GAINESVILLE – Plant breeders often strive to offer the unusual, and growers of poinsettias are no exception. With names like Strawberries and Cream, Plum Pudding and Jingle Bells, poinsettias featured at the Poinsettia Variety Field Day at the University of Florida were good examples of the progress breeders have made to to go beyond the standard red

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For many years I have grown and appreciated the beauty of Caladiums, a tropical plant with large colorful leaves. According to old receipts I found, in 1997 I went Caladium crazy and purchased 400 bulbs. In 1998 I purchased 200

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Easy to grow plants

For those new to gardening, a trip to the local garden center can be a confusing and overwhelming experience. The world of sub-tropical and tropical plants is an entirely new one for most, and the huge variety of plants available make choosing what to plant often a difficult

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Plant Collecting

About a month ago, a story appeared in the News-Journal about a Sarasota garden illegally importing a rare orchid. This of course caught my attention and brought to the surface a topic close to my heart – plant collecting.
For the last several years, I have gone out of my way to collect rare and unusual plants. I have traveled down many bumpy dirt roads in the middle of no where in my never-ending quest for the

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caring for tropical plants in the winter

Move them in. Move them out. Cover them. Uncover them. After a while, trying to protect plants from frost and freezes can get a bit tiring.
My solution over the last several years is to just put all of my tropical plants in the garage and leave them there until the after the last danger of frost has passed, which is usually the magic day of March 15, or pretty close to

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Beware of Yucca

One of the things gardeners do when they get together is share stories. The type of stories non-gardeners could care less about, such as how to grow great tomatoes or when to prune back roses. But it’s these stories, with their tidbits of information, that can turn a bad gardening experience into a good one.
Most of my experiences with plants over the years have been positive and fulfilling, such as when I discover a new plant that thrives with little or no attention. Some of my experiences have been, well let’s call them – learning experiences – that I would not repeat

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Often people will ask me for ideas for low-maintenance gardens. I can easily spout off a dozen or so carefree plants which require very little care. But in almost every instance when I suggest planting Oleanders, people look at me with disgust and horror and say “Oh but those awful caterpillars.’’

Yes it’s true. Oleanders do sometimes get infested with these horrible orange and black hairy caterpillars. I’ve seen Oleanders completely naked – stripped of every leaf from top to bottom- from those caterpillars. I’ve had to dig them up and throw them out after people neglected them to the point where they let the caterpillars completely devour them.

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New plants

If you talk to anyone who has been gardening for a long time, one subject that will almost always come up is the new plant they just got.
Whether it is one that they got from a friend or neighbor, or one that they found at a nursery, getting a new plant is something special in the hearts of gardeners.
Some of my friends who garden make a point when I visit to show me their new plants, which of course they know I am always anxious to see.
And I usually do the same when they visit me. I guess there is just a mutual understanding amongst plant nuts to share their new found

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Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition

To most Floridians, a palm tree is just another tree, and the profusion of tropical blooming plants that surround us are often taken for granted. But tropical plants are big business here, with Florida growers ranked second in the nation for all horticultural production.
At the recent 26th annual Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition in Fort Lauderdale, hundreds of tropical plant growers displayed their finest plants, transforming the Broward County Convention Center into a botanical garden. The theme of the show was “Its a Jungle in Here,” and they weren’t kidding.

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My absolute favorite flower is the Hibiscus. I’m sure many people would say roses were their favorite, but to me, there is just no other flower as beautiful as a Hibiscus.
My passion for Hibiscus started when I learned about Hibiscus hybrids and the grafted varieties. Several years ago I took a trip to south Florida and met a man by the name of Winn Soldani, Hibiscus breeder and owner of Fancy Hibiscus. His nursery, nothing more than a small back yard in the heart of Pompano Beach, was filled with the most amazing Hibiscus I had ever

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