BUTTERFLY ROAD TRIP

Cee and I took off on a road trip to Gainesville, Florida to see the Butterfly Exhibit at the University of Florida’s Florida Museum of Natural History. Most of the Museum is free but the Butterfly Exhibit charges $12 for Floridians and Seniors. You don’t realize how small it is until you see it from the outside but, oh, is it magnificent! Walkways take you into a lushly planted tropical rainforest with plants below you, at eye level, and above you. Flying all around are beautiful, large butterflies and moths. A very large moth crashed into the back of my head with enough force that I knew something had hit me. I don’t know the names of these butterflies or where they hail from but I did manage to digitize a few of them.

butterfly of iridescent blue with black edges
Blue Morpho Butterfly

Because of the sun, the crowds and the cramped quarters, I was unable to photograph the plantings. You’ll find a few photos at the Florida Museum Butterfly Rainforest website.

We each bought about 7 plants in the front of the Museum at the Butterflyfest Plant Sale,  a 3-day plant sale. We had postponed our trip to coincide with the plant sale date. I don’t know how often they have these larger plant sales but on Friday and Saturdays they feature 15 plants for sale.

Cee and I were after nectar and host plants for butterflies but they also had a few accent plants. Prices were comparable to a big box store but these plants are, for the most part, seldom offered at big box stores and are hard to find at smaller nurseries.

Cee talked me into buying a weed. I have never in my life paid good money for a weed! She insisted, as she picked it up and handed it to me, that I had to have a False Nettle because it was a host plant for the Red Admiral butterfly. In the excitement of the moment, I took the plant despite the fact that I have never once seen a Red Admiral on my property. Ever. I am truly doubtful I will see one with a lone False Nettle in my garden, either, but at least it grows into a green bush with insignificant flowers and might help discourage other weeds. Kind of like my purple Porterweed that I grow for the big, fat bumble bees.

In addition to the False Nettle, I bought a Brazilian Shrimp Plant, Orange Plume/Mexican Honeysuckle, Lady Margaret Passionflower, Blue Curls, Cigar Plant, and I replaced my Rainbow/Peacock Fern for the third time.

We barely scratched the surface of what the Florida Museum has to offer but it’s only 72 miles away. We’ll go again.

EASY CARE FOR 9a — HURRICANE LILY

Lycoris radiata, also known as Hurricane Lily, Red Spider Lily, and sometimes Resurrection Lily, Surprise Lily, and Magic Lily is a bulb plant. It often produces a flower stalk without any foliage, magically popping up out of the ground on 1 to 2 foot scapes and unfurling into an exotic flower for two weeks. Other years it doesn’t bloom at all. A pencil-width leaf with a silver-gray stripe running down the center appears after the bloom.

Hurricane Lily, Lycoris radiata

 

Hurricane Lily, Lycoris radiata, bloom begins to unfurl
Hurricane Lily, Lycoris radiata, bloom begins to unfurl

 

Hurricane Lily, before and during the bloom
Hurricane Lily, before and during the bloom

Hurricane Lily blooms in August and September usually after a heavy rain much like the Rain Lily, Zephyranthes. It prefers partial shade in soil that is moist but not boggy during the bloom season. It likely will not bloom the first year planted whether new to your yard or divided and replanted elsewhere.

Hailing from China and Japan, Hurricane Lilies have naturalized throughout the southeastern United States but also grows in California. It is poisonous and probably not a good plant to have around if you have a dog or other animal prone to digging. It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and convulsions.

For more information, see the University of Florida’s Solutions for Your Life.

ZONES AND PLANTING

Hurricane Lilies are winter hardy from USDA Zones 5b down to 10. Above 5b, it should be overwintered indoors. Plant bulbs 9″ apart with the top 1/4 of the bulb exposed so the flower bud can develop.

MY ZONE 9a EXPERIENCE

Hurricane Lilies are a member of the Amaryllis genus with a growing habit similar to my Amaryllis Belladonna or Naked Ladies, Lycoris squamigera, a pink flowering bulb whose foliage appears before the bloom, and my Golden Spider Lily or Golden Hurricane Lily, Lycoris aurea, whose foliage appears afterwards.

Supposedly, it is quick to form large clumps because it spends no energy producing seeds. I thought it did produce seeds when I encountered what looked like green seed pods after the bloom faded but the pods ultimately withered away. One just never knows because the Southern Rural Route orbits the Crooked Moon.

Seed-like pods on red Hurricane Lily after the bloom
Seed pods?

The most likely method to acquire any of the lycoris bulbs is as a pass-along plant or through a mail order source. Mine was acquired in Texas through friends. I planted it beneath the shade of a cypress tree. I have ignored it at all times except when it blooms. I don’t fertilize it or cover it in the winter but it is in an area that gets occasional water. In the summer, when the bulbs are dormant, the soil should be on the dry side.

It does not seem to be bothered by pests or diseases.

 

 

PLANT SALE AT ZOO

Nancy and I went to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens and it tried to kill us. Stick a fork in us, we were done in two-and-one-half hours. Granted, it has been a few years since we last enjoyed the exuberance of youth but finished off in two hours? I think the plant sale, which was in an open area with no shade, was the cause of our near-demise. But gee, the plant sale is why we went.

The Zoo also tried to make off with my wallet. Geezers like me get a discount on the admittance fee but the discounts end there. Each time you buy one of the additional tickets, they strap a paper bracelet on your wrist. We looked like escapees from a mental hospital with all the different colored bracelets. The red bracelet made us look especially dangerous.

Zoo tickets – $15.95 per Geezer just to get in the door;
train was an additional $4; Butterfly Hollow $2.

I would highly recommend Zoo train tickets for Geezers so you don’t find yourself too pooped to walk yourself out of there. The train conductor said the Zoo was on 130 acres, 90 of it developed along the Trout River. The Zoo map was rectangular-shaped with one of the short ends at the Trout River or about 7 inches. The long end of the rectangle was almost 16 inches. I was never good at higher math but that 16 inches must surely be more than 40 acres (higher math: 90 x 40). Most of the Zoo could be reached from the Main Path which runs through the middle of the animal exhibits but the map did not mention how many MILES you would be hoofing if you took that path and all the side paths off of it.

At the plant sale, we learned that 5,000 plants we didn’t get to see left the Zoo with new owners the previous day. Heart-wrenching. There’s no telling what we missed but I’m not good with crowds. We even arrived at 9:30 a.m. to avoid crowds.

Here’s my garden loot:

plant sale purchases
My plant sale purchases from left to right clockwise – Milkweed ‘Silky Gold’; Cleome hybrid ‘Senorita Blanca’; Hummingbird Bush; Jumpseed

The milkweed was purchased because I was re-inspired by Cee’s monarch hatching. I had a lot of fun several years ago watching the caterpillars grow and become monarchs. The cleome was not a particularly wise choice because it’s an annual but it was $5 and a foot taller than its one-gallon pot. I have loads of seeds if I had time to plant them. I purchased the Hummingbird BushAnisacanthus, because a Zoo employee was raving about it as a hardy bush for bees, birds and butterflies. The Jumpseed, or Pink Knotweed, caught my eye. The leaves have a dark chevron marking with odd pink blooms standing above the plant (it reminded me of the Eyeball Plant). It is a shade-loving perennial. The Zoo was growing it in the Butterfly Garden as a groundcover. Research indicates some people grow it in hanging pots or above-ground arrangements where it can cascade downwards. However, some forms of it can be invasive and since it is not clear to me whether or not I have the invasive variety, I will grow it in a pot.

The Butterfly Hollow had the largest, healthiest stand of geraniums I have ever seen. It was about 3 feet tall and growing in a 4 or 5-foot long row and is probably red to match another plant growing near it. Then again, it might be white for contrast:

Geranium leaves
Geranium

I’ve always wanted to grow Pincushion flowers and I have the seeds but let’s not talk about all the seeds I’ve purchased that have never made it into the ground. At least now I know, from the Butterfly Hollow, that it grows as a low groundcover. I believe the Zoo had the annual version, scabiosa atropurpurea because the flowers were very small. There’s also a perennial version, scabiosa caucasica, , that has 2 to 3-inch flowers.

Pincushion flower
Unknown vining plant; it was at least 6 feet tall and growing in a 6-8 foot row

The remainder of Zoo plants I photographed were in the Asian Bamboo Gardens which also had several plein air painters working in the garden. I didn’t photograph the artists because I would need permission and did not want to disturb them.

Angel Mist Bamboo
Dendrocalamus minor ‘Amoenus’
native to South China

 

more Angel Mist Bamboo

 

Parker’s Hawaiian Giant Bamboo with bloom stalks
origin uncertain

 

Didn’t see tag, but looks similar to Parker’s Giant

 

Didn’t see tag; striped bamboo

These are the only animals I got close enough to photograph and wouldn’t you know it, they weren’t even awake:

Flamingos napping just before noon

Obviously, I liked this as much as someone at the Zoo. It was near the Zoo’s train station at the Trout River.

 

SILENT SUNDAY – PEACOCK GINGER

Peacock gingernew spring growth
Peacock ginger
new spring growth
this was a pass-along from Meta

META’S BLOOMS

Meta sent me some photos for the blog because my camera died.  Currently blooming at Meta’s:

Red and yellow gloriosa lily
Red and yellow gloriosa lily
Photo by Meta

She particularly likes her purple blooming bromeliads because they bloom a few times during the year in her Zone 9 garden yet they don’t require a lot of fussing over.  She said they can take part sun, part shade, but a bit more shade. Starting out with a one gallon pot, she divided them and continued to divide them until they now fill a huge area under a palm tree. She is hoping they will spread towards the fence and if they don’t? She “will help them along to get there.” I have no idea what that means but it sounded like a threat so I decided not to ask.

Meta bromeliad -
Purple blooming bromeliads
I cropped out a lot of them because of a camper next door
Photo by Meta
Close-up of the purple bromeliad blooms
Close-up of the purple bromeliad blooms
Photo by Meta