Summer’s Garden

  • September 24, 2020

The entries from time to time will deal with the current condition of the garden: what is good, bad and what I try to do about it.

Let me tell you what’s going on in my garden at the moment.

Georgia Tasker - Kerriodoxa elegans

I use palm special fertilizer on this wonderful palm (Kerriodoxa elegans). For information on how to select palm fertilizer, see this University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences article.

I have discovered several overgrown wild coffees that are loaded with lobate lac scale. The scale appears from time to time on fire bush as well. Imidaclopid is the best chemical but no one wants to use that horrible thing, so I am trying to prune the plants for better air circulation. Some of them will be cut back to the ground. (The coffee pops up here and there on its own — birds is my guess — so I won’t be losing any significant portion of the garden.) I also have many crotons, and have tried to avoid scale by pruning them for air circulation.

Georgia Tasker - Philodendron tortum

This philodendron (Philodendron tortum) is a climber, so I have put this young plant on a fern totem and then added a board covered with hanging basket material. The little white thing is a tea bag filled with slow-release fertilizer. You can buy empty tea bags, add slow-release and attached them to various pots.

Vines have exploded over this past summer. Aristolochia is especially aggressive, so that is being cut back and pulled out. I planted them for the polydamas swallowtail butterflies, but now have only a single vine remaining. My neighbors have not paid attention to their Clerodendrum x speciosum on the back fence but I am going to confer with their gardener next week about what to do. Sky vine, Thunbergia grandiflora, coming from the side yard and is headed to the top of my sapodilla. I have trimmed as much as I can reach, but no one is living there now and their wall is 9 feet tall, so it is a challenge.

Georgia Tasker - Anthurium superbum

This anthurium (Anthurium superbum) is best grown on rocks.

Because of the very tropical conditions these past few months, I’ve paid close attention to my aroids. I use a fertilizer that contains compost tea, apple cider vinegar, molasses, fish emulsion, and seaweed. It’s called Garrett Juice and I buy it on line. I learned some years ago of an orchid grower’s recipe that combines 1/2 Tbs unsulphured molasses and 1 cc of 150 proof cheap white rum with 1/10th strength Peters Excel. And every couple of weeks, we should spray orchids with 1 Tbs of epsom salt and 1 Tbs of potassium nitrate per gallon of water. Otherwise, for palms, begonias, and aroids in the ground I use 8-2-12 palm special, lightly every 3 months.


This is Buddha belly bamboo. The spotted leaves are those infested with bamboo mites; the new growth is clean after treatment with Avid.

Buddha belly bamboo came down with bamboo mites, causing round white spots on the leaves. Avid is a systemic miticide that I used and new growth is mite-free.

For weeds, I use 30% horticultural vinegar mixed with regular vinegar and some epsom salts.

That’s it. If you find any of this of interest, let me know. This year, I created caladium beds here & there; last year, I moved amaryllis from the back yard to the two front beds and they make a great show. My father grew them years ago and I’m pleased to keep them going.

About the Author

Gorgia Tasker placeholder

Georgia Tasker started her career in Miami in 1969 as a writer for the Miami Herald and became the garden writer in 1979. During her employment at the paper she was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist in Explanatory Journalism in 1987. After leaving the Herald in 2009, she joined the staff at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden as a photographer and journalist for their award winning quarterly magazine. She retired in 2018.

She has been the recipient of multiple awards including a Knight Fellowship to Stanford, a Global Media Award from the Population Institute, the Barbour Medal – FTBG’s highest environmental award – and has a lifetime achievement award from the Tropical Audubon Society. In 2018, she received an honorary Doctor of Science from Florida International University.

Ms. Tasker is a Master Gardener and author of many books including "Wild Things, The Return of Native Plants" and "Enchanted Ground, Gardening with Nature in the Subtropics" and co-author of "Florida Gardening Guide," "Florida, Getting Started Garden Guide," and "Growing Orchids in South Florida."

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1 Comment
    • Profile photo ofBetsyTilghmanBetsy Tilghman
    • September 29, 2020

    Thank you Ms. Tasker for a fun article! I loved the green chaos you portrayed in your September garden and especially your out of control vines. I planted two butterfly attracting vines (Galloway Farms – should have kept the ID tags but all these names tie up my tongue anyway) They are both overtaking the cabbage palms they were planted next too. Thanks for giving me the courage to whack at them. I loved your nearly pioneer recipes for fertilizer. On your recommendation I bought some potassium nitrate at Amazon to add to my Epson Salts. Salt peter! Who knew! That led me down a google search of the old rumor of salt peter laced brownies for our service men. Thanks again and thanks for a wonderful travel program this week – we enjoyed every moment!

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