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Monday - September 21, 2009

From: Boynton Beach, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Shrubs
Title: Hedge border for Boynton Beach FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford


Seek recommendations for planting in zip code 33437: 2-2.5' high, dense formal hedge border: minimal care, full sun, sandy, 1-2x/wk irrigation. Is Ficus Green Island Microcarpa suitable? Other recommendations?


The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center is dedicated to the use, propagation and care of plants native not only to North America but to the area in which it is being grown. The only member of the genus ficus that is native to North America and to Florida is Ficus aurea (Florida strangler fig). From BackyardGardener.com Ficus microcarpa (Indian Laurel), also known as Chinese Banyan tree, is native to India, China and Australia and therefore out of our range of expertise.

From this Floridata website, Ficus aurea, we learned that the plant deserves its name, and is not appropriate for your needs. We will go to our Native Plant Database, and try to find some native shrubs that will fill your requirements. The most difficult specification is going to be the height. Most dense shrubs are going to grow taller than that, especially in a lush climate like the Palm Beach County area, on the southeast Florida coast. To keep a plant low that normally grows taller would take quite a bit of pruning, which goes against your wish for minimum care. Two shrubs, Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) and Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) have some dwarf versions, usually the product of selection of plants that grow smaller naturally, and then continuing to breed them for smaller size. Follow the links for expected heights and care.

Shrubs for hedge in South Florida:

Borrichia frutescens (bushy seaside tansy) - perennial to 3 ft. tall, semi-evergreen, blooms yellow July and August, medium water use, sun

Clinopodium coccineum (scarlet calamint) - perennial, evergreen, blooms red virtually year-round but blooming peaks in summer months, medium water use, sun or part shade. More pictures from Google

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) -evergreen, blooms white April and May, low water use, part shade

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - evergreen, blooms green March and April, high water use, sun or part shade

Dwarf shrubs for hedge in South Florida:

Ilex vomitoria (yaupon) - 'Schelling's Dwarf' from sunnygardens.com; a number of other dwarf selections are listed, with links, on the same webpage; 'Nana' from North Carolina State University Fact Sheet. Pictures from Google of dwarf yaupon

Morella cerifera (wax myrtle) - 'Don's Dwarf' from Magnolia Gardens; Myrica pusilla, from the USDA NCRS Plant Fact Sheet. Pictures from Google of dwarf wax myrtle

Pictures from our Native Plant Image Gallery:

Borrichia frutescens

Clinopodium coccineum

Ilex vomitoria

Morella cerifera







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