Horticulture Blog

Archive - September 2010

« Back to front

This is the week!

Mon, Sep 27, 2010 at 01:10:54 PM

Hi Everyone,

 This week is the big week…..Members’ Day is on Saturday!!  We began bringing up the thousands of plants from our nursery  today.  The nursery is filled with plants we have grown for this special sale.  Good thoughts for good weather (and NO storms!) would be appreciated!

 Photos attached were taken at our nursery last week.  Many thanks to the nursery crew (Marlon Rumble) and his many dedicated volunteers.











Plant Countdown to Members' Day Plant Sale - Day 9

Mon, Sep 20, 2010 at 06:48:06 AM

Chosen as one of the 2007 Fairchild Plants of the Year, Clusia lanceolata is a delightful shrub or small tree 8-10' tall from the sandy coastal regions of Brazil known as "restingas". It was introduced to South Florida by noted USDA researcher and Fairchild Research Associate Alan Meerow. The white, waxy 6-petaled flowers have a distinctive ring of wine-red markings around the center. These 2-inch wide flowers appear all year. The distinctive fruits are round and crowned with a circle of black glands. When ripe, the fruit opens to disclose seeds covered with orange-red arils. Well adapted to our growing conditions, it thrives in sun or partial shade with minimal irrigation requirements. It can be maintained as a smaller specimen with judicious pruning or allowed to fill a larger space. As a container plant, it will provide a unique highlight to a patio collection. (In FTBG four plants are growing in Plot 49).





Plant Countdown to Members' Day Plant Sale - Day 8

Fri, Sep 17, 2010 at 05:50:51 AM

Myrciaria vexator is one of Dr. David Fairchild’s introductions.  Native to the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica, this small tree is sometimes known as blue grape or false jaboticaba.  This species becomes a beautiful small tree with trunks and stems having smooth, brown bark which peels off to reveal a cream-colored inner layer.  The round, grape-sized fruits have a thick skin over sweet pulp similar to jaboticaba and tastes somewhat like sweet grapes. Fruits are borne in late fall or early winter and usually eaten fresh or used in drinks. A single plant may produce hundreds of fruits. This tree is worth growing for its attractive trunks and leaves and an added bonus is the showy, edible fruit.  Our Senior Curator of Tropical Fruit, Dr. Richard Campbell has three of these small trees in his own yard.  This fact should tell you something.




look to the very upper left corner of the image to see a fruit - click on image to enlarge


Plant Countdown to Members' Day Plant Sale - Day 7

Thu, Sep 16, 2010 at 10:36:03 AM

Morus nigra, black mulberry, produces a delicious, sweet, black mulberry. The ones we are offering to members is an ever-bearing, many-branched shrub. Cutting back the plants will encourage flowering and fruit soon develop. The colorful fruits are first green, turn red and then ripen to shiny black. Birds will also be attracted to the fruit. The heaviest crop of fruit appears in the spring, but if you desire fruit at other times of the year, just prune it back and flowers, then fruit will be produced.  The berries may be eaten fresh or used in jams and pies. Plant in full sun.






A Special Class for Those Wishing to Attend Members' Day Plant Sale

Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 06:42:46 PM

Marilyn Griffiths

Be one of the 20 lucky Fairchild members on this special after-hours tour (wine and tramette shuttle service provided). Need plants for your garden? Planning to attend the Members’ Day Plant Sale on October 2nd? Not really sure what plants to buy? Join Fairchild’s Marilyn Griffiths on a one-of-a-kind pre-sale tour where you will learn more about the plants being offered. This tour will take you on a journey through the Garden to see mature examples of many of the sale plants. We’ll talk about what conditions each needs to grow so that you can create a list of ideal plants for your home. We’ll also take a sneak peak at the plants in the sales area and suggestions will be given for a successful Members’ Day experience. 

6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 30 (one session)
Registration deadline: Monday, September 20
Fee: Members of Fairchild only, $15

Please call Marilyn Caputo 305-667-1651 ext. 3322 to register 


Plant Countdown to Members' Day Plant Sale - Day 6

Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 06:40:58 AM

Nashia inaguensis, commonly called Moujean tea, is a shrub to 8 feet tall native to the Bahamas.  It is much branched, with tiny leaves that are aromatic when crushed.  The young stems are red, becoming gray-brown.  The tiny, fragrant white flowers are followed by small orange fruits nestled among the glossy leaves.  We have found that the Atala butterflies and many others find Moujean tea hard to resist when in bloom. Grow in full sun.  It is very drought tolerant once established.  (May be seen in plots 102, 164 and butterfly garden.)

 Remember, all the plants mentioned in the Plant Countdown to Members' Day will be available at the Members' Day Plant Sale on Saturday October 2, from 9:00 am  to 1:00 pm.


























 Atala butterfly nectaring on Nashia inaguensis flowers


Plant Countdown to Members' Day Plant Sale - Day 5

Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 06:40:59 AM

Senna mexicana var. chapmanii, known as Bahama senna, is native to South Florida, the Bahamas and Cuba.  It is a small shrub to 6 feet tall with yellow flowers nearly all year.  Bahama senna is a larval host plant for several butterflies, including the orange-barred sulphur, sleepy orange sulphur and cloudless sulphur.  It grows best in full sun to light shade.  Bahama senna is a wonderful choice for all butterfly gardens.  We have examples of this species growing in our butterfly garden.





Plant Countdown to Members' Day Plant Sale - Day 4

Mon, Sep 13, 2010 at 11:37:06 AM

Brunfelsia plicata is a small, erect eight-foot shrub endemic to Jamaica. The sturdy, dark green leaves make a good background for the showy, white flowers. Appearing in profusion several times during the year, they waft forth a spicy, clove-like fragrance at dusk. Stems tend to be upright, but the uppermost ends of the branches cascade down, giving the plant a vase-like shape. Grow it where it will receive morning sun and afternoon shade.  (May be seen in Fairchild in plots 52 and 27.)







Plant Countdown to Members' Day Plant Sale - Day 3

Sun, Sep 12, 2010 at 11:00:41 AM

Jacaranda caerulea is native to the Bahamas.  It is a smaller tree than the more commonly grown Jacaranda mimosaefolia and with more bold, shiny foliage.  It is one of the most attractive ornamental trees native to the Bahamas with its panicles of blue-violet flowers appearing throughout late spring and summer.  The crown is more narrow and upright than the more common Jacaranda, making it a great choice for small yards. This species prefers a sunny location and thrives in the soils of south Florida. Its furrowed bark makes this tree an excellent place to put epiphytic orchids and bromeliads among the branches.  We have examples of this species growing on the eastern edge of Plot 164 (the Bahamas plot).







Plant Countdown to Members' Day Plant Sale - Day 2

Sat, Sep 11, 2010 at 10:55:36 AM

Guaiacum officinale, native to continental Tropical America and the West Indies, is known as lignum vitae or tree of life. This species, although not native to Florida, is similar to our native Guaiacum sanctum. It will grow faster than our native species, eventually developing into a beautiful flowering tree to 20 feet tall with gorgeous mottled green trunks. Lovely blue to pale blue flowers appear in spring to summer, followed by orange-yellow fruit. Birds love the seeds.  Grow in full sun to light shade.  If you have room for just one tree in your yard, Guaiacum officinale should be your choice.






Plant Countdown to the Members' Day Plant Sale - Day 1

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 10:03:49 AM

We will have some wonderful plants available for the 72nd Annual Members' Day Plant Sale on October 2.  The entire article about the sale is here

Muhlenbergia capillaris, muhly grass, is a native clumping species 18 to 36 inches tall and wide.  One of our most ornamental native grasses, it produces beautiful cloud-like pinkish-purple plumes during the fall months.  When not in bloom, its airy texture fits nicely into any landscape or garden. We have found that grasses go nicely when planted among palms.   (May be seen in plot 54). 









History of Members' Day Plant Sale

Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 08:45:53 AM

In 1939, Fairchild Tropical Garden had the first Members' Plant Distribution. To quote David Fairchild from the first list of plants:

"In accordance with our policy to grow and distribute plants and palms which are more or less rare in this section, we have now on hand and ready for distribution a limited quantity of plants, a list of which is attached herewith. Small plants are ready for delivery to members only at the Garden, not more than a total of three plants are available for any one person. "

That first distribution listed 37 species of palms and 31 species of trees, shrubs and vines. The first Members' Day took place in April 1939.

In 1943, Dr. Fairchild wrote,

"There are two ways of looking at this year's distribution of new plants from the Garden. One is that we are presenting to our members plants they cannot buy in nurseries anywhere - rare things they should want for their yards and patios. The other is that we are hunting homes for some young plants that must be taken care of this year or they may perish. Many of these plants come from remote localities in the Dutch East Indies now no longer open to collectors. Decades may pass before they can be secured again. Necessary conditions, such as the shade afforded by patio or the shady side of a house are limited in the Fairchild Tropical Garden. We do not have suitable places enough to take care of all these young plants. While they are small, they need careful watching; a plant lover should have them close at hand. "

During World War II, all plants were delivered by truck. Where truck deliveries were impractical, plants were sent by express collect, if members desired. In 1943, there was a charge of 35 cents per plant or three for a dollar! This was the cost of plants; no charge for delivery!  In 2010, prices are a bit higher.





 Currently, the plants grown for sale to Fairchild members are carefully considered before propagation takes place. In recent years, most of the plants offered for sale are propagated from plants growing in Fairchild or in the gardens of staff or volunteers. Many of the plants we offer are not available in local nurseries. The selection of plants for our sales is never far from my mind. I constantly observe plants growing in the garden, noting their characteristics. For example, "Are they adapted to South Florida soils, or do they need regular applications of iron?" Then there are questions we must ask to make sure that we do not introduce an exotic plant that will invade our natural areas. "Does the plant (if not native to South Florida) produce many seeds? Do the seeds germinate readily under the plant? Have we noticed seedlings elsewhere in the garden or in areas surrounding the garden?"

In some cases, Fairchild staff plant newly introduced exotic plants in our own yards to observe their growth, seed production and proclivity to produce seedlings - anything that would increase their chances of becoming a pest plant. We also observe them to determine how successfully they grow in our soils and climate. Are they adapted to our alkaline soils? Do they show cold damage when exposed to temperatures in the 40°s? Our intent is to distribute plants that are easily grown in our climate, but do not pose the risk of becoming a pest plant that could displace native flora.

We have a large number of species native to South Florida and the Caribbean growing at Fairchild. After years of observation, I have become increasingly drawn to the Bahamian plots, Plots 164 and 166. Many of the Bahamian plants also are native to South Florida. We are also growing native wildflowers, collected from cultivated specimens, so we can see how they are adapted to conditions not exactly like their native habitats. Their beautiful flowers, red, yellow, purple and blue, have the potential to give more color and interest to our landscapes. We use the knowledge gained from this project to increase the number and variety of native wildflowers available at our sales. We have collected seeds from native wildflowers growing on private property with permission from the owner. If you own property with native species present and would be willing to share seeds with us, we would appreciate hearing from you.

Plants that are designated "distribution plants" are those grown in larger quantities, described and with photos in our Members' Day Plant Sale brochure. Members may chose up to four species from the list of distribution plants to purchase. The distribution plants are located in one area in numerical order according to their listing on the distribution list in the plant sale brochure where members tell our staff which species they wish. The plants are then handed out to the members.

The "sale plants" are plants that are usually grown in smaller quantities and may or may not be mentioned in our Members' Day Plant Sale brochure. We offer trees, shrubs, vines, ground covers, palms and wildflowers that have been propagated especially for members. Occasionally, we will have just a very small number of rare, choice species that we put "blue tags" on, meaning that they are available one per membership.

Members should plan on getting to the sale early. Plants sell out quickly. If you have your heart set on a distribution plant or one of the described sale plants, it is a good idea to be in line before 9:00 a.m. We open our lowland field for parking at 8:00 a.m. Members may park, then walk up to the Cycad Vista, just west of the Palm Glade and wait in line until 9:00 a.m. Many people bring their own nursery cart, wagon or wheelbarrow.

In the days prior to the sale, you might want to visit Fairchild with the Members' Day brochure in hand, and take a look at examples of the distribution plants. Their locations in the garden are mentioned at the end of each description.  We will also be setting up the sale area in the palmetum.  During the week before the sale, you might want to visit this area to see exactly where the plants you want to purchase are located in the plant sale area.  Just remember that the quantities are not endless and for the best chance to get the plants you want, be an early bird to get the plants you desire for your own garden. I hope to see you at the sale, Saturday, October 2, 2010  from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.    

Here is a link to information about the 2010 Members Day Plant Sale.















Members receiving their Distribution Plants with assistance by horticulture staff and knowledgeable volunteers.