Open Greenhouse & Plant Swap, Saturday, April 2, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 602 Ronele Drive, Brandon, FL 33511
It’s official – Spring is here!
There are still a lot of dead branches but we can see life returning after that nasty January freeze. One of our favorites, the Amazon lily, came through the cold beautifully and is getting ready to bloom. They need to be divided so they’re you-dig this month. You should be able to transplant the bulb easily into a pot and enjoy their amazing blooms in April and May.
The Everglade tomatoes froze to the ground but they’ve come back with a vengeance. This is one of the most prolific tomatoes you can grow in Florida – they’re tiny but they pack an amazing flavor in a very small package. (The plants get big though!)
We’re going to plant lots more native elderberry this year because it provided pollinator food after everything else was dead. It “runs,” so there are lots of rooted pieces you can dig up.
The native wild coffee needs trimming again – it’s a gorgeous plant with glossy green leaves, white flowers that bees love and then red berries for the birds. It’s super-easy to root this time of year.
The spiderwort — one of my favorite wildflowers in spite of its name — was slightly dinged but it’s coming back strong in places where it would have otherwise been in more shade than it likes.
Some non-native surprises: the Brazilian red cloak, which looks like a very tropical plant, wasn’t fazed by the cold. It was chopped pretty far back for cuttings at our December Open Greenhouse but it rebounded beautifully. It only blooms in the cold – which makes it the perfect hummingbird plant – but cuttings should be easy.
The flowering maple came through like a champ too and a couple of visitors have told us that it roots more easily than we thought so we’ll have lots of cuttings from it for people who want to grow a hummingbird favorite that blooms year-round.
And if you’re hungry, you need to come dig up some of the Everglade tomato that grows like a weed – literally – now that it’s established. We have dozens popping up in all kinds of places, plus some rooted cuttings in the greenhouse for sale.
Other you-dig plants in the yarden this month:
Surinam cherry seedlings
Lady palms, a slow-growing hedge that’s tough as can be once it’s started
Native wild violets
Yellow walking iris
Pagoda plants that froze back to the ground but are coming back beautifully
Native cannas froze to the ground but they’re coming back
Papalo seedlings are starting to sprout. They taste like cilantro but they’re practically weeds and grow all summer long so they’re perfect for summer salsas!
Ever-bearing mulberries, slightly dinged in the cold but covered in fruit now
Sweet almonds are thriving and will be covered in bees soon
Dark blue salvia and lavender or red firespike
Jacob’s ladder is one of the few things we grow that doesn’t benefit wildlife, but it’s an attractive plant that works beautifully in a pot
Blackberry lily, another native that came through the cold with blooms
Cosmos, the big plants froze back but the volunteer seedlings are still thriving
Amaranth is an ancient grain with leaves used as callaloo on tropical islands. It’s an attractive plant too with coloring that looks like coleus. The original seeds came from Jungle Jay in at Beacon Community Garden and they reseed nicely every year.
Gaillardia, or blanket flower, will be spectacular soon. It’s not blooming yet but the cold didn’t faze the seedlings that are coming up all over
A nice selection of miscellaneous seeds that were gifted to us last month
If you’re planting a garden this spring, we have a nice pile of hardwood mulch and a smaller pile of composted mulch, plus lots of bamboo to use as stakes.