Relocating to Mobile

njjsmomMarch 27, 2007

Hi everyone, I was excited before about relocating to Alabama, and I'm even more excited after reading this forum! Being from Pennsylvania (and suffering a miserable winter) I am imagining the gardening is going to be great and the seasons extended something I am very much looking forward to. I have lots of questions and am a newbie, so I hope you dont mind me asking. We just bought a home with an acre lot in an area of Mobile and it is pretty much a blank canvass. Any advice as to what plants would be the fastest growing and add instant impact? Thanks in advance,


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Welcome to Alabama! Mobile and the surrounding area is a gorgeous part of the state. Not a miserable winter in sight, but be prepared for the summer. Teehee. The heat, humidity and mosquitos will be an adjustment for you.

I know the others on this forum will have better advice than me since I'm still somewhat of a newbie. I do know that Mobile has gorgeous crape myrtles that bloom all summer, so those would be great choice for you. Plant small ones now and in just two years they will be well over 6 feet tall.

Hope you get some more good advice! :o)

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 4:06PM
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Hi Wanda, I lived in Mobile for a few years myself and enjoyed it. However I now live in Atmore (50 miles north) where I was born and raised. What types of plants are you looking for, shrubs, small trees, or larger trees? You should tour Mobile Botanical Gardens and Bellingrath Gardens, you'll get some good ideas there too.


    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 4:24PM
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Thanks for the fast responses!!!! My husband has been in Mobile for the past 4 months and loves nothing better than to tell me how gorgeous the weather has been, while my sons and I were freezing!!! Anyway, since I'm really not familiar with the native plants, trees and shrubs I was just hoping for any and all advice. I'd like to do raised flower beds, an herb garden, hide the ugly chain link fence with some type of vine (I do have morning glory seeds that I was wondering if I could relocate with me) or even better I am open for suggestions on the vines. We are putting in a pool, so I want to grow some things in containers. Maybe I better stop now and go from here! Also I'm not quite sure what zone I will be in, can someone let me know? Thank you all so much, I know I'm going to love living there

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 5:01PM
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john_trussville(z7b AL)

you're a solid zone 8B and more likely at least a 9A the last few years.

If I were you, I'd be planting palms, palms, and more palms......especially around your new pool.

And if I were brand new to an area, I'd make time to drive through some older, established neighborhoods & see what people are growing. If you see a yard that really appeals to you, don't be afraid to go knock on a door & ask questions. I think most avid gardeners love the attention that their hard work sometimes brings.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 5:34PM
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Mobile is a great gardening location. Excellent climate for Deep South Coastal gardening.

There's a business near where I work that has planted 'Tangerine Beauty' Crossvine on its chainlink fence. It looks incredible right now. I almost want to put up a chainlink fence to grow it on. LOL!! Of course, in Mobile, you'll have lots of options for cool vines. Carolina Jasmine is a great fence cover. Confederate Jasmine would be very good as well.

I agree with John - I would plant lots of palms if you like the tropical look.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 5:38PM
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If you're already here you should definitely attend the Spring plant sale at the botanical gardens this weekend. The people that attend are very friendly and can answer questions you have. Lots of old time southern gardeners go to this sale.

Here is a link that might be useful: Plantasia

    Bookmark   March 27, 2007 at 6:24PM
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Good morning and thanks for all the advice. My husband just told me that the house we bought is 10 minutes away from the Mobile Botanical Gardens, and since he and my son are in Mobile this weekend I told him where he needs to go and make a list! I havent even been down there yet, since my sons are still in school, but will be moving permantly in early June after graduation. Do you think starting seeds up here would be a good idea?? This may sound stupid, but I am so used to up north gardening, I never even thought of tropical, but palms would be the way to go, now the question is, should I use dwarf and can I put them in pots or just plant them? I really do appreciate the friendliness of this forum, thank you all, and please keep the tips coming for me, apparently I need more than even I thought! Wanda

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 6:25AM
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Hi Wanda,
I am orginally from Mobile but now I live in NE Alabama in the foothills of the Appalachain Mtns.
Mobile is one of the most beautiful cities especially in the spring, which starts about the first of February. You will love the huge oak trees that line downtown government street along side Antebellum homes.
The Belligrath Gardens is a wonderful place to get ideas and you can even buy a few plants there.
Azaleas grow very well in Mobile along with just about anything else you would like to grow. Camellias are also just beautiful every color in the rainbow. And there are early blooming to late blooming which means you can have camillias blooming in your garden from Nov thru April.
I don't think palm trees are a good plant for Mobile they will grow but they are not meant to be grown there.
There are many good nurseries in Mobile, but one of the best places to see what grows well is to go to the Mobile Flea Market, it is out by the airport on Schillingers Road.
Open Sats and Sundays. You can get camellia bushes blooming for around $15.00, and the list goes on.
I think confederate jasmine is a good idea for the fence, and the smell when it blooms can be smelt hundreds of yards away, and it is evergreen.
Hope this helped you.
Instead of taking time to start seeds, I would be having a garage sale and get rid of all those unneeded items such as snow boots, snow shovels, and ice scrapers.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 9:38AM
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You can grow palms here, but not the same kinds you see in south FL. They do need to be cold hardy palms because Mobile does sometimes get hard freezes during the winter. The most popular choices here are the native Cabbage Palm, dwarf Palmetto Palm, and the Chinese Fan Palm.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 9:55AM
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john_trussville(z7b AL)

I don't think palm trees are a good plant for Mobile they will grow but they are not meant to be grown there.

Sorry Cindy, but IMHO that's just an outright ridiculous statement. Tell me, what exactly is "meant to be grown" there? Are you aware that there are palms that are NATIVE to the state of Alabama, growing & thriving far, far north of Mobile?

Everyone has the right to grow what they want and we all have our personal preferences, but to make a claim like that, especially for a coastal city like Mobile is just plain laughable.

Sorry all, I had to vent.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 2:08PM
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Wanda, check out the Cabbage Palms growing at the Mobile airport. I picked up some seeds from the parking lot last year and now have three of them growing in pots. They are also plenty of them growing at the intersection of Airport Blvd and Schillinger Rd.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 2:53PM
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Well John for one thing I think you are very rude. What is IMHO mean? The word I meant to use but could not think of at the moment was INDIGENIOUS to Mobile, so I just stated is as meant to be grown there. Google indigenious palms to Mobile Alabama and see if you come up with anything. Even Palm Beach Florida never had palms growing there until a boat load of coconuts was wrecked and they came a shore and lots of them grew. I really think that Wanda does not want to hear about your rude VENTING.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 3:18PM
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john_trussville(z7b AL)

Cindy, I'm sorry but you are misinformed about native palm distribution in the southeast. I'm at work right now so I don't have time to do the search, but I'll be glad to provide you with links that will clearly show the native distribution of sabal palmetto practically all over Florida (100% of Palm Beach County), and needle palm 'rhapidophyllum hystrix' all around Mobile and sabal minor all over southern Alabama and parts of central & northern Alabama too.

If you insist on using your "indigenous" standard for Mobile, then I guess all the azaleas, tulips, boxwoods (I could go on & on) aren't meant to be grown there either.

IMHO is an abreviation for "In My Humble Opinion".

Growing palms way up here in Birmingham is a passion of mine, and I'm sorry but I get a little bent out of shape sometimes when I hear bad info being tossed around about them. I'm sorry if I offended you.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 4:48PM
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Hey everyone, I surely didnt want to cause an argument here, especially in my first two days, lol! I really do appreciate all the advice and tips, and because of you all I am doing some serious research. I've actually been really impressed how knowledgeable (sp?) you all are. I'm just an everyday digger in the dirt--er. But I really do want to plant in a way that pleases people that pass by, and not have them know that a transplant moved in. You know what I mean? Also I especially love how everyone has been so nice,friendly and welcoming to me here on the board. I hope you let me stay for a long time. Thanks again,

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 5:40PM
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I really recommend southern magnolia, but try to find one that hasn't been limbed up. Southern magnolia looks the most graceful when it has branches all the way down to the ground like nature intended. That also eliminates the need for raking. I also prefer the straight wild species to the cultivars. You'll also see plenty of live oaks in Mobile, but in my opinion they are overplanted and I think eventually you will get tired of seeing so many of them. Other oaks such as Shumard oak and White oak offer a variety. Even though you will talk to many pine haters, I personally love Longleaf pine, and the needles will be free mulch in future years. Florida maple, which is a southern version of the sugar maple is another good choice. Bald cypress is commonly planted here and even though people think of them as a swamp tree, they are quite drought tolerant.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 7:47PM
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tony_pman(7b/8a Al.)

Welcome, Drive around and just look. You will see plants growing that you never thought to grow. Good plants to grow: palms, gingers, crape myrtles, crinums, and Elephant Ears of all kinds. Keep asking questions.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2007 at 10:26PM
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Mobile has a lot of beautiful palms. It's all a matter of your personal preferences. Camellias, azaleas, and Confederate Jasmine are certainly not indigenous to the Mobile area either, since they are all from Asia! Same with Gardenias.

There are indigenous palms even in some parts of Northeast Alabama (Sabal minor)!!

Some easy to find palms that will grow fine in the Mobile area:

Canary Island Date Palms (Phoenix canariensis) - large, feather-leaf type palm. There are old ones in Mobile.

Sabal palmetto - Cabbage palmetto

Windmill Palm - Trachycarpus fortunei

Jelly or Pindo Palm - Butia capitata

Needle Palm - Rhapidophylllum hystrix -- beautiful native shrub palm that is "native" into Central Alabama.

Sabal minor - native shrub palmetto -- there are native populations even in Jefferson County (Birmingham) and Etowah County (Gadsden)

Saw palmetto - Serenoa repens - another "shrubby" low-growing palm that cleans up well and makes a great native plant in landscapes

Chamaerops humilis - European fan palm - very nice shrub palm which eventually trunks

Washingtonia filifera - California fan palm; not always as easy to find as Washingtonia robusta, the Mexican fan palm... but it's more cold hardy

Washingtonia robusta - inexpensive, easy to find Mexican fan palm. Will defoliate after temps. below 20 degrees, but regrows foliage quickly the next season. May be killed if temps go below the low teens, so won't live indefinitely in the Mobile area. Well, I guess nothing lives indefinitely. LOL!

Syagrus romanzoffiana - Queen Palm... This is a marginal palm for the Mobile area, but they are cheap and grow quickly if you have space for something fun and likely to be temporary (could last years and years or be killed first Winter if not protected - temps below upper teens may kill them!)

There are other possibilities as well for palm enthusiasts, but certainly most of these are available and already used extensively in Coastal Alabama and adjacent areas of the North Central Gulf Coast.

    Bookmark   March 30, 2007 at 2:10PM
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welcome to alabama , wanda ! i'm from mobile too ,currently in birmingham. we love transplants here in the south and are glad you and your family are coming!

    Bookmark   March 31, 2007 at 5:49PM
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I moved to Mobile two years ago and I love the people. They are charming and polite. Hardly a day goes by at work without me chuckling about something or other. Your family will have a great time living in Mobile. I'd like to suggest planting Satsuma Oranges, Hydrangeas, Ferns, Azaleas, Kumquats...what else do I have...camelias, gardenias, asiatic lilies, and crepe myrtles. I second the suggestion that you go to the Schillinger Flea Market. Look for Mrs. Betty (her stall is at front) and Mrs. Mary's and Old Man Peavey (stall midway of the rightmost building). All of the plants that I got from them surivived winter despite the fact that I am too busy at work to do a lot of gardening. Their plants are cheap and do very well in our area. The azaleas with white flowers that I bought from Miss Mary last year bloomed abundantly two weeks ago. I wont say anything about palms except that in my neighborhood (Providence Estates) there are quite a few properties with palms that are doing very well.

Hey folks, I am impressed with the hospitality you have already shown our newcomer. More power to you. :-)

    Bookmark   April 18, 2007 at 7:38AM
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As a fellow gardener, I'd like to extend a very warm welcome to you, Wanda, to Mobile. This area is a gardening paradise and as a up-and-coming gardener, I'm beginning to see just how blessed this region really is with the climate and soils here. I used to be quite envious of south Florida and other tropical areas, but the more I learn about plants, the more I see that this is the spot where temperature and tropical worlds overlap. That is, many temperature-zone plants could be grown here while many tropicals and subtropicals flourish here, too. Possibilities are endless, Wanda. You'll love it. :-)

I must say, as a palm enthusiast, I'm thrilled to see how much support palms has here. I'm a member of the Gulf Coast Palm Society and I'm its webmaster. (Check out our website, which is linked above.) John, I think I have met you at the Southeastern Palm Society meeting in Chattanooga, and I am very glad to see that you defended palms on this forum. Kudos to you, and to all others for their support. Wanda, palms flourish here. They are fun to grow, try them out. Alabamatreehugger, I love trees. I get so mad when I see people cut down the beautiful towering pines (especially longleaf pines) and senseless developers cut down huge live oaks. You gotta realize, though, that before settlers came here, the city of Mobile was a bluestem palmetto swamp under sweetgums, live oaks, and black tupelos and the piney hills of west Mobile were covered with saw palmettos. Mobile originally has three native species: needle palm (Rhapidophyllum hystrix), bluestem/dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor), and saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). The cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto) is becoming naturalized here, so it can be consided a native since we are just west of its original native range.

(Sorry for the long post... I can get on a roll sometimes.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Gulf Coast Palm Society

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 10:17PM
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john_trussville(z7b AL)

hey Jeremy,

yes, I think I recall meeting you at the Chattanooga SPS gathering, as well. Great meeting, met lots of nice folks (palm nuts) there.

In my defense of palms, I probably came down a little hard on the Cindy lady, but I'm sorry I get a little irritated when I hear folks insinuate that we shouldn't see palms until we cross the Florida state line. I do hope that maybe she'll reconsider her beliefs about these wonderful plants.

Checked out your website & I must say your upcoming May IPS meeting sounds very tempting. I've never joined the IPS, but assume I could still attend. I just may have to work in a drive south around that time...we'll see.

hey, by any chance would you happen to know of any source in the SE for a 10 or 15gal size Brahea armata? I'm willing to pay the price for a nice one.

thanks Jeremy,

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 11:41PM
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