Showing posts from June, 2012
Those Gorgeous Heliconias

It seems a liftetime has passed since I first knew the late Fred Berry 20 years ago. Fred was an amazing, multi-talented person, and a well respected Heliconia grower who lived nearby in South Miami. He introduced hundreds of people to the wonders of Heliconias from the verdant rainforest valleys of Panama and the cool mountains of Ecuador and Peru. Co-authoring one of the most definitive books on the genus, he passed on about 10 years ago, yet his legacy can be seen throughout South Florida. We grow about a dozen varieties of Heliconia at Pinecrest Gardens, and would like to grow a greater variety. There are so many to choose from that choosing just one or two is difficult. They have their own personalities as do many other plants, but there many types which are good landscape plants. 

In this remarkably diverse genus there are some 400 species and an increasing number of hybrids and selections. From 12 inch tall pixies to 40 foot tall monsters, …
Try Basket Culture if You Have Space Limitations

Hanging baskets of flowering plants can add a lot of color to a small garden space, especially if you have really limited ground area. In many cases, "normal" flowering plants can be grown as basket plants with great results. In an unusual case of a landscape plant grown off the ground, I recently saw a grafted Plumeria grown as a hanging basket given that the flowers had a natural tendency to face downward. The flowers could be enjoyed at face level without having to bend over.  I would not recommend growing an Oak tree or a palm tree in hanging basket, but many flowering annuals and herbaceous foliage plants can be grown well as a hanging basket. If you wish to make your own hanging basket gardens, there is a bit of homework to be done before you start, but the steps are easy and the materials are usually available at most garden centers.  

There are three major points to consider when growing hanging baskets. The first and po…
Growing Mint in the Home Garden
  At some point in every herb gardener's life, he will try to grow a mint plant or two of the many varieties available. I would like to offer some counsel on growing mint plants, both rewarding and troublesome at the same time. In most cases, mint plants are easy to grow once you understand their needs.
In many states, spearmint is a serious weed where there is enough water, and nearly choke out streams and small ponds. In cultivation, mint plants should be planted with enough space around them to allow for two or three feet of lateral growth per year. The gardener should also understand that mint grows by sending out runners, and these runners can go underground by several feet. If you have a small garden area, I suggest growing mints in pots that are off the ground.
The plants can also be grown easily in hanging baskets, as long as they get plenty of water daily. Use a potting soil and fertilizer suitable for ferns, and the mints should grow j…