Grow Your Own Chanel

It has been three years since the Ylang-Ylang Tree was mentioned in this space. Its importance in human society makes the holiday season a perfect time to repeat the story of this special tree:

“If you haven’t discovered the source of Chanel No. 5 perfume, allow us to introduce you to the Ylang-Ylang Tree. Native from island chains of Southeast Asia into northern Australia, this tropical evergreen produces oils that are steam-distilled from its aromatic flowers to create the world-famous women’s fragrance.

“The story goes that Russian-born perfumer Ernest Beaux presented French coutourier Coco Chanel a series of sample fragrances in 1920. The fifth sample piqued her interest, and because of the coincidence that her clothing line was introduced on the fifth day of the fifth month every year, she dubbed the new product Chanel No. 5. Its major component is the oil of Ylang-Ylang (pronounced EE-lang – EE-lang), augmented by oils of a jasmine and a rose.

“Ylang-Ylang (Cananga odorata) belongs to the Annonaceae family, which includes custard-apple, sugar-apple and soursop. On drooping branches it produces greenish flowers that mature to chartreuse shades and eventually to a fairly dark yellow. In warmer months in southern Florida, its heavenly fragrance permeates the evening and nighttime air for a significant distance. Where it is native, the fast-growing C. odorata can reach 100 ft., but in the thin soils of our region, mature heights of 30 ft. are the norm. This species is amenable to exposures from full sun to light shade, and in placing the plant, we recommend a site where other trees provide a wind-break.

“Some medicinal uses, including aromatherapy, are attributed to Ylang-Ylang. It is also said that in Indonesia, the tree was historically valued as an aphrodisiac, its flowers strewn about the beds of newlyweds. We here at Richard Lyons’ Nursery suspect that providing an aphrodisiac to the newly-married is like carrying coals to Newcastle.”

No matter what use you have in mind for Ylang-Ylang, you should know that we are offering a special on this outstanding tree. Until Christmas, you can buy a one-gallon Cananga for just $5. And you can shop at the farm on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as every weekday but Thursday.

This Week’s Special

From now until Christmas 2015.


15gal. 8′ tall Rainbow Eucalyptus will be $50.00 during this sale period.

Weekly specials are exempt from special coupons such as Yelp and Groupon.


Thank you.



Another Update to the Sad Story of Citrus

Richard Lyons’ Nursery has tried to keep readers abreast of developments with respect to the health of citrus in Florida. We’re sorry to report that the latest information from the state’s Department of Agriculture, as well as industry sources, is not encouraging.

On November 12, the Florida Senate Agriculture Committee met in Sebring to discuss the crisis created by citrus greening, a bacterial disease for which there is still no known treatment. Industry representatives, in concert with state government officials, are asking for $20 million in Florida’s 2016-17 budget to be allocated to fighting the disease. $8.5 of that request is intended to go to the agency leading the research effort toward a remedy. According to Mike Sparks, Executive Vice-President and CEO of Florida Citrus Mutual, the trade group representing growers, more than $176 million, from a variety of sources, has been spent on greening research in the past ten years. John Barben, a grower from upstate, claimed that $71 million of that sum has been contributed by growers, proof that they intend to stick around, provided that research continues.

During the three-hour meeting, Adam Putnam, Florida’s Agriculture Commissioner, declared, “We are at a tipping point; some would say we’ve blown past the tipping point” in the battle against citrus greening. He added that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest prediction — that 74 million boxes of oranges would be harvested this season — is half of what production was only four years ago. Lower yield, coupled with an increase in the cost of managing groves, is forcing many small growers out of the industry.

Putnam reported that 130,108 acres of citrus statewide have been abandoned, leaving behind breeding grounds for both the bacteria and the insect which spreads the disease. He said that he intends to seek several million dollars in the next regular legislative session to be applied toward removal of some of the abandoned groves. Larry Black, the president of Florida Citrus Mutual, estimated that the cost of removing all abandoned citrus trees would exceed $60 million.

With this dire news, Richard Lyons’ Nursery continues to recommend that consumers avoid buying citrus trees for their property, and instead look toward installing some of the many species of fruit trees in our region that are not prone to fatal diseases. The nursery will not offer any citrus trees for sale until affordable preventive treatments are developed.

Time to Get Ready for Fall and Winter

In southern Florida, October is the time of transition to the dry season. Exactly when that happens depends on the confluence of several factors. One sign is the weakening of showers and thunderstorms fed by the sea breeze in combination with the heating of the day. In contrast, dry season rainfall is almost always associated with the approach of cold fronts. The other significant sign is the retreat of high dewpoints. Dewpoint is the temperature which is low enough for moisture in the air to condense into liquid water, that is, for dew to form. The higher the dewpoint, the greater is the atmospheric humidity, and the more uncomfortable it is for humans. The rainy season is generally considered over when dewpoints fall below 70 degrees for several days. Although we continue to experience substantial precipitation, because of the falling dewpoint readings, meteorologists declared the rainy season over a couple of weeks ago.

How should you prepare for the fall and winter seasons? We first recommended fertilizer a few weeks ago, but since above-average temperatures are expected for the next 10-12 days, it’s not too late to make your final application of the year. We at Richard Lyons’ Nursery recommend that you use one of the Palm Special fertilizer blends available in the market, since they contain the trace elements which are all-important for augmenting the nutrient-poor soils of our region. There are also fruit tree blends that contain substantial trace elements. In applying fertilizer, don’t leave it in heaps, but instead broadcast it evenly across the root zone of the plant. (The root zone is generally considered to coincide with the width of the crown.) And be sure to water the fertilizer in well after application.

The dry season is a good time to prune many tree species. However, it’s too late to trim back mangos without negatively affecting next year’s crop; that should be done as soon as possible after the last fruit ripens. But avocados can still be pruned, especially the later-maturing cultivars. Finally, for your plants that like a more even distribution of rainfall than our climate affords, this is a good time to apply mulch. A good-quality mulch keeps moisture from evaporating from the effects of lower fall/winter humidity, especially on windy days. It also improves the soil as it breaks down. We caution you, however, not to push mulch up against the trunks or stems of your plants, but rather to leave an area open for air to circulate and discourage insects from chewing on the bark.

Here at the farm, we’ve been preparing for the dry season by planting our usual array of vegetables and fruit. We’ll keep you posted as they start to produce.