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Interesting Bloom May Come From Pineapple Guava

Ask the Expert: Identification of this flowering shrub
A friend gave me this shrub, I did not realize that it blooms until last year. The first picture is the bloom, the second is of two buds, and the third is another bloom. I have not found anyone around that can identify this plant. The leaves are a velvety grayish green color on the underside, it is a woody type shrub. Can you help me? Kelly

Plant Expert Reply:
I believe the plant is a Feijoa sellowiana – Acca sellowiana (Pineapple Guava). It is an evergreen shrub that produces an edible fruit after 3 to 5 years. The kiwi size fruit tastes like a cross between a pineapple and guava with a hint of mint. The sweet edible flowers appear May through June. Temperatures from 20 to 50 degrees stimulate flower production. They need full sun and usually prefer a zone 8 or above if planted outside.

This flower identification question was brought to you by the local florists in Boca Raton

How To Care For Mother’s Day Azalea

Ask The Expert: I got a Azalea Plant for Mothers Day, and I want to know if I can plant it in a flower pot instead of planting it outside because we are planing to move from the home we are now living in. I also need to know how I should I plant it in the pot.

Thank you very much Katie

Plant Expert Reply:

If you are planning on moving and want to take the plant with you, I would keep it in a pot.  I assume that the azalea came from a florist.  Typically these types of azaleas do well in a pot for quite a while and are hardy only in zone 7-10.  If it came in a basket or was wrapped in foil, I would transplant it into a better container with a drain hole. Azlaea do not like to be soggy, so drainage is essential. Use a peat based potting soil with gravel, rocks or broken terracotta pieces at the bottom of the pot.

While the azalea is in the pot be careful not to over water it. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. The soil should be moist to the touch but you should not be able to squeeze water from it.

If you are moving to a 7-10 zone, you can plant the azalea in your yard. Again you will need to plant the azalea in soil that drains well.  I also suggest mulching the azalea with pine mulch. During the warm season place it on your deck or patio.  During the winter place it in a room with lots of light.

During the growing season (April through August), make sure you fertilize it.  You can use liquid mir-acid every couple of weeks. Once in the ground use a slow release fertilize with a systemic insecticide once a month.

Good luck and please kee me posted.

This plant care questions was brought ot you by Mobile AL Florists

What Makes Agapanthus Bloom?

Ask the Expert: how do you get an agapanthus to bloom?
it’s green and growing new frons(sp)curl…so pretty but i read that it only blooms when it’s pot-bound. i repotted it in the fall. Cindy

Plant Expert Reply:

Giving Agapanthus what it needs to bloom is essential. First it needs light. Full sun is best, although it can tolerate some shade. Proper watering is the next important element. Agapanthus needs good moisture content in during the growing season especially in the summer. If the plant is kept to dry during the summer blooming wqill be inhibited. However to avoid rotting during the winter, you will need to keep it slightly drier.  Fertilizer is another key. Agapanthus will need to be fertilized monthly will a well-balanced fertilizer from early spring until flowering.

What Is This South Florida Tree With Pink Blooms

Clerodendron quadriloculare

Clerodendron quadriloculare

Ask the Expert: Can you please help us identify this tree /flower
This tree is seen quite a bit in South Florida. This one is in Corol Gables. Dave Giardina

Plant Expert Reply:

What an interesting and beautiful plant. I must say this one stumped me. It looked familiar, yet I had trouble identifying it. So, I passed it along to the wonderful folks at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables (Miami), Florida. Martha Kent, their staff Horticulturist, told me the plant is a Clerodendron quadriloculare (sometimes referred to as Starburst, Shooting Star, Glorybower). Although quite a pretty plant, the root suckers and they can eat up quite a bit of real estate. As a result for most South Floridians the plant has quickly lost its appeal.

At maturity this fast growing plant will be over 10 feet in height. It thrives in fgull sun or part shade when given plenty of water. It usually blooms January through February and has edible berries.

To combat its invasive nature, many people use it as a potted plant

A special thanks to Martha for the identification. Anyone in the Coral Gables area should drop by the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and say hi to Martha.

This plant identification was sponsored by Flower Shop Network’s Miami florists

Flower of the Month: Daffodil / Narcissus


Daffodil, narcissus, jonquil, Lent lily, Easter bells, whatever you call it, this little yellow wonder is one of the most popular springtime flowers of all time! Maybe it’s because when the daffodils are in bloom we all  know it’s the beginning of spring and warm weather. (And I know we are all ready for that!)

The original name for the daffodil was ‘affodyll.’ The ‘D’ is somewhat of a mystery, but it’s believed to be a merger with the Dutch article ‘de’ as in ‘de affodyll.’ They also have the cute little nickname ‘daffadowndilly’ and white ones are sometimes called ‘paperwhites.’


Scientific name: Narcissus

Use: Flower

Type: Bulbous Perennials

Height: 6-30″‘

Astrological Flower: December Flower


Planting Zones: 4-10

Requirements: Well-drained, slightly acidic soil. Full sun is also required, but very easily achieved. When these are in bloom, most trees are still bare.


Stem: 8-32″

Blossom Size: 2-5″

Texture: Satin

Silhouette: Solid/ Cup

Vase Life: 3-7 Days, keep growing in vase

Colors: Yellow, white, and orange

Bloom Season: Late winter, early spring

Flowers Available: Year Round


There are two legends of note about the origins of the daffodil, each being very different. It seems this flower has different meanings for different cultures of the world. For the West, it’s vanity, and the East it means fortune and prosperity.

Narcissus by Caravaggio

The first legend is one you might be familiar with: it begins with a young Greek boy named Narcissus who was completely obsessed with himself and his beauty. (As you might have guessed, this is where we get the concept of narcissism.) One day, the boy found a small pond where he was able to see his reflection; he was so completely engrossed with himself he refused to leave and died of starvation. The gods turned the boy’s remains into the first “Narcissus” flower and that is the origin of the lovely flower we see today.

The second legend comes from Chinese culture and is a little more positive. It is said that a poor but good man was given cups of gold every morning from this flower.

I also found a story about two brothers who were given land from their dying father. One brother seized the good, hardy land; the other got the rocky leftovers. The poor brother found the beautiful daffodil flower on his land and begin to cultivate it. The bulbs did very well and brought him fortune. The evil brother was jealous and bought as many bulbs as he could to cash in on his brothers fortune. The greedy brother’s bulbs ended up dying and the good brother was able to buy back his father’s land.

The daffodil is the official flower of Whales, and on March 1st it is custom to wear a daffodil in honor of St. David’s Day. It is also a Welsh custom; whomever sees the first daffodil of the year will be blessed with prosperity for the next 12 months.

The East has a long history with the narcissus. It is one of the most highly revered flowers and the symbol of the Chinese New Year.

Daffodils seem to symbolize both good and bad fortune. When giving daffodils, take extra care to  give a bunch, giving one can bring bad fortune.


You may not know this, but daffodils are actually quite toxic. Florists sometime get daffodil itch: dryness, fissures, scaliness on the hands and thickness under the nails due to exposure to calcium oxalate in the sap. The plant itself is only slightly toxic, but the bulb is very dangerous.

FLORIST TIP — Daffodils secrete a substance that is damaging to other flowers sharing the same water in a vase. Keep them separate for at least 24 hours before putting daffodils with other flowers. Change the water often to keep the secretion from damaging other flowers.

Roman soldiers used to carry a satchel of daffodil bulbs with them into battle. If they were injured to the point of death, they would eat these toxic bulbs to relieve pain and hasten death.

According to the BBC, in May 2009 a number of school children fell ill at a school in Suffolk, England after mistaking a daffodil bulb for an onion and adding it to soup during a cooking class. The kids were taken to a hospital as a precautionary measure, but were soon allowed to return home.


Types of Daffodils

Daffodils come in hundreds of styles and colors. For horticultural purposes [Read more…]

Easter Flower Options

Ask The Expert: I am worship committee chair and want to know what other flowers, besides  lilies, can be used at Easter (allergies are a problem).  Will daffodils,  hyacinths, etc. still be potted and pretty 4/4/10?  Need to know soon. Sandra, Livingston TX.

Plant Expert Reply:

The best person to answer this question would be a local florist in or around Livingston TX.  They work closely with the growers who produce the blooming plants available in your area.  The options will likely be tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, or azaleas.  If allergies are a problem, I would stay away from hyacinths — their strong scent can cause allergy problems.  Another suggestion would be to use peace lilies.  When you order the peace lilies tell the florist you will need them to be blooming. By placing your order with your local florist early, you should be able to get something that will be in peak condition for your service. Good luck and keep me posted on which plants you decide to use.

The Unique Beauty Of Christmas Cactus

Whenever I think of a Christmas cactus, I am reminded of the large one my Grandmother had while I was growing up. It sat on a shelf in a back bedroom and had long green arms of the unique-shaped leaves that spilled out everywhere around it. Only a few times can I remember seeing the beautiful white tubular flowers blooming on it. I always enjoyed seeing the plant when I visited and wished to have one of my own.

Red Christmas Cactus

Red Christmas Cactus

During a visit while I was in college, I took a few clippings with me to try and start one of my own. The leaves did not survive the plane trip from Nevada to Arkansas, and I was disappointed to hear that the plant had died a few years later. I have since enjoyed the wide array of Christmas cacti bloom colors now available. In fact, I look forward to purchasing one this year to enjoy with my family.

With the holidays right around the corner, you may be thinking about your own Christmas cactus. Will it bloom soon? Perhaps you will look for another one this year, or maybe you will send one as a gift for a loved one to enjoy. The plants can be found in a wide variety of bloom colors, including white and shades of pink, red, purple and orange. If you do not have a Christmas cactus, this is the time of year they can be found in your local florist shop. With a little care, the Christmas cactus can become an heirloom, living long and providing beautiful blooms up to twice a year. It can truly be a gift that keeps on giving.

Christmas Cactus Facts

Christmas cacti (Schlumbergera x buckleyi) are native to Brazilian rain forests and have been cultivated for commercial purposes for many years. In nature, the cacti are commonly found growing in decaying plant matter in tree branch crevices: here temperatures remain moderate and water runs off easily, keeping the plants moist but not damp. Because of these characteristics, the cacti make great houseplants.

The cacti require little care and can live and thrive for many years. The soil should be kept moist, but not wet to touch and should not be allowed to dry out completely. Temperatures should be kept moderate, and the plants should not be placed near a heat or air source, or too near a window that gets direct sunlight. A little houseplant fertilizer can be given before or after the cacti have completed their blooming cycle. With the right conditions, your cactus should bloom twice a year, but can be encouraged to bloom several times during the year. Extremes in moisture, temperature and feeding during blooming time can interfere with the length of blooming and the ability of the cactus to maintain buds and blooms.

Christmas cacti belong to a group of Holiday cacti (Schlumbergera) that include Thanksgiving cactus (Schlumbergera truncata) and Easter cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii). There are a few differences between the three cacti, including leaf-stem shape, flower style and structure. The most distinguishing difference is the time period in which the flowers bloom. Thus, the Christmas cactus typically blooms late November to early January. While the differences between Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti can be minor, you may want to check with your florist to see which one to choose, if you want a cactus that blooms repeatedly during one holiday or the other.

Schlumbergera blooming in stores during October and November are probably Thanksgiving cacti. Although Christmas cacti can be found in early November, they have likely been grown under special conditions and may not bloom during the same time period next year.

Caring For A Christmas Cactus: Propagation and Re-blooming

Pink Christmas Cactus

Pink Christmas Cactus

If you’ve had a Christmas cactus for many years and the stems could use a little trim, you may consider propagation. After the cactus completes its blooming cycle, let it recover for a month. Then, cuttings of at least two leaf segments can be made from the tips of the stems. A fourth to half of the cutting is then placed in pot with potting soil. Be sure to place three or more cuttings per pot to ensure a full healthy plant. In a few months you will have another Christmas cactus to enjoy.

A Christmas cactus can also be forced to re-bloom. While you may think that temperature is a factor in blooming, daylight length is actually the key. Christmas cacti are triggered to bloom during short days. This can be achieved by placing the plant in a dark bedroom or by covering the plant for 15 or more hours a day. It may take up to a month to trigger the plant to produce bloom buds, but once the buds appear the plant can be returned to its usual viewing location. Remember to avoid extreme temperatures that would trigger bud release.

Regardless of whether you will purchase your first Christmas cactus this year or have an old one, this is perfect time to take pleasure in the plant’s distinctive green leafy stems. Celebrate the exquisite blooms as they appear, knowing you have a spectacular houseplant that can be shared, gifted and enjoyed by all.

What Is This Fall Blooming Shrub In Southern California?

Montanoa grandiflora Bloom

Montanoa grandiflora Bloom

Montanoa grandiflora Shrub

Montanoa grandiflora Shrub

Ask the Expert: Plant Identification
Plant / Shrub has a daisy like flower. Blooming now 11/09 in southern California.
Full view has a plumaria growing at the base of the shrub in question.

Note the flow and leaf form….

Can anyone identify this plant?  Steve

Plant Expert Reply:

To identify this plant I turned to the experts at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden.  Bruce Reed at the SBBG has identified the plant as Montanoa grandiflora, Daisy Tree from Central America – widely used as a street tree in the LA environs. * Thanks Bruce!

This shrub grows to about 10 to 15ft tall. The sweet smelling white flowers start blooming in the summer and continue through fall. The seed pods can be dried and used in flower arrangements.

Stop Cycling Through Houseplants–Try Cyclamen Instead!

Looking For Something Different But Still Comfortable?

Here’s Why I Recommend Cyclamen

You know how it goes. Sometimes you want to buy one thing over and over and over because it’s comfortable. It’s familiar. It’s safe. Then again sometimes you want to cycle through every option available until you find the thing that’s comfortable, familiar, safe. I’m that way with gift-giving and I know I’m not the only one. It’s not just limited to gift ideas though. I’m like that when I begin to decorate my home. Though not a big fan of change, I get bored easily and need to find something that I’ll like better. Something that suits the new me. Something comfortable, familiar and safe but different. After all, I don’t want things to change too much!

Buy Cyclamen Blooming Plants

Buy Cyclamen Blooming Plants

Reasons Why You Will Like Cyclamen

Reason #1 To Try Cyclamen: Cyclamen (Cyclamen persicum) is a beautiful blooming plant.  The colorful blooms make it easy to enjoy. It adds a splash of color to the decor but is not busy or bold. It’s just…plain…pretty.

Reason #2 To Fall For Cyclamen: When you send cyclamen plants what you do not realize is that you might as well be sending perfumed petals because that’s what the recipient is getting. Cyclamen is a very fragrant plant when in bloom. It’s not an overwhelming scent so it’s ok to send to most people with sensitive olfactory senses (people that get sick around strong smells). If you want a fresher environment, call up your local florist or stop by and pick up Cyclamen plants for yourself. The fragrance is well worth it.

Reason #3 To Buy Cyclamen: This particular flowering plant is a mound forming plant which basically means that it grows in a neat little contained area. If you want a plant for your office or apartment, cyclamen is a great option because it is not overbearing. It’s not in-your-face and overwhelming. It’s the perfect size for decorating small spaces. It can also be grouped together or bought in larger sizes to decorate large spaces. It’s one of those can-do blooming plants that seems to satisfy every spacial requirement.

Reason #4 To Give Cyclamen A Chance: Cyclamen blooming plants are not hard to take care of. They’re about as easy as any other flowering plants which means keep them watered during growing season (mid-winter to spring), give them a fair amount of light, and keep the soil moist but well drained. Again, cyclamen plant care requires the same amount of attention as most other blooming houseplants. Whether sending cyclamen to a newbie or a seasoned houseplant expert, cyclamen is a good gift idea.

Here Is Your Next Big Gift Idea

Send A Blooming Plant!

Send A Blooming Plant!

Oh yeah. That’s right. I said BIG gift idea.

While the size of a blooming plant may be small, their stature and status in the gift world is nothing short of grandiose. They’re awesome!

There are many occasions that require sending a gift. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to find something perfect, unique, attractive, etc. When you find yourself staring into space thinking about your next big gift idea, consider these three reasons why you should send a blooming plant.

Blooming Plants Are Practical And Beautiful

Blooming plants are the best of both worlds. They are flowering plants that allow the recipient to enjoy the beauty of colorful blooms with the practicality of a plant. Flower lovers enjoy the mass of blooms that form on the plants while plant lovers enjoy a long-lasting gift.  Speaking of long-lasting…

Blooming Plants Are The Gift That Keeps Giving

Blooming plants bring together the attractive qualities of both flower bouquets and houseplants. Plants are well renowned for lasting quite a bit longer than a bouquet of flowers. While flowers are great gifts in their own right, plants tend to stick around to be enjoyed longer than flowers. Blooming plants offer the recipient a chance to enjoy the beauty of flowers and the durability of plants at the same time.

There Isn’t A Bad Time To Send A Blooming Plant

The occasion is almost irrelevant when sending a flowering plant. Going to a housewarming party? Bring along a blooming housewarming plant. Know someone with a birthday coming up? Blooming plants are especially good for people who have had enough birthdays that now they’re trying to count backwards. Flowering plants acknowledge every occasion with dignity and a splash of color.