By Les Harrison
Wakulla County Extension Director
The transition to summer weather has occurred in Wakulla County. The official start to the summer season is less than a week away on June 20, 2016, but the thermometer reflects the obvious change.
The jump to the hot weather has been somewhat slower than in the spring of 2015. The moderate spring weather with ample moisture encouraged a brilliant show of wildflowers, many of which are annuals.
As the weather has warmed up and the day lengths have peaked, some have gone to seed and become a muted part of the background landscape. Their blooms will return next year, if environmental conditions are favorable.
Other native plants have stepped into the bloom void to contribute their pallet of colors to north Florida’s scenery and adding to the intangible, but very important quality of life here. Two are vines, which can sometimes be a problem if fences or other structures are involved.
One is the fiddle-leaf morning glory, an herbaceous vine native to the southeastern United States. This plant, Ipomoea stolonifera, grows throughout Florida’s interior and along the coastal areas.
It gets its common name from the unusual trait of opening their blooms in the early morning, and then closing its flower before noon each day during the blooming season. The flowers are produced daily in the summer and fall.
The white, funnel-shaped flowers of the fiddle-leaf morning glory are generally two and a half to three inches wide. While not a major nectar or pollen producers, they are still attractive to pollinators which will visit while they are open.
This plant reaches a height of four to six inches without support, but can spread along the ground to a distance of 75 feet. Also, it will root and produce branches with its nodes or joints contact the soil.
It spreads very rabidly in the warm Wakulla County summers when the afternoon rains come regularly. The small, thick, glossy green leaves are ovate-cordate in form (egg-shaped to heart-shaped) and densely cover the stems.
A fence with ample sun exposure can quickly be converted into a flowering wall by this aggressive wine. Unfortunately, this plant will quickly climb on houses, garages, and out-building which rules it out as a low maintenance landscape plant.
Small round seedpods containing four velvety, dark brown seeds appear on the plant after its flowers wilt. A high rate of germination assures the plant’s continued presence.
Trumpet vine, Campsis radicans, is another north Florida native. It produces bright orange flowers during the summer and with structural support in the right environment it can climb above 30 feet.
It grows and flowers best in full sun, but will grow with very few flowers in shaded locations. It flourishes in any soil except those with are continually wet and flooded.
While a popular landscape plant to attract humming birds, its rapid growth rate in the warm weather make it difficult to control. Regular pruning and training are necessary to obtain a manicured appearance necessary in most home landscapes.
In addition humming birds, the blooms attract ants. They frequently establish colonies on or near the trumpet vines to take advantage of the nectar.
Both add to the environment, but are work if cultivated at home. The prolific blooms usually compensate many times over for the effort.