We are eight days and counting from the first day of spring. It is time to assess the damage in your gardens from winter’s cooler temperatures.
My Ixora plants currently have brown leaves. No surprise, the cold air affects this plant. Recommended zones for the Ixora plants are 10B-11. Highlands County is in zone 9. Every year I leave the brown leaves on my plants and add a 12-4-8 rose fertilizer at this time of year. The secret ingredient I use to give them a boost is Super Thrive, a growth enhancer. The bottom leaves will start to sprout green and the brown will fall off. Monthly fertilizing is the key to a continuous blooming season. Adding magnesium monthly will help with yellowing leaves. These plants are heavy feeders.
Amaryllis bulbs are starting to form flowers. They need fertilized three times a year with 6-6-6 or a slow release. Plant the bulb with a quarter of the bulb showing.
My desert rose is blooming on the back patio. This one is red but I also have two pinks in the front of the house. The pink received frost burn from the frost cloth. These beautiful flowers will bloom for nine months or more. Be cautious of their poisonous sap, especially with children or pets. Fertilize with a slow release fertilizer and magnesium. They are a succulent and need to be potted in a well-drained mix. The biggest issue I find with growing these plants in Florida is summer rains because they will rot from too much water. Summer is the time of year to give them some shelter.
From our pool deck we are enjoying the fragrance of fruit trees in bloom. The lemon, orange, and lime trees are full of white flowers. In January, February and March we spray the trees with micro-minerals and fertilize in January.
The continuous blooming flower this year was the peach drift rose. This is the most prolific bloomer I have. Drift roses are a cross hybrid between groundcover roses and miniature roses. They are self-cleaning and grow to 1-2 feet tall. Plant this rose out front in your flower beds. I fertilize monthly with rose food, magnesium, and cow manure. The red color does well but never outshines the peach. This is a new plant and I have not tested other colors. I do have two red tree drift roses. They stand four feet high and have the green ball on top. When they bloom the top looks like a red powder puff.
Spring is also the time to plant cooler weather annuals such as pansy, petunia, portulaca and snapdragon. Don’t expect these flowers to make it through the hot rainy months of summer. Enjoy them as an annual.
Let’s get dirty and enjoy the spring temperatures. The garden exercise is good for you, too.