Bougainvillea

They are thorny, woody vines growing anywhere from 1 to 12 meters (3 ft 3 in to 39 ft 4 in) tall, scrambling over other plants with their spiky thorns. The thorns are tipped with a black, waxy substance. They are evergreen where rainfall occurs all year, or deciduous if

 Bougainvillea

My Bougainvillea

there is a dry season. The leaves are alternate, simple ovate-acuminate, 4–13 cm long and 2–6 cm broad. The actual flower of the plant is small and generally white, but each cluster of three flowers is surrounded by three or six bracts with the b

right colours associated with the plant, including pink, magenta, purple, red, orange, white, or yellow. Bougainvillea glabra is sometimes referred to as “paper flower” because the bracts are thin and papery. The fruit  is a narrow five-lobed achene. Bougainvillea is flexible.  You can keep it short or train it to be tall.  You can use it as a ground cover, a standard, a small tree, espaliered, a hanging basket, or cascading down a wall.  It is hardy to zone 9B but can easily be grown in containers in cooler climes.

I planted my Bougainvillea 7 years ago and I believe this year was it’s best. Last fall it got really huge and was over the top of my house. I did extensive pruning in hope to keep it at a manageable height. Instead it has risen to an amazing beautiful blooming plant. I need to prune it back again but it still full of blooms.

Bougainvillea closeup

Bougainvillea closeup

These plants grow fast so be careful where you plant them. When I first got my  Bougainvillea, I made a nice 6 foot challis that was soon consumed by the plant. It looked so good I just let it grow. I’m stuck between whacking it way back to the main stalks or letting it take over and light up my yard. It looks so good big. I have to bend over to get through my gate as you can see in the picture. These  Bougainvillea can be seen from the street which I always check it out before I head up the driveway.

Hydroponics work

I have been a garden guy since I was a kid. I helped my dad plant his gardens and felt it was a little bit of my own. It was a spring ritual each year the tilling,  planting, weeding and harvesting.  I kind of think my first wife kicked me out because the kids and I were spending to much time in the garden rather than paying attention to her.  Boy, did I had some great gardens back then.  Since that time I have not always had a yard or even a place to have a big garden.

My first Hydroponics system

My first Hydroponics system

Living in apartments and rentals you start to improvise by growing tomatoes, herbs and peppers in pots on the back porch.  Now that I’m a home owner again a have keep a small area each spring for a garden, but I have little success keeping it going all year. I have my water garden with 20 or so goldfish and thought it would be cool to hook up an aquaponics  system.  The plants I tried didn’t really do that well from just the water off my water garden. There has been a lot of talk about hydroponics lately so I started to look into it. A hydroponics store recently opened up a couple of miles from my house called Hydroponics Systems here in Port St. Lucie Fl. I went and was impressed at the quality of plants they had on display. I purchased some clay balls they call hydroton, some rock wool for starting plants, a water pump and a box of nutrients from Technaflora Plant Products LTD. I got some hoses and fittings and an electrical timer from Home Depot and bought a a tub and a couple trays from Walmart. Lettuce I spent under $120 for what I needed to get started on a  simple ebb and flow hydroponics system.I started some bib and romaine lettuce seeds in the rock wool too have something to get me started. I hooked up a drain and fill fitting to my trays and ran tubing to the water pump and an over flow tube with a drain to back to the tub.he nutrients kit I bought included 10 different bottles of solutions for different stages of growth of your plants.

They give you a recipe for each of the stages so you need to mix up a batch of 4 to 6 different solutions and add that to your tub. I adjusted my timer to run the pump once an hour for 15 minutes during the day and every two hours during the night. I bought a couple small banana pepper plants from Home Depot and placed it the larger tray and added the lettuce to the smaller tray once they were about an inch high.

Peppers

This was a month ago and these plants are really smoking. The peppers are over two feet tall and have peppers over 6 inches long with lots for smaller ones and blooming flowers. The bib lettuce is ready to harvest and the romaine is over 10 inches tall.

Swamp lily

Crinum americanum L.

This lily is also called Crinum lily, Seven sisters, Southern swamp lily, String lily. Swamp lilies are erect plants that grow in small clumps. The leaves grow directly from the bulb and are 2–4 feet long and 2–3 inches wide. The flowerstem is about 1 inch in diameter, 2–3 feet tall, with 2–6 flowers forming a showy umber at the top. The fragrant flowers are white, sometimes marked with pink. The sepals are 3–4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. They are joined at the base, forming a long tube, but curve backward at the end to form a ball-shaped blossom. The upper half of the stamen is purple, with purple anthers extending out from the blossom as the sepals curve backward.

Crinum americanum

I have a couple of these plants in my water garden and for the most part they just sit there most of the time. Once a year they bloom in mid summer and they make up for all the time swamp lilies just sat there. They are the prettiest  flowers in my water garden. If these plants bloomed all the time they would not be the special prize they are. When my swamp lilies bloom I’m up early just to see them. Once they bloom they fall over and from that stem they will start another bulb in the mud. If you keep them in pots like I do, they will soon bud out and start new plants that can easily take over the pot. They often will start out from the small holes on the bottom of the pot. They are easy to re pot but you can find yourselves with more than you want. From my research I found in some marsh and wetland areas they will become evasive and take over. For your water garden you can manage these plants before they get out of hand. They add to the general look of my pond when not in bloom and are not hard to keep. Fertilizer tabs in the spring will add to the blooming as it will to most water garden plants.

Ponytail Palm

Beaucarnea recurvata

From my research on the Ponytail Palm, I found that the it is not a palm at all. They are closely related to Yuccas and thrive under the same conditions. Plants have dark green, grass-like leaves that are 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide by 6 foot (2 m) long. They have swollen bases for water storage and can store water up to 1 year. Plants in nature will reach about 30 feet (10 m) in height with a base about 12 feet (4 m) across. In containers, they will only reach about 8 foot (2.5 m) in height. They make an excellent houseplant if they are not over-watered. There are other common names you may be familiar with, ponytail palm, bottle palm, nolina, elephant-foot tree.

I have three of these plants in my yard, the ponytail palm you see to the left I rescued from the dumpster when I was working at a K-marts garden department some 18 years ago. I kept it in pots for long time until I planted it my water garden area a few years ago. It has since grown an additional three feet and is loving it’s permanent home. I have always been fond of these plants because they require little maintenance and always look healty.

The ponytail palm to the right is one that was here when I bought my house, last spring it sprouted good size flowers out of the tops of each of the branches. They were very pretty cream colored blossoms that lasted about a week. They reminded me of the flowers that get from my Yucca plant. The leaves will die and fall off by themselves but you can easily pull them instead off trimming them. My favorite ponytail palm is the one I have in my front yard. It has six trunks coming out of a three foot diameter stump. Since I have owned this home it has started a new trunk. I don’t know if you buy your ponytail palm with multiple trees started or they just grow that way. I have not seen this at the nurseries like I do with palm trees. I have seen other ponytails with this configuration so I assuming this is a common practice with growers.

Pink Porterweed

Pink Porterweed (Stachytarpheta mutabilis) is a variety that is native to South America but does very well in the climate of South Florida. .  The bright pink flowers of this Porterweed are striking but like the flowers of other Porterweed species, each flowers is very fleeting and last about a day on average. The flower-spikes produce flowers from the bottom up and keep blooming up the spike until the coldest parts of winter take hold. My pink porter weed grows out to about 15 foot diameter off the corner of my fence that surrounds the water garden.This plant gets very big if left unchecked. I like to let it grow throughout the summer and trim it back in the winter months. Pink porterweed is not only an attractor for butterflies and moths but honey bees, bumble bees and wasps of every kind. I like to go out and just see what buzzing around my bush. The flowers do not last long but are continually returning on other branches.

The branches are somewhat fragile and after a good hard wind they do break off only to grow back in a couple of weeks. I acquired this plant from a close friend and owner of Water Garden Design Build in Port St. Lucie Florida. It was just a med sized root ball with a couple branches of foliage. Within one season it grew to 15 ft. dia and at least 10 ft tall. I don’t water this plant much since it seems to grow just fine without any extra water than what we get from rain. If you are looking for a butterfly attracting plant that continually blooms and covers a very large area find yourselves a pink potterweed you will be happy you did.