Monday, April 26, 2010

Plants that are Beautiful and Low Maintenance

Today's blog is in response to the overwhelming number of questions we received about the plants we took to Miami-Dade County's Earth Day celebration at the Stephen P. Clark Center.  At the event we had a sampling of plants that can be found in the Low Maintenance Landscape Plants for South Florida publication. You can use the publication or contact the Extension office to get more information.

Here are the plants with a few additional notes on why they were selected, enjoy and expand your plant palette.

Red Pentas/Pentas lanceolata Pentas are short lived perennials (3 to 5 years) when planted in the right place.  The red pentas will take more sun than other pentas and will grow to 4 or 5 feet tall.  Most folks plant these and pull them out within a year and never get to enjoy the mature plant.  Pinch the spent blooms to encourage new flowers and make sure you do not overwater! Below is a picture of a plant the typical size found in local stores, remember to allow space for a mature plant with a diameter of 3 feet and a height of 5 feet. Pentas bloom all year round and are attractive to butterflies and sometimes hummingbirds.

Pink Salvia/Salvia spp. Perennial Salvia comes in many colors and cultivars and is drought tolerant.  Do not confuse this plant with the annual Salvia splendens which have larger flowers and leaves and can be found in most retail gardens sections in the winter and spring.  




Yellow Bulbine/Bulbine frutecens Bulbine thrive and bloom during our dry winter season.  These plants can be expensive even from a whoelsale source ($7.50 each) but will continue to grow into a large bed of plants.  Plant in a well drained, sunny location. The flowers attract butterflies.

Coreopsis/Coreopsis leavenworthii Coreopsis is our native state wildflower and can grow in a variety of conditions from dry open areas to wet meadows and roadsides.  This is an annual that will sprout up from self sown seed year after year.  Enjoy it while it blooms especially when the wind makes these delicate long stemmed flowers dance! (Photo below from the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants-http://www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=1180).

Red Salvia/Salvia coccinea This is a native salvia and a favorite nectar source for butterflies and hummingbirds.  Like Coreopsis, this plant will reseed and slowly spread to create a wildflower meadow effect.(Photo below from the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants http://www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=1043).




Tampa Verbena/Glandularia maritima Tampa Verbena is a sprawling native that covers a lot of ground, plant in multiples in bright with shade during the hottest part of the day. (Photo below from the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants-http://www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=1043).



Dwarf Chenille Plant/Acalypha pendula is also an excellent ground cover but a bit cold sensitive. Not to worry, the plant will sprout new leaves and grow with vigor once the rainy season begins.  It also works well in a hanging basket or featured in an unusual planter.


Questions contact:
Barbara McAdam
305-248-3311 ext. 245
bmcadam@ufl.edu

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