Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Hot Rain and Tropical Plants

It's pouring rain outside. The temperature is 80º and it feels as if you're walking into a steam bath if you go outside.

The steam bath brings forth crinum lilies. String Lilies are in bud but not blooming. Also blooming are Hymenocallis.

Yesterday morning there was thick fog when I got up. By 8 am it was thicker, settling in the yard like smoke. When the dog came inside her fur held tiny droplets of water from the fog.

Somewhere between rain showers out came the sun and dried up the rain and the itsy bitsy spider -- wait, wrong story -- He Who Mows managed to mow in the most important places so the gardens look like a park.

Earlier before the rain started for the second time today, the temperature was 82 and the humidity was 84%.

Despite rumbling thunder across the creek, I went out to make pics of some Tropicalismo plants. It's the time of year when I make lists of potential additions. Mostly I just grow the same plants every year, sometimes in different numbers.

I get out my tropical books Tropicalismo by Pam Baggett and Tropical Garden by Richard Iversen. Saved articles about tropical gardens abound in my files.

Crinum Jagus, smells like vanilla.
Tends to fall over in the dirt if not supported.

 Reviewed my post from last year: Tropicals in the Coastal South Garden to see what I failed to cover. Defninitely the Crinums need reviewing.

Pride of Barbados, Caesalpinia pulcherrima

Esperana, or Tecoma stans

I never tire of the combo of Pride of Barbados and Esperanza, both root hardy here and much easier from seed that you might believe.

I often mention that every year is different. We might have a literal monsoon or we may have a drought. This year we are blessed with ample rain after an unusually cold winter. Some of our flowering plants seem later than usual. Duranta has no buds, Tithonia came up late and is just now starting bloom.

Tithonia and Bengal Tiger Cannas, Duranta in background.

Usually by this time Porterweeds are blooming along with Pentas. They  have buds, but no blooms, the Porterweeds. Pentas are just getting started.

  Pentas in three colors: Miss Julie's Favorite, a dark pink and my fav, white.

There's also pale pink Pentas just starting to open and that luscious red that's in a pot this year. Some plants that survived the winter have not bloomed. I hope that  some of them are red.

Royal Standard Hosta with wire Flamingos.

Hostas do not thrive here as they do in slightly cooler climates. I mostly plant gingers where hostas would be the choice in a different garden. Royal Standard has been here for about 20 years, sturdy, but it never grows big and lush.

 Soon Black-eyed Susans will die off and Madagascar Periwinkles which are just now starting bloom will take their place next to Purple Heart which has Lantana weaving through it.

More Purple: Strobilanthes, Persian Shield. 
My other purple fav is Alternanthera denata

 Lantana is also weaving through Gulf Muhly grass which will pick up the show nearer fall. I have three newer clumps this year and a bit more growing in a pot to put somewhere. It always has to be backlit by the sun to really how off well.

This is another of my favorite grasses: Cymbopogon, or Lemon Grass. Last year it was great in a row of 4 with Madagascar Periwinkle. All but one failed to return in that row. This one came back with some volunteer Marigolds in another bed. Sometimes root-hardy plants just fail in a cold winter. Fortunately Lemon Grass is easily propagated.

Critters add to the tropical feel. We liberated 2 of these little frogs from inside the house this week. They weren't finding much to eat. I saw a bright blue lizard outside but he rushed away before I could get him to pose.

Crinum -- I think this one might go well with the old striped 
one that we call 'Milk and Wine' also blooming now.

Many of the best tropical plants start with C: Cannas, Crinums, Colocasia, Castor Beans. Some butterfly favorites start with P: Pentas and Porterweed, Passion Flower.

Brugmansias and Bromeliads are as tropical as plants come. 

Many common annuals are from tropical countries: Zinnias, Madagascar Periwinkles, Tithonia and Melampodium all wait for hot weather to reseed.  

Last summer I made a note of 3 new things I meant to plant this summer. I need to find that list. 

Spider plant in the Agapanthus bed.

One of the things I did not put on the list that I intend to plant in beds is more Chlorophytum comosum, Spider plants. This one came back from roots, they're hardier than I thought. I have lots of little spiders that need to grow here, not crowd the greenhouse this winter.

What are your summer favorites? Maybe I'm missing something really tropical, easy and stunning?


  1. For me, nothing says tropical like the big, pendulous flowers of your brugmansias! Gorgeous! I've recently started appreciating hardy palms. Evergreen and very tropical looking.

  2. Nothing is better than the fragrance of Brugs at night, particularly now while we have a road-killed deer just down from the driveway that the county said they would pick up last Friday, and did not. I just keep hoping for wind from the north or the east until scavengers take care of it.

  3. You've got a tropical explosion going on! We don't usually get that kind of humidity, although since mid-June it's begun to feel as if we moved to Hawaii - we even had a tropical storm yesterday, complete with thunder and lightening but almost zero rain, unfortunately. I have a Clerodendrum ugandense here that likes that kind of climate - it's looking better since the moisture levels increased. And plants that just might be Cannas have suddenly popped up here and there.


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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