Monday, September 5, 2011

Great Plants and Flowers for South Florida Gardens


The Bromeliad to the left is a native of Brazil and this time of year (late August-early September) has very unique bright pink flowers with purple tips that are simply spectacular. Quiet a show stopper.
Almost every day, I get asked by passerby what this fabulously showy bromeliad is called. It's latin name is Billbergia Pyramidalis. This hot pink Bromeliad is extremely drought tolerant and requires almost no care. It does well in shade, part shade and even bright sun. Bright sun is the least favorable condition, and the plant will survive and flower. It sends off several pups a year and can create a spectacular colony ground cover. You can also attach this bromeliad to a palm or oak and it will do very well. The plant does well with rain water and tree matter that falls, decomposes and collects in the vase of the plant. Highly recommended for Southeast Florida. Beware the leaves are extremely sharp, handle with care.

Another shrub in our garden that does extremely well with little to no maintainance is the Mexican Honeysuckle or (Justicia Spicigera). Mexican Honeysuckle is a small shrub that isn't fussy, blooms most of the year, and is attractive to hummingbirds. With yellow-green leaves and bright orange flowers, Mexican honeysuckle grows 2 to 4 feet tall and spreads 3 to 6 feet wide. The leaves become larger in partial shade locations. Clusters of bright orange, narrowly tubular flowers appear throughout the year. Our Mexican Honeysuckle is out by the pool where it gets full sun. It is very drought tolerant, but looks better and grows larger when given afternoon rains in the south Florida summer. It has a moderate growth rate and is not fussy about soil.
The plant pictured on the left is a very showy and typical drought tolerant Bougainvillea plant around South Florida, Texas, and Arizona. The hot pink variety on the left is called Miami Pink Bougainvillea. It is a vigorous grower and needs little attention once established. We have ours up against the fence. The only drawback to this plant are the huge thorns that it bears. It flowers a good portion of the year and likes direct sunlight. I trim it back so that it has a large twisted trunk heavily flowered on the top giving it a Bonsai appearance.
I think I'm done writing and then I go out to the garden and I see more plants that are extremely easy to care for, drought tolerant, and like full sun.
The beautiful Blue Plumbago (or latin: Plumbago auriculata) thrives in the South Florida heat and sun.
It flowers non-stop and can grow up to ten feet. I trim mine to about 2-3 feet into a hedge. They are truly beautiful and the butterflies love them. They pare well with bromeliads or varigated Aboricola.

Last but certainly not least is one of my favorites-it does not flower but is extremely aromatic (and a joy to cook with). This plant is Rosemary. I love having Rosemary in the garden, not only is it aromatic it is also drought tolerant. I adore the scent when the breeze blows through (especially in the evening). I also enjoy the structural appearance in the garden.
Rosemary can get quite large, I have seen it used in upscale hotel landscaping and in flower beds in Arizona and southern Utah.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about 5 of my favorite drought tolerant south Florida flowering plants. My goal is to have 75-80% xeriscape on our property.