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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.

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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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Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

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Monday - July 01, 2013

From: Tampa, FL
Region: Southeast
Topic: Planting, Soils, Privacy Screening, Shrubs, Trees
Title: What grows in Tampa FL
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Please let me know what grows in the backyard in Tampa, FL to provide screening and privacy?

ANSWER:

"From previous Mr. Smarty Plants Question:

1. Begin by mapping the sunny and shady areas of your garden. Check for several days and in different areas. Our way of quantifying sun and shade is: "Sun" is 6 hours or more of sun a day, "part shade" is 2 to 6 hours of sun and "shade" is 2 hours or less of sun. Also remember that most tree roots are very close to the surface and will defend their turf. If there are trees and they are valuable to you, don't mess with their roots. Be aware that the underground part of woody plants (the roots) extend out from two to three times the circumeference of the crown of the tree.

2. Don't insist on evergreen for your privacy plant. There are a few shrubs and trees that are evergreen, but shade tolerant, very few. We will teach you how to use our Native Plant Database to find appropriate plants. If you add "evergreen" to your requirements, you will get fewer plants on your list.

3. You sound like a beginning gardener, so we will throw in some extra tips free of charge. Read this article from Bill's Garden on The Challenges of Gardening in Central Florida.

4. A word from our sponsor: The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, protection and propagation of plants native not only to North America, but to the area in which those plants will be grown; in your case, Hillsborough County FL.

Next, read these How-To Articles;

A Guide to Native Plant Gardening

Caring for Your New Native Plants

Now, we are going to introduce you to our Native Plant Database. Since we don't know what kind of soil you have nor how much sun, we will have to improvise. Scroll down the home page of the database and, using the Combination Search, select on Florida for the state, "shrub" for Habit. Since we know nothing of the conditions in your garden, you will have to go back and make your own searches indicating Soil Moisture,  Light Requirements, Duration and  Height. We will check each plant we suggest with the USDA Plant Profile  (link at bottom of plant webpage) to make sure the plant grows naturally in or near Hillsborough  County on the west central coast of Florida. This is to try to find plants that work in your climate, soil and rainfall. You can  make subsequent searches on other Habits, including trees, herbs (herbaceous blooming plants), grasses, etc. After that you will know how to use our database and will be able to make searches on your own. We are searching for a shrub and then for trees this time; because privacy was the only specification you made. For privacy, we will specify a height of 6-12 ft for the shrubs and 12-36 ft. for the trees, and we did specify evergreen, since in Florida plants are more likely to be evergreen.

Shrubs for privacy screening in Central Florida;

Dodonaea viscosa (Florida hopbush)

Ilex glabra (Inkberry)

Morella cerifera (Wax myrtle)

Trees for Central Florida:

Ilex opaca (American holly)

Magnolia grandiflora (Southern magnolia)

Prunus caroliniana (Cherry laurel)

Follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to learn the growing conditions, ultimate expected size, propagation, sun and water needs. And don't plant woody plants (trees and shrubs) now. They need to be planted in cooler weather, like November to January.

 

From the Image Gallery


Florida hopbush
Dodonaea viscosa

Inkberry
Ilex glabra

Wax myrtle
Morella cerifera

American holly
Ilex opaca

Southern magnolia
Magnolia grandiflora

Carolina cherry-laurel
Prunus caroliniana

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