En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

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.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - May 10, 2013

From: Panama City, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Ferns, Grasses or Grass-like, Shrubs, Wildflowers
Title: Native plants for a garden in Panama City, FL
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in zone 9 in Florida. We are looking for plants which will be attractive all year long for the front of our house's landscaping which faces north. I need a specimen bush which doesn't get over 6' or so, or is easy to prune, and shorter, foundation plants. I would like some plants which flower throughout the spring and summer, but still look attractive in the fall/winter months.

ANSWER:

Hmm.   According to the Florida Native Plant Society Bay County, Florida is in zone 8.  Panama City itself is in zone 8B.  You can visit the Florida Native Plant Society page for Bay County and enter information for your site (e.g., light range, soil type, etc.) that will generate a list of plants that will do well there.  Since I don't know those criteria I will have to guess at what will do the best there.  You should read the GROWING CONDITIONS on each species page in our Native Plant Database and on the Florida Native Plant Society species page.

POTENTIAL SPECIMEN SHRUBS

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) can be pruned pruned severely right before new growth begins in the spring. Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Hydrangea quercifolia (Oakleaf hydrangea) can be pruned.  See the information on HydrangeasHydrangeas.com.  Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Kalmia latifolia (Mountain laurel) is evergreen and can be pruned according the European Kalmia Society and there are dwarf varieties available.  Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Rhododendron austrinum (Orange azalea) can be pruned according to the University of Florida IFAS Extension Service.  Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

POSSIBLE FOUNDATION PLANTS

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle) [synonym = Myrica cerifera] is evergreen, can be pruned and there are dwarf cultivars.  Here is more information from Florida Native Plant Society and from the Chesapeake Region Native Plant Center.

Osmunda cinnamomea (Cinnamon fern) needs moist soil.  Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

ORNAMENTAL GRASSES (possible foundation plants)

Eragrostis spectabilis (Purple lovegrass) is a perennial grass that produces the appearance of a purple haze on the ground when it blooms in the fall. Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Sporobolus junceus (Pineywoods dropseed) is an evergreen perennial bunch grass.  Here is more information from Natives for your Neighborhood.

Tripsacum dactyloides (Eastern gamagrass) is also an evergreen perennial bunch grass.   Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

FLOWERS

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterflyweed) is a perennial that blooms May through September with spectacular orange flowers and dies back in the winter.  It is a larval host for monarchs and other butterflies.  Here is more information from the Florida Native Plant Society.

Coreopsis basalis (Coreopsis), if your area is dry or Coreopsis leavenworthii (Common tickseed), if your site is moist.  You can find both of these on the list for Bay County under "Flowers" on the Florida Native Plant Society page.

Here are a few other flowers from the Florida Native Plant Society page that can add color.  Most of them are perennials that die back in winter.  Trimming them should keep your area looking tidy during the dieback time.

Gaillardia pulchella (Firewheel) blooms May through August, but may bloom longer with adequate rains.

Liatris spicata (Dense blazing star) blooms July through September.

Lobelia cardinalis (Cardinal flower) can bloom May through October.

Salvia azurea (Pitcher sage) blooms September through November.

Solidago sempervirens (Seaside goldenrod) has evergreen basal leaves and blooms August through October.

Stokesia laevis (Stokes aster) blooms May through September.

You can see more possibilities on the Florida Native Plant Society for Bay County.

 

From the Image Gallery


American beautyberry
Callicarpa americana

Oakleaf hydrangea
Hydrangea quercifolia

Mountain laurel
Kalmia latifolia

Orange azalea
Rhododendron austrinum

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

Cinnamon fern
Osmunda cinnamomea

Purple lovegrass
Eragrostis spectabilis

Eastern gamagrass
Tripsacum dactyloides

Butterflyweed
Asclepias tuberosa

Dense blazing star
Liatris spicata

Cardinal flower
Lobelia cardinalis

Pitcher sage
Salvia azurea

More Grasses or Grass-like Questions

Need to stabilize a south facing slope in Henderson, NC
April 30, 2010 - Hi, I have a south facing slope that is heavy clay with rock under it. It gets a lot of sun. I have planted a few bushes and some ground cover, but with all the snow and rain we had this past winter, ...
view the full question and answer

Plants to stop erosion on creek side
July 05, 2011 - I need plants for a westside slope to a creek that will help with erosion, need fast growing and likes lots of sun. Thank you, Mr. Smarty Plants
view the full question and answer

Muhlenbergia dumosa safe for horses from Austin
May 13, 2014 - Is Muhlenbergia dumosa safe for horses? Will horses eat it? I have a client who has a mini-horse who visits her property on occasion, and I want to ensure that what I plant is both safe for the hors...
view the full question and answer

Plants for a sloped pond bank in SW Ontario
March 19, 2010 - I'm looking for native (Southwestern Ontario, Canada) plants to slow erosion and provide a nice appearance on a mildly steep, 20 foot bank leading to a large pond. The bank faces west. And, are tree...
view the full question and answer

Care of buffalo grass after wet season
August 15, 2007 - I'm asking for your advice on what to do with my buffalo grass lawn. With all this rain, I've managed to pull the weeds as they pop up in my front yard, and it looks good, except for a couple of...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center