Tag Archive: Flowers

Plant Cupheas for Summer Flowers, Hummingbirds, and More


Cuphea ignea
Photo courtesy: Gary Knox

Cupheas are perennials that produce bright orange, red, yellow or purple flowers all summer and fall.  Some species are called cigar plants due to their tubular, cigar shaped flowers tipped in red or yellow (like a lit cigar). Others are sometimes called firecracker plants because their cylindrical flowers are bright red or orange (looking like a firecracker). By any name, their nectar-filled, tubular flowers are widely known for attracting large numbers of hummingbirds, butterflies and bees. In addition, young stems of some species are reddish, further adding color and contrast to the usually narrow, lance-shaped green foliage.


As a group, cupheas grow best in full to part sun (the brighter, the better) and well-drained, moderately fertile soil. Cupheas are drought tolerant once established, but grow faster and larger with regular moisture and occasional fertilization. Their origins in warm climates allow them to thrive in heat, but likewise make some species sensitive to cold winters. Those that are frost tender along the Gulf Coast are best placed in a sheltered location in the garden. Cupheas are pest and disease resistant and are not invasive in Florida. They are not truly deer resistant, yet reports suggest cupheas are not favored by deer.

Cupheas are great summer performers in bright, hot and dry locations. Flowering begins in summer and continues through fall until short days and cool weather reduce flowering or frosts cause dieback. Along the Gulf Coast, cool winter weather slows them down, so re-growth doesn’t occur until mid to late spring, and flowering usually doesn’t begin until days and nights are warm. Growth and appearance of many cupheas are improved if plants are pruned or cut to the ground in late winter.

Over 200 species of Cuphea are native to Mexico and the warm-temperate and tropical Americas. Of these and their hybrids, the cupheas listed below are great summer-flowering perennials for the northern Gulf Coast.


Cuphea micropetala
Photo courtesty: Gary Knox


Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea)

This fine-textured plant produces red to orange tubular flowers about an inch long. This cigar plant is hardy to about 20°F. It grows about 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide along the Gulf Coast, though it would be a larger, evergreen shrub in warmer climates. This cuphea tends to have lanky growth, so occasional summer pruning will stimulate branching which results in more dense growth.


Cigar Plant or Candy Corn Plant (Cuphea micropetala)

Flowers are 1.5 inches long, emerge pale yellow and gradually turn orange from the base upwards, offering a colorful, two-tone effect. Foliage is hardy to 25-30°F and this cigar plant is root hardy to at least 15°F. Stems should be cut back to ground level in late winter to keep the plant tidy. Clumps spread slowly outward by rhizomes, and the plant will reach 3 feet tall and wide along the Gulf Coast.


Cuphea schumannii
Photo courtesy: Gary Knox


Orange Cigar Plant or Schumann’s Cuphea (Cuphea schumannii)

This sprawling, floriferous cigar plant prefers moist, well-drained soil to thrive. Barrel-shaped, 1- to 1½-inch blooms are orange and yellow and sometimes have small purple petals at the tips. Flowers cover the branch terminals in the heat of summer and into fall. This plant is hardy in Zones 8 to 9 (at least down to the mid 20s°F). Unlike many other cupheas, leaves of orange cigar plant are oval- to heart-shaped. Stems grow 2 to 3 feet tall and readily flop or fall over. Plan to give orange cigar plant lots of room to sprawl through the garden!


Cuphea ‘David Verity’
Photo courtesy: Gary Knox


‘David Verity’ Large Firecracker Plant (Cuphea ignea × micropetala ‘David Verity’)

This floriferous hybrid produces flowers that are dark orange with a short yellow-orange flared tip and purple filamentts. Well-adapted to the Gulf Coast, this plant is foliage hardy down to 25-30°F and root hardy to at least 15°F. In Zone 9 this plant will grow as an evergreen shrub up to 4 to 5 feet tall and wide, but it will be smaller in areas where frost or freezes occur. This selection is believed to be a hybrid between Cuphea ignea and C. micropetala that was given in the mid 1970s to David Verity, then the manager of the UCLA Mildred Mathias Botanic Garden. It was subsequently named for him when later brought into commercial production.


‘Vermillionaire®’ Large Firecracker Plant (Cuphea ‘Vermillionaire®’)

This new hybrid appears to be a superior cuphea because it grows as a naturally compact plant that produces more flowers than other selections. ‘Vermillionaire®’ grows about 24 inches or more tall and wide with a compact, mounding habit. Orange tubular flowers are produced continuously until late fall. This cuphea is too new to know the full extent of its hardiness, but it is expected to be a perennial in Zones 8 and higher.


Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia)

Unlike the previous cupheas, this plant has small purple flowers, and some selections sport white flowers. Another difference is Mexican heather’s finely textured, bright green leaves. Gulf Coast Zone 8 plants are usually killed to the ground in winter, often recovering by summer but resulting in a compact plant growing less than 24 inches tall and wide. In Zones 9 and higher, Mexican heather is a larger-growing semi-evergreen tropical shrub. Reported pests are leaf-chewing beetles (Altica and Colaspis spp.) and the twig-dwelling lesser snow scale (Pinnaspis strachani). Mexican heather works well for edging beds or sidewalks, helping to define and soften pathways. Cultivars include Allyson, Lavender Lace, Purple Nurple™ and the white-flowered Monga (Itsy Bitsy° White) and ‘White Whispers’.

Bat-Faced Cuphea
Photo courtesy: Gary Knox

Bat Face Cuphea (Cuphea llavea)

Each 1-inch flower consists of a purple tube lipped with two red, upright lobes. By viewing the flower with its tip facing you, it takes only a little imagination to see the two red lobes resemble large “ears” above the purple “face” of a bat, hence the name. Along the Gulf Coast, bat face cuphea grows mound-shaped 8 to 24 inches tall and wide, depending upon the selection. It is very heat and drought tolerant but requires better drainage than the other cupheas. Bat face cuphea is evergreen down to the upper 20s°F and root hardy into the lower 20s°F. Improved forms of bat face cuphea include the cultivars, Flamenco Samba, Georgia Scarlet, Mellow Yellow, Miss Priss, Tiny Mice®, Sriracha™ Pink, Sriracha™ Violet, Torpedo, Vienco° Lavender and Vienco° Red.


Author: Gary Knox – gwknox@ufl.edu

Gary Knox is an Extension Specialist and Professor of Environmental Horticulture with the University of Florida at the North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy. Dr. Knox’s research interests focus on evaluating species and cultivars of woody plants for their invasive potential as well as for ornamental characteristics. In addition to research plantings, Dr. Knox is working with a nonprofit volunteer group to develop “Gardens of the Big Bend,” a series of botanical, teaching and evaluation gardens at the Center.

Gary Knox

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/17/plant-cupheas-for-summer-flowers-hummingbirds-and-more/

Spring Festival of Flowers April 7-9, 2017!

Spring Festival of Flowers April 7-9, 2017!

About the Spring Festival of Flowers

The University of Florida, IFAS and the Pensacola State College Milton Campus invites you to join them for one of the largest festivals of the season. This is a popular event that draws plant enthusiast from near and far. This festival features plant nurseries, UF student club plant sale, arts & crafts, great food, music and educational opportunities.


University of Florida, IFAS and the Pensacola State College Milton Campus located at 5988 Highway 90, Milton.

Dates and Times

Friday, April 7, 2017 * 9 AM – 5 PM

Saturday, April 8, 2017 * 9 AM – 4 PM

Sunday, April 9, 2017 *9 AM – 4 PM

2017 spring festival of flowers flyer


Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/21/spring-festival-of-flowers-april-7-9-2017/

Summer Blue Flowers Enjoyed by People and Bees

Summer Blue Flowers Enjoyed by People and Bees

VitexThe showy chaste tree makes an attractive specimen as the centerpiece of your landscape bed or in a large container on the deck. Easy-to-grow, drought resistant, and attractive to butterflies and bees, Vitex agnus-castus is a multi-stemmed small tree with fragrant, upwardly-pointing lavender blooms and gray-green foliage.  The chaste tree’s palmately divided leaves resemble those of the marijuana (Cannabis sativa) plant; its flowers can be mistaken for butterfly bush (Buddleia sp.); and the dry, darkened drupes can be used for seasoning, similar to black pepper, making it a conversation piece for those unfamiliar with the tree.

Vitex, with its sage-scented leaves that were once believed to have a sedative effect, has the common name “Chastetree” since Athenian women used the leaves in their beds to keep themselves chaste during the feasts of Ceres, a Roman festival held on April 12.  In modern times, the tree is more often planted where beekeepers visit in order to promote excellent honey production or simply included in the landscape for the enjoyment of its showy, summer display of violet panicles.vite_ag8bee

Chaste tree is native to woodlands and dry areas of southern Europe and western Asia. It will thrive in almost any soil that has good drainage, prefers full sun or light shade, and can even tolerate moderate salt air. Vitex is a sprawling plant that grows 10-20 feet high and wide, that looks best unpruned.  If pruning is desired to control the size, it should be done in the winter, since it is a deciduous tree and the blooms form on new wood.  The chaste tree can take care of itself, but can be pushed to faster growth with light applications of fertilizer in spring and early summer and by mulching around the plant.  There are no pests of major concern associated with this species, but, root rot can cause decline in soils that are kept too moist.



Author: Sheila Dunning – sdunning@ufl.edu


Sheila Dunning

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/06/23/summer-blue-flowers-enjoyed-by-people-and-bees/

April Shows DO Bring May Flowers – Discovering the Panhandle – Barrier Islands

April Shows DO Bring May Flowers – Discovering the Panhandle – Barrier Islands


This month there were many more plants flowering… it is true that April showers do bring May flowers. May not only brings more flowers but more tourists. Everyone is out enjoying the weather, including some wildlife. I was happy to include Florida Master Naturalist Paul Bennett on this hike and he was very helpful identifying plants. Thanks Paul!


Tent set up on Pensacola beach to protect from the sun.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

Tent set up on Pensacola beach to protect from the sun. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Sign altering and educating folks that this is a sea turtle nest.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

Sign altering and educating folks that this is a sea turtle nest. Photo: Rick O’Connor


It is sea turtle nesting season all along the Florida Panhandle. The season begins in May and ends in October. This time of the season the females are heading up the beach looking for good nesting locations near dunes. There are five species of marine turtles that inhabit the northern Gulf and there are records of each species nesting here. They emerge at night and move towards the dunes where they excavate a deep cavity to lay about 100 eggs. The nest is covered and she returns to the water. The incubation period is between 60-70 days and the temperature of the nest determines the sex of the hatchling; the warmer eggs becoming females. It is illegal to disturb a sea turtle nest.

This tent was occupied when I was there but all too often they are left overnight so folks can return the same spot the following day. Tents and chairs are barriers for both nesting females and emerging hatchlings. If at all possible, remove these for the evening. In some counties it is required. Another problem is artificial lighting. Adult turtles are distracted, and many times abort the nesting activity due to bright lights. Most panhandle counties have a lighting ordinance that requires homes to use turtle friendly lighting. To learn more about the turtle friendly lighting program and local ordinances contact your county Sea Grant Agent at the local Extension office or visit http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/managed/sea-turtles/lighting/.


This county sign marks a public snorkel reef and also educates everyone about lionfish.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

This county sign marks a public snorkel reef and also educates everyone about lionfish. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Mangrove seed washed ashore.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

Mangrove seed washed ashore. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Summer means swimming and in many local counties there are interesting snorkel reefs nearby. We asked that everyone keep an eye out for the invasive lionfish as they enjoy their day. If one is spotted be aware they do have venomous, though not deadly, spines and please contact your local Sea Grant Agent at the county Extension office to let them know. If you are in Escambia County you can log your sighting at www.lionfishmap.org and FWC has a lionfish app for reporting; http://myfwc.com/news/news-releases/2014/may/28/lionfish-app/

The seed is of a red mangrove tree. These are common coastal plants in south Florida and elsewhere in the tropics. The red mangroves drops their seeds (propagules) into the water to drift in the currents to new locations. They frequently wash upon our shores and sometimes take root, but they do not last during our colder winters.






This Whitlow-Wort, also known as "square flower".  Common dune plant.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

This Whitlow-Wort, also known as “square flower”. Common dune plant. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Track of an unidentified snake crossing a dune.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

Track of an unidentified snake crossing a dune. Photo: Rick O’Connor

The flower to the left is the Whitlow-Wort, or as some locals call it… “square flower”. The track is of a snake but could not find it so I am not sure which species. The weather warms quickly here along the Gulf coast. A few months ago we may have been able to find this animal but with the increasing heat they were in a cool place somewhere. Snake encounters this time of year are typically at dawn and dusk.






The seed pod of a milkweed. Photo: Rick O'Connor

The seed pod of a milkweed. Photo: Rick O’Connor

An open seed pod of a milkweed releasing seeds.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

An open seed pod of a milkweed releasing seeds. Photo: Rick O’Connor

The milkweed bloomed a few months ago but here in May we find both the seed pods and, in the photo to the right, the “dandelion-like” seeds being released. This is one of the plants used by the migrating monarchs, which we should see later in the year.









Marsh Pink, a flower found in the wetter areas of the island.

Marsh Pink, a flower found in the wetter areas of the island.

Narrow-leaved Sagittaria.  Another water loving plant.

Narrow-leaved Sagittaria. Another water loving plant.

Here are two of the many flowers we saw today. Both of these were found in the freshwater ponds located in the swale areas of the barrier island. The flower to the left is known as Marsh Pink. The one to the right is Narrow-leaved Sagittaria.









The yellow vine called "Love Vine"; correct name is Dodder.

The yellow vine called “Love Vine”; correct name is Dodder.

It is good to see bees on the island.

It is good to see bees on the island.


This orange-yellow stringy vine is called “Love Vine” but there is not much love here; this is a parasitic plant called Dodder. This is the first we have seen of it this year and expect to see more. Many residents on the island believe it to be an non-native invasive plant but it is actually a native and quite common out there. I have also seen it in the north end of Escambia County.

We did see a few bees today and this is a good sign. There have been reports in recent years of the decline of our native bees and the impact that has had on gardening and commercial horticulture. In addition to seeing bees Paul and I also came across the famous yellow fly. These were encountered near the marsh on the sound side of the island. Loads of fun there!





The "bed" made by an unknown animal that has been frequenting this location all year.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

The “bed” made by an unknown animal that has been frequenting this location all year. Photo: Rick O’Connor

This scat pile was near the location of the "bed" and along the drag marks made by this animal.

This scat pile was near the location of the “bed” and along the drag marks made by this animal.

If you have been following this series since we began in January you may recall the strange “bedding” and drag marks we have encountered near the marsh (you can read other issues on this website). I have seen these drag marks, and apparent bedding areas, every month except last. I showed them to Paul and we are still not sure what is making them. Again, whatever it is seems to move from one body of water to another. We cannot find in foot tracks to help identify it… but we will!

The photo to the right is of a large scat pile approximately 15-16” across. It was relatively fresh and contained crab and shrimp shell parts. Not sure if it was left by the same animal that continually makes the drags but was in the same location so…







The pretty, but invasive, beach vitex.  Photo: Rick O'Connor

The pretty, but invasive, beach vitex. Photo: Rick O’Connor

Many of the plants on our barrier islands are blooming now, and so is this one. This is Beach Vitex (Vitex rotundifolia). It is an invasive/not-recommended plant. Currently we are only aware of 22 properties in Escambia County that have it. Sea Grant is currently working with the SEAS program at the University of West Florida to assist in removing them. If you believe you have this plant and would like advice on how to remove contact your local Sea Grant Agent at the county Extension office.


Let’s see what shows up in June!




Author: Rick O’Connor – roc1@ufl.edu

Sea Grant Extension Agent in Escambia County

Rick O’Connor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/05/29/april-shows-do-bring-may-flowers-discovering-the-panhandle-barrier-islands/

Keep Your Love Alive: Preserving Cut Flowers

Keep Your Love Alive: Preserving Cut Flowers

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. You were likely showered with gifts from loved ones; gifts covered in chocolate, gifts of the stuffed variety, and more than likely the kind covered in petals. And as you languish in the afterglow of affection it would be wise to remember that your bouquets will need to be shown some affection if you intend for them to remain beautiful.

White Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Duchesse de Brabant, Tea Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Fresh cut flowers are a popular gift for Valentine’s Day and a simple, yet elegant way to relay your affections. Flowers have the capacity to brighten up a room and bring a smile to your face. The myriad of colors and scents are admittedly irresistible. However, after a few days your once overflowing vase may seem wilted and despondent. Follow these easy steps to increase the lifespan of your flowers and extend their potent powers!

Pink Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Carefree Beauty, Shrub Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

  • Re-cut the flower stems using a sharp knife or shears. Remove at least one-half inch of stem to expose a fresh surface. Stems, especially rose stems, should be re-cut under water. A freshly cut stem absorbs water freely, so it is important to cut at a slant to avoid crushing the stem and to prevent a flat-cut end from resting on the bottom of the vase.
  • Put flowers in water as soon as possible. Maximum water uptake occurs in the first 36 to 48 hours after cutting flowers. Place stems in 100-110°F (38-40°C) water, because warm water moves into the stem more quickly and easily than cold water.
  • Make sure to remove any leaves from the stem that may be submerged. Because transpiration through leaves drives water flow up the stems of cut flowers, don’t strip all the leaves from the stem.
  • Use a commercial flower food, they work best at controlling microbial populations, hydrating stems, and feeding flowers. Make sure you follow the directions on the floral preservative packet. 
  • Removing thorns from your roses may shorten their vase life. If damaged during the removal process flowers may be opened up to microbes that could slow down water conducting cells.
  • If your vase solution begins to become cloudy, re-cut the stems and place into a new vase solution.
  • Do not place flowers in direct sunlight, over a radiator, or on a television set. Heat reduces flower life since flower aging occurs more rapidly in high temperature conditions. It is important to avoid all drafty locations because warm or moving air removes water from flowers faster than it can be absorbed through the stems.
  • Keep flowers away from cigarette smoke and ripening fruit, because they contain ethylene gas, which is harmful to flowers.
Red Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Louis Philippe, China Rose. Also known as the “old Florida rose” since it is found at many old historic Florida home sites and pioneer settlements. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.


Author: Taylor Vandiver – tavandiver@ufl.edu

Taylor Vandiver

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/02/17/keep-your-love-alive-preserving-cut-flowers/

Camellia Flowers that Fail to Open

Camellia Flowers that Fail to Open

Do you have camellia plants with flower buds that fail to open? Here are possible causes for this problem.

  • Stress – Drought is the primary stress that inhibits buds from opening.
  • Too many buds on a plant results in the plant not having reserves for each bud to open.
  • Warm weather during fall may inhibit early blooming varieties from flowering properly.
  • Freeze damage – Most of our Camellia japonica cultivars produce flower buds and bloom during the winter. As the flower buds begin to swell, and particularly as they begin to open, the flower buds become more susceptible to freeze injury. Freeze injured flower buds fail to open. Also, plants located in colder areas of the landscape will be more susceptible to cold injury. Camellia sasanqua cultivars are less likely to experience cold injury to their flower buds because they bloom mostly during fall and early winter when we are less likely to experience freezing temperatures.
    Partially opened freeze injured camellia flower, Photo credit: Larry Williams

    Partially opened freeze injured camellia flower, Photo credit: Larry Williams

    Partially opened camellia flower bud with discolored (brown) petals due to cold injury, Photo credit: Larry Williams

    Partially opened camellia flower bud with discolored (brown) petals due to cold injury, Photo credit: Larry Williams

    The early freeze that occurred during mid November 2014 and the more recent freeze in early January 2015 may be responsible for some of the flower bud injury on earlier and later blooming camellia plants here in north Florida this season.

  • Another situation may have to do with the specific variety. Thirty plus years ago people planted any camellia they could find because there was a more limited selection. Even though camellias have been part of our southern landscapes for many years, they are native to parts of Asia. Over the years there have been more introductions of cultivars. Some are not well adapted to our colder winters. Some camellia cultivars are not well adapted to the gulf coast and thus won’t flower well even though they may grow well here. This is why some varieties are favored in Seattle, some do better in England and others perform well here. You’d be wise to select cultivars that are known to do well in our area.

For more information on camellias, contact the UF/IFAS Extension Office in your County or visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep002 to access the publication, “Camellias at a Glance.”







Author: Larry Williams – llw5479@ufl.edu

Larry Williams is the County Extension Director and Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

Larry Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/01/27/camellia-flowers-that-fail-to-open/

New Flowers, Incredible History

New Flowers, Incredible History

diascia basketSince 2005, multiple varieties of Diascia have added to the U.S. fall market of winter flowering plants. Its delicate flowers are far from ordinary though.  In the early part of the last century most British gardening encyclopedias listed just one diascia – Diascia barberae – derived from seed collected by Col. J. H. Bowker and sent by Mrs. Barber to Kew Gardens, England, in 1870. Annual and perennial diascias had, of course, already been discovered and classified by several botanists visiting South Africa much earlier.  The  dainty, little annual, Diascia barberae, is not a very showy flower, but one which will appeal to the true flower lover. The flowers are rosy pink with yellow-green spots in the throat. The flowers are lipped, being related to the Snapdragons, but have two spurs on the lower lips, and are sometimes called twinspur.  It was not until John Kelly was given a plant called Diascia cordata by Edrom Nurseries in 1971 that anything notable happened to diascias again. He took pollen from his Diascia cordata and applied it to one flower of Diascia barberae. Of the nine seeds he obtained, just one was worthy of attention. He named it Diascia ‘Ruby Field’ (not for the color of the flowers, but for a lady who devoted her live to the long-term care of deprived children). Despite the popularity of this new, hardy hybrid, little more happened with diascias for yet another decade.  The boom in the diascia trade began only recently. Today’s diascia offers larger flowers, larger plants with a more open growth habit and colors ranging from scarlet through salmon and coral into pink. They bloom throughout the cooler weather and may behave as a perennial in warmer sites.  But, the uniqueness of their flower structure and ecological role are as fascinating as the flower is beautiful.  diascia flowerThe common name of twinspur refers to the two downwardly pointing spurs found on the back of the flower.  The spurs contain an oil which is collected in the South Africa wild by Rediviva bees.  The female bees have unusually long, hairy forelegs that are used to collect the oil to feed her larvae.  However, the Greek origin of the Diascia name doesn’t refer to the spurs, but rather the two sacs found in the upper part of the corolla.  The flower petals help the bees to rediviva beeorient themselves to the oil glands of the spurs.  While North Florida isn’t home to the Rediviva bee, we can grow Diascia and it is a wonderful opportunity to show the unique connection insects and plants can have.  Look for other specialized flower structures and you will find other animals that fit them perfectly, even within the species found in the Panhandle.


Author: Sheila Dunning – sdunning@ufl.edu


Sheila Dunning

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2014/11/04/new-flowers-incredible-history/

Plant Deciduous Magnolias for their Spectacular Spring Flowers

Magnolia flowering has been exceptionally good this year. Mild temperatures have coaxed “Japanese” magnolias into bloom as much as 4 weeks early. Fortunately the absence of hard freezes (so far) has allowed us to fully enjoy magnolias’ beautiful flowering.


Most years we are not so lucky. Flowers are often damaged by late winter or early spring freezes. The best way to avoid such damage and enjoy a complete flowering season is to plant varieties that bloom later than most. If this year’s glorious magnolia flowers inspire you to add a magnolia or two to your garden, consider one of the following improved, later-blooming magnolia cultivars; all are generally available at better garden centers throughout the area:


‘Jon Jon’

‘Jon Jon’ has large buds that develop into goblet-shaped flowers the first day, gradually opening as wide as 12 inches in diameter (though 8 inches is more typical). Flowers are creamy white with a reddish-purple blush at the base. ‘Jon Jon’ grows into a small tree about 20 feet tall. Peak bloom in north Florida typically occurs March 2, based on 10 years of flowering data at the University of Florida research center in Quincy, Florida.



‘Jane’ has red-purple buds that open into cup-shaped flowers 3 – 4 inches in diameter, pinkish-purple on the outside and white inside. It grows as a large rounded shrub or small rounded tree. Based on UF-Quincy data, peak flowering occurs March 17.



‘Ann’ has rich, dark red-purple buds that open to red-purple flowers about 3 inches in diameter. A sister of ‘Jane’, ‘Ann’ similarly grows as a large rounded shrub or small tree. Peak flowering is March 20. Amazingly, ‘Ann’ produces flowers sporadically all spring and summer!


When purchasing a magnolia, look for a healthy plant with evenly spaced branches. A container-grown plant can be slipped out of its pot to inspect the roots. Healthy roots are yellow-white, whereas diseased roots are brown to black and often have a sour odor.


Magnolias prefer a spot in the garden that receives full sun to light shade, ideally with shade from the hot afternoon sun. If possible, avoid exposed, windy locations because strong winds can damage large flowers and the typically brittle branches. Magnolias grow best in moist, well-drained, slightly acid soils but neutral to slightly alkaline soils are also suitable for growth. Magnolias are adaptable to clay, loam or sand soils, but grow poorly in wet or poorly drained soils. Well-established plants can be moderately drought tolerant. Add a magnolia to your yard today and you can enjoy spectacular spring flowers for years to come!


For more information, visit http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep453, ‘Jon Jon’ Magnolia: A Late-Flowering Deciduous Magnolia for Northern Florida, or  http://www.magnoliasociety.org/, the website of Magnolia Society International.


(Gary W. Knox, University of Florida/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center, 155 Research Rd., Quincy, FL 32351; gwknox@ufl.edu)


Author: Robert Trawick – rob.trawick@ufl.edu

Robert Trawick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/02/08/plant-deciduous-magnolias-for-their-spectacular-spring-flowers/