Mystery of Nature

“Mystery of Nature”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

What causes flowers to change colors?

In the past I have noticed that flowers will change colors especially in colder temperatures. Knockout roses will be darker in cold temperatures and certain camellia flowers will also darken in colder weather. This is due to the fact that certain colors’ chemical composition responds to temperature.

But what causes the flowers of identical plants to be different colors? I have two hibiscus plants that are blooming in a dark and a light color. I have had these plants for years, and in fact, one of these is from a cutting of the other, and this year they are sporting different colors.

 

Hibiscus, Light

 

Hibiscus, Dark

 

Now, the lighter color is how this hibiscus has bloomed for years. It is more of a peach color. The darker flower is definitely orange. Both of these plants are in containers, next to one another, and have been fertilized, watered, etc. the same. So, why are the flowers a different color? And why now after so many years? I could understand if both were blooming the same darker color, but not one light and one dark. And with the heat we have been experiencing, it can’t be a result of one being in a cooler temperature.

One of the mysteries of nature, I guess.

Update on the St. Swithen’s Day rain forecast: If you read my previous entry, I just wanted to keep you posted on the rain. Yes, it has rained every day since that posting. I am almost ready to believe that forty day forecast of rain.

Saving Hibiscus

“Saving Hibiscus”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

We may have our first hard freeze here on the Gulf Coast tomorrow. As I was protecting my tender plants this afternoon and looking at the hibiscus flowers, I was feeling a little sorry to see so many lovely summer plants doing so well, but knowing their days are numbered. I will really miss the coleus. It did so well this year and was a great replacement for the flowering annuals that require so much water in our hot summers.

I have a feeling this will be the last of the hibiscus flowers until next spring.

 

 

 

 

Most of my hibiscus plants are over seven to fifteen years old. Every winter, I protect them because it is often hard to find the double ones in the spring. Years ago, they were everywhere, but now I rarely see them in the nurseries. I can seem to find only the singles, and while they are pretty, the doubles have stolen my gardening heart.

To overwinter the hibiscus, I will cut them back and cover them with plastic sheeting. This is usually enough for the freezes we have because the below 32 degree temperatures rarely last more than four hours, and then we warm up enough to uncover the tender plants. If we have a really hard freeze of six or more hours, then I carefully put a light bulb under the plastic. This is enough to keep them from freezing. (I don’t know what I will do when incandescent bulbs are no longer available.) On the very rare occasions, every ten years or so, that we will not be above freezing for a few days, they will come into the garage. While the hibiscus plants will lose most of their leaves in the winter, come spring they bounce back fairly quickly.

Over the years, I have lost a few hibiscus plants even with these precautions, but if I get low on one color, I will root cuttings to ensure I always have my doubles. I know this is sometimes a lot of trouble for an inexpensive plant, but after all these years, they are irreplaceable to me.

Great Summer Flower

“Great Summer Flower”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

 

 

The hibiscus has started blooming.

All of my topical hibiscus plants are very old. These were among the first plants I had when I started gardening. I started out with container gardening and then, gradually started making garden beds.

I have been overwintering these hibiscus for years and years. The reason I take the trouble to protect these inexpensive plants is that I really only like the doubles, and they can be very hard to find some years. This winter, however, I lost three of my old friends. The ones that survived were knocked back pretty hard. One only started showing leaves about a week ago. After trimming back the dead wood, watering, and fertilizing, the first blooms have started. As I have written about before, so many of my plants are behind in sending out flowers. Usually, even with winter freezes, there are hibiscus blooms by late March. I have never had to wait until June for flowers. Only one of the survivors is blooming so far, and I think it will be a little longer before the others start flowering.

I feel it is time to try and take cuttings of these old plants since I don’t know how much longer they will be around. It will also be easier to protect smaller plants in the winter which will make dear hubby happy since he helps lug the heavy plants whenever a freeze threatens.

Hibiscus is such a great summer flower that I can’t wait for more blooms.

Double Beauties

“Double Beauties”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

With all the unusually hot weather for June and lack of rain we have been having lately, it seems that most of the flowers in the garden are taking a break.  There is not the usual exuberant flowering that is normally around.  Thank goodness for the hibiscus ( Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) plants.  They are going nonstop.  I have had these bushes for years, and while it is a pain to have to protect them in winter time, they certainly are worth that effort come summer.  All of my tropical hibiscus are doubles.

 

Red Hibiscus (redu)

 

This red double hibiscus is one of my oldest.

 

Peach Hibiscus (redu)

 

This peach-colored hibiscus is also an oldie but a goodie.

 

Dk Orange Hibiscus (redu)

 

This dark orange-colored hibiscus makes a nice transition color to put in between the above red and peach hibiscuses.

 

Dk Pink Hibiscus (redu)

 

Then, there is my absolute favorite hibiscus, this dark pink one.  I  absolutely love this color.  I just took some cuttings of this one to try and make a few more plants with this gorgeous deep pink.  I was thinking, if I was successful in getting the cuttings to take, this hibiscus would look so good interspersed in the garden borders when the other flowers take a break during the hottest part of summer.

Tropical Flowers

“Tropical Flowers”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 

With the heat of August in full swing, the tropicals in my garden are putting on quite a show.  The hibiscus bushes are really putting out the flowers now that we have had more rain.  As I have written before, I only grow the double flowered ones.  The reds, peach, and yellow ones have been particularly pretty the last few days.

 

 

 

 

In our climate these will continue to bloom into the winter.  In fact, I’ve had blooms in December when it has not been too cold.  But, it is the summer when these hibiscus really shine.

 

 

Here’s an update on the long awaited Bird of Paradise flower.  It has finally opened up completely.

 

 

I am so glad I didn’t give up  on it when it took so long to eventually show a flower.

A Favorite

 “A Favorite”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

 

 Sometimes we toss around the word favorite, a little too often, so that it loses all meaning.  How many times have we said, “Oh, that’s my favorite flower,” only to repeat that same sentence in almost the next breath.  I know, I have been guilty of this.  It seems whenever something new blooms, out pops that sentence.

 

Well, now I would like to show one of my top five favorite flowers and my favorite hibiscus flower.  It is Double Classic Pink.  This big, gorgeous flower is the first one to open this season, and it just takes my breath away.  The pink color is just perfect.

 

 

 

These tropical plants like moist well-drained, acid soil, full sun, and are heavy feeders.  I fertilize mine with a tomato fertilizer in the early spring and then start using a liquid fertilizer just about every two weeks.  In early summer, I will use the tomato fertilizer again.  In our hot climate, I water the containers almost everyday that there is no rain, and so nutrients leach out of the soil very quickly.  Since I water almost daily, these plants require frequent fertilizing. 

 

Hibiscus shrubs grow to about 6-8 feet tall and can be covered in blooms at the ends of the branches.  Because they bloom on the branch tips, excessive pruning cuts off the flowers.  So keep that in mind if you decide to prune when they are blooming.  I usually prune mine in the winter or very early spring before they start flowering.

 

These plants do very well in containers.  I usually repot mine in the spring, trimming back the roots, if necessary, replacing soil, and then putting them back in the same 14 inch container.

 

This big, five inch flower will only last today, but knowing that there will be more from this prolific bloomer makes me look forward to tomorrow.

Post Freeze Workout

This post, “Post Freeze Workout” was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana 

 2008-106-peach-hibiscus-reduced-v2-020.jpg

Peach hibiscus that has been over-wintered for at least 8 years.

How many of us like to spend a beautiful day in the garden just cleaning up?  I know that I don’t.  Planting can be hard work, but I don’t mind that kind of hard work.  I had a real work out today – bending, stretching, lifting, etc.  No plants seem to be irretrievably lost, but some were nipped by the recent cold weather.  I had to trim off a lot of the plants in the entry garden.  Those were only covered with sheets, not my usual plastic.  The ageratum, that had spread so much since the fall, had to have just the tops trimmed.  Unfortunately, that meant leaning over, stretching out, and putting my body through a workout just to get to the plants to trim them back. 

I also had to move all the potted plants that had been placed next to the house.  They were not heavy, but there were many.  It did give me the opportunity to clean them up a bit.  I also had to fold up and put away the sheets of plastic that had covered them.  My sweet hubby helped with that since it can be unwieldy trying to fold up such big sheets.  It seems a shame to have to go through all this work for just three nights of freezing temperatures.  Today the high was 74 degrees -  a big change from the low of 23 degrees just three days ago.  There is no cold weather in the forecast for the next week or so.

Now is the time that Gulf Coast gardeners start working – before the hot days of summer.  There is a lot of weeding of beds and dividing of plants ahead for me.  I also want to move some plants that I feel are now in the wrong places, and then there is the  pruning that must be done before the first spurt of growth in the spring.  I also will be planning and planting some more “bones” in the garden.  Nothing like the starkness of winter to make you see where something is needed for structure.

It was a beautiful day today, and I did have some time to go out and snap a few pictures of things that are blooming.  The lobelia and the hibiscus had to be protected, but the rose made it through the cold.

                                    2008-106-shelias-rose-reduced-v3-011.jpg 

When my friend Shelia moved, I got this rose (name unknown).

Lobelia    2008-106-lobellia-resized-v2-003.jpg

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