EDITOR’S NOTE: University of Florida/IFAS Extension Director for Nassau County and Environmental Horticulture Agent III, Rebecca Jordi, addresses questions about landscaping and gardening in northeast Florida. She is also a University of Florida faculty member.
__GARDEN TALK Q & A ___
QUESTION: What is a rainlily? I saw it in a plant catalog and was considering ordering some. JS
JORDI: They are low maintenance, flowering bulbs which flower from spring through the fall. The common name comes from the flowers showing up after a rain shower. Rainlily refers to any of about 70 species of Zephyranthes and Habranthus, all of which are flowering bulbs that share common names of rainlily, fairy lily, rainflower and zephyrlily.
Rainlily is one of the easiest bulbs to grow in Florida. When planted in an appropriate site, rainlily needs little care after planting; it tolerates most soil conditions and will not need fertilizer, irrigation or replanting. Rainlily seems to flower best when clumps are left undisturbed. Like daylilies, the flower only last for one or two days. This flower can be seen along roadsides and in pastures throughout our county during warm weather. I would encourage you to try some in a section of your landscape – you may find you absolutely love them. We have several in the large demonstration garden located at the Governmental Complex. We also have specific information regarding every plant on our website: http://nassau.ifas.ufl.edu.
QUESTION: I purchased some plums and I now I wonder if I made the best choice. BS
JORDI: When purchasing fruit, or any plant, it is best to determine if theses plants are varieties well suited for our area. The plums you selected perform well in the California area but they are not the best choices for Florida. We would suggest selecting a cultivar with the prefix “Gulf” in front of it such as ‘Gulfbeauty’, ‘Gulfruby’, ‘Gulfblaze’ or ‘Gulfrose’. These are Japanese plum varieties which are more disease resistant and require fewer chilling hours or cold days to develop fruit. The peel is slightly bitter but the fruit is sweet on these varieties and they all ripen in early May.
The two trees you have purchased, ‘Methley’ and ‘Santa Rosa’, are older varieties which are no longer recommended for our area. Both of these are susceptible to plum leaf scald and several bacterial diseases and the fruit quality is not high. Use a general fertilizer such as 6-6-6 or 8-8-8. Remember the numbers represent Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Consistent irrigation, especially during fruiting and flowering season, is important for best fruit production. Learning appropriate pruning techniques is also essential. The publication from the University of Florida, “Growing Plums in Florida,” provides more information about fertilizing, pruning and watering.
QUESTION: Can we grow coconut palms here? CT
JORDI: Coconut palms, Cocos nucifera, would not survive or produce nuts here in Nassau County, Florida. These palms should be grown in cold hardiness zone 10B – 11. Remember we are located in zones 8b – 9a. Even in South Florida, Coconut palms are susceptible to several issues – especially nutrient deficiencies. Coconut palms are believed to be native to the Malay Archipelago or the South Pacific. Aside from the flesh, fresh or shredded coconut, coconut oil is one of the most important products of coconuts. Coconut oil is used in soaps, shampoos, cosmetics and cooking oils.
I will be conducting a palm class along with Jacksonville Urban Forester, Larry Figart, on May 11 from 9 to noon. The program will be held at the Governmental Complex. The cost is $25 person and 3 CEUs will be available for ISA Certified Arborists. Contact me if you wish to attend – firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the coconut palm check out the University of Florida publication.
Rebecca L. Jordi
County Extension Director
UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture
Nassau County Extension
543350 U.S. Highway #1
Callahan, FL 32011
904 491-7340 or 904 879-1019