Why This Nursery Doesn’t Recommend Citrus or Avocado Trees?

Recently Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, distributed a story that had been reported on a Tampa-area television station. It quoted some fairly astonishing statistics regarding citrus production in Florida: The most recent growing season yielded 104 million boxes of oranges. Only 11 years ago, 243 million boxes were picked! Some of the difference was due to hurricanes that strafed the state in mid-decade, but the bulk of the staggering loss resulted from citrus greening, a disease discovered in Florida in 2005. Greening ruins the appearance and taste of citrus fruit, and ultimately kills trees within a few seasons. A reliable cure is, at best, still several years away. It is a much greater threat than citrus canker.

To make matters worse, most varieties of citrus are not grown on the rootstock necessary for success in the soils of southern Florida. So right now Richard Lyons’ Nursery firmly recommends that homeowners interested in fruit trees buy something other than citrus.

Avocados also face a dicey future in our region. A tiny insect, the Redbay Ambrosia Beetle, carries a fungus, commonly known as Laurel Wilt, that has been spreading south from Georgia since 2002. In March 2012 the disease was detected in the northernmost avocado groves of southern Florida. The earliest observable effect of Laurel Wilt is dieback of leaves, stems and limbs, but all infested trees eventually die. Until a reliable, affordable treatment to prevent Laurel Wilt is developed, Richard Lyons Nursery will not sell avocado trees.

Come See Us at the Ramble!

This weekend marks the 74th edition of the Ramble, one of Old Miami’s most revered horticultural celebrations. It has long since ceased being just a plant show, though. The modern Ramble features cooking classes, rare books, a furniture design show, antiques, art, and a beer garden. And as for the plants, they have come a long way from the early days of the Garden’s annual extravaganza. Where once all the materials were grown by Fairchild, now a vast array of plants are brought in by vendors.

Richard Lyons’ Nursery will again be represented at this year’s Ramble, and we have selected an eye-catching variety of plants. Please drop by for a visit anytime this weekend between 9:30 am and 4:30 pm.

Admission to the Ramble is free to Garden members.


Saritaea magnifica (Glow Vine)

The name Saritaea magnifica implies something special, and, indeed, ‘magnificent’ is an appropriate word to describe the flowers of the Glow Vine. This native of Colombia and Ecuador produces large clusters of showy mauve-purple, trumpet-shaped blooms up to 2½ in. wide, accentuated by white throats. Even when not in flower, S. magnifica is ornamental, bearing smooth, leathery, dark-green leaves. It can be featured in the landscape in two ways: (1) Utilized as a climber that attaches itself to vertical elements via slender tendrils, or (2) Maintained as a shrub either planted out or in a container. Glow Vine should be grown in full sun to light shade and in moist, well-drained soil. It is available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery in 3-gal. pots, trained on 3-ft. trellises.


Stictocardia beraviensis (Hawaiian Sunset Vine)

We at Richard Lyons’ Nursery never cease to be amazed over the arcane logic behind the common names of plants. Just recently we learned that Swiss Chard is native to . . . the Mediterranean. And today we were driven into an even deeper funk by news that the beautiful Hawaiian Sunset Vine hails from tropical Africa! Obviously, figuring out this profound mystery is beyond our pay grade, so we’ll just concentrate on describing what is indisputably a very nice plant that you might want to add to your garden.

Under any name, Stictocardia beraviensis is an eye-catching vine. Its leaves alone are impressive; heart-shaped and velvety to the touch, they are about 6 in. wide grown in full sun and double that size grown in shade. Add to that the spectacular flowers, bright crimson cups with orange and yellow highlights framed by darker crimson stripes.

And that’s not all. The blooms are scented and appear on and off throughout the year. Moreover, Hawaiian Sunset Vine attracts birds and butterflies. It will still flower when grown in shade, but is more prolific in full-sun settings. It is not demanding, but grows best when given ample water and good drainage. It can even tolerate light freezes. This excellent species is available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery in 3-gal. containers.

New Guinea Trumpet Vine (Tecomanthe dendrophila)

When it comes to the New Guinea Trumpet Vine, the world temporarily returns to its senses. This very attractive liana really is native to New Guinea! Known botanically as Tecomanthe dendrophila (and formerly called T. venusta), it is related to the genera Tecoma and Tecomaria from other parts of the world, but produces larger and showier flowers. In fact, its tubular bloom is 3-4 in. long, pink along the sides and creamy yellow at the throat, maturing to a darker magenta-pink. The flowers grow in large, pendant clusters, made more striking by virtue of emerging directly from the dark older wood, rather than from younger stems.

New Guinea Trumpet Vine has proven hardy in southern Florida. Richard Lyons’ Nursery carries this relatively uncommon species in 3-gal. containers.