My plant identification course at Barron Collier High School’s AdultEd program concludes another six-week semester, but a new semester begins the week of June 6 on Thursday at
6:30 p.m. We will learn about 125 plants, plus many others that students bring into class. Please consider joining us and bringing photos of plants you cannot recognize.
A summer of vines
Sometimes, my passion for vines gets me in trouble with Suzie. I have limited room on the pergola here at Peace and Plenty, so I have removed the clerodendrum and passion vine to make room for new residents.
And what residents they are! Finally there is a home for rangoon creeper (quisqualis indica), a climbing vine with small pendulous red and white flowers that resemble nothing so much as fireworks. This is one I’ve wanted for quite some time.
Because Suzie loves purple in the garden, I wanted a big purple vine. Queen’s wreath (petrea volubilis) is perfect; it is extremely showy with blue to deep purple flowers. This vine needs substantial support. See an excellent specimen at the Norris Center in Naples, which, by the way, is wonderfully maintained by Chet Ewell and his team for the city. Chet brought eight students to the most recent ID class. They all passed and they all did their homework!
Over at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden there are reports the golden chalice (solandra maxima) is blooming, but mine is just starting. This is a very strong, woody vine, similar in growth to bougainvillea and needing a similar amount of management. And worth the effort, too, with pendulous bell-shaped flowers that remind me of angel trumpet, although they are much more substantial.
Now, a few buzz cuts: Purple allamanda (allamanda violacea), of course; argyreia nervosa, called wooly morning glory, and a bit of a fussy, coarse textured vine. And, yes, yellow allamanda (allamanda cathartic) often seen for a very good reason: It’s very dependable with one of the richest shades of yellow I have ever seen.
One more vine — one I haven’t seen in Southwest Florida. The shower of orchids, or congea tomentosa, is a stunning and very large vine. If anyone has seen one locally, please let me know.
A few summer shrubs
The very fine-textured thryallis (galphimia gracilis) is a large shrub, reaching about 7 or 8 feet high with a similar spread, rewarding the gardener with small, countless yellow flowers against a small, light green leaf. Leave plenty of room to grow.
Peregrina is also in heavy bloom during the summer months. Peregrina is related to the coral tree that you see around town in the median plantings, to great effect, but is a much larger plant with large, coarse textured leaves and small red flowers, favored by butterflies and hummingbirds.
Firebush (hamelia patens) continues heavy flowering over the summer, attracting butterflies and hummingbirds, even in light shade. I think I am seeing much more of this plant over the last five years or so, particularly in our medians, where it is a superb choice. Hamelia is often my first choice when I need a large flowering plant to populate a bed that may move in and out light shade.
Sea ox-eye daisy has been blooming for me since March and now showing heavy blooms (this is borrichia frutescens). Watch out, though, because if you are looking for a solid bed, this plant will disappoint. Find a very sunny spot.
Again from FTG, ylang ylang (cananga odorata) has flowers smell like Chanel No. 5, but I haven’t seen one in Naples. Anyone? This is a very narrow (fastigiate) tree with lanceolate leaves.
Now, a few more buzz cuts: Aloe is flowering like crazy at Peace and Plenty, right next to the air conditioners and with no supplemental watering; our native necklace pod, or sophora tomentosa, is putting on a yellow show; Beauty berry, (callicarpa americana), normally appreciated for the purple winter berries, is also flowering. Don’t forget bird of paradise and the giant iris, either. If you are lucky enough to have a sausage tree (kiglia africana), you have beautiful pendulous flowers in advance of that fascinating fruit. And bougainvillea “Miss Alice DuPont” and “silhouette” are flowering in the medians along Vanderbilt Beach Extension. Clerodendrum, of course, continues to bloom.
Ixora comes into full bloom in summer, too, and don’t miss the fabulous crinum with big blue flowers on U.S. 41 near Coconut Point mall.
As always, pictures of all these plants are on my website as well as naplesnews.com.
A reminder from your Design Pundit: Summer sessions at Barron Collier AdultEd begin the week of June 6. Get the latest information on the website: www.msadesign.com.
And don’t forget that you can always email your DP with gardening or planting questions. Or questions about life, really.
Michael Spencer is a landscape
architect who has been in business nearly 26 years. Visit his website, www.msadesign.com. Email: