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Veterans Day, poppies and candy corn

November 9, 2018
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

This weekend is the time to wear a red poppy. Also, to print my annual "In Flanders Fields" poem:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks still bravely singing fly

Scarce heard among the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders field.

We are the dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, now we lie

In Flanders field. Take up our quarrel with the foe.

To you from falling hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep though poppies grow

In Flanders field.

- Written by Lt. Col. John McCree,

physician, May 3, 1915.

A poem that touched my young heart when I had to memorize it in school. Paper poppies meant a great deal to buy and wear. I hope life hasn't hardened us in these hectic days, that we can no longer feel the patriotism these words exude. I've failed growing real poppies here in Southwest Florida but didn't stress out caring for them. My motto is: Survival of the fittest.

Sunday, Nov. 11, is Veterans Day. (Age reveal) I remember when it was Armistice Day. The armistice between Germany and the Allied Nations was November 1918, at the 11th hour, of the 11th day and of the 11th month, and became a day to celebrate in 1919. After World War II and the Korean War, it was changed to Veterans Day during Eisenhower's 1954 presidency. It was a day to honor all veterans. World War I was referred to as the "Great War" thereafter. Poppies of Flanders Field stayed the symbol of remembrance.


Do you still have plenty of candy corn? Good ol' fall candy treat. If you're tired of so much sugar, a great tropical vine that can be grown indoors in hanging baskets and outside as a climbing vine, try Manettia inflata. "Inflata" means swollen. The Candy Corn plant is in the Rubiaceae family, sharing a genealogy with coffee plants and gardenias even though they bear no resemblances. It was formerly known as Manettia luteorubra and is sometimes sold under that name. It has several other names, like Firecracker Vine or Brazilian Firecracker. Some people call it the 'Cigar' plant because the flowers also resemble a lit, fat stogie. Since other plants bear that same name, check the botanical names if purchasing.

It was named after an Italian physician, Dr. Saveno Manetti, director of the Florence botanical gardens in the 1700s.

Originating in South America, it needs lots of sunlight, and it will have blooms from summer through fall. Sometimes it blooms all year round. Be sure to bring it indoors if temperatures fall since it is a very cold sensitive plant. It has been known to survive upper 20 degrees for a short time if kept away from drying cold winds. It needs some protection. Train it on a trellis, with its densely leaf-covered twining stems, it'll be a very lush plant when grown around a support.

The unusual, inch-long hairy tubular flowers are reddish-orange with yellow tips, giving it the appearance of candy corn. When using it in a hanging pot, let it trail long if you like, then cut the stems back in the spring to keep it bushy and full. At least cut them by half in springtime when the new growth begins. Be careful to avoid the buds. You don't want to remove future flowers. Pruning will promote new growth and keep it in shape. The stems can grow over 6 feet long if not pruned back. A vigorous climber that can cover a small structure in one summer. It attracts hummingbirds.

Typically grown as a houseplant, it needs supporting and propping up in an indoor pot because it grows so densely. Pot it up in the spring if you see roots growing out of the bottom drainage holes. Only move it up one pot size because it blooms better when it is slightly pot-bound.

Use any good potting mix, keeping the soil evenly moist spring through fall, but water sparingly in the winter, its resting season. If you bring it indoors, be sure to use a room humidifier to keep humidity above 40 percent. You can grow it over a saucer of gravel to catch the water. It can take the heat if you move it outdoors and fertilize every 2 weeks spring through fall with a high potassium fertilizer diluted in half. When propagating, take non-flowering stem tip cuttings in the spring or early summer and root in moist soil.

There is also a low maintenance Candy Corn bush, Cuphea micropetala, that grows to about 4 feet tall. As a low maintenance plant, it is typically a houseplant. It does fine as an edging plant, container plant or groundcover. The flower structure of a Cuphea is often referred to as a calyx flower plant because the calyx and flower are one. Outdoors, their rich nectar makes them a favorite plant for pollinators.

All plants are healthful to our systems. They, as well as trees, clear our air, making them good plants for indoor rooms. Thank a tree, shrub or houseplant - and a veteran.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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