By Ciczi in Sweden
Several months ago I pollinated two hibiskus flowers. Two months ago I harvested a pod with two seeds in. And look what I've got today. I'm so proud.
Please note that all my hibiscuses grows indoors all year as house plants.
Before we moved to Cape Coral nearly 21 years ago, we lived the previous 14 years in Fairfax County, Va, about 3 miles from Mount Vernon and 1 mile north of Woodlawn Plantation (a wedding gift George Washington gave one of Martha's daughters). Our house was a Cape Cod to which a previous contractor owner had added on a small foyer, family room and 1.5-car garage. The front door opened into a drafty 10x10 alcove that collected litter and our garbage cans.
In the mid-80s we undertook more home improvement. We widened the driveway to 3 cars to hold all our vehicles (we were self-employed). And we closed in the alcove as part of the house and added two windows on each side of the front door. We called our new space - wait for it - the "Florida Room." And what's a Florida room without plants, i.e., palms?
I acquired the common "bamboo palm", i.e., Chamaedorea seifrizii, a parlor palm (Cham. elegans nee Neanthe bella) and somehow, a Caryota. I even fell head over heels for a red hibiscus I found at a nursery. But one day while we drove a back road on our way to Springfield I passed a small nursery/vegetable stand that had the most fabulous palms lining the road. I flipped out. What were they?
We stopped in.The owner told me they were "princess palms" (in the real Florida they are known as "queen palms.") Yes, that Category II invasive: Syagrus romanzoffiana. Except in the 1980s it was known as Cocos plumosa or Astrocaryum or some such obsolete moniker. The cost of one of those 6' beauties? $60. A lot of money in the 1980s for a family with 2 small boys. But, eventually, we took the hit.
Now I didn't know a lot about palms back then and any research started and ended at the local library. No internet, no forums. And what chowderhead would grow palms in VA? I did know that no palm available to me could survive a metro Washington winter. The handsome queens the nursery planted in the spring were dead by the following January.
I had to make assumptions. I knew coconut palms were tropical, ergo, all palms were tropical, esp. my coconut-like "princess palm." So I established a regimen: palms went outdoors in April and came indoors to the Florida Room in October. I didn't know queens were a bit hardier and could take more cold. But inside a centrally heated house with fireplace and insert, it was a spider mite magnet.I fought those beasties all winter long. My poor queen was so chewed up and dried up by April I coudn't wait to set it free. It just managed to come back a bit just in time for October confinement.
Anyway, in January 1990 I took the following photos of my Florida Room jungle. It sure did brighten up cold winter days.
Florida Room of 8121 Keeler St, January 1990
For years I looked for this Hibiscus I have seen sometimes in villages; I asked in many nurseries but they didn't know about it.
One day I spend lovely quiet resting days in the "serenity hotel " (see travel logs) ands as we did a walk around and had a tea in a village's shop; the Hibiscus was at the corner on the road side. Luckily the Srilankan climate allow you to cut branches and bring back home and plant in a pot of river sand and it grows!
Still I never see it in nurseries and rarely in gardens, I love its simplicity .