Monday, June 22, 2009

It's Too Darn Hot

Summer heat in Florida is pretty much a given, but the last five days or so have been hot, even for us. Daily highs in the upper 90s, with very high humidity and non-stop sunshine, have been giving us a heat index each day of 105 or more.

We can't do much more than stay out of the sun and run the AC nonstop (and dread the upcoming electric bill!). The weeds are running amok in my gardens and the hardiest plants are suffering in the hot afternoon sun.

The butterflyweed on the left is drooping under the sun at midday today, when the heat index was about 107 degrees. The same plant is on the right around 8:00 this evening, when the temperature had dropped back to the mid-80s and the sun was setting. The good thing about such a drought-hardy plant is that it's been able survive this insane heat without any supplemental watering.

Despite the heat, I was able to get out this weekend and replace my snowbush, now completely destroyed by caterpillars, as you can see on the left. I took a ride over to Wilcox Nursery in Largo, which is always worth the 45 minute trip. I consider this nursery to be the best place in the Tampa area for native plants, and as usual, I wasn't disappointed.

Our new butterfly garden resident is a wild coffee plant, specifically the Dwarf Shiny Leaf Coffee. This Florida native has the awesome scientific name Psychotria nervosa and grows best in part sun to shade, so the northeast corner where I've planted it should be perfect.

It has tiny white flowers in the spring and summer, followed by little red berries that resemble coffee beans (but aren't). It is supposed to be attractive to both butterflies and birds. We'll see what new visitors it might bring to My Florida Backyard.

In the meantime, the weather is supposed to shift back to more "normal" temps later this week, with highs around 90 and a 50% chance of rain each day. Strange as it sounds - I can't wait!

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