Suggestions for new FL homeowners

loves2readMay 17, 2013

We bought home in Nokomis last May and have been coming and going for the past year w/o really doing anything for the landscaping
Now that my husband has retired we will be spending more time here and are just about done with replacing the original (70's ranch) driveway with pavers and putting them on the lanai deck...

Over time we will probably be changing out the larger, original shrubs in the back yard -- no privacy fences allowed--only 4 ft tall ones--that form a hit or miss privacy screen...
we have a magnolia that is maybe 18 ft tall in middle of small horizontal backyard and some palms in the front but most of the long-term growth lacks color and is overgrown...mature growth too large for the original beds...

I bought 3 gardening books with FL orientation the other day--
Tough Plants for FL Gardens, Month-by-Month Gardening in FL , and Southern Coastal Home Landscaping...
just to get some ideas since I think this area south of Sarasota has very different growing seasons than where we live now--DFW TX area
The growing zones are 7-7b I think but not sure how many plants I am familiar with will still be good for FL...
plus our HOA has landscape guidelines--the major one being "no invasive plants"...

Right now I would like to find something to put around the base of our mailbox that gets full sun...and just to replace the tired geraniums in a barrel container in front yard...--again full sun and probably not much water...

if you have any other books or sites to suggest please do...and if you have plants that are low growing and do well in full sun then give them...
I was going to get some moss roses and verbena--would those work?
and maybe a dwarf lavender--
would like to use pink, white, maybe red accents...

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Lavender is probably out, Vinca and or lantana might be a good options as well as the verbena you mentioned,

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 1:14PM
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cathystpete is a great plant resource for Florida.

I like to use Purple Queen (Tradescantia pallida) as a colorful full sun groundcover around different colored Four O'clocks and Variegated Ginger. Plumerias, Blue Porterweed also do well, and Pentas for part shade. There are a lot of options. Goodluck.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 6:17PM
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Drive around the neighborhoods in your immediate area and take note of the plants that are doing really well and that you really like. That way, you'll pick plants that have the best chance of doing well in your yard.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 8:58PM
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Mona Lavender would work, it is not a traditional lavender, but has nice flowers. Dwarf Firebush and Dwarf Tibouchina would work. Ellen Bosanquet Crinum Lily Is pretty as well as Agapanthus, you might be able to get away with Crotons in your area, too. As far as shrubs, Lorapetulum makes tidy shrubbery and has small fringe like flowers in the spring. I have been to Nokomis, such a pretty area.

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 10:00PM
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you might want to visit Selby gardens in Sarasota to get some ideas for planting
you might also visit sunken gardens in st.pete

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 10:05PM
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We moved in last September and landscaping became a necessity as not much had been done with this house.

Being originally from NY, I had little knowledge of Florida Plants...still don't!

What I did was drive around neighborhoods and took pictures with my phone. I took pictures of landscaping in front of nice hotels, restaurants and some shopping centers. They tend to plant in groups with colorful flowers and shrubbery which seems to stay small.

I would take my phone to the Garden Nursery and show someone there, my pictures and ask them to identify them and if they sold them.

Got some good ideas what worked in my conditions. Of course, I have to do all the labor myself and don't have the luxury of full time gardeners.

Shot of the front of a hotel on University


    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 12:53AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Sounds like good advice . Since i have no experience with gardening anywhere but zone 10 you'd think I'd avoid all the usual mistakes but not so lol. Way over planted .did not select the correct varieties and became a hopeless collector . tried to grow plants that require cold/cool rest periods nor give enough attention to size and habit of the choices that were right . While i did end up with a very interesting garden it violates all known landscape aesthetics and requires lots of labor to maintain lol
I'm working on that now but I'm still a "collector " not a landscaper lol good luck !! gary

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 6:25AM
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We Floridians (and most gardeners) don't make mistakes! LOL

We DO things by trial and error. I can't begin to tell you all the wrong plants I've planted and lost, but I've gotten many zone 10 plants to survive the winter in my zone 8b. I have found that it amounts to planting them in a location they love and they flourish.

I can plant a zone 8-9 plant in my yard and it will just barely hang on. I re-locate the poor plant until I find an area in my yard that suits it and bingo - it takes off.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2013 at 12:55PM
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I am playing with moving-to-florida idea. so I look thru all kinds of posts to familiarize myself with plants/problems,etc.
I found an interesting
topic with pics. you might want to start with just developing some groundcover beds, you could always move them around later. and it's a quick inexpensive fix.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2013 at 1:32PM
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Local plants sales/festivals/shows are good sources of plants that will grow in Florida and usually in your zone. The vendors are generally very knowledgeable about what they are selling.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2013 at 2:01PM
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we moved from outside of NYC to brandon FL 3 years ago and then to Sarasota last August (2012). Our FIRST time gardening and we had a 1/2 acre back yard to contend with - it was, and I kid not, a "swamp" when it rained and a sea of biting ants when the rain stopped. no irrigation either. We spent a ton to pull up the weeds, re-level everything, and then proceeded to put down 17,000 sq feet of zoysia and the rest we made into beds filled with over 1,500 plants now (about 140 different varieties). We did most of this by October of 2013. We had done tons of research (with Gardenweb being invaluable) prior to planting ... but now its June ... and we've learned a few things along the way. in respect to your full sun spot .... couple suggestions...

Everyblooming - the 2 huge winners in respect to non stop bloom for us are Dipladenia Pink (2-3' high x 2' wide, dark shiny green leaves and pink flowers) and Scaevola Purple Fan (low ground cover with purple flowers)... they still haven't stopped blooming since October (thats 8 months and counting). The scaevola is more drought tolerant but will need some water - both of these are doing well in one spot in full sun in our yard and we also have them in light shade as well.

Another good drought tolerant low-growing that will do well in full sun is Blue Daze (Evolvus Glomeratus) -- ... i have alot of this .. its pretty up close but the blue flowers are too small to be seen from a distance. It goes in and out of bloom. the Scaevola Purple Fan is far more showy and grows to create a carpet of purple that, as noted, as been non stop bloom so far for us. The Blue Daze is easier to find though.

If you have a lot of room and want something higher, get Plumbago - while it doesn't bloom non stop, its evergreen, pretty when it does, and low maintenance. Its a bit more of a wild look than the others but its pretty indestructible.

Stay away from the low growing lantana - just gets too ratty looking for my taste and then you have little nubs when you have to prune it back to refresh it. We also have the low growing Verbena and that died down in winter and seems to keep getting moldy in the center.

Likely the lowest-maintenance thing you can get is Flax Lily (green & white variegated spiky leaves -- no real flowers worth talking about). Our 100 or so of these are plagued by rust in sun, in part sun, in mostly shade... pretty much every single one of them .. BUT .. if your spot is very dry and you don't have overhead sprinklers, perhaps you could avoid this fate. they get big and you'll have to divide them every now and then but from a distance, they give a nice contrast to the lawn.

For vines -- the Mandevilla (in same family as dipladenia) would work .. but will die down in winter - its really really pretty and easily controlled during the rest of year. We also have the Purple Wreath vine (too woody and overpowering for a mailbox), the Garlic Vine (blooms too infrequently to be useful - also a woody vine), the Bleeding Heart VIne (you're spot is likely a bit too much sun), the Thunbergia vine (OH man -- grows like wildfire but you won't have a mailbox left unless you're out there trimming it daily).

You could also do low-growing Bougainvillea -- there is one called Coconut Ice that has green & white variegated leaves and then white flowers. If your spot is very dry ... these would work ..they'll bloom all Fall, Winter, & Spring for you and the variegated leaves provide something of interest during the rainy season (when they will not bloom). The low growing bougainvillea grow around 1.5-2' tall and about 2-3' wide and have thorns but not too bad.

regards - d

    Bookmark   June 2, 2013 at 5:24PM
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