March, 2017 Newsletter

Ixoras are Tried and True

With 545 registered varieties, Ixoras have been a South Florida landscape staple since the 1930's. Ixora coccinea, an upright dense grower that stays full of orange/red blooms most of the year, is found in many older hedges that are still around. Ixora 'Super King' is another great large shrub that produces deep red clusters of star-shaped flowers that can reach 6 to 8 inches across. The new hybrid 'Nora Grant' with coral-colored large flowers is also quite popular. These varieties can be maintained as 6-to-8 foot informal hedges easily, but they can also be trimmed less often and allowed to reach 12 feet plus to produce a wall of large bright blooms. For smaller shrubs with abundant flowers, the Taiwanese dwarfs are a good choice. These Ixoras only grow to 3 feet and are available in red, orange, yellow, and pink. Slightly larger varieties like 'Maui' and 'Singapore Yellow' are great in mass plantings or as single potted specimens. Ixoras like moderate watering and require regular fertilization and additional iron supplements annually to stay nice and green.

New Plant Additions

As we continue to expand our plant selection, we have added several new comers:

Eugenia monticola, also called Rodwood or Birdcherry, is basically an erect grower that can reach 20 feet, which makes it a good choice for hedges or tall specimen plantings. Though native to the islands, it does well in South Florida. Clusters of white flowers in the spring are followed by clusters of small, purple berries that birds enjoy. It is a relative of the white stopper and also has the same "skunky" smell.

The Wooly Teabush (Melochia tomentosa) is a drought-tolerant shrub that grows only to 3 feet tall. Magenta-colored flowers appear repeatedly throughout the year making it a great attractor of bees, butterflies, and birds. Its silver-colored foliage is striking by itself, but when combined with its bright flowers, the Wooly Teabush is irresistible.

This great shrub, the Blue Honeybell Bush (Freylinia tropica), comes to us from South Africa. Its slender spreading branches and growth habit make it a good choice for screening or as a potted specimen. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade to 5-6 feet tall by 2-3 feet wide. Its best feature is the abundance of small blue flowers it produces in the spring that last until summer. This new plant will make a great addition to any garden.            

Fertilizing for Spring

March is an excellent time to feed your trees, plants, shrubs and lawn. Remember to pull mulch or pine needles away from any plants when applying fertilizer; it can be replaced after fertilization is complete. Whether you use an organic or a synthetic fertilizer, applying the proper amount is extremely important. On average, for trees, palms and large woody shrubs, one pound of fertilizer for every 3 feet of height is standard. Smaller plants need less, so adjust accordingly by size. Four applications a year are recommended as most slow-release fertilizers are formulated to last 3-4 months. The slow-release prills are dissolved by heat and humidity, so expect the fertilizer to last closer to 3 months in the hot rainy season and up to 4 months in the cool dry season. Choosing a good quality brand with high percentages of minor elements is important as these nutrients are needed by plants in addition to N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus), and K (potassium). SmartyPlants offers both synthetic and organic fertilizers as well as specific formulas for fruit trees, vegetables, annuals, sod, and other plants. Remember your house plants as well; take them out, spray them with water to remove dust, and fertilize them using a slow-release well-rounded fertilizer. 
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