In the Garden:
Tropical South
December, 2003
Regional Report

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Pink hydrangea-like blooms are featured on 'Seminole' all winter long.

Winter Blooms

Florida comes into its own during the winter months with lots of color if the right plants are used. Many of these plants will hold their color through the entire winter season. I like flowering trees and shrubs best as they do not need replacing like annuals.

Winter All-Stars
Hong Kong orchid tree has claret red blooms that start in October and last through April. Flowers can be 5 to 6 inches across and are fragrant. They attract hummingbirds and butterflies. The tree is sterile so it does not produce messy seedpods. Apply palm fertilizer in March, June, and October to keep good foliage color and vigor.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow (Brunfelsia latifolia) is another winter performer with a multicolored flower show from October to April. Blooms open purple the first day, are light purple the second day, and white the third day. The plant is loaded with flowers the entire winter season and makes a great show. This plant likes sun to light shade and enjoys a moist site. It can grow 8 to 9 feet in height, so it's great as a background or specimen plant.

The Florida hydrangea, Dombeya 'Seminole', has pink hydrangea-like clusters of blooms over the winter. It is a great companion to yesterday, today, and tomorrow and likes similiar growing conditions. My plant has grown to 10 feet in height and is leggy in deep shade. It would be much more compact with sun to light shade.

The desert cassia blooms year-round, but it's extra prolific during the winter months. This vase-like small tree only grows to 10 feet in height and blooms all year. The dainty foliage is covered with yellow flowers so dense that the leaves cannot be seen. This is a full sun lover that likes dry conditions. It flowers very heavily during the winter months and attracts yellow sulphur butterflies.

One of the things you learn quickly in Florida is how fast the trees grow. Plants in full sun 20 years ago now struggle in deep shade. My Dombeya and yesterday, today, and tomorrow are facing this crisis. One must look at this as a gardening opportunity when the sun lovers slowly fade out.

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