If Wishbone Plants Were Wishes…

I would have endless wishes to make. Wishbone plants get their name from wishbone shaped stamens. It is a tradition to take the wishbone from a turkey and snap it in half with another person to make a wish. If you got the long part, your wish came true. I have lots of wishbones in my Torenia fournieri that I could snap. Can you see the wishbone at the top of the flower?

The Wishbone is a tough little annual plant that likes part sun and is reseeding profusely in my garden beds. In the evening, I find Hummingbird Moths feeding on them.

I was on a long vacation when the plants germinated and I found them everywhere when I returned. I normally transplant them when they are small, but they became too mature to move. Luckily, I focus on plants and not design. The Wishbones have helped make my poor Split Leaf Philodendron look a little better as it struggles after being frozen last winter.

The Wishbones appeared in the front yard and in patio cracks. How the plants will play when the gardener is away.

All of the Wishbones came up from seeds and here are some of the variations. Pink is the most prolific. Torenias have other names that include Bluewing, Clown Flower and my favorite, Summer Pansy which is its Southern name as we cannot grow real Pansies in the summer heat.


Hummer Mania

I now have more than ten migrating hummingbirds enjoying a stop-over in my garden.

I tired to post a video showing all the manic midair jousting, but I couldn’t get it to work.

So instead, I sat in the backyard with my camera ready to get some action shots.

I have five feeders up.

Each feeder has a “guard” that chases other hungry hummers away.

I believe most of the hummingbirds are Ruby Throated juveniles.

They are so intent on feeding, I can sit on the porch just five feet away and watch all the action.

This individual is definitely a mature male and is in charge of this feeder.

When getting access to the sugar water fails, the hummingbirds can always feed on the flowers I grow for them, such as this salvia.

Another hummer favorite is the Cigar Plant, Cuphea ignea.

A cold front has moved into the area, which means for us that temperatures will only be in the mid 80’s, but it could be a signal for the hummingbirds to move on. Luckily, our winter climate is just right for hummingbirds from the far Northwest and Alaska. The flowers and feeders will be ready for them.


Cardinal Flowers

Nature has the best timing and many flowers bloom at just the right time for the Hummingbird migration. I finally got some Cardinal Flowers to germinate a few years ago and they have become a Hummingbird favorite.

To make sure I’m always entertained, I grow the Cardinal Flowers right outside of my kitchen window. It is on the north side of the house and even though it gets plenty of sun, the plants tend to get tall and leggy. This year I cut the perennial Cardinal Flowers back in early spring and the plants developed at least four more stems.

More stems resulted in many more flowers and cutting them early kept the plants from falling over.

Cardinal Flowers have all the characteristics that attract Hummingbirds, a dark red color and tubular shape. I have been hosting about six Hummers for weeks. The little birds spend hours jousting in midair providing me with dawn to dusk entertainment.


Mother of Thousands Revisited

The Mother of Thousands, Kalanchoe daigremontiana, can become very invasive. Each leaf grows rows of tiny plantlets that drop, roll or blow away to a new location and grow into another full size plant. Mother can grow in just a smidgen of soil. The plant does make very interesting flowers, but they bloom in the winter and need to be covered during a cold snap. This year the February freeze took its toll on them and I decided to clear them out as they are a bit of a pain.

But, then I saw them highlighted in the Longwood Garden’s instagram as a very special plant. Luckily, one can never get rid of the Mother of Thousands and I found some growing that I had missed in my mission to be rid of them. This time, I am growing them in pots (like Longwood) allowing the plants to be easily moved into the garage when it gets cold.

Longwood Gardens is in Kennett Square, PA. It is a 1,000 acres of gardens and fountains. Its conservatory contains many plants that are grown on the Gulf Coast, including Mother of Thousands.


Lots of Chocolate … Plants

I have been trying to increase my Chocolate Plant, Pseuderanthemum alatum, population. The plant was a passalong from my mother-in-law. I found it tricky to collect the seeds, as they seem to pop and disperse the minute they become ripe. I kept the original plant in a pot, but stumbled on a solution of just letting the seeds drop to the ground and germinate on their own. Then I search the for the seedlings and group them together. I have been able to get this nice colony going and increased last year’s yield.

My best Chocolate Plant is not in an ideal location. It is several years old and dies back every winter, but amazingly reappeared after the freeze.

A close-up without the down spout, makes the plant more attractive. This is the “dark” chocolate variety.


Moses is Back

Another post freeze success. My Moses-in-the -Bullrushes came back from being frozen to a mushy mess. Quite frankly, they were very happy and getting out of control, looking more like a shrubs than individual plants. The Automatic Garden has come through again.


Blood Lilies

The Blood Lilies (Scadoxus multiflorus) came back this year with fabulous blooms.

The one or two lilies I bought years ago have reproduced on their own making a nice colony.

The beautiful Blood Lily is poisonous and I was told by the seller to never touch it again after I planted it.


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.


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.