I have a question for you. It’s at the end of this blog. Jump to there if you don’t want to read my rambling path to get to the question.
Tropical storm Emily has been cruising by and giving a nice soaking rain for the past several days. I do appreciate it when someone else waters the yard for me. I have been reading my favorite gardening blogs and watching my favorite gardening videos. I like to use the rainy days to do my research. My focus has been transforming this yard (which is an acre of lawn at the moment) into a Florida friendly, pollinator friendly, chemical-free joyous cacophony of color. During this first year I planted almost 40 trees and shrubs, including red bud, weeping yaupon holly, senna, red maple, crab apple, mayhaw, persimmon, dogwood, cherry, ornamental pear, oak, cedar, and some leyland cypress to make a rough hedge across the back of the property. I’ve also got ornamental grasses, plumbago, lupine and muhly grass. The previous owner put in a ton (a TON) of azaleas, so I’m pretty set on those. I also have 7 large crepe myrtles, so I don’t need any more of those for now. Now I’m working on laying out beds for perennials, and this is where I need the most help.
In Florida, our growing season is so much longer, and so much hotter than elsewhere, I am both lucky and cursed. I can’t grow anything that requires a really hard cold to bloom, like tulips and daffodils. Where I live we get maybe 3 or 4 hard frosts a year, with about 6-8 weeks of weather that we call winter down here, but anywhere else would be a late fall or really early spring. But that also means I have a super long growing season, and can plant stuff in the summer that can establish and bloom for another 6 months.
I have been making lists of larval plants for the butterflies in my region, including Florida friendly perennials and shrubs. Native is a mis-leading term, in my opinion. But that’s a discussion for another time. What I really focus on is making sure I don’t plant any invasive plants that crowd out other things. People love to plant schefelara down here. Anywhere else it’s a houseplant, which is fine, but in Florida it thrives, and spreads like crazy. I hate it. It doesn’t give back. The plant isn’t substantial enough to provide housing for the birds, it has almost no bloom, and it chokes out any other ground cover around it. Did I say I hate it? Moving on.
What I’m looking for is this:
- Perennials: Ones that require minimum maintenance. I don’t mind doing the work to get them established, but I don’t want to have to cut them back, or fuss over them.
- Colors: I’d like to have the full rainbow of colors eventually, so anything is possible.
- Pollinators: I’d really like to focus on plants that provide food / shelter for bees and hummingbirds.
- Full-sun plants. Because I have almost zero shade, I need plants that can take the Florida sun and humidity.
So my question(s) is this: What are your favorite perennials? What plant does really well in full sun in your yard that makes you happy every time you look at it?
I’d love to hear your ideas. Back to research for now on my rainy Wednesday.
5 thoughts on “What to plant?”
You might be interested in sharing ideas with Amelia at https://theshrubqueen.com She lives in FL, too.
That’s a great idea. I’ve read her blog before. I’ll drop her a note.
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I’d offer suggestions except I’m completely ignorant of Florida plants.
Pentas. They’re sold as an annuals, but behave like perennials here. Mine get whacked back in the winter & they’re back in business by spring. After a few years they get yanked out & replaced. If I had more sunny locations, I’d have more pentas.
And, btw, Scheffleras have an AMAZING bloom, one they’re old enough to bloom. One good freeze & the clock starts all over again. Not worth the wait.
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I love pentas, and they are a butterfly magnet. I wasn’t sure about them coming back after a hard frost. We get 4 or 5 of those up here in Citrus county. A great suggestion. Thank you. 🙂