Home' The River Weekly News : RWN 011218 Contents Plant Smart
by Gerri Reaves
The word survivor gets its share of
attention these days, whether it
refers to a victim of trauma or a
participant in a telev ision show.
But all around us are plants that
volunteer in such seemingly inhospitable
places that they evoke the name
Take the three Florida natives
It’s difficult not to indulge in
anthropomorphizing when looking at
them, for were these plants people, they
might be called brave, even fearless, not
to mention innovative.
They inspire awe in their will to
survive and carry on the species.
And, from a gardening perspective,
they bring new meaning to the term
Strangler fig (Ficus aurea) is
notorious for starting a seedling almost
anywhere. The results can sometimes
be detrimental or even deadly if it begins
in a platform plant like a cabbage palm
This species out-competes other
plants, with host trees eventually dying
from being shaded out, not from a
dramatic strangulation, as the common
When a strangler fig sprouts on a
structure, there’s potential harm, as
those ever-exploring roots seek cracks
and damage paint.
That spirited sprout in the photo
seems to be saying, “At last, full sun,” as
it peaks from under a gutter.
Native ballmoss (Tillandsia recurvata)
is another story. Because it’s an
epiphyte, or air plant, roots are not a big
Besides, this bromeliad (it’s not really
a moss) remains small in size, merely
using a platform to gather moisture and
Whether ballmoss balances on an
electrical wire or lodges in a fence
crevice, it’s unlikely to do harm.
Heavy foot traffic and sun-baked
bricks haven’t stopped that corkystem
passionflower (Passiflora suberosa) from
taking up residence.
Judging from the size of the
substantial stems, it’s managed well
since a pea-sized passion fruit, perhaps
dropped by a bird, found its way into a
crack in the pavers.
If left alone, the vine will become an
attractive “groundcover” atop the bricks.
Before you decide to destroy an
intrepid volunteer plant, first pause to
consider its ingenuity -- dare we say
intelligence? -- and then decide whether
to banish it or let it be.
Plant Smart explores the diverse
flora of South Florida.
This corkystem passionflower probably started from a tiny fruit in a crack between bricks
Ballmoss hangs out anywhere it can
establish a hold and gather sufficient
nutrients, in this case a fence surface
This strangler fig seeding successfully strives
photos by Gerri Reaves
THE RIVER - JANUARY 12, 2018
LCEC Has Hot Tips
For The Cold Days
Lately, it has been cold everywhere.
If at all possible, Lee County Electric
Cooperative suggests resisting the
urge to turn on the heat.
Heating your home can cost two to
three times more than cooling it. Even
a few days of running the heat will raise
your electric bill since it is the most
intense use of electric energy in the
average home and is the most expensive
electric appliance. Consider using an
electric blanket or space heater to keep
you and your loved ones warm during
this cold snap, but be sure to read all the
manufacturer instructions before use.
Here are some other ways to stay warm
without using any electricity:
Bundle up in layers. Blankets,
sweatshirts, socks... you name it. All
will keep you toasty without heating up
your electric bill.
Move around. Exercise in any form
will warm up your body while getting
your blood flowing.
Fire up your fireplace... if you are
lucky enough to have one. Just be sure
to use it safely.
If you must heat your home, LCEC
recommends setting the thermostat
between 65 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit
when heating the home.
At Garden Center
AllNative Garden Center, Nursery
& Landscapes will be hosting
free public workshops on selected
Sundays at 1 p.m.
On January 14, Sue Scott, site owner
of The Back Ten Feet, will show how
you can welcome life into a landscape
by converting unproductive turf grass
areas into drought tolerant, wildlife
friendly, interesting and storm protective
landscapes. Back 10 Feet will share how
to eliminate fertilizers and pesticides in
order to keep our waters clean and your
yard safe for children, pets and wildlife.
On January 28, John Sibley, All
Native Garden Center owner, will share
his insights on the appropriate plants
and landscapes for the Southwest
Florida subtropical climate using the
nine principles of the Florida Friendly
Gardening Program: right plant
right place; water efficiently; fer tilize
appropriately; protect the waterfront;
reduce storm water runoff; mulch; attract
wildlife; control yard pests responsibly;
and recycle waste material.
On Februar y 11, John Kiseda,
environmental educator, will offer the
tips and tricks of gardening in Southwest
Florida that will help bring life to your
landscape. Gardening For Wildlife will
have emphasis on Florida native plants
that cater to the needs of local wildlife
and sustainable gardening techniques.
On Februar y 25, Martha Kendall,
Calusa Heritage Trail docent at Pineland,
will explain the list of plants identified
by archaeologists from Pineland’s
ancient deposits. Plant World of the
Calusa will show how each plant might
have been used by the Calusa, based
on information on known uses of
similar plants throughout the Western
On March 11, Sibley will provide tips
to help you prepare your outdoor home
for gorgeous and productive landscaping
results. Preparing Landscapes for Spring
shows that spring is the perfect season
for a variety of landscaping endeavors,
both large and small. But, before you
dive right into yard work, it ’s important
On March 25, let your imagination
guide you as Brenda Thomas, CREW
environmental education specialist, takes
you on a visual stroll through wispy
Florida wildflowers of the CREW Land
and Water Trust. Few states have the
abundance of wildflowers that Florida
has. Florida Wildflowers of the CREW
Trust will help you come to understand
how wildflowers are essential to the
pollinators responsible for every third bit
of food we eat.
All Native Garden Center, Nursery
& Landscapes is located at 300 Center
Road in Fort Myers. It is open Monday
through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Register for any of the workshops online
at w ww.allnative.biz or call 939-9663.
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