quick shade in S Florida

bobj(z10 FL)May 22, 2008


I'm in Broward County about a mile from the ocean. I have a large yard with absolutely no shade. I would like to plant one or more shade trees. In order of importance:

-Create as much shade as possible as fast as possible

-low maintenance

-as resistant to hurricane damage as possible

-not extremely expensive

Any suggestions?



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Your first and third requirements are divergent. Meaning that any fast growing tree will not be a strong hurricane resistant. I would choose a hard wood tree, a southern live oak(quercus virginiana)there are several types of live oak and don't expect the growers to ALL know this, buy the biggest tree you can afford, preferably grown in ground to avoid stunted pot bound rootballs in pot grown trees. Make sure it is does NOT have a central leader with a tight canopy (Laurel Oak). I would choose a spreading and open tree that will give you plenty of shade. The open canopy will not block enough wind to cause problems. It will be pricey and will respond to good fertilization and watering.

Shop around on phone, that are several tree growing farms in the area and as slow as landscape business is these days they may be more apt to negotiate on the price/delivery/installation

Here is a link that might be useful: quercus virginiana

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 9:23PM
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tropicalfreak(z10b Ft Lauderdale)

Bananas, Plumeria

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 10:11PM
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Gumbo Limbo?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 11:25PM
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goldenpond((Vero.Beach FL 9b))

I know that you do not want expensive but I would forego all annuals and your vacation this year and pay for a large tree to be planted. You will have the guarantee(at least a year) and you will get a head start. They are just so important.
My likes are variegated mahoe,gumbo limbo and esperanza.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 1:57AM
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But then , you have people who swear by the cathedral live oak BECAUSE of their strong , central lead..

confusing huh ? !


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 2:50AM
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It grows faster than anything I've ever seen. You have a great bamboo source down there and I have bought alot of their smaller containers but you can get bigger ones and will fill in and shoot up like you would not believe!

Bambusa malingensis ,wong chuk, I also have the bambusa multiplex Alphonse Karr, has a beautiful cane. There's also this beautiful black bamboo, awesome cane, but not sure what the name of that one is, it's also clumping type.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 7:10AM
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In no particular order, these are fast growing trees that will provide shade and are deep rooting to resist hurricanes. You can find all of them at nurseries between Homestead and West Palm Beach.

Tipuana tipu - Brazilian Rosewood
Peltophorum pterocarpum - Copperpod
Delonix regia - Royal Poinciana (Florida native)
Ficus benghalensis - Banyan Tree (only if you can plant it at least 30 feet from your house)

There are dozens of other trees that will do the job, but these 4 are the ones that come quickly to mind.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 8:24AM
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Just to add a little more information to the previous excellent suggestions.....the University of FL has conducted a lot of research in this area after the 2004 hurricanes. I've attached a link to one of their publications below.

Here is a link that might be useful: UF: Selecting Trees for Wind Resistance

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 12:53PM
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heres another link on what trees are recommended and which to avoid on wind resistance

Here is a link that might be useful: hurricane resistant trees

    Bookmark   May 23, 2008 at 5:34PM
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To make a comment on fawnridge's post, Banyans are prohibited down in Miami-Dade county...I would assume the same goes for Broward County.

Their root system is extremely expansive, it will lift anything around it, including your drainfield and/or underground pipes.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 7:23PM
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I have exact problem a yard that gets direct sun from 6am to 8pm more or less its pure heat .

I was looking at a tree also but the hurricane thing scared me . I have a palm tree in the front yard which drops these red nuts thus ruled out a palm tree

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 7:52PM
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Well every tree requires maintenance. If you cut those red nuts before they drop, you wouldn't have a red nut problem and you might love your palm tree more. Gumbo limbos are a nice alternative, ranks well on the Hurricane list and provides a nice canopy for growing orchids, hoyas, staghorn ferns, etc. Leaf drop occurs seasonally, so you do have to rake if you like a tidy garden. If you want a cutting off my Gumbo Limbo, just e-mail me. (I'm not charging, just looking for a good home.)

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:07PM
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the_musicman(z9 FL)

I can only suggest what I planted for exactly this same purpose. My backyard was mostly all day sun when I moved in. So I planted two trees that I knew would grow quickly to cast some shade.

On one side, I planted Sacred Fig (Ficus religiosa). On another side I planted Honey Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus melliodora). Both are growing extremely quickly, and are far enough away from the house to not cause problems.

They are inexpensive, low maintenence, and are probably not the best for hurricane damage. As others have said, very quickly growing trees are inherently less sturdy in the face of strong winds. I'm fully aware of that risk, and I'm taking it. I want shade too!

    Bookmark   July 7, 2008 at 11:31PM
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I hope that works out well for you, Musicman. I paid big bucks to cut down my 40? year old, incredibly shady Eucalyptus about three months before Frances made landfall at Sewall's Point. I still do the happy dance thinking about my incredible dumb luck.

It broke my heart to have her cut down. She was the tallest tree in the block by far, and a well over 30' from my home. She creaked, groaned and dropped limbs with the slightest rain or wind storm. Without question, that Eucalyptus would have taken my house or a neighbor's house down in that storm or the two hurricanes that followed. Eucalyptus are brittle.

Ficus roots are notoriously invasive. Native trees are the way to go, or if you don't want to go native, check the links previously provided by other members for shade tree options. Mother nature isn't getting any nicer, and we all need to be responsible about what we plant now for future generations. I don't mean to preach, but I'm pretty passionate about how bad the Eucalyptus and Ficus tress are for S. Fla

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 1:40AM
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minibim(FL z10)

For one of the largest genus' around, you seem to have a limited view. Plant native????? um... two Ficus' ARE native to Florida. Not to mention that you just decided how "bad" fig trees are.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 8:12AM
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I'm in z9 so my choices in trees wouldn't be the same as yours, but I do have something for you to consider. Plant something that will provide long-term growth and shade, like a Live Oak (I agree you should stay away from the Laurel Oak because they fall over in The Big Winds!). Then plant a couple trees that will give you quicker growth and shade until the other tree is big enough. Crape myrtles are pretty mundane but if you don't prune them severely ("crape murder") they turn into lovely shade trees in just a couple years. Then, when the oak or gumbo limbo or whatever is large enough, cut back the c. myrtles.

In all cases, put in the largest trees you can possibly afford.

On Ricky's recommendation a few years ago I checked out the Tipuana Tipu tree. I planted one and absolutely love it. After a couple awkward teen-age years when I wasn't sure which direction each new branch would go, it's turned into the prettiest tree in my yard. Nice canopy of shade, limbs strong enough to support hanging baskets, pretty shaped leaves and brilliant yellow flowers that attract butterflies. And it's fun to say the name when people ask you what it is. Pretty hard to beat all that. Try to find room in your yard for one!


    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 9:20AM
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Yes your right I should cut it going to either have it done or do it myself this weekend. I cant reach it as its very high . If home depot carries any pole that can reach that height (around 30 ft) will pick it up as no way going to get up on a high ladder to cut it lol.


    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 10:06AM
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My personal favorite is the Monkeypod/Hawaiian Rain Tree (Samanea saman). It can grow up to 10ft a year; maturing in 3 to 4 years at 30-40 ft. Nothing faster and a hardwood too! Umbrella-shaped with high canopy of small leaves and rose & white mimosa flowers during warmer months. The tree does not cast a heavy shade so you can still grow sun-living plants and even a lawn beneath it. Leaves close on cloudy and rainy days--again allowing more light thru the canopy. Great corky bark for growing epiphytes. I have 2 (30-40ft high X 50-60ft wide)which weathered the last 3 hurricanes with minimal damage.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 3:37PM
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I would like to apologize to everyone for the idiotic drunken post I made on this thread the other night. I woke up the next morning with a monster hangover. I respect the members of this forum and am very sorry and embarrassed. (And...I'm on the wagon.)

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 5:32PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hi Bob,

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, I believe that, so here goes.

I have a few of these, they took 35 years to get that way and are concerning during hurricanes:

I also have some of this:

Bamboo meets three of your four criteria:

1) Fast - this bamboo is only FIVE years old and was started from 3' single stalk plants smaller than your pinky finger in one gallon containers, x #12...it grows 8-10 feet a year to a height of 35-40 feet.

2) Low maintenance - I trim it twice a year

3) Hurricane resistant - been through several without problems a few years back

4) I paid $15 each = $180

This species is B.malingensis

Good luck in your quest,


    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 7:56PM
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the_musicman(z9 FL)

many of us have been there. it's all good.

that is some amazing bamboo! you've almost got me considering it now....

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 10:37PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hey Musicman,

I have to tell you, my back porch stayed so hot that it was uncomfortable to be out there in the middle of the summer, now its 15-18 degrees cooler and very comfortable in the afternoon...same with my master bedroom, west wall used to absorb all that heat and radiate it inward, not anymore. I love bamboo, don't know why I didn't put it in sooner!

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 11:21AM
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Lovin' that bamboo, Tom! Curious, how exactly do you go about trimming all that foliage? Do you use an electric hedge trimmer or go at it by hand?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 12:30PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hi Oriole,

I do it by hand, usually takes me about an hour. I use this, it's not really practical for trimming trees but it's perfect for trimming bamboo...only need to trim the stuff that starts bending over to get some weight off the top. I purchased this one at HD.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 3:43PM
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Thanks Tom. You've inspired me! Great photos, too.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 4:54PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Thanks Oriole, you won't regret it. It's probably not obvious from the picture inside the pool cage but when I decided to run bamboo down the west side of my property I designed it to shade HALF the pool. That way on really sunny/hot days we can get in the shallow end and be in the shade, but on days I feel like being a sun-worshiper I just move out to the deep end ;-)

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 6:32PM
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Irma_StPete(z9 FL)

Tom, do you use that trimmer on those tallest bamboo limbs (shoots? those monsters?). I guess they are so light that where they fall doesn't matter?

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 7:51PM
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tomncath(St Pete Z10a Heat 10)

Hi Irma,

Correct, for the ones that are partially bent over at best your only cutting off ten feet to lighten them up enough to allow the stalks a more upright position.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 8:45PM
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Thought I would give my thoughts based on the posts above. #1 Royal Poinciana (good points: FL native, no hurricane will take it down but it will break apart some, very fast growing, beautiful in June, bad: messy, bare for a couple winter months, needs major space) #2 Gumbo Limbo (Good: FL native, good wind resistance, bad: none really, only a moderate growth rate) #3 Bamboo (Good: fastest growing, Bad: choose the right one, clumper, some get very large, look at Tropical Bamboo's website)#4 Live Oak (Good: FL native, good wind resistance, beautiful shade tree once it grows, probably the best, Bad: slow growth relative to others).

    Bookmark   July 10, 2008 at 9:46PM
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watermelon7(9 - 10)

Plant Gumbo Limbo. All you need to do is take a twig or branch and plop it in the ground, and remember to water it for a while. You'll be amazed what it turns into. No rooting hormones, only dirt and water. They create great shade, and they grow, probably, 3 feet a year! They don't shed leaves too much, so you don't have to worry about that. In the Caribbean, people actually make living fences out of Gumbo Limbo! They do have berries, but they can't be seen very easily. But, what comes up, must come down. Plus, you can have even more trees by planting more twigs off of the same plant, without paying extra. If you ask a neighbor for a piece off their plant, planting Gumbo Limbos may only cost you, well, nothing!

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 3:49PM
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watermelon7(9 - 10)

Plus, Gumbo Limbos are native to Florida, so they are hurricane resistant. A few branches may fall, but with the strong root structure, the stem will stay in the ground at all times. You can train them to be stronger also, so they don't loose their branches as easily.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2008 at 3:51PM
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morganwolf(z10 FL USA)

I love my Gumbo Limbo; we planted it after Wilma tore through Broward and turned my yard (previously the most tree-filled yard in the neighborhood) into a mass of torn-up sod and stumps. One lone palm survived. FORTUNATELY, most of what we had to replace were invasive trees that should never have been planted in the first place. HOWEVER... there is a new pest recently imported accidentally into Miami Dade, similar to ficus whitefly, but targets Gumbo Limbo and reportedly cocoplum as well. It may be spreading north into Broward; we're watching anxiously. I'd hold off investing in Gumbo Limbo until after this threat is accurately assessed. If you can grab a couple of branches to plant, do that (but check for a spiral egg pattern on leaf bottoms before bringing into your yard).

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 2:50PM
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