We have Jackfruit

Jackfruit on the tree

Artocarpus heterophyllus (Jackfruit) on the tree.

I know some of you have been waiting since last season ended. The wait is finally over. The jackfruit is back, and we have a beautiful fruit this year.

If you aren’t familiar with jackfruit, this is a tropical treasure. It has a unique flavor somewhere between banana and pineapple mixed with other tropical notes of flavor. The spiny fruits are spectacular in size and can get upwards of 70 pounds.

For a really unique experience, come by our nursery in Miami today and buy some jackfruit for a taste of this Asian treasure.

Ground Covers That You May Not Have Thought About, Part VI

Today Richard Lyons’ Nursery today presents the sixth installment of its survey of plants that are sometimes overlooked for their potential as ground covers.

Variegated Flax Lily, Dianella tasmanica ‘Variegata’: This strap-leafed herbaceous perennial, native to southeastern Australia, including the island state of Tasmania, features an appealing contrast of colors: Green leaves with yellow-white striping, small blue-lavender flowers, and blue berries. Its clumping habit makes it a perfect ground cover. It tops out in the 18-24 in. range. Flax Lily is at home in the alkaline soils of southern Florida. It appears at its best when grown in filtered light.

White Fountain Grass, Pennisetum caudatum: Contrasting with its attractive green foliage, this vigorous-growing, cold-hardy grass puts on a striking show of fluffy white flower spikes as summer progresses. Maturing at about 4-5 ft., it is drought-tolerant once established, and performs best in full-sun settings. White Fountain Grass does not require more than small amounts of fertilizer to look its best; do not use lawn fertilizer. Extend the life of the flowers by cutting stalks for use in dry arrangements.

Aglaonema spp., Chinese Evergreen: These highly-versatile relatives of Dieffenbachia can be utilized to create a strikingly rich ground cover in lower-light areas of the garden. Originating in tropical and subtropical regions of Asia, Aglaonemas did not reach the New World until 1885, when specimens debuted at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. The stems of Chinese Evergreens become a ground cover simply by falling over and creeping along the soil. Their leaves, both variegated and now increasingly suffused with color through hybridization, brighten areas where many plants won’t flower.

Lemon Buttons Fern or Tuberous Sword Fern or Fishbone Fern, Nephrolepis cordifolia: This fern is so popular that it is known by a number of common names; do not confuse it with Pellaea rotundifolia, the other Button Fern. Lemon Buttons Fern, native to northern Australia and Asia, is maintenance-free when placed in bright filtered light on well-drained soil. There may be some variation in this species; the ‘version’ offered by Richard Lyons’ Nursery grows about a foot tall. This fern is capable of withstanding the coldest weather that may invade southern Florida.

Ground Covers That You May Not Have Thought About, Part V

Richard Lyons’ Nursery today presents the fifth installment of its survey of plants that are sometimes overlooked for their potential as ground covers.

Native Pineland Croton, Croton linearis: This evergreen shrub is native from St. Lucie County south through the Florida peninsula and into the Bahamas, Cuba and Jamaica. Several butterfly species are attracted to the nectar of the plant’s small white flowers. More importantly, the Pineland Croton is the only known larval host in Florida for the Bartram’s Scrub-Hairstreak and Florida Leafwing butterflies. Croton linearis grows in the 1-3 ft. range and features narrow leaves which are dark green on top and silvery or coppery underneath. Not particular about soil types, it doesn’t need supplemental irrigation once established in the ground.

Peacock Ginger, Kaempferia pulchra: If you’re looking for a ground cover for a moist, shaded area, the Peacock Ginger may be the solution, especially if you like the Hostas grown in northern states. They produce four-petaled flowers in the lavender-white range throughout the summer, but also feature beautifully-patterned foliage that attracts a lot of attention itself. The oval leaves consist of a green background with an overlay of striking bronze or purple markings. They fill up the target area by spreading via rhizomes. Kaempferia goes dormant during cooler months, during which irrigation should be reduced, but reappears during the spring.

Mexican Shrimp Plant, Justicia brandegeana: This is a very colorful plant, not for its flowers, but for its bold overlapping bracts that attain a shrimp-like shape. Native to Mexico, it grows about 3 ft. tall. Though the flowers are nondescript, they do attract butterflies and hummingbirds. The stems and undersides of leaves are downy, especially when young. When used as a ground cover, J. brandegeeana can be kept more compact by pinching back the tips from time to time, and then pruning hard in the spring. Grow in full sun to light shade. The Mexican Shrimp Plant is not only drought-tolerant once established, but also easy to maintain otherwise.

Yellow Shrimp Plant, Pachystachys lutea: Here’s an example of confusion created by using a similar common name to describe plants of different species. The bracts of this Shrimp Plant don’t even take on the characteristic curved shape, but are instead more candle-like. Why it wasn’t called the Yellow Candle Plant instead is a mystery whose resolution is far beyond the pay scale of the experts at Richard Lyons’ Nursery. Native to Central America, this species grows much like the Mexican Shrimp Plant and is likewise capable of being pruned hard to shape as a ground cover.

Turk’s Cap, Malvaviscus arboreus var. mexicanus: Though capable of growing into a moderate-sized shrub, Turk’s Cap is also amenable — through judicious pruning — to being maintained as a ground cover. It produces bright red, pendulous flowers which call to mind less-than-fully unfurled blooms of hibiscus, to which it is, in fact, related. This plant is a bird and butterfly attractant. For best results, plant in a well-drained site, in full sun to light shade, and provide regular watering. Conduct pruning operations during the cooler months of the year.


Ground Covers You May Not Have Thought Of, Part IV

Carnation ‘Firewitch’, Dianthus gratianopolitanus ‘Firewitch’: If our weather forecast suddenly calls for a low of 35 below zero, you might not survive, but this plant will! Capable of growing in a vast range of temperatures, this Carnation cultivar produces bright purplish-pink flowers, as well as a clove-like fragrance. Even when not in flower, Firewitch’s blue-gray foliage makes it an attractive ground cover that stays under a foot high. Plant in sunny exposures with excellent drainage.

Golden Dragon Impatiens, Impatiens repens: This Sri Lankan species, now likely extinct in the wild, doesn’t look like what most people think of when they consider Impatiens. Leaves are more rounded than pointed, and they help create a nice ground cover. I. repens produces succulent, burgundy-red, creeping stems complemented by yellow flowers. For best results, plant in filtered light.

Imperial Blue Plumbago, Plumbago auriculata: If you’re looking for a ground cover that thrives in hot, sunny locations, don’t pass up this plant. Native to South Africa, Plumbago produces sky-blue flowers on a year-round basis and attracts butterflies and birds. While often grown as a shrub through regular pruning, it can be utilized as a successful ground cover by simply allowing its long branches to sprawl. Richard Lyons’ Nursery also offers a striking white-flowered variant, Plumbago auriculata ‘Alba.’

Lavender Star Flower, Grewia occidentalis: Native to Africa from Mozambique southward, the Lavender Star Flower possesses several desirable features: Glossy, deep green leaves; edible, square-looking compound berries; non-aggressive roots; attractiveness to butterflies and birds; tolerance of drought, salt spray, strong winds, and light frost. Though capable of being trained to grow as a small tree, G. occidentalis also functions as a ground cover when left to wander around. For best results, plant in full sun and provide supplemental iron occasionally.

Salvia (native), Salvia coccinea: See “Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea)” (March 30, 2013) on this website.

Swiss Cheese Vine, Monstera deliciosa: See “Swiss Cheese Vine, Monstera deliciosa” (June 14, 2013) on this website.

White Alder, Turnera subulata: See “White Alder, Turnera subulata” (March 30, 3013) on this website.

All of these plants are available at Richard Lyons Nursery, Inc.

Ground Covers You May Not Have Thought About, Part III

Richard Lyons’ Nursery today continues its survey of plants that are sometimes overlooked in their capacity as ground covers.

Beach Creeper, Ernodea littoralis: This beautiful Florida native is a long-lived perennial shrub that makes a very nice ground cover topping out at 3 ft. and under. It features reddish stems, pink to white flowers, and yellow berry-like fruits that make it attractive to birds and butterflies.

Blue Flag Iris, Iris virginica: This perennial is native over a wide expanse of coastal areas of the southeastern United States. Reaching 2-4 ft., it produces a showy violet flower, with white and yellow highlights, above sword-shaped leaves. It is happiest in very wet conditions, including standing water. It is regarded as long-lived.

Bolivian Sunset Hardy Gloxinia, Seemannia sylvatica ‘Bolivian Sunset’: This South American native produces intense red-orange tubular flowers with yellow throats, and does a great job of illuminating filtered light settings. Its nectar makes at a significant attractant of hummingbirds. Keep soil moist during the warmest part of the year.

Caladium, Caladium spp.: Featuring a great variety of hues and patterns, the caladium is hard to beat for providing ground-level color during the warm months of the year. Florida, in fact, is the world’s premier producer of this popular aroid. Massed plantings create an eye-catching ground cover. Caladiums appreciate a moist, well-drained soil during the summer. As temperatures cool, they go dormant, and watering should be reduced drastically.

Bahama Wild Coffee, Psychotria ligustrifolia: See “Native Florida Coffee Species (Psychotria ligustrifolia, P. nervosa, P. sulzneri)” (February 9, 2013) on this website.

Porterweed, Stachytarpheta jamaicensis: See “Blue Porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis)” (March 30, 2013) on this website.

Portulaca, Portulaca grandiflora: See “Moss Rose (Portulaca grandiflora)” (June 24, 2013) on this website.