Clusia lends both an exotic and classy look to our Florida tropical landscape. The leaves are thick with a leathery texture, are rather large at 4-6” and teardrop-shaped. Clusia, once established, are both drought and salt tolerant making them a natural choice for our island environment.
While this plant is low-maintenance and trouble-free, they do branch out close to the ground and can get very wide. They make excellent privacy hedges as well as large accent plants for the landscape. The Rosea is the native variety and has pinkish-white flowers that appear in the summer, usually at night, that might last through the morning on cloudy days.
Clusia are evergreen shrubs that will grow in full sun to partial shade. They are moderately fast growers. For a classic yet exotic hedge or specimen tree, the Clusia is a very good choice.
Handsome and hardy, podocarpus is the ultimate in a low-maintenance shrub for sun or shade. The soft, fine-textured foliage is great-looking when sheared as a formal hedge or left to grow more naturally as a large accent with minimal trimming required. Because of its moderate growth rate it won't work as a hedge-in-a-hurry. But given enough time these shrubs become thick, luxurious, full to the ground - and large enough to work as hedge bushes, privacy screens, or plants to camouflage unsightly things around the house. You can grow this shrub as a tree, if you wish - it will form a large oval shape and lower branches can be trimmed up or left on.
You can keep this shrub clipped without taking it down to the bare minimum of foliage...especially if you've planned ahead for the size of a mature plant. Because it takes shaping so well, this plant will fit in a narrow-depth area and can even be trained as a topiary specimen.
This is a moderate grower you can keep 5 to 7 feet or let it get larger - quite a bit, in fact, since the plant can grow as much as 40 feet tall. It's evergreen, salt-tolerant, and cold tolerant, so it does well in any area of South Florida. Sun or shade is just fine, though in shade these plants will grow more slowly. However, the color will look deeper and richer in a shadier spot than in a sunny one.
Areca Palm areka
The areca palm, also known as the butterfly and golden cane palm is the most popular grown indoors from the dypsis genus, and easy to grow. Multiple cane like stems grow from the root system and produce attractive arching fronds, with quite narrow leaflets. The areca is known as a cane type palm because of the bamboo cane looking stems once it's matured. They're also very similar to the feather types (especially the kentia palm) that display similar leaflets (leaves) and grows up to about the same height indoors.
Most people find growing and maintaining this undemanding plant easy enough. One of the worst things a grower can do is overwater and allow water to stagnate near the root system, otherwise they're a real pleasure to grow. All plants clean air borne toxins for us to breath in healthier oxygen, but palms (including the dypsis lutescens) was named as one of the best air purifying plants, after a scientific clean air study was completed by Wolverton and Nasa.
Green Island Ficus
Green Island ficus should be used much more but many people don't know this handsome, award-winning shrub that's prized for its low-maintenance qualities. Many people are in South Florida to retire and relax, and others have busy, working lifestyles, so low maintenance shrubs are always high on the wish list. Green island makes a wonderful addition to any landscape, working well as a new and different substitute for more typical shrubs like the popular Schillings holly. Don't let the name "ficus" scare you - this variety won't take over your life or your landscaping. It's very well-behaved, grows more slowly and is easy to keep small.
Plus it's extremely versatile - growing almost anywhere in sun to part shade, as well as being one of the best easy care shrubs South Florida has to offer. The look of green island ficus is at home in both a tropical garden or a more formal setting. This is a wonderful texture plant - deep green glossy leaves look similar to a jade plant, and contrast well with other foliage types and colors.
Agave Blue Tequilana
A fast growing agave that grows to 5 feet tall and wide with 3 to 4 foot long narrow leaves of a beautiful shade of blue gray and brown sharp terminal spine and margin teeth. It sends out pumps, both near the plants base and several feet away on rhizomes so give this plant some room.
Agaves are not difficult plants to grow. If you are the type of person who likes to set it and forget it, and have a sunny window, Agave might be the plant for you. In general Agave doesn't need to be repotted every year. Most of the species commonly found in cultivation grow very slowly and will take a long time to outgrow their pot. It is also best to handle your plant as little as possible, since they do not like to be disturbed.
Plant in full sun in a well drained soil and irrigate very little. This plant needs to be grown where temperatures do not drop below 25°F or even below 27°F for extended periods. This is the plant used in the Jalisco, Mexico as the base ingredient of the distilled spirit called Tequila where it has been cultivated since before the Spanish arrived. Other products derived from this plant include aguamiel and pulque. It is considered a domesticated species without any wild populations known to exist.
Looking like a cross between an ornamental grass and a flowering shrub, this hardy plant flowers every day when placed in a sunny location. The petunia-like blooms each last only a day - but are replaced the next with more blossoms. A popular favorite in South Florida landscapes, this pretty shrub spreads and can be invasive. Plant where solid edging contains the plant or regular maintenance controls the spread. Avoid placing near areas like wetlands or preserves. The showy purple color of the blooms works with almost all other landscape colors, and the plant's upright stems spilling over with long, thin leaves create an informal and even naturalized look.
This plant is a fast grower that can quickly reach 3 feet tall. It needs full to partial sun to flower profusely. If planted in more shade, the plant will travel to get more sun. These evergreen shrubs are salt-tolerant and cold hardy. Water is this plant's only issue. It likes it...a lot. This is not a drought-tolerant shrub, so be prepared to provide regular irrigation. These shrubs can even handle "wet feet," growing in areas that are slow to drain.
To mix a moisture-loving plant like this with other shrubs that like it dryer, using water-retention crystals for certain plants will keep everybody happy. Plant 3 feet apart. Come out from any structure 2 to 3 feet. These shrubs will outgrow any container in no time, so planting in the ground is your best option.
Mondo grass is also known as monkey grass. It is an evergreen perennial that makes a great groundcover or standalone grass-like plant. These plants perform well in almost any soil and lighting condition. Mondo grass is a slow growing plant that can be easily propagated by division and requires minimal care once established. A truly attractive and outstanding landscape plant with a multitude of uses, it is well worth the gardener’s time to learn how to grow mondo grass.
Mondo grass can tolerate almost anything, including deer, but fails without adequate moisture. What is mondo grass? It is not a true grass, but it does have strappy leaves and a clumping habit. In summer it brightens up the area with lavender or white flowers that develop into glossy black fruit. Growing mondo grass is easy, as the plant withstands neglect in regions where plentiful moisture is naturally available. Once established, you can pretty much forget about the plant unless you want to go check out its seasonal beauty, or it is time to divide it.
Imagine great grassy tussocks shrunk down to fairyland size, and you can envision mondo grass. These small plants grow only 6 to 10 inches tall (15-25 cm.) and have a clumping or mounding nature depending upon variety. Ophiopogon japonicus is the scientific name and refers to the plant’s native region of Asia. The components of the name are derived from the Latin words for snake and beard, a reference to the spiky flowers. As a lawn substitute in shady to partially sunny locations, it is a great sod alternative that never needs mowing. Mondo grass spreads by stolons, or underground stems, and can slowly form dense colonies. Leaves are ½ inch wide (1.3 cm.) and glossy green or even variegated.
Boa – Boa is an exciting new upright Alocasia that features enormous leaves and remarkable serrated leaves with marbled stems. This variety makes an excellent container plant as well as a beautiful landscape plant for the tropical garden.
These are very healthy tropical plants with well established root system. The growth rate and leaf color of Boa will vary greatly depending on soil type, sunlight, temperature and other factors.
Boa are very easy to grow tropical plants that require little care indoors or out. Like other aroids, many species of Alocasia can be grown as houseplants, or outdoors in mild climates. They thrive in moist soils with high organic matter and grow best when provided with filtered sunlight. Alocasia plants can be grown in containers or outdoors as a remarkable landscape plant. Indoors plants thrive at temperatures between 55°- 80°F and in lower light conditions than other house plants. In the ground Alocasias get big and are often unrecognizable from their potted juvenile state. They add a wonderfully tropical accent to any well-lit space or cascading from your favorite planter. In very cold zones a containerized Alocasia can be brought inside for the winter months. Be sure to avoid frost and freezing temperatures.
Feathery fronds and small stature make the pygmy date palm one of South Florida's most popular landscape palms. This beautiful, easy-care palm works almost anywhere as an accent plant for any size yard...even close to the house or by the pool. Naturally a solitary-trunk palm, it's most often seen with two, three or even four palms planted together to make a multi-trunk specimen. The additional trunks add fullness to its graceful form. A single-trunk pygmy takes up less room and generally grows straight up, making it a good choice for a narrow spot. One with double trunks can frame and showcase a focal point beyond it.
It takes full sun to partial shade, making it easy to find a great planting location in the yard. Happily low-maintenance, a pygmy palm should be planted with top soil as a soil amendment, and fertilized with granular palm fertilizer in spring, summer and fall. Old fronds and occasional seed pods will form a brown "petticoat" under the greenery; trim them off now and then. Water on a regular basis.
Plant at least 3 feet (4 or 5 would be even better) from the house, positioning the trunks of a multi-trunk specimen in a way that makes sense for future growth. Pygmy palms can be grown in containers and work well in pool cage planters, since they grow so slowly and don't get too tall. Give this palm lots of light while in a container.
Easy-to-grow coleus plants aren’t just for shade anymore. Heat and sun-tolerant varieties are widely available, making them a popular choice for many areas, and their bold and beautiful foliage make them the center of attention no matter where they’re planted. Although technically an evergreen perennial, coleus are usually grown as annuals because these tender tropicals can’t handle even the slightest frost.
Coleus plants have an incredible range of natural color variation, but enthusiasts and breeders have taken them a step further with colors from bright chartreuse to hot pink to velvety near-black, and any number of combinations. There are plants with solid-colored foliage, and ones with heavily contrasted veining, stripes or splotches. Coleus leaves range from one to six-inches long, and also come in many different shapes and sizes. Coleus plants also have unique, square semi-succulent stems.
he amount of light can have a dramatic impact on plant size and leaf color. For the best leaf color, a location that receives morning sun and dappled afternoon shade is best. Darker-leaved varieties tend to handle more sunlight better than those with lighter-colored leaves. Also, choose a wind-protected area, as their semi-succulent stems are prone to breakage.
Like jewelry for your garden, a bromeliad can be small or large, subtle or spectacular, and it's a breeze to grow. These plants come in a rainbow of exquisite color choices - ranging from bright pink centers to all red leaves to zebra-striped foliage. Welcome to low maintenance gardening at its finest. This plant needs little more than the right location and a bit of water now and then. These plants form a circular center usually called a cup. This cup collects rainwater and organic debris that nourish the plant.
From out of the cup emerges either a medium to tall showy flower - or there will be tiny flowers down in the center of the cup, as pictured above. The taller flowers can last a long time - even many months - before fading. Large ones can be used as accents but small ones are low growing plants that may be overtaken by nearby greenery. These may do better in a bed specifically for this type of plant.
One of the benefits of a dedicated bed is that you can move the plants around at will, without damaging them. This is a superb plant for low maintenance. Once planted, it needs little attention.
Mini Bromeliad Assorted Colors (2.5" Pot)
Crotons are the most popular of South Florida's colorful foliage plants, with brilliantly-colored leaves shot with gold, red, orange, green and even pink. This easy-care shrub features color and low-maintenance for any size yard. They feature many leaf types and sizes - swirly, narrow ribbons to wide, flat leaves. Different varieties can be planted together for a riot of color and a mix of textures, or place several of the same variety to grow together in a "drift."
A benefit of mixing crotons with flowering shrubs is the consistency of color in the landscape, even while other plants are not in bloom. These are slow growers, and most can easily be kept 3 feet (or less for smaller varieties). You can plant in almost any light - full sun to partial shade. Trimming is only needed occasionally to keep the plant's size in check. As with all foliage shrubs, always trim stems - don't cut across leaves.
The unusual texture of sea grape, with its big rounded leaves on upright branches, makes it an interesting and handsome large shrub for a South Florida landscape. The leathery leaves grow 8 to 10 inches in diameter, with a hint of red. They have red veining, new growth has a bronzy-red tint, and some leaves will turn completely red in winter before they fall off. In late summer female shrubs produce clusters of fruit that resemble grapes (hence the plant's name) that start out green and ripen to purple. This plant tolerates windy conditions and can act as a windbreak. It can also stabilize sand dunes, and provide habitat for wildlife - including protection for nesting sea turtles from artificial light (street lamps, car headlights, outdoor house lighting).
These are salt-tolerant native plants. Florida beach homes are the perfect setting for these plants - provided you have the space needed. These shrubs can grow really big, but they grow at a moderate rate so you can control their size. They spread very wide with outstretched branch "arms" - you can keep a mature shrub about 6 to 8 feet tall and wide. Or it can be pruned to tree-form - multi-trunk or, with some effort, single trunk - and left to grow to 20 or 25 feet.
One of the best wildlife plants for our area, this plant is cold hardy, salt tolerant, drought-tolerant once established and grows slowly so maintenance is at a minimum. The small white fragrant blossoms appear on and off all year. The bloom is heaviest in spring, with pretty white flowers decorating the plant. After the flowers comes the fruit...bright red berries that are a favorite of the mockingbird (Florida's state bird), blue jay, and cardinal.
You can keep this shrub sheared to 6 to 8 feet as a hedge or let it grow larger (as much as 20 feet) as a multi-branched small tree. An alternative meaning is that these plants form a "thicket" that stops people from passing through them. Simpson's stopper works anywhere - whether kept well-manicured for a formal landscape or left to grow in a more natural form for a casual design.
It makes a great ornamental tree for a small yard...though you might want to buy a bigger plant to start with, since its growth rate is fairly slow. Its salt tolerance makes it perfect for a beach-side home.