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.
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.