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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Tuesday - March 05, 2013

From: Belleair, FL
Region: Select Region
Topic: Plant Lists, Container Gardens, Shrubs
Title: Hot Sunny Planter Suggestions for Florida
Answered by: Anne Van Nest

QUESTION:

We have a large, raised, concrete planter (about 15' L x 2' W) separating us from our condo neighbor in Clearwater, FL. We would like suggestions for shrubs that tolerate full sun and hot conditions!

ANSWER:

Think of the space as two layers – the taller shrub layer and a groundcover or trailing plant layer that will cascade over the edge of the planter.  Your planter can include excellent native plants for both these layers. You can also have several different plants in the planter that have attractive flowering, foliage, or fruiting features during different times of the year.

The first place to go to find a list of potential plants is our Native Plant Database. Use the Combination Search feature instead of Recommended Species. This will provide a bigger selection with much more choice to narrow down. The volunteers and staff at the Wildflower Center who maintain the database have partners in different regions to help with these recommended species lists based on what is easy to access in local nurseries.

Under Combination Search, select the following categories: Florida, Habit (shrub), and Duration – Perennial. You can narrow down this search further by indicating light requirement (sun), blooming time, soil moisture (dry) and height specifics (0-1 ft or 1-3 ft).

Follow each plant link to our webpage for that plant to learn its growing conditions, bloom time, etc. At the bottom of each plant webpage, under Additional Resources, there is a link to the USDA webpage for that plant. Take a look there for more specific details about suitability before you put them on your final planting list. Think about including plants that have interest during a variety of seasons and that have more than one attractive feature (flower, fruit, foliage, bark, etc.) so you can get more benefits out of fewer plants.

The full sun and dry list of native shrubs that are 1-3 ft tall include Zamia pumila (Florida arrowroot), Verbena halei (slender verbena), Rosa carolina (Carolina rose), Lantana involucrata (button sage), Clinopodium coccineum (red savory), and Acacia angustissima (prairie acacia).

The same search (full sun, 1-3 ft tall shrubs) but with moist soil conditions resulted in three suggestions: Batis maritima (seaside saltwort), Desmanthus illinoensis (bundleflower), and Rosa carolinia (Carolina rose).

Best wishes with your planter planning.  

 

From the Image Gallery


Prairie acacia
Acaciella angustissima

Illinois bundleflower
Desmanthus illinoensis

Illinois bundleflower
Desmanthus illinoensis

Carolina rose
Rosa carolina

Texas vervain
Verbena halei

Texas vervain
Verbena halei

Scarlet calamint
Clinopodium coccineum

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