The undisputed Queen of Florida gardens, tropical hibiscus, lights up landscapes from Pensacola to Miami. These gorgeous shrubs produce wave after wave of single or double flowers in a host of colors and bi-colors. Hibiscus are easily sheared into colorful hedges and screens along your lot line or around a pool or patio. Tropical hibiscus also grow well in containers which can be moved inside in case an unexpected frost hits along the northern part of the state. Our Tropic Escape line of hibiscus are in almost constant bloom as long as nightly temperatures stay above 50 degrees. But, they’ll still look great unless temperatures dip below freezing. Plant tropical hibiscus in full sun, give them plenty of water, and fertilize once a month to keep them in top form.
Available in both standard and dwarf sizes, oleander is a great plant for frost-free regions of the state. These shrubby trees produce tall, slender branches with narrow green leaves smothered in clusters of red, pink, cream, or white single or double flowers (some varieties are even fragrant). Taller varieties which can grow 15 feet tall will help block the view from the neighbors or nearby streets. Dwarf types that grow 5 to 6 feet tall work well in containers or as low hedges. All oleander varieties are drought tolerant and thrive in sandy seaside locations as long as it’s planted in full sun. Oleander is poisonous so keep pets and children at bay.
Bird of Paradise
Bird of paradise plants should be on every Florida gardener’s shopping list. That’s because these lush beauties produce armloads of huge, jungle-like leaves topped with either eye-popping orange and blue flowers or bold pure white blooms. Both varieties thrive in containers in either shade or sun, but in South Florida you can grow them directly in the ground. Both types make good hedges, screens, or specimen plants flanking your front entry. White-flowering bird of Paradise can grow 6 to 10 feet tall while the traditional orange and blue flowering varieties top out at 4 to 6 feet.
Commonly called Jungle Flame, Ixora thrives in the southern, frost-free regions of the state, where it produces a continuous supply of hydrangea-like heads of red, yellow, pink, or orange flowers. Ixora is easy to grow and comes in standard forms that can grow 10 feet tall and dwarfs that are half as tall. The plants thrive in full sun or partial shade and require very little pruning to keep them looking good. Use them in a foundation planting or line them up along a walk or driveway.
Written by Doug Jimerson