What plants can make it through our super hot summer months? What new plantings won't require daily watering? What plants don't require monthly pruning or maintenance? SmartyPlants offers several of these hardy summer survivors that don't require tons of water and can become established in a few weeks.
Clusia guttifera (or small-leaf Clusia) has become extremely popular because of its low input demands. It is also a replacement for Ficus benjamina hedges that were decimated by White Flies. For better long-term results, use this plant to create a hedge that has enough room to grow in all directions as it can get quite large.
All three varieties of Schefflera arboricola are also in demand - and for good reason. The solid green 'Dwarf Schefflera' makes an excellent dense hedge. 'Gold Capella' is a cultivar in which the green leaves are marbled with golden yellow variegation. The third type is the more common 'Trinette'. It is widely used in the South Florida landscapes as hedging, specimen bushes, or potted specimens. Its leaves are mottled with ivory colored variegation patches. This variety is also slightly smaller than the other two.
Ficus 'Green Island' has also become a widely used shrub. It is nothing like its Ficus relatives that grow huge or search for water sources. It can be kept as a small border hedge; a mass bed planting; or a medium primary hedge, topiary, or container planting.
Two excellent choices for small flowering plants are Bulbines and Aptenias. Bulbines are semi-succulent spiky plants that love sandy soil and don't mind high heat. There are two varieties - the giant yellow and the 'Hallmark Series' which have orange and yellow petals on the flower spikes. The Aptenias or Baby sun roses are excellent used as ground cover or hanging plants for containers. Baby sun roses have yellow or red flowers; they are also available with variegated leaves. Bulbines and Baby sun roses are both salt tolerant.
To continue our discussion of plants that are good summer survivors and good choices for hedges, next month we will feature plants that are native to South Florida that fit these criteria.
Plant of the Month
Elaeocarpus decipiens or Japanese Blueberry is an underused plant because not many people have discovered it. This beautiful accent plant requires low maintenance, is a slow grower, and its narrow growth habit fits almost anywhere even 4 feet from a house foundation. Small white flowers can be observed in spring followed by dark blue inedible berries in fall and winter. The dense foliage is a lush deep green with the occasional bright-red leaf that signifies new growth. It can have a natural growth or be totally sculpted. It makes a great contrast with plants like Clusia or other bright-green foliage plants. Give this unusual and versatile plant a try as a specimen or focal point or with other plants as part of a screening hedge.
With a three-day weekend coming up for Memorial Day (Monday, May 30th), you may find time to add an interesting plant or two to your garden. Here are three guaranteed "conversation starters" that we can offer you:
Portlandia grandifloras, commonly known as Bell Flowers,
are native to the islands of Cuba and Jamaica. Regarded more as collectible garden specimens, these plants delight us with highly-fragrant trumpet-shaped flowers from May to August, and fruit appears in December and January. Their growth habit can be as a small tree or a shrub up to 15 feet tall. Many people think they are related to Angel Trumpets, but they are actually related to Gardenias. Their vanilla-scented white or red flowers make a great addition to aroma gardens. Oh so sweet.....
Justicia corumbensis or 'Summer Sun' Justicia averages 3 to 4 feet in height and spread, which makes it a good choice for the middle or lower layer in a tiered garden. It is a good choice for informal and tropical gardens as well. The orange, tubular flowers, which bloom throughout the year with the heaviest period in spring through summer, are excellent butterfly and hummingbird attractors. This Justicia can do well in partial sun as well as full sun. It is native to Mexico, and it is not salt tolerant.
The Red-Vein Indian Mallow (Abutilon Striatum) is unique! With leaves like a Maple tree, this plant is also called flowering maple. It is not the leaves but the flowers however, that attract attention. The hanging, bell-shaped, yellow-with-red-veining blooms resemble Chinese lanterns. They appear all year, are edible, and are a must for hummingbird and butterfly gardens. Normally a 6-to-8-foot shrub, it can also be made into a single-trunk, small ornamental tree. It can be in partial or full sun and requires moderate water. This plant is native to South America.
Now that the rainy season has begun, add these gems to your garden and enjoy the multitudes of flowers and flying visitors this spring and summer in South Florida!
We will be closed on Memorial Day, but watch out for our sales flyer for the upcoming weekend.