There are lots of fun and useful items, and experiences, for the gardener in your life.
‘Tis the season—and many folks have gift shopping on their to-do lists. If you have a gardener on your gift list, here are some ideas for useful and fun things they (and their plants) might enjoy.
Gifts for the plants can help your leafy friends weather the winter, improve the soil and get things ready to bloom and produce healthy new growth in the spring.
Neptune’s Harvest products are all fish- and seaweed-based organic fertilizers that offer all kinds of trace minerals and what I call “oogy” goodness. They’re made from fish guts, bones and shells from their seafood processing facilities. I’ve used this product myself and fair warning—it is stinky! The first time I mixed it up I found out that fish guts and bones are not something you want to get on your clothes or shoes! When I brought my shoes inside the house, my cats went nuts over them.
The company offers a sample pack of four items for $16 that includes their bestselling hydrolyzed fish fertilizer made from liquidized fish stuff. Neptune’s Harvest also offers a tomato and vegetable blend, one for roses and flowering plants and a fish/seaweed blend for pretty much everything. They also offer crab and lobster shells and kelp meal, which can be worked in the soil before planting, or top dressed. Many of the products are concentrated and should be mixed with water. Several local stores stock the hydrolyzed fish product. Check out the website at neptunesharvest.com
Happy Frog products include potting and starter soils, plus fertilizers of all types. The soils are composed of coconut noir, earthworm castings, guano, peat moss, perlite and aged forest products. The soil offers a nutrient-rich growing environment that eliminates the need for immediate fertilizing and, when it is time to fertilize, Happy Frog also has those. Its Fox Farm brand offers general plant foods, vegetable fertilizers and some designed for flowering plants. This is another company focused on organic growing, so the product lines are perfect for folks interested in more natural, less chemical gardens. Big-box stores carry some of their products, as do some feed stores. The website is foxfarm.com
Gifts for the gardeners might include new pruners, a canvas tote to carry the pruners, hand claws and trowels, or a kneeling stool that folds up for small-space storage. Of course, a gift card to a local garden shop will let the gardener in your life pick and choose from new plants, pots, trellises, tools and other garden goodies.
And you can’t go wrong with plants. There are several local nurseries and shops that carry regional-appropriate plants and house plants. Check out the Peacock Cottage on Silver Springs Boulevard for houseplants; the Garden Stop on South Pine Avenue for landscaping needs; and Bob Wines Camellia Gardens on Southeast 38th Street for all kinds of indoor and outdoor plants and décor, along with, of course, a large selection of camellias.
A classic gift this time of year is a Christmas cactus, which isn’t really a cactus or succulent. These plants are native to rainforests, so they like a lot of humidity and diffused, indirect light. They do need more water than a traditional succulent, so you can let the soil dry almost completely, then drench it and let dry out again. A Christmas cactus will enjoy being misted daily if grown indoors and can be moved outside once the nighttime temperatures are consistently 55 degrees or warmer. They come in red, pink and white, and newer versions even have salmon and peach flowers.
Gardeners also love touring gardens for inspiration. Cedar Lakes Woods and Gardens in Williston is a unique botanical garden developed from a former quarry. It offers more than 50 garden displays, scenic koi ponds, waterfalls and a you-may-get-pleasantly-lost vibe. Annual membership is $45 for a single or two adults for $65. It includes unlimited garden access seven days a week, free or discounted admission to some special events and a newsletter. Learn more at cedarlakeswoodsandgarden.com/membership
Kanapaha Botanical Gardens, in Gainesville, also offers an annual membership that includes unlimited entry, reduced rates on special events and several half-price reciprocal visit agreements, including for Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales and McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero Beach. Check out kanapaha.org/membership OS
A native Floridian and lifelong gardener, Belea spends her time off fostering cats and collecting caladiums. You can send gardening questions or column suggestions to her at firstname.lastname@example.org