In need of suggestions!

KaraLynn(z9 FL, Inverness, Citrus)February 7, 2013

I have this flower bed that has been in place for about 5 years and while half of it is turning out the way I want it the other half is having troubles. I need an achor plant for one end of the bed but haven't been able to settle on anything. The area needs a large plant, preferably a small tree, to balance out the larger plants at the other end. Something that gets about 15 to 20 feet tall at most, blooms or has unique foliage, and doesn't provide dense shade. I live in zone 9a so it also has to be able to withstand the occassional heavy frost.

The bed in question is full sun most of the day and what little shade it gets is gone by around 10 in the morning. One tree that I don't want in this spot is a crape myrtle due to the trees tendancy to have a dense root system just below the surface of the dirt. I've considered a sable palm since I like how it looks and they have a small root system but they grow much taller then I want and to get a decent sized one would cost at least a couple hundred dollars to have planted. Another tree I considered is the weeping bottle brush tree but I can't seem to find a decent sized one, I'm not as fond of the standard version.

This bed has been driving me crazy and I would really like to get it right this year. Any suggestions would be very welcome!


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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F

Have you thought of maybe using a Sabal minor instead of a Sabal palmetto? Looking at the bed, I don't know of that would be too wide for you or not.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:44AM
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KaraLynn(z9 FL, Inverness, Citrus)

Sorry about how dark the picture above is, I took it a little after 6 last night right after I got home for work. Here is another picture that shows the portion of the bed that I'm happy with although the picture is a year or so old.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 8:44AM
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Jatropha, cassia, or yellow elder?

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 11:16AM
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KaraLynn(z9 FL, Inverness, Citrus)

The sable minor looks like it will be too wide for the area. It's something I'll keep in mind for some other areas of the yard though.

The jatropha looks interesting but I think I'm a little to far north for it. The same may hold true for the yellow elder but other than that it is a good candidate. I really like it's clusters of bright yellow flowers! Do you know how fast growing it is?

I tried a candleabra cassia in the bed but it kept sprawling everywhere and for some reason it seemed to attract bull ants that I just couldn't get rid of. It also died back to the ground every year.

What I'm really looking for is something that doesn't have to start over from the ground every spring. It doesn't matter if it is decideous or evergreen just as long as it doesn't die back to the ground every winter.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:43PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F

If it gets sun all day, you 'might' be able to get away with a Firebush. The problem being the dying to ground bit. While mine got bitten this past winter and is now coming back... from roots, there is a 15 ft specimen in The Villages that got much more sun than mine did and it retained its height. There is also a 5-6 ft one at the Discovery Gardens that lost its leaves, but I believe it is coming back from the old growth, not roots.

I have been told by one person that the Firebush, if bitten, will come back from roots each spring, but as it gets more and more mature and has really established itself, it will start retaining some of it's old growth instead of dying completely to ground. Another source said that my chances of it NOT dying to ground each year is pretty slim. Though I am a little more north than you. So, if this is the south side of your house that we're looking at, I would almost take the gamble and put a firebush there. Not only will it fill in that area, but it will attract hummingbirds for you.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 2:55PM
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A redbud tree would look great there. They stay smallish, and can obviously handle any cold snap that mother nature could ever throw at you.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:15PM
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juneroses Z9a Cntrl Fl

I've also been on the hunt for a small accent tree. One I'm considering is a loropetalum. I know we usually think of and see this plant as a shrub. The tree form I saw had burgundy foliage. It was very eye catching.

In a tree form, the growth reminds me of a crabapple. The trunk and branches twist and look somehwhat gnarly. When it's pruned so you can see this trunk and branch structure, it looks like the type of tree seen in a Japanese garden.

The named taller varieties of loropetalum that are more suitable for this are Zhuzhou and Pizazz.

Loropetalum seems to grow quickly so I think one could start out with a more modestly priced shrub and prune it appropriately as it grows into the desired tree form.

Here is a link that might be useful: Loropetalum tree

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:25PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F

Two other smallish trees that might do well there: Chickasaw Plum and Flowering Dogwood.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 3:45PM
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Yellow elder grows very fast. I had a few grow from seeds. I don't know about dieback because I'm in zone 10a. It is very heat, drought, and sun tolerant. It blooms all summer and goes dormant in the winter.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 7:54PM
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How about a Chocolate Silk Floss Tree, Blue Vitex Tree, Pink or Yellow Tabuia, or Bonfire Peach Tree, or Purple Hong Kong Orchid Tree. A nice shrub could be a Pineapple Guava, Butterfly Bush, Red Cestrum, or an Angel's Trumpet.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2013 at 10:35PM
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KaraLynn(z9 FL, Inverness, Citrus)

I have a large flowering dogwood, a redbud, and at least 4 chicksaw plums growing in the backyard already.

I really like the look of the blue vitex tree and it looks like they do well in my area. I think I'll call around to some local nurseries and see if anyone sells them.

Thanks for all the suggestions!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2013 at 7:20PM
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