A Sign of Fall

The change of seasons can be very subtle here on the Gulf Coast. Days are still hot and the leaves don’t change color until much later.  But, one sign of fall I notice is the disappearing leaf litter in my wooded area. The leaves have done their job keeping the soil moist and breaking down into compost to feed the trees.  Just as the old ones disintegrate, the trees will drop this year’s leaves to start the process all over again.


Can’t Be Stopped

I am always fascinated with plants trying to grow no matter what situation they find themselves in.

I had thrown some Fire Spike cuttings into the composter and they managed to stretch their way to the light and find a slit to come through.

The Fire Spike has continued to grow throughout the summer.  Somehow there is enough moisture in the composter to keep it going.

All summer I have been collecting weeds in an empty fertilizer bag and threw an Air Potato Vine tuber in with the weeds.  Even the lack of soil could not stop that vine from growing.


All Dressed Up

Could these two be heading out on a date?  It was just too cute when I saw some that Crepe Myrtle flowers had fallen in just the right place to make her look all dressed up.


Philippine Lily

Philippine Lilies (Lilium formosanum) are one bulb that is possible to grow in our Gulf Coast climate.

The white flower looks similar to an Easter Lily, but grows 3 to 5 feet tall and blooms in July and later.

In the evening the lily gives off a scent that attracts hummingbird moths.

The plant makes an attractive seedhead that is quite decorative. Most importantly, it is filled with seeds.  I have been trying to get a colony growing, but usually, only one plant matures and flowers.  It is definitely a goal to work on.


From One Small Stem

One small stem cutting turned into a behemoth plant stuck in a planter.

I wanted to make sure I had a back-up Bat Face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea),which attracts all kinds of pollinators, and decided to start a cutting in my self-watering planter.  It is an excellent planter to start cuttings and seeds in as it will stay damp.

Unfortunately, I paid very little attention to the size the cuphea had become until it had taken up my entire planter. It had to be removed and it was no easy job.  It took a lot of time and tools to free it.

The Cuphea is looking as droopy as I felt after hard work on a hot day.

Note: The plant is much more colorful than the cutting in the first photo.

And I was being watched the entire time.  I found this Rosy Wolf Snail that had crawled to the top of the garbage bag.


If You Plant It, They Will Come

I mentioned on a previous post, that I was trying to grow the correct Passion Flower to attract the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly.  I finally got it right.  Several have arrived.

The Butterflies got to work and laid eggs which have already hatched into a new generation.

Even more exciting, I found five Pipe-vine Swallow Tail caterpillars on my Aristolochia fimbriata.

The nurseryman was correct with his advice that the butterflies would come.  The plant is nearly gone, but that was the plan.  I collected some of the seeds for next year’s plants and butterflies.


Chocolate Plant

Chocolate Plants ( Pseuderanthemum alata) are heirloom passalong plants in the South.  Mine was passed to me by my mother-in-law.  It gets its name from its chocolatey color.

I always keep some in a pot, but I have been trying to start colonies in various beds.  I am having a good outcome in the back bed near my wooded area.

The Chocolate Plant will make a flower stalk of purple flowers.  The seeds are tiny and I usually let them fall where they may and transplant the seedlings when I find them.

This one planted itself in cobble rocks and became to hard to dig up without damaging it. The plants grow bigger each year and hopefully I’ll have a beautiful display in a couple of years.


Strawberry Pot

Strawberry pots can sometimes be hard to fill, but the Automatic Garden had a solution.  Wishbone Flowers (Torenia fournieri) had germinated all over from last year’s plants.  I transplanted all the free plants into the strawberry pot and was rewarded with a beautiful display.  Best of all, my patio cracks will be full of plants for next year.


Got Kids? Make a Watering Can

A recycled watering can is a fun project to make.  Actually, the fun begins when your little helper uses it.  Recycle a laundry detergent bottle with a spout.  Rinse it well.

The bottles come in different sizes, so the smaller ones are better for the younger kids.  Drill several small holes in the lid.  The holes can be made with a hammer and nail if you don’t have a drill.

Now you have a watering can made of recycled materials.  The best part about this can is that it limits how much water comes out at a time and prevents over watering by little helpers.

I found it useful for the adult gardener as a second watering can that can be used to hold fertilizer for a specific plant.  I was gifted a tropical fruit tree, which I feed with special fertilizer and it is nice to have dedicated can to keep the mix in.


What’s In a Name? Part 2 Cow Killer

The name Cicada Killer doesn’t seem quite as scary as Cow Killer.  This stunning red and black Dasymutilla occidentalis is rumored to have a sting powerful enough to kill a cow.  It will not kill a cow, but hurts really bad for humans.  The above photo is a male and they lack  stingers.

The females are wingless and pack a potent sting.  I did not have that information on the morning I spent watching the drama of their lives play out.  The female is also call a Red Velvet Ant and she sure is pretty.  The female has a difficult journey.  While I watched, she was pursued by many suitors at once.  Her goal is to lay her eggs in the Cicada Killers Wasps’ tunnel.

Needless to say, the wasps were not welcoming.  It seems like a rough life for the Red Velvet Cow Killer, but as it turns out she has many defense mechanisms and is hardly ever eaten.  A study was done and 59 predators were given the chance to eat the Red Velvet Cow Killer and only two succeeded.  The Cow Killer is one tough lady and lives up to her name.