's keep trying so will I.
And as to a summer suprise here is my Passion Vine flower. It is the first time that the vine has bloomed here.
For the past couple of weeks there are 3-5 blooms that open each morning than close and fall off that night.
Is that neat or what?
The bottom line is that in South Florida heat and weather you have to plan ahead to make it through the summer months.
Speaking of which it is now officially the start of hurricane season. This means it is time to plant some Moonflower seeds.
My theory is that a well grown Moonflower vine can actually bend a hurricane away from it. There's not a lot of science behind the theory but seem to me every time I have had Moonflower Vines growing the hurricanes have bypassed the sandpit.
More research may be required but it has worked in the past.