A quick note highlighting two new Heliconia plants for sale at Richard Lyons Nursery. The first is, Heliconia champneana, a cultivar with large upright yellow orange bracts with red splotches, appropriately named ‘Splash’. The second is a very large plant, attaining a height of 10-12 feet, Heliconia caribae x H. bihai ‘Black Magic’. This is a hybrid with chalky stems and deep burgundy red upright bracts.
This is the time of year when you see various colors of Crepe Myrtle Trees (Lagerstroemia indica) blooming. The most common colors for South Florida are White, Light Pink, Dark Pink, Purple, and Red. Richard Lyons Nursery usually has these colors in stock. Call ahead for availability.
The primary reason for growing these trees is for their beautiful blooms. However, as an added bonus, these trees shed their bark, creating a very smooth, almost sanded look. While they shed their leaves in the winter, this just highlights the afore mentioned smooth trunk and branches.
Passiflora incarnata x Passiflora cincinnata is a hybrid passion flower vine which has the parents of a florida native, Maypop, and a tropical passion flower from South America. The parentage makes this an ideal vine for South Florida. Maypop occurs throughout Florida, but tends to grow better in the northern counties. It has a pale blue flower with no real fragrance. On the other hand, Passiflora cincinnata has a deeper blue flower and is fragrant. When you cross the two, you wind up with a subtropical plant well suited for South Florida with a fragrant deep blue, almost purple flower. The resulting common name is Incense Passion Flower Vine. The Zebra longwing butterfly and the Orange Julia butterfly usually will not lay eggs on exotic passion vines. However, since this vine has a native as one of its parents, they, along with the Gulf Fritillary butterfly are happy to use this vine as a host plant.
Richard Lyons Nursery has this vine currently in stock.
In 1832, famed avian artist John James Audubon (born Jean Rabin), was visiting a friend in Key West when he gazed into a neighbor’s yard and saw a beautiful flowering tree, which we know as Cordia sebestena. So impressed was he by the tree that his later engraving of white-crowned pigeons shows the birds perched on a Cordia branch.
The neighbor of Audubon’s host was Captain John H. Geiger, Key West’s first harbor pilot and an avid plantsman. The Cordia in his yard was known locally as the Geiger Tree, and eventually several other species in the genus came to be accorded that common name. (In the late 1950s Captain Geiger’s house was about to be torn down in favor of a gas station when the Mitchell Wolfson Family Foundation donated funds for its restoration, the first to be undertaken in Key West. Fittingly, in 1960 the property at 205 Whitehead St. was opened to the public as the Audubon House Museum & Tropical Gardens.)
The Orange Geiger Tree grows at a moderate rate to about 25 ft. in height. It produces large, dark green leaves with a sandpapery texture, and it bears clusters of 2-in. wide brilliant to dark orange funnel-shaped flowers for much of the year. There has been a long-simmering controversy over whether C. sebestena is a Florida native. The species occurs naturally over a large range from the Bahamas through the Caribbean and into northern South America. It seems likely that it was introduced into Key West from Cuba.
But, native or not, the Orange Geiger has proven perfectly amenable to the poor, highly-alkaline soils which are anathema to many other plant species. In addition, it is famously tolerant of drought and salt. For best flowering, it should be grown in full sun.
The White Geiger Tree, C. boissieri, is native from South Texas into Central Mexico. Known also as the Texas Wild Olive, the species matures to 16-23 ft. in height. Its funnel-shaped white flowers are somewhat smaller than those of C. sebestena and appear pretty much year-round. C. boissieri functions as a good subtroical approximation of the Flowering Dogwood. Leaves are silvery-green in color and possess a fuzzy texture. The White Geiger is highly drought-tolerant and can withstand temperatures at least down into the low 20s. Jellies can be made from the fruit of the tree, and its leaves are said to be used in folk remedies to treat pulmonary problems and rheumatism.
The Yellow Geiger Tree, C. lutea, occurs natively in Peru and Ecuador, including the Galápagos Islands. Like C. boissieri, it matures to a height somewhere above 20 ft. It produces bright yellow, funnel-shaped, mildly fragrant flowers throughout the year, but particularly in late spring to early summer. As with the other Cordia species featured here, the Yellow Geiger is quite tolerant of drought and poor soils. In southern Florida it performs well as both a container-grown or inground tree or shrub.
The Orange, White and Yellow Geigers are available at Richard Lyons’ Nursery in various size containers.
While the regular vining or shrublike Bougainvillea are finishing blooming as we come into the rainy season, Bougainvillea arborea, the Tree Bougainvillea is in full bloom. It has lavender colored bracts and tiny white flowers and can obtain a height of 20-30 feet with multiple trunks. Most people don’t think of Bougainvillea as a nectar source for butterflies, but in fact, it is an excellent source of nectar for all of South Florida’s butterflies.
Richard Lyons Nursery has these plants in 3gal. containers.