This Week’s Special

3gal. and 7gal. Surinam Cherry shrubs, excellent for hedge material, will be on sale for $4.99 and $9.99 respectfully.  This sale will be in effect from, Saturday June 20, 2015 until Wednesday July 1, 2015.  Come on by, we are open from 8AM-4:30PM everyday except Thursday.  We are closed on Thursdays.

Drought Calls for Special Measures

The rainy season in southern Florida is the time of year when precipitation comes not from cold fronts passing through the area, but from the combination of heat and moist air. It is generally considered to span the period between May 20 and mid-October, a time when dew points are consistently above 70°, an indicator of high humidity. After April’s rainfall exceeded the norm, locals might have expected an early start to the 2015 rainy season. But precipitation in May was less than half of normal, and we are now more than a month late for the true start of the wet season. June is traditionally Miami-Dade’s rainiest month, with an area average around 10 inches, but the drought has gotten a tighter grip during this unusual month. While homeowners might appreciate not having to mow the lawn as frequently, the parched conditions pose potentially serious problems in the landscape, requiring special care.

Many of the plants which we have in the ground are native to either tropical rain forests or regions which experience high seasonal rainfall. Accordingly, they not only are accustomed to receiving ample moisture during the hottest time of the year, but they may even have evolved to rely on a relatively small root system to capture soil moisture. As a result, when a drought develops, those plants are prone to suffering greatly. It is important for you to make sure that your inground landscaping is sufficiently hydrated. Frequent brief irrigation is not recommended. Instead, you should provide a thorough soaking. If you aren’t already mulching trees and shrubs, you should do so, making sure to leave an open area around the base of the plants to discourage insects from chewing on stems. The mulch will act to keep moisture in the ground, an especially good benefit on breezy days any time of year, but particularly during the winter. (Mulch also improves the soil as it breaks down, another compelling reason to use it as part of your maintenance practices.)

If you keep plants in containers, you will need to be even more vigilant. Good soil mixes are fast-draining in order to discourage disease, but during periods of drought, soil porosity may create a threat. Windy days can desiccate containerized rootballs within mere hours. Until we begin to receive consistent rainfall, you may need to water some of your containerized material on a daily basis.

Special care also needs to be taken when fertilizing. First, since drought-stricken plants may have stopped growing actively, you might be well-served to reduce the amount of fertilizer you apply, lest you overwhelm the plant. Second, be sure to irrigate the plant both before and after applying fertilizer in order to minimize the risk of burning roots or leaves. This recommendation holds even when recent weather conditions have been normal.

Barring the drought of the century, at some time this summer we’ll experience a lot of rain in a short period; that’s the tradition in our area. But until that happens, take some extra steps to give Mother Nature a hand.

Bad Outlook for Florida Citrus Gets Even Worse

On January 16 of this year we published the State of Florida’s updated, discouraging outlook for citrus production. Unfortunately, that pessimism has only deepened since then. State agriculture commissioner Adam Putnam, in a message distributed this week and reprinted below, reports that Florida’s orange harvest will be its lowest in 50 years. The cause is citrus greening, a disease for which a cure has not yet been developed.

And citrus is not the only important crop in peril in Florida. The avocado industry is under siege due to laurel wilt, which remains unabated in the southern part of the state. Accordingly, Richard Lyons’ Nursery will continue to decline selling either citrus or avocado trees until reliable, affordable treatments to prevent citrus greening and laurel wilt are developed.

Friend, Florida growers are expected to harvest the smallest orange crop in nearly 50 years, and all because of a tiny insect. Citrus greening, a bacterial disease spread by the Asian citrus psyllid, is an existential threat to Florida’s signature crop. In just 10 years, citrus greening has cut Florida’s annual citrus harvest by more than half. The health of Florida citrus is important to every Floridian – not just those who depend on it for their livelihoods. With a nearly 500,000 acre footprint in Florida, citrus has a profound impact on so many of our interior counties and the quality of life of the surrounding communities. However, hope is not lost. We are partnering with the industry, the federal government, universities and private companies to develop cutting-edge solutions. We will continue to fight to save Florida citrus, its more than $10.7 billion economic impact and the more than 64,000 jobs it supports. For more information on what we are doing to save Florida’s signature crop, visit



Adam Putnam

Florida Commissioner of Agriculture

Aristolochia (Dutchman’s Pipe or Pipe Vines)

Aristolochia, is a genus of woody vines commonly called, Dutchman’s Pipe or Pipe Vines.  This is due to the shape of the flower resembling a pipe in many species.  It is also called Calico Flower, because the pattern on the flower resembles calico fabric. Many butterfly enthusiasts in South Florida grow this vine for the larval food of the Polydamus Swallowtail(Battus polydamus), sometimes called the Gold Rimmed Butterfly.  A black butterfly with gold around the wings and no extended ‘tails’ on the hind wings.  It is the only eastern United States Swallowtail without tails. Richard Lyons’ Nursery has a few species of Aristolochias in 3gal. containers.


Talk About Hedges!

If you’re at all like me, you value your privacy. Around your property, one way to help ensure privacy is to install a good hedge. Contrary to what some growers will tell you, not every hedge plant is capable of fulfilling homeowners’ needs for a dense, long-lasting screening material. It may sound like heresy for me to say this, but I am not particularly fond of Clusia as a hedge. Although it is a fine native species, it insists on being a tree. While regular pruning will control it to some degree, eventually it will develop a trunk and lose its lower branches, rendering it ineffective as a screen. Accordingly, I’d like to recommend some species that measure up to my idea of what makes a great hedge:

(1) Surinam Cherry (Eugenia uniflora) – This South American native combines small leaves with a dense growth habit to create a very attractive privacy hedge. Although it is capable of reaching 25 ft. if left untrimmed, it remains foliated from top to bottom. Its new leaves are coppery or bronzy in color, and it produces a red fruit in early spring that is sweet to tart, depending upon the cultivar. Surinam Cherry is available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery in 3- and 7-gal. containers.

(2) Podocarpus spp. – The narrow, glossy leaves of this conifer give it a distinctive look. Though capable of growing quite tall if left alone, it is very amenable to pruning to keep it within the bounds that you prefer. Two bits of advice: These species grow slowly, so be patient. To achieve optimum screening capacity, plant Podocarpus where there is room for it to broaden. It is available at the nursery in 3- and 7-gal. containers.

(3) Brazilian Red Cloak (Megaskepasma erythrochlamys) – This native of Central America and northern South America is particularly recommended as hedge material for shady sites. It possesses large, glossy leaves, and it will grow to 6-8 ft. tall in less than a year, providing a nearly instant screen. As bonuses, it produces beautiful spiked or plumed flowers, and it attracts hummingbirds. Richard Lyons’ Nursery stocks this species in 3-gal. containers.

(4) Green Island Ficus (Ficus macrocarpa) – Don’t let the genus name spook you; this Ficus has a friendly root system. It is, in my view, one of the best new plant introductions of the last two decades. It grows best in full sun, but can handle some shade. Not only does it stay full from top to bottom with proper pruning, but it is virtually free of disease or insect problems, and it tolerates drought, flooding, salt and chlorine. With those features, who cares if it’s a little slow? It is available in 3-, 7- and 15-gal. sizes.

(5) Fukien Tea (Carmona retusa) – This Asian species has gone through a couple of name changes, but one thing is constant: Fukien Tea makes a great privacy hedge. It features small, glossy green leaves, white flowers and red fruit. Plant in full sun to light shade, and provide good drainage. The nursery carries this species in 3-gal. containers.

(6) Chapman’s Cassia (Senna mexicana var. chapmanii, a/k/a Cassia bahamensis, a/k/a Cassia chapmanii) – Here’s another fine hedge  with shifting nomenclature. It is native to the pine habitats of southern Florida, as well as to the Bahamas. At home in full sun to partial shade, Chapman’s Cassia features attractive foliage and year-round bright yellow flowers. It attracts sulphurs and other butterflies. It is available in 1-gal. containers at the nursery.

(7) Butterfly Sage (Cordia globosa) – Also known as Bloodberry, this plant features extremely dense growth of small, rough-textured leaves. Excellent at attracting butterflies and birds, it produces clusters of small, aromatic white flowers, followed by red fruit. It performs well in full sun to partial shade, and has good salt and drought tolerance. It is native to southern Florida. Richard Lyons’ carries this desirable hedge material in 3-gal. containers.

(8) The several species known collectively as stoppers perform well as privacy screens, but none does it better than Simpson’s Stopper. For a fuller exploration of this interesting group of plants, please read “The Stoppers (Myrtaceae),” posted on this website on March 2, 2013. Not only do they make good hedge material, but they excel at attracting wildlife. The nursery stocks the stoppers in 3- and 7-gal. sizes.