Farfugium japonicum, synonymous with and formerly known as Ligularia tussilagineaand Ligularia kaempferi, is a clump-forming perennial that is grown in gardens as much for its attractive foliage as for its autumn flowers. It is native to moist meadows and stream banks in Japan and eastern Asia. Its best ornamental feature may be the foliage which consists of huge, long-stalked, glossy, leathery, kidney-shaped, dark green leaves (12” or more across) that form a basal clump to 2’ tall.
Leaves are evergreen in warm winter climates, but will die to the ground when temperatures fall to 20 degrees F. Daisy-like, yellow flowers (1-2” across) bloom in loose corymbs atop thick, mostly leafless stalks that rise above the foliage to 30” in late summer to fall.
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.
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.
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.
Cocoplum, a South Florida native, is an outstanding texture plant with a "beachy" look, producing an edible plum which many critters (including people) enjoy. Rounded, shiny green leaves are set off by red-tipped new growth on this most commonly sold variety. The plant produces small white flowers, followed by fruit that's often made into jelly...or as an attraction in a wildlife garden. The plum is pink and ripens to purple with a fairly bland flavor, and the almond-flavored seeds can be roasted and eaten or crushed for use in cooking.
Terrific as hedge shrubs or privacy plants, these native Florida plants can grow to about 15 feet if you let them - though most of the time they're kept trimmed to around 4 feet. This is an easy-care plant that can be kept more manicured for a formal look or left to grow in its naturally pretty rounded shape in a casual landscape style. There is a "horizontal" cultivar which can be grown as more of a groundcover shrub and is more salt tolerant than "Red Tip" cocoplum.
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.