I need special full sun shrub or plant- ideas?

annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)July 25, 2007

I am re-routing my backyard path and I need a couple of bushes or plants to fill in the pre-existing path area. This is a high visibility area which is in almost all-day sun (shade after 5 in the summer). My requirements are: Can't be taller than about 5 feet max, needs to be something pretty special with foliage color, bloom or something of interest since it is in a prime area of the yard. I would like it to be something unsusual or striking and something that is permanent (no annuals or perennials). I am drawing a complete blank. Help!


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AmberSky(9b FL)

Agreola blooms or fruits most of the year, and just a little pruning makes it have a really nice bonsai look.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 5:29PM
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I found this neat hibiscus at a local nursery last spring. It's doing quite well in full sun and gives some really neat blooms - pretty continuously since April. really don't know quite how big it will get, tho....

Hibiscus schizopetalus - Japanese Lanterns

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 5:33PM
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I'm in love with my Thryallis and my Plumbago in full sun. The Bahama Firebush is beautiful too but you would have to prune it to keep it 5' from what I've read.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 6:23PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Maybe a Dwarf Ylang Ylang or the adorable Peep Thong? Both can be kept small with pruning, and I bet everyone would want Peep Thong cuttings! I adore mine.. The foliage is glossy and attractive and the blooms smell wonderful.

If you look around on the T*p Tropicals website, I'm sure you will find lots of ideas.


    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 6:49PM
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coffeemom(Broward z10)

I vote hibiscus, too.
Or Roses? They love full sun.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:10PM
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Anna, click this and have a look at the photo of the Manihot esculenta 'Variegata'....and then click here for more photos. In my non-expert opinion, I'm thinking it fits into all those requirements in your first post. It is unusual and incredibly 'take-your-breath-away' beautiful! :o)

    Bookmark   July 25, 2007 at 7:33PM
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the_musicman(z9 FL)

I suggest Vitex. Here is what it looks like to a bee...

There is the more common Vitex agnus-castus or Vitex negundo, which is the one that I grow. They are basically the same except for subtle differences in the leaves. Both species send up spikes of fragrant lavender flowers in late spring and on through the summer.

This plant grows as a shrub or small tree if you let it, but it responds well to pruning. You could keep it at 5-6 feet. It thrives in full sun, is drought tolerant, and pretty much takes care of itself. Yet I've never seen them in the landscape anywhere around here (tampa bay). Definitely a unique and outstanding plant.

Check out the link below for all the particulars.

I did see several cultivars of this plant at Lowe's a couple of weeks ago, although I got mine from an online source.

Best of luck with your search!

Here is a link that might be useful: Vitex

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 3:06AM
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zozzl(z9 FL)

Thunbergia eretca (King's Mantle). Kate told me about this one. Mine is thriving in poor soil and full sun including afternoon sun. This is probably one of the prettiest shrubs ever. It has a nice shape to it and mine has been flowering nonstop for the last few months. I am going to add more of these in my yard as I find them.


    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 7:15AM
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i second musicman's rec -- why isn't vitex grown more often? even when not blooming, it's a very pretty plant -- silvery-grey foliage, heavily branched, tulip-shaped.

i'll throw out a couple of other ideas:
- native grasses (the ultimate low-maintenance hedge)
- hamelia patens (native, beuatiful foliage & inflorescences, and butterflies cannot resist)

the h. patens might need a bit of trimming to keep it to your height requirements (i don't know how big they grow down there).

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 7:17AM
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olyagrove(z9 Tampa, FL)

Dwarf powderpuff :) I do not think the sucker stops blooming - and butterflies, bees and hummingbirds are attracted to it!

some pics:

"this compact cultivar grows to only about 5 feet tall"

My question though...where do you guys find Vitex (besides Lowes)? I like it!


    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 7:39AM
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the_musicman(z9 FL)


I got my Vitex online from Richter's. They carry V. angus-castus (as "chastetree") and V. negundo (simply as "vitex"). They ship seeds and plants, but only have plants of V. negundo. That's why I got that one. Either way, it is such a fast grower that it quickly makes up for any disparity in size.

Here is a link that might be useful: Richter's

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 9:03AM
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AmberSky(9b FL)

I got mine at one of the USF plant sales. It's slow growing and has yet to bloom for me, but the bush itself is very pretty.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 10:25AM
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Nicki(z9 FL)

You've gotten great suggestions.

I vote for hamelia patens, too. It's a very pretty shrub that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies. Mine seem to be never without butterflies hovering over them.

I have a Vitex, and it's really pretty. I found it growing in my neighbor's yard and she let me take a cutting. It does lose it's leaves during the winter, so if you're not into having something deciduous, it might not be the plant for you. And I've seen pictures of it as a small tree... so it might get bigger than you'd like. But it is soooo pretty.

I'm on a penta kick right now, so I'm thinking the tall red ones would be great. You could plant groupings of them. I'm using them as a hedge right now along the front of my beds by the sidewalk. I wish I'd though of this, oh, about 8 years ago!

Lion's tail (Leonotis leonurus) might be another neat plant. Mine gets huge, but with pruning, I bet you could keep it under 5 feet. Bright orange blooms.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 10:31AM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)

I couldn't wait to come home to your suggestions! A lot of good ones, of course. Ambersky, I couldn't find agreola. Does it go by any other name? Beth, I've been wanting a hibiscus schizopetalus. I think it may be too tall for this spot, but I have a couple of other spots I could put it. I've always been intrigued by it and am going to keep my eye open for that one. Joanm, I do plan on getting at least the thryallis for my butterfly garden. Do you find the butterflies like it? I love the way it blooms all the time and is just the right height for what I'm looking for in that area.Coffeemom, I was thinking maybe about a Belinda's dream. I've been wanting one for a long time. If I find it, that may be a good candidate for that area. Sooth, I love the idea of manihot esculenta variegata. There are some other variegated things closeby, so it would echo those, and I think I could control the height easily, if needed. I will definitely look for this one. Musicman, I had forgotten about the vitex. I think it will be too big for this spot, but maybe another spot in the garden. There was a variegated one near where we used to live, and it was striking when it bloomed.Zozzl, I had a small thurnbergia erecta that I got at a swap, and I killed it. I just saw one at Selby and it was gorgeous. I will have to try again. My impression, tho, is that it prefers shade or partial shade? It may be a good candidate if it can take the brutal sun. Ill, I love the grasses idea. Will have to try to decide which ones may work. The firebush I was planning on putting at the side of the house- I think it would have to be pruned often in this area, and I love how they look when they are left to go wild. Olya, I have a small grove of dwarf powderpuff and love them. They are in my butterfly area and were on this property when we bought it. I love them. Nicki, I am a real penta fan. I have many of the tall hot pink ones all over and the starburst too. I try to root them all the time. I may put some of those in there if I have gaps that need to be filled, cuz this is my favorite perennial of all.

Thank-you everyone for your suggestions!!! If you think of anything else, keep them coming. You know it's not always easy to find what you're looking for when you need it. Thank-you!


    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 6:35PM
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AmberSky(9b FL)

I'm sorry for that type-o. That's acreola, or Barbados Cherry.

Here is a link that might be useful: Malpighia glabra

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 6:49PM
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Don't forget to consider Desert Rose. They take on a pretty form.

Anna, I don't have a good view of my thryallis so I don't know if the butterflies like it. It blooms all the time so I'm sure something likes it. I watch the butterflies on the jatropha the porterweed and the dwarf poincianna.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 8:50PM
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Cigar Plant (Cuphea ignea)
Philippine Violet (Barleria cristata)
Hamelia x 'Firefly'
Tahitian Gardenia (Gardenia taitensis) pruned to 5' tho after a while
Vietnamese Gardenia (G. vietnamensis)
Plumeria 'Dwarf Singapore Pink' grows in a perfect tree form, dense, to 5-6'
Arctic Snow (Wrightia antidysenteria)
Aloe ferox (amazing architectural that will grow on a stalk after a while)
Imperial Bromeliad (green or red form) (Alcantarea imperialis)

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 9:19PM
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Anna - if you want spectacular - Achmea blanchettiana - will be hard to beat. You just need lots of room - 6' to 8' deep - and full sun. Without the bloom spike, I've never seen them more than four feet tall. The bloom spike adds another 2 feet. Start with a few of them and just keep transplanting the new pups. If you want some, I can bring new pups to Veronika's.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 9:30PM
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vireyafl(710 FL)

Hi Anna,

Thunbergia erecta thrives in full sun. In shade it becomes somewhat lanky. Well fertilized plants have nice dark green leaves and bloom just about all year(for me anyway). With their yellow throats they look good next to something yellow like thyrallis or allamanda and are very carefree plants. There is an alba form available as well.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2007 at 10:26PM
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Irma_StPete(z9 FL)

Big, spectacular blooms: Pride of Barbados


I love mine! Bloomed in first or second year from seed. My "poor man's Royal Poinciana bush"! May be too "see through" for your use... but perhaps plant in combination with a dense, plainer or winter-blooming bush? Website above says to cut down in winter and it will grow back bigger and better (sounds like my crape myrtle bush - leafless in winter, spectacular summer blooms). Now I've added new little ones around it, hoping for blooms at varying heights.

I'm bringing potted youngsters to the Tampa Swap in September ("Conversations").

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 12:29PM
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ginibee(z9bFL Brevard)

Since I'm such a jatropha fan, I have to suggest jatropha integerrima 'compacta'. It's just so non-stop blooms and the foliage is nice too. You have some great suggestions, so I know it will be a tough decision.


    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 1:19PM
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Hibiscus, Ixora, Blue Plumbago, all like full sun...

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 2:49PM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)

Longwood, I think I may have seen the new hamelia firefly. I'm confused about whether it is the same as the 'dwarf' firebush. If it truly stays small, that could be a good choice. I love the idea of aloe ferox, but have never seen one and wouldn't know where to pursue it. I also like the alcantarea imperialis idea as well as Ricky's aechmea blanchetiana. I have two aechmea blanchetianas, but neither have bloomed yet. However, I don't have any in the back yard and I really do like how they look. No care is a plus, too! Irma, I have a tiny dwarf poinciana, but it has barely grown since it is in too much shade. I think it would get too tall for this spot, but you reminded me that I should really get one for my butterfly area. Ginny, I have 3 large jatrophas in my butterfly garden and love them.

Thanks again, everyone. I guess I will need to go shopping now that I have some ideas!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 4:14PM
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There are 3 "seemingly dwarf" firebushes on the market, andt he nursery trade has butchered the names/ID of them all.

There is a natural-formed dwarf of the native florida firebrush. I've not ever seen a botanical listing for it (although I've seen it written as 'Nana') other than a common name "dwarf firebush" and the typical Hamelia patens.

Another smaller firebush also called dwarf is the African Firebush (really from Mexico) as Hamelia patens 'Glabra' (this is the only legit name).

Then, there is the Firefly Bush, a forced hybrid, that grows to about 5-6' and stays compact and very flowery. It seems to have characteristics of both the African Firebush and our native, so I wonder if it is a cross with the African with the natural dwarf form of our native.

Tropiflora in Sarasota likely has Aloe ferox. They too would have Alcantarea, but perhaps at a sharp price!

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 4:43PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Surprised no body mentioned angels trumpet. varigated flowering maple. Iochroma maybe one of the dwarf tree form cassias or acacias?? dwarf of course. Geiger tree will grow bigger but very easy to control. tropical wisteria or maybe ladys eardrops or milletia ,tropical lilac. gary
You got enough suggestions for several acres lol
I think I asked before but how is the Trevesia palmata doing?? Had another complete failure with the seeds of burkii Fourth time should I give up??!! gary

    Bookmark   July 27, 2007 at 6:35PM
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I vote for powderpuff(calliandra hematochepla) misspelled, just make sure you get the variety "Nana". Much more vigorous than others. Another one I like is the hamelia cupera. I picked up a tree form one at Fairchild Mother's Day weekend and it has been blooming it's little heart out. Beautiful yellow blooms with darker throats. Small glossy leaves too.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2007 at 12:44AM
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