Last summer I planted three Cassia alata seedlings that I received from Meem’s garden. I love their cheery yellow blooms and the yellow sulfur butterflies that are attracted to the plants. All three plants died back to their roots during the winter due to the frosts. I wondered if they would come back again this year and they did – wow did they come back! Only two of the original survived but they are sprawling across my front garden. The 30 inch long pinnate leaves provide shade and a tropical splash of green which I love as much as the waxy yellow flowers.
Floridata.com says the plants grows well in normal garden soil. I have done very little to improve or amend the soil in my garden, but the corner where the Cassia are growing has some mulch from the leaves of neighborhood trees mixed with the native sandy soil. When I investigated to see why one of the plants didn’t survive the winter frosts, I discovered a plastic tray buried about 2 feet below the roots. The tray was the remains of an old in-ground watering system that I hadn’t known was there. The roots of the plant had spread out just under the surface of the soil rather than growing more deeply into the soil where the plastic tray was. I believe that since the roots of the plant were close to the surface that they were killed by frost so they couldn’t grow again in the spring. The plants are drought tolerant. It was a dry summer but the dry soil conditions didn’t seem to affect the plants or slow their growth. I hope I have them in my garden for many years to come.
This plant is sometime classified as Senna alata also. Common names for it include autumn candle and Christmas candle.
My three Duranta gold mound (Duranta erecta “Gold Mound”), like most plants in my yard, are new and small. Each of the plants is less than 15″ (38 cm) tall. I chose them because the description on the tag sounded like what I needed for a small triangular area in the front:
- low-growing evergreen shrub (average height is 24″/60 cm)
- glowing golden-colored foliage
- adds a splash of color in borders
- delicate white flowers in summer (except they are blue!)
I also chose this plant because my research indicated it is drought-tolerant so it should do well with natural rainfall once established. It is growing in full sun, virtually without shade all day, so to get it established, I’m watering when the soil is dry. It is also supposed to be cold-tolerant, good down to 20 to 10 F ( -7 to -12 C). We’ll see next winter if it is as cold-tolerant as advertised.
I’m not using it as a border. I have them in a small triangle around a newly planted crepe myrtle, but there is space for another three at least. so I may decide to add more plants to fill in the area and to create more of a border effect. I’m off to the plant store tomorrow to I’ll see what they have available.
I followed the directions for spacing the Asiatic Jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) when I planted them last summer. (see photo) I want the plants to be the ground cover for the front yard, and I know that the jasmine “sleeps a year, creeps a year, and leaps the 3rd year”, so I wasn’t expecting it to completely cover the ground by this summer. However, it is obvious that the plants are too far apart to be an effective ground cover. Early this spring, I added about 10 more plants, but they were the 1 gallon size. Yesterday I added 20 more plants that were the 4 gallon size. Is this enough? I don’t know, but now some are sleeping and some are creeping. If they all start leaping, I may need help getting out of the front door.
I’ve watched loropetalum grow for years but paid little attention to it because I had never seen it bloom. Then this last weekend we visited The Villages, and the loropetalum were blooming. The beautiful pink haze of the blooms in the median strips were spectacular.
As soon as we returned to Tampa, I dashed out to purchase some. First I went to Earl’s Garden store, a small facility owned by a local gardener. It seems I’m not the only one to have “discovered” loropetalum this spring. He had sold all of his and suggested that if I wanted some I should hurry to one of the large suppliers such as Lowes or Home Depot to see if they had any left because the loropetalum were selling fast. Lowes had a few small plants left; I bought 2 even though they were only about 10 inches high. I love planning ahead and imagining how beautiful they will be in a few years. That is the best part of gardening. So, now? Now, they are 2 tiny shrubs against a large white fence in a large backyard. They will grow and will be spectacular.
Culture (from Floridata)
Grows well in organically rich, gritty, acidic soil with good drainage but very adaptable to less than ideal conditions. Loropetalum has few pests and requires no pruning except to maintain desired size. Benefits from fertilizing 2 or 3 times a year.
Light: Prefers partial shade. Shifting or high shade is best.
Moisture: Moist but well drained. Drought tolerant once established
Hardiness: USDA Zones 7-10
Propagation: Plant fresh seed or by semi-ripe cuttings taken in spring or early summer.
We were in The Villages, FL last weekend. I’m always amazed at the beauty of the plants along roadsides and around commercial areas, but over the last year I’ve noticed a definite change in the types of plants used. Increasingly, public area plants have been converted to those that require less water.
The Home & Garden section of The Villages’ Daily Sun newspaper (4/3/2010) described water-wise practices The Villages management is following. The article defined water-wise plants as “those that can take water one day a week”.
The article suggested that if residents of The Villages watch the changes in the public areas, that it will help residents to select appropriate water-wise plants for their yards. Water-wise plants recommended are Indian hawthorn (see photo), Parson’s juniper, dwarf Walter’s viburnum, and variegated Dianella, also known as blueberry flax lily. Liriope is a good grass to use as a border plant.
The article emphasized that water-wise plants need regular watering until they are established, but most will survive on rainfall alone, except in drought years when additional irrigation by watering systems is needed.
I find it encouraging that such a large management corporation is making an effort to be water-wise, although I’m sure one of the main factors is that it reduces their budget for water just as it reduces the water budget for residents of The Villages.