Although subtropical seasons are tightly bound to wet and dry, there is a subtropic winter. But by February it’s gone.
- no chance of temperature below 50
- winds shift from NE to SW
- humidity increases dramatically
- chance of thundershowers
- temperate climate plants thinks it’s June
- dormant tropical plants revive
- subtropical plants bloom
Mango bloom marks winter’s end. Who doesn’t like Mango? Not many around here, as every other home has a Mango tree.
Even though individual blooms are small and not very impressive, the trees put out thousands of them. And their sweet, subtle fragrance is noticeable, but often overpowered by citrus which blooms at the same time.
It’s a first for our four year old trees. They’re blooming.
They’ve had much care, but a tough life. Every year, the hurricanes knock them flat on the ground. And every year they get propped back up. I suspect growing them in beach sand is a poor match for their root system.
Sadly, despite the proficient bloom, fruit set is often poor in South Florida’s humidity. Spraying with copper sulfate cures the problem. But most don’t know or don’t bother. They enjoy what they get.
There are literally thousands of Mango varieties, each with it’s own texture and wide-ranging flavor. It’s exciting to watch our unique varieties bloom. And hopefully, harvest their fruit.
Appropriately named, Starburst or Clerodendrum Quadriloculare blooms this time of year. Both the double hand sized blooms and the tree are spectacular.
Citrus and Papaya
The last Red Limes were just harvested. The Kumquats will be gone in a week. And all our citrus is blooming.
The poor lemon tree! After producing the best tasting lemons ever, it’s struggled.
Plagued by pests and my heavy handed pruning efforts to control them, the tree barely survived. It’s scraggly form is covered in obnoxiously sweet, highly fragrant blooms.
Papaya, what a faithful garden friend. Easy to grow. Resistant to most pests. Prolific producers. And always there when you need them.
There’s always something blooming in South Florida, even during the winter.
Some plants respond more to moisture than the seasons. And others bloom more or less continually providing forage hummingbird and butterfly forage.
But as beautiful as they are, they don’t register much of a seasonal change.
Our Avocados are also budding out for the first time. I’m looking forward to the blooms in a few weeks.
Unlike the Mango, growing Avocado has been trouble free. The only real problem is keeping their roots dry enough during the monsoon season.
Avocado has dozens of varieties, each with it’s own flavor and texture. Until moving to the subtropics, I thought they were all about the same. Not so! Flavors range from lemon like to nutty. Textures from buttery, to moist, to dry.
End of Winter Thinking
For a high latitude, high altitude, temperate guy like me, February was the worst.
- temps down to -35F
- blizzards that bury cars in 30 minutes
- a time of boots, hats, heavy winter coats
- a time of white, gray, brown
- 100 days until anything blooms outside
- 150 days until anything planted, grew
Yet, here I am.
- temperature in the 80s
- not a storm in sight
- barefooted and in shorts
- surrounded by emergent, blooming plants
It’s 3 months before the tropical heat dominates. Now, winter is over. And it’s the most comfortable time of the year. Is this paradise? Well, maybe for awhile. 😉