Dec 19, 2009

The Winter Garden

This December has been usually wet. So far we have had almost 7 inches of rain in the first two weeks of the month. The temperature seems normal, lows in the 40s and highs in the 60s. We had a light frost on December 17, and a few of the summer annuals were killed. Fortunately, a few of the impatients under the live oak trees survived. We started pulling up the summer plants the first week of December and replacing them with pansies, kale, Swiss chard and mustard. We also have been setting out foxglove, Canterbury bells and hollyhocks, tulips, and anemones for spring bloom. In 2010 our garden theme is ‘shades of purple’. Last year we did hibiscus and Hawaiian plants and we have gathered these plants up and put them in the green house for the winter. We have 15 pineapple plants started for next year. Yes, they do have purple flowers! For the past 10 years , I have placed a pineapple plant at our entrance gate and 2 in front of the gift shop. I always grow back up plants because our pineapples are often stolen. ( I will admit there is nothing more tasty than a home grown pineapple. )If you would like to learn how to grow one, check out my October blog post.

December Blooms – Paperwhite narcissus , Camellias, pansies, encore azaleas and tea olives.

Just found these old photos of Cypress Gardens on the web please take a look

Oct 17, 2009

Grow A Pineapple

How to Grow Your Own Pineapple

It takes about a year to grow a pineapple. You need a greenhouse or
a sunny room to get the plant through the winter.

Start in early summer and buy a nice fresh pineapple with a nice green top. Cut the top off about 1 inch from the top of the fruit. Pull the remaining fruit off the top. Let the top dry for a day or more. Pull off about 1 inch of the lower leaves; you may notice a few small roots
where you tear off the leaves.

Place the plant in a 6 inch pot with a good peat-lite potting mix. (Cactus mix would be good.) The soil should be damp, but not too wet. One of the biggest mistakes people make when growing pineapple and other bromeliads is over-watering. It will take 4-6 weeks for the plant to get a good root system.

Move the plant up to a gallon size pot after about 2-3 months. Use a general purpose water soluble fertilizer on the foliage and on the soil about every 2 weeks. By fall, the plant should be ready to move to 2 gallon pot - if the roots are filling the pot. It is important not to jump too soon to a bigger pot because more soil in the pot means a longer time until the soil dries out and wet soil can lead to root rot.

Many people can grow a pineapple plant but cannot get the plant to flower and fruit. Here is the trick - use an apple to induce early flowering. Take an over-ripe apple and slice it up into 6 wedges. Place the wedges between the pineapple foliage. (Banana peels will work too.)
Cover with a bed sheet for about 5 days. Why does this work? As apples and other fruits deteriorate, they give off ethylene gas. Ethylene gas is a plant hormone. It will make plants without flowers produce flowers. But be careful. Ethylene gas will also cause plants with flowers to abort them. After the 5 days just remove the sheet and leave the apple to rot. (Yes, you may get a few fruit flies.)
Keep the plant warm all winter and stop fertilizing. Move the plant to a 3 gallon pot in early spring and start fertilizing again. Move to a sunny location. Keep an eye on the center of the plant. Soon, deep down in the center of the plant, you will notice it turning yellow or white. The pineapple flower will emerge soon. The pineapple will have purple flowers that will last about 2 weeks. As the pineapple fruit gets bigger, use 3 bamboo stakes placed around the plant to keep it from falling over.

I usually start about 10 pineapples each summer at Cypress Gardens and I get about 6-8 pineapple plants to produce fruit. Some plants have produced 2 fruit. Home grown pineapple taste great. I like to let the fruit turn yellow on the plant. The fruit is sweet and the core will be soft and edible. Good Luck, Kathy

Sep 25, 2009

The Four Seasons

Here in Charleston, we have 4 seasons just like everyone else, they are Almost Summer, Summer, Still Summer and Christmas. Still Summer begins after Labor Day Weekend. Except for hurricanes, we get very little rain. Our usual afternoon thunderstorms become hit or miss in September. October is one of our driest months. Working in the garden these last few days has been exhausting, the temps in the upper 80 F and the humidity above 90% and dew point above 70%. We had a few sprinkles this week, but when the sun came back out it made the humidity go up even more. Today the temperature reached 89 F. with humidity at 97% and the dew point 76% and the sky clear, so working in the shade did not help much. The Garden staff has been busy this week finishing up the new Heirloom Garden and the irrigation system is up and running. When I arrive at 7:30 in the morning I like to go to the lake and take a few photos, while the air is still and the refection is fabulous. The Bald Cypress trees are starting to yellow and brown before the leaves drop.

Aug 30, 2009

Free Saturdays

Every Third Saturday of the month, Berkeley County Residents and county employees can enter Cypress Gardens before noon for free. The Friends of  Cypress Gardens sells food at this time to raise money. Hot dogs and Hamburgers are usually on the menu, please bring cash or checks.

Jul 12, 2009

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteer Opportunities
At Historic
Cypress Gardens
Have fun, learn, make new friends and meet people from around the world, these are just a few of the benefits from joining the volunteer program at Cypress Gardens. Your help is needed in order to preserve and maintain this truly unique and original lowcountry garden. Opportunities to help are available in the following areas, horticulture, gift shop, greeter, ticket booth, butterfly house docent, tour groups guide, special events and boat dock. We also participate in the Reciprocal Pass Program which will get you in free to many other tourist attractions and gardens. Contact Loretta  at 843 553 0515 or visit our website at