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Information About Frog Fruit Plants

Information About Frog Fruit Plants


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Frog Fruit Plant Care: Information On Growing Frog Fruit Plants

By Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Frog fruit plants grow as evergreen perennials in warm to temperate zones and add a wild touch as ground covers and bedding borders. Read this article to learn more about growing frog fruit and discover more about these interesting plants.


Garden Guru: Frog fruit brings out the little ones

Friday

The first time I looked at a patch of this small groundcover from a distance it appeared to be alive. In reality it was being hit upon by more small butterflies than I had ever seen at one time. I was looking at a large area of the native frog fruit in south Texas.

I know what you are thinking, frog fruit sounds like something Kermit might eat for a snack or perhaps have gracing the top of his salad. But frog fruit, known botanically as Phyla nodiflora, is a most incredible groundcover native to 24 states from Oregon eastward to Missouri and Pennsylvania and then everywhere south.

But if frog fruit sounds funny, consider the official USDA common name, turkey tangle fogfruit. Notice it is not frog but fog. Then you have a host of different regional names like frogfruit as one word, Texas frogfruit and more. Know this, it is in the verbena family and produces small white verbena like flowers nonstop for about six months. It does spread vigorously, which is kind of what you hope for in a groundcover.

That first time I saw it growing, the conditions were torrid, almost desert-like with high heat, brisk winds and virtually no rain. The plant performed superbly. It is so tough that some gardeners on the Texas/Mexico border give up on grass in favor of a frog fruit lawn that reaches about 4 inches tall.

It was such persevering perennial there I presumed it to be a native to only that region and I never researched it further. Then after moving to Georgia I was stunned to find it growing at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and my eyes were opened to the wide native range of this plant.

We are growing it at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens in soil much more fertile than where I was growing it in south Texas. The soil is rich with organic amendments like composted cotton burrs also called gin trash. This luxuriously rich soil coupled with irrigation is producing a plant that is growing like it is on steroids. It has reached 8 inches in height and could be sheared if needed.

But just like Texas, the frog fruit is bringing out the little butterflies, like crescents, checkerspots and skippers. Then, as if there were some flashing sign that said tiny pollinators welcome, small bees and wasps have also appeared.

You might notice other little ones paying attention, too. In Texas, the frog fruit was the favorite kneeling spot of little children, preschoolers, kindergartners and first graders as they became mesmerized by the little butterflies. This may happen for your children or grandchildren if you elect to grow it.

While it is a nectar source for all pollinators, it is a host plant as well. This is the larval food of the small but colorful phaon crescent, and the larger extraordinary beautiful white peacock butterfly as well as the stunning common buckeye. If the thought of caterpillars munching bothers you, I promise you'll never have a less than picturesque plant.

Frog fruit is not the staple of the garden center. We had no problem locating plugs or small liners that we grew up for our plant sale. I assure you they didn't hang around long. When you find yours, know they bloom best in sun. Surprisingly, though, they do quite well given some shade during the day. Anticipate each plant will spread at least three feet. Like all plants, they will need moisture to get established but once acclimated they are among the toughest in the landscape.

Wherever you have desired a groundcover for a tough spot, this may be the plant you need. If you are creating a backyard pollinator habitat then this will be a great addition. The frog fruit will also excel as a spiller plant in baskets and mixed containers. It is so picturesque in our Garden for All Abilities cascading over the walls of the raised planters.

If you want to attract the little ones, from butterflies, to bees and children, too, this is a choice plant. What child could resist a name like frog fruit?

Norman Winter is the director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension. You can follow him on twitter @CGBGgardenguru.


Toxic Ornamental Plants

There’s a lot of different plants that we love to grow for their showy flowers or lush greenery. But are they safe for your cat or your dog? Here’s a list of some of the most common dangerous plants around our pets and what symptoms they can cause.

As with anything else that’s risky, if your cat or dog ingests something on this list, seek veterinary help immediately.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera. Source: alvarezperea

Although this plant is excellent for healing the human skin, aloe vera has negative effects on your pets when ingested. It contains anthraquinone glycosides which encourage bowel movements. The white sap that comes out of it when the leaf is broken is something that you need to be wary of.

The toxicity level of this plant is mild to moderate. If your cat or dog shows any of the following signs, it’s probably because of aloe vera ingestion.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Depression
  • Anorexia
  • Changes in urine colour
  • Tremors (rare)

Lilies

Lilies. Source: patrickcleere55

These are popular garden flowers simply because they look pretty. However, those pretty flowers are extremely dangerous, especially to cats when ingested. There are also certain types of lilies that can be harmful to dogs.

Depending on the type of lily, the toxicity level ranges from moderate to severe. Potentially fatal lilies are those of the Lilium or Hemerocallis species. All of them are highly toxic to cats that even small ingestions can result in severe, acute kidney failure.

  • Inappetance
  • Lethargy
  • Hiding
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Halitosis
  • Dehydration
  • Inappropriate urination or thirst
  • Seizures

Ignoring these signs could result in fatality.

Daffodils

Daffodil. Source: skepticalview

These brilliant flowers can be highly toxic both to dogs and cats. Any part of this plant can be poisonous to your pet, but the bulbs are the most dangerous part.

Daffodil bulbs contain lycorine, which has strong emetic properties that can trigger vomiting. Ingestion of the bulb, plant, or flower may cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and even possible cardiac arrhythmias or respiratory depression. Other plants that contain lycorine include amaryllis and narcissus, so those are good to avoid too.

  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Increased heart rate
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal breathing
  • Cardiac arrhythmias

Diffenbachia

Diffenbachia. Source: Ahmad Fuad Morad

Chewing or biting into the diffenbachia (or dumbcane) plant can release insoluble crystals of calcium oxalate called raphides. These crystals can penetrate the tissue which can result in your pet getting injured.

Moderate to severe swelling of the lips, tongue, oral cavity, and upper airway may also be seen — giving your pet a tough time to breathe or swallow.

  • Drooling
  • Oral pain
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Inappetance

Foxglove

Foxglove. Source: jensteele

Don’t let this innocent-looking plant fool you. Despite its trumpet-like flowers, foxglove is very poisonous to dogs, cats, and even humans! All parts of this plant are toxic, including any water in a vase that cut foxglove has been in.

The poisons found in this plant are naturally-occurring which affect the heart. These are known as cardiac glycoside toxins which directly interfere with electrolyte balance within the heart muscle. Do note, that the level of poisoning can vary depending on the type of plant, part of the plant, and amount consumed.

  • Drooling
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal heart rate
  • Cardiac arrhythmias
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Dilated pupils
  • Tremors
  • Seizures

Ignoring these signs could result in fatality.

Sago Palm

Sago palm. Source: paperfacets

Especially in southwestern regions, the sago palm is a favorite tropical plant in gardens. However, it’s also incredibly dangerous around pets. Any dog or cat who chews on its foliage is at risk.

Sago palms have a toxin known as cycasin found in the leaves. This toxin can cause complete liver failure, among other issues. They may look great, but I don’t advise letting your pets get too close.

Signs to look for:

  • Vomiting
  • Blood in feces / bloody diarrhea
  • Icterus (a yellowed discoloration of the pet’s gums or skin)
  • Heightened thirst
  • Increase in urine production
  • Bruising
  • Bleeding easily
  • Neurological signs like depression or circling
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
  • Coma

Ignoring these symptoms can result in fatality.

Tulip

Tulips. Source: mathowie

When your pet eats a tulip, or worse the bulb of a tulip, the symptoms show up within just a few hours. The bulb is the worst part of the plant, as it has concentrated levels of glycosides Tulipalin A and B. However, even the leaves and flowers contain small amounts of the toxin.

While beautiful, and definitely a popular ornamental flower, it’s advisable to keep these far, far away from your pets.

Signs to look for:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea
  • Quick breathing/increased respiratory rate
  • Increased heart rate
  • Difficulty in breathing

Symptoms can become even more severe and can include seizures, tremors, and even sudden death if not treated right away. Immediately contact your vet if you suspect your pet has eaten tulip foliage, flowers, or bulbs.

Oleander

Oleander. Source: kalebdf

It’s found commonly along roads and highways in the western continental US and in the Hawaiian islands. Unfortunately, this evergreen shrub with its white or pink flowers is also a rapid killer.

It’s been estimated that eating only a few of the leaves could prove fatal to dogs or cats. Oleander is dangerous for horses, cows, and other livestock as well – 10 to 20 dry leaves can kill a horse. Even humans can be at risk, and if you are trimming this plant, you should exercise caution. This is a plant that’s best avoided for families with lots of small children or pets.

All parts of this plant – roots, leaves, stems, flowers, nectar, seeds, fruit, and sap – carry cardiac glycosides that can cause severe heart problems. Water that a part of the plant has been resting in also carries the glycosides. Symptoms come on quickly and are severe.

Signs to look for:

  • Nausea
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Weakness
  • Collapse
  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Death

If there is even the slightest chance that your pet could have consumed this plant, seek emergency veterinary assistance immediately.

Cyclamen

Cyclamen. Source: wallygrom

While a very popular houseplant, cyclamen is definitely not pet-safe.

Terpenoid saponins are present in all parts of the plant, but especially in its tuberous roots. When chewed or ingested in small doses, it is more of an irritant. In larger doses, it can be dangerous as it causes cardiac problems.

Signs to look for:

  • Diarrhea
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Abnormal heart rate or rhythm
  • Seizures

If not treated in a short period of time, this plant can be fatal.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemums. Source: KathrynW1

While the beautiful chrysanthemum is generally not fatal to most pets, it causes a host of unpleasant symptoms.

Chrysanthemums have lactones which cause irritation of the stomach. It also is a source of pyrethrin, which is used as an organic insecticide. Pyrethrins will not generally impact your pets in low doses, but larger doses can be another irritant factor.

While eating low quantities of this plant isn’t likely to have dramatic effect, your pets are likely to get ill from them. It won’t be a pleasant experience for you or for them, so be sure to keep them away. This is actually one of the most commonly-eaten toxic plants among pets, probably because people don’t expect them to be bad!

Signs to look for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lack of appetite
  • Hypersalivation
  • Dermatitis / rashes
  • Lack of coordination

Ivy. Source: Aaron Gustafson

English ivy‘s foliage is more dangerous than its berries to dogs and cats, and can cause a host of different symptoms. Boston ivy isn’t much better. In fact, there are multiple varieties of climbing ivy that have irritating triterpenoid saponins.

These saponins probably won’t kill your pets, but they’re going to make them wish for relief in short order. Keep ivy out of your yard for safety’s sake!

Signs to look for:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Rashes or other skin irritation
  • Oral pain
  • Drooling/foaming
  • Swollen mouth/tongue/upper airway
  • Possible breathing issues caused by swelling

Jade Plant

Jade plant. Source: Steve Wedgwood

Jade plants, also known as Chinese rubber plants (among other common names), are a regular large succulent in warm areas. However, jade plants aren’t good for your pets.

While the exact toxic ingredient is not identified as of yet, these plants can cause some problems for your cats and dogs. They’re also not good for horses or other livestock.

Signs to look for:

  • Vomiting
  • Incoordination
  • Depression
  • Slowed heart rate

Other Toxic Plants

There are many, many plants which I did not cover here. In fact, the ASPCA maintains a thorough and regularly-updated list of toxic plants with over a thousand varieties on display. If you are uncertain of the toxicity of the plants you’re growing, take some time and check the full list to be sure your garden is pet-safe.


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December

  • Planting- Deadhead and feed cool-season color and vegetables with an organic slow-release fertilizer such as Microlife Flower and Vegetable or Happy Frog Fruit and Flower. Continue to plant cool weather color: pansies, snapdragons, and cyclamen. Lettuces, arugula and mustard greens can also still be started from seed.
  • Water- Maintain watering on newly planted seeds and transplants. Continue to deep water trees and shrubs. A well-hydrated plant holds up to frosts and freezes better than a drought-stressed plant.
  • Pests- Bring in containerized tropicals: Plumerias, crotons, dracaenas, etc. Check undersides of leaves and new growth for insects and treat accordingly.
  • Lawns- Mow fallen leaves with a mulching mower. When the lawn can’t take more leaves, add to flower beds. When beds are full of mulched leaves, add them to the compost bin.
  • Poinsettias- Water well until soil is saturated and allow to dry between waterings. Apply water to soil and not the foliage or blooms. Keep away from drafts.
  • Birds- Don’t forget to keep seed feeders full and fresh water in birdbaths. Put out suet cakes — the extra protein helps keep our feathered friends warm in the winter months.
  • Freezes- Have frost cloth on hand to cover tender plants in case of freezing weather. Wrap plants completely down to ground level. The fewer drafts that move under the frost cloth, the better.
  • Soil- Work compost into the top couple inches of your garden beds. Use cover crops such as peas, oats, or rye to keep the soil active. These cover crops can be cut and worked into the soil before spring planting.

Watch the video: Use Vinegar on your Garden and Be Amazed What Happens