Monday, July 21, 2008

I was going to do a simple answer to this post left by Andrea at Popular Growth, but it got a bit lengthy and I though others might be able to contribute. So if you are a Florida Gardener, feel free to put in your two cents.

So I have a very stupid stupid question, if you leave the potatoe vine, is it sort of a perennial in your garden? How do you guys maintain everything? Cut it all down sometime in the year, just to refresh them? (considering you don't get snow). I am SO ignorant to gardening in the hotter areas and Im REALLY interested in knowing all about them.

Ok, here is some Florida Gardening 101. We actually do get snow down here, albeit once every 20 years and only a few flurries at most. But I've seen it here. Typically, we get one or two killing frosts. Most non-coastal cities north of Orlando will get frost. These frosts will take out most annuals, especially coleus and impatiens. Saved are the shell gingers, palms, camellias, pansies and snapdragons, which are hardly effected by the cold. Most other perennials simply die to the ground, but come back in the spring. This includes the sweet potato vine, which grows back from the tuber (the sweet potato) underground. The ground rarely freezes, so these plants do tend last a while. Another interesting aspect of gardening down here that Northerners find strange is that we tend to have two mini seasons instead of one year long one. We are currently headed into a dormant period (Mid-July thru August). This mainly effects veggies and annual flowers. They just kind of stop growing. Many veggie gardeners clear every out everything and start again in September. With my perennials, I cut them back somewhat dramatically before or after this dormant period. This year I did it in the beginning of June so my plants would be back in shape by the 4th. I might do it again in September. With the sweet potato vine, I don't cut it back severely, just take clippings to keep it check and looking full. Anyway - hope this answers your question!

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