Monday, January 12, 2009

The Turtle's Plant

Tina told us about her Turtlehead plant a while back. Today I want to tell you about my turtle plant here in my Georgia Garden. My plant started out with the Saint and I becoming Foster Parents to a turtle. Yes, we were Foster Parents to a darn Turtle. Fostering a Pet can be very rewarding to an animal lover. Tina had an experience with Fostering puppy's and if not for Tina and her love and devotion to those pups, the survivors would not have loving Forever Homes today! Again, Thanks for the time, dedication, money and love you gave those beautiful pups while in your care Tina!

The history of this turtle goes: Son wants turtle, Mommy gets son a turtle. Son bores of turtle, Turtle has sad life of neglect. Turtle finds new home which is much better. Then turtle's provider gets a promotion; which now means more travel time from home with turtle. This is where the Saint and I came into play. We found a new home for turtle (poor thing did not have a name) in Nashville, TN through blogging with some "Pet People" through my hometown newspaper. How do we get turtle from Virginia to Tennessee? We went to VA for Easter and brought turtle home with us until our planned TN trip to celebrate a niece graduating from High School in May.

We set up a long folding table by the window in the guest room. We researched high and low about desert turtles on the computer. We created her a nice home of moist straw, water, a tunnel, mulch and warm sand under spot light.

We gave her weekly baths and name her Miss Tuttle! She would eat a diet of greens to include Romane Lettuce, Spinach, Turnip greens and her favorite treat was Hibiscus blooms! So one day I took off the garden center to find her a hibiscus plant. I was lucky to find one on the cheap for $7.00. She loved to munch the blooms and I was happy for her as the blooms only last one day anyway. I would enjoy the pretty bright red blooms in the day and Miss Tuttle would eat them later that evening. The time came to take Miss Tuttle to her new home in TN. We packed up all her belongings except for the hibiscus plant. I was also hauling 10 bales of GA Pine Straw to my mom for Mothers Day so I could mulch her bushes. So the truck was full to the brim with so much stuff that there really was no room for a plant this size.

The hibiscus stayed on the front porch and produced beautiful blooms all summer long. Then it was starting to chill with winter setting in. We did not have the heart to allow Miss Tuttle's plant to die so we brought it inside for the winter.

We do not like to bring plants inside for several reason. One being pesky bugs that seem to constantly pop out of the soil. The other two reasons would be my two beautiful Black Beauties, being the cats! Click the video to see Sheba in action on Miss Tuttle's plant!

We kept the Hibiscus safe away from paws reach in the guest bedroom with the doors closed all winter long. Anyone with cats in the house know that a closed door does not make for a happy cat! My two would jump at any chance they had to get into the room especially knowing that a yummy treat awaits them!

The hibiscus had the most beautiful blooms this past year while continuing to grow and thrive on the front porch. The tag reads: Place in full sun and water every day. Cold Hardiness 40-degrees. I kept it on the shade of the porch receiving only the morning sun shine and water it about once a week. Total opposite from the tags directions. I have always been a bit of a rebel. tee hee...

Sure we live in the Deep South but we do have freezing temps in the winter months although very little if any snow in our area occurs. I have seen lots of hibiscus in landscapes of business and also yards but doubt they are the same type hibiscus. One thing for sure that I have learned since starting to chat with you Garden Bloggers is, not all plants are the same! I use to think that a Peony was just a peony then found out there are many different varieties just as Roses and other beauties in our gardens.

I have wanted to put this hibiscus in the ground to see what happens. But knowing it does like the water and also knowing we have been in a drought the past few years, I have delayed in my experiment. I was debating just letting it go to nature on the front porch but it grew so beautiful and lush this past year that I did not have the heart to let it stay on the porch and die without giving it a chance in the ground.

Lola sent me some bulbs late last fall and I put them into pots and in the guest room which has become the No No Room to the cats. Since I had to keep the door closed this winter, I brought Miss Tuttle's plant inside for one more winter. It will go into the ground this summer if we are out of the drought or back on the front porch then I will find a new home for it next fall. Stayed tuned for this one....

The Guest room has become a nursery of sorts this winter with gourds hanging in the closet and lots of potted bulbs and a huge hibiscus staying warm. I did close off the vents to the room to keep the plants cool so they don't take over the room. Look at how tall the Ginger is getting Lola! Thank you again for such a wonderful Gift from your Florida Garden! I will continue to keep my guard when opening the door to the No No room as my girls will jump at the change to get a nibble of THE TURTLE'S PLANT, but hopefully before long, it will be, In the Garden...
Miss Tuttle is happy with her new home and has a pet of her own. Look at Gracie the cat keeping a close eye on her little friend Miss Tuttle. I just love Happy Endings...


  1. Aww... That was so sweet of you to find a home for Miss Tuttle. I love Hibiscus! One of my faves. You should definitely plant them on the ground and look how monstrously they start growing and rewarding you with large blooms. I have Aphids attacking my Hibiscuses contantly, but this red variety with dark green-to-purplish leaves are a bit resistant to them.

  2. I love hibiscus too, especially the red ones.
    I'm glad Miss Tuttle found a new home - and a new friend by the look of it!

  3. We buy bags of Hibiscus blooms at the store...makes GREAT tea!

  4. I love the hibiscus and believe it or not they sell it up here, to stay potted. Hawaii's flower! It sure is exotic looking.
    How cute of a friendship with Grace and turtle.

  5. That picture of kitty curled up in turtle's home is the cutest thing I have ever seen!
    Thanks for such a happy post Skeeter. I needed this on an early Monday morning! :)

  6. Awww, this is too cute! You did such a good job fostering that turtle. You have such a loving and giving spirit Skeeter that all animals are lucky to wind up in your hands. Funny you mention the pups, it has been about one year now. Thanks so much for your kind comments on them. It was a rough time with them for sure but they sure did grow to be quite beautiful.

  7. Hi Skeeter, this is a fantastic story! Your narrative was spell binding as we waited to hear the happy ending hoped for Miss Tuttle. The pet of her own is brilliant! The hibiscus is certainly worth saving from plant eating kitties too. I hope it can go in the ground this year, if you have had as much rain as we have lately, it should be a go!

  8. Skeeter .. this has been the most endearing story I have seen on the blogs .. having character cats is a big plus since I am a cat fan .. I love your black beauties and that gorgeous Gracie, a torty ? (which is rather ironic) who became Ms. Tuttle's pet !
    That hibiscus is a stunner .. wish I could have one just like it.
    Perfectly wonderful story ! Joy

  9. A wonderful happy ending--or second beginning for Miss Tuttle. Loved the photos of the kitties checking out the plants in you nursery room.

  10. Good story Skeeter! I'm glad the turtle has found a good home. It looks happy there with Gracie!

  11. Skeeter, this is a great story! Over the years my children had several turtles, including my son's pet Jake. I always said they were the easiet pets of all to take care of. Glad to see that Miss Tuttle is still doing well.

    Your hibiscus is beautiful! My mother has kept one for several years--overwintering it on a sunny, heated porch and then placing it outside in its pot for the summer. If you decide to plant yours outside, I hope you can find a protected place for it.

  12. I love good stories...this one has it all! My grandmother always had a box turtle as a pet...She would put him in the bathtub and he would bathe~~ We named them Oscar...I thought they were the same turtle and had lived for all my childhood!!

    ...Skeeter, I leave my more tender plants outside and only bring them in when it is going to get very this icy arctic blast we shall see soon. This will mean the Bay Leaf Tree will be inside for two night! But your hibiscus is more tender then a bay leaf.


  13. Chandramouli, Miss Tuttle was a delightful visitor in our home. This hibiscus has given us so many blooms this past year! I am not sure it will survive our winters but may put it in the ground this summer and see what happens...

    Easygardener, This hibiscus had the most vibrant colored blooms for us and so many this year! We hear that Gracie and Miss Tuttle are true friends and we are happy for them both to have each other to keep company...

    Jillybean, Hibiscus Tea? I did not know you could seep the blooms but if a turtle can eat it, then why not us drink it? Hum, I had better watch that theory as deer can eat poison ivy and we sure can't... :-)

    Dawn, The hibiscus will stay in the pot for a bit longer but I may try the yard this summer. Gracie has a pet turtle and Miss Tuttle has a pet cat. How cute indeed...

    Meadowview, I am glad to give you a smile first thing this morning! This is a sweet story of Miss Tuttle, Gracie and us getting the beautiful Hibiscus. I was happy to be a part of the story. Now if only the hibiscus will have a happy ending after being planted in the ground...

    Tina, I am so grateful that you found room in your life for those pups. If not, then none of them would have survived such a horrible beginning. Do you think the hibiscus will survive being planted in the ground?

    Frances, You make me want to become a story teller with your kind words. :-) It was fun having Miss Tuttle in the house with us for a bit. We have been receiving some nice rainfalls and have gotten out of drought status just at the years end but still way behind on rain fall from the two previous drought years. It is looking like we may be able to plant the hibiscus but I may leave her on the porch until summer just to be sure. I dont want to kill myself watering it all the time once in the ground. Not in what can be horrible GA heat...

    Cameron, I was happy to tell the story as we still think of Miss Tuttle often. Even though she has been out of our life for 2 years, she is still in our hearts...

    Joy, How funny, I have not made the connection that Gracie is a tortie until you just mentioned it! My parents have a tortie and I should have made that connection. Duh, on my part and thank you for pointing that out to me. Too funny the obvious things we miss. :-) Our cats keep us on our toes around here. Sheba, which is the one that really gets our giggle bone going, is the beauty that makes it to the videos often. She is always into something. The joys of being keepers to cats. Ah....

    Marnie, I like the way you put it, a Second Beginning for Miss Tuttle! From what I hear, she is a very happy turtle in her new home. My cats jump at the chance to get into that No No room. I let them in occasionally when I tend the plants. They try to behave but they always get into trouble and have to be run out of the room. They are such stinkers...

    Dave, Thanks, I hear that Gracie and Miss Tuttle are best buds and keep each other company. And here I was keeping my two Monsters away from Miss Tuttle while she was with us. Maybe they would have been friends too but I was not willing to find out. Sheba was a hunter when in the wild before finding us to care for her every need so I did not want to risk a bad ending for Miss Tuttle...

    Rose, As children, we would find Box Turtles and keep them for a day or so then let them go back into the wild. Miss Tuttle was a desert turtle unlike the ones in the water at Pet Stores. It was difficult to find out info on her as this is not a common pet in the turtle world. We found a refuge for them but it was in California and I had no idea how we could get her to CA. We were thrilled when we found a person in TN which runs an animal rescue that wanted her as her personal pet. They live for many years and the rescuer is young and energetic so I think Miss Tuttle will live out her life with Tonya. I am thinking of a nice sunny spot near the house for the hibiscus if I decide to plant it this year. It will be near the water spout for proper watering also. I wish I had a garage to store it in then we could keep it forever as a porch plant. In the house with cats just does not work for us...

    Gail, I was just telling Rose how we had Box Turtles when I was a child. We would find them in the yard and play with them for the day then let them go back into the wild. I often find them in the yard here and say hello to them but let them go on their merry way. I find them fascinating how long they have survived being on earth. I do hope the hibiscus will survive if I plant it this year. It is so beautiful and would be awful to loose such a beauty...

  14. Oh such a great story, love it. Funny that you should mention the pupps that Tina fostered cause I had been wondering if Tina had heard anything about them but then I figured she would have let us know if she had. Wish we had more people in this world that were as good as you to animals Skeeter. Christy has fostered many kitties from the shelter when she used to give of her time at the shelter each week. In fact one of the four cats I am now "babysitting" for her were ones that she fostered
    and one other was a feral cat that no one else would adopt from the shelter. The feral one is my favorite. She is so tiny, soft and her fur shines like the sun and she is a black fur ball like your 2 honeys.

  15. Aw, what a lovely story. Miss Tuttle is s sweet! Glad your cat likes her, too. And that the turtle plant remains only for the turtle!

  16. What a sweet story! I've never known anyone that had a turtle for a pet (and I even grew up with three brothers!) It sounds like you could not have given her better care. The hibiscus is beautiful but I love any hibiscus bloom so I'm partial!! Interesting that your turtle liked them too. I hope it overwinters outside for you so you don't have to keep bringing it indoors.

  17. Jean, it is so sad how people abandon animals in this country. I could never Foster Cats or Dogs for fear I would keep them all! Our lifestyle would not allow us more pets at this time. I knew the turtle had a home so no problem with us fostering her. It was a bit tough to let her go as we did take to her and she really did have a personality. I know, how can a turtle have a personality but she did! We got real attached to her and would have liked to keep her but again, we do too much traveling to have a turtle as a pet. Our two kitties work well and we can travel with them and all is fine. One day, we will be in a different place and then we may foster more pets. I would consider fostering for a temp reason as long as the animal had a home to go to. I am too weak to take one without a home as it would end up with us and that is not best right now. I admire people like Christine that can foster pets! Great hearts indeed!

    Moncia, The tortie cat belongs to the new owner of Miss Tuttle. She rescues and rehabilitates animals then finds homes for them. We kept the hibiscus but wish we had found room for it to go with Miss Tuttle when she left us, then she could continue to enjoy munching on the blooms…

    Kathleen, I have three brothers also! All older then me! Boy do I have war stories to share some time. lol We found box turtles as kids and played with them for the day then let them go back into the wild. We never hurt them as we all loved all animals and creepy crawlies that wandered into our yard. One of my brothers kept a snake from the science dept of his High School for the summer. My dad was not too happy about that but we all learned a lot by feeding and observing that snake. This is a desert type turtle and they eat certain things. No iceberg lettuce for her. I found that a bit odd but everything we read up on this type tortoise said no iceberg lettuce. She was a joy to foster but glad to get my guest room back once we left us. Now the plant stays in there during the winter. Hopefully, it will go into the ground this summer and that it will survive our next winter...

  18. What a lucky Turtle to have found such a loving home. And imagine growing a beautiful flower to provide special treats for her. ;)

  19. Raquel, it was fun having Miss Tuttle in our life. We are so happy she has a nice Forever home now. I would not have guessed I would ever purchase a plant for a animal but I did! She loved the blooms and would munch them as soon as we put them in her feeding tray...

  20. Fantastic story Skeeter. It kept me intrigued wondering how all would fare. I'm so glad Miss Tuttle has a forever home.
    My hibiscus is in the ground & it does fine except when the temps get very low. I fear I may loose it after this cold spell. I hope not as it blooms in colder weather.
    It's misting now & I can tell it's getting colder. Just finished covering my plants that I could.

  21. How cozy Gracie looks curled up but is she watching Miss Tuttle or is it the other way around?

  22. Lola, I think we all enjoy happy endings when it comes to living things. We are so happy for Miss Tuttle but we did miss her a lot at first handing her over to her new home... With all this cold stuff we have had this winter, I am glad I did not put the hibiscus in the ground last year! I bet it would have died. I have not known us to have so many freezing days in one season so I am a bit nervous about loosing several things that are annuals in other zones but return here. I fear for the Lantana, Mexican Heather just to name a few....

    Layanee, You would have to know Miss Tuttle’s personality to know that she is a bit shy of anyone being around her. So to see her with a friend by her side told us that she is totally happy with her new home. I do wonder who is watching who though. lol…

  23. What a cuttie Miss Tuttle is!!!! I am glad she has found a happy home with you and her pet. I love it when pets have their own pets, lol!

  24. Mom, Skeeter told me quite a while back that Sandy had posted a picture of Baby. I showed it to Jimmy and my how she is grown. I hear all three pups are fine but don't keep in touch with them all concerning the pups. I was visiting my friend Geri tonight and she has the sweetest little poodle she is currently fostering. How sad people don't do right by their pets. All of Christine's cats were lucky kitties! Even that bratty Compost-hope she has calmed down.

  25. Thank you for your kind words, Skeeter.
    The close to freezing temps will kill back to the ground the hibiscus but it will come back out next Spring.
    Mine is a volunteer. It is red. But not a deep red.

  26. DP, Hello there stranger! Long time no see, I have been out of the loop since all the decorating for the holidays but hope to soon get back visiting everyone. I have a lot of catching up to do dont I? :-) It is fun to think of a pet having a pet...

    Tina, Poor Compost, getting a bad rap. lol

    Lola, I do hope your hibiscus will return with little harm. Hopefully if I plant mine, it will survive also. Only time will tell...

  27. Hi Skeeter, If you are interested in the cherokee purple tomatoes I can share some of my seed. I have lots of seed but not much room to plant them all. If you are interested drop me a line at

  28. The hibiscus is one of my favourite flowers, especially its name in Spanish: marpacifico.

    Greetings from London.

  29. Dan, Thank you so much for the offer of the seeds. How difficult are they to grow from seeds? I have never tried tomatoes from seed before as I buy "slips" of tomato. I have very little luck with planting in the house in trays plus the cats are an issue so I had not planned to start anything in the house this year. If they can just be poked in the ground in spring, then I am up for some seeds! Thanks, I will email you my address if you think I will have luck with the seeds outside...

    A Cuban in London, Hello from Skeeter here at “In the Garden”! The hibiscus is a beautiful plant and I have really enjoyed the beautiful blooms it keeps providing. Is it cold in London? Chilly in the south but not as cold as our northern friends here in the States. Big Freeze headed their way. Glad you stopped by to say hello!