Tropical/Subtropical Plant Selections

JerryatTreeZoo(Z10 So Fla)January 1, 2006

It seems most people here are in temperate climates. Does anyone have any suggestions for plants and trees in the subtropics of South Florida? I have been to the wonderful Morikami Gardens in Delray Beach. They use lots of standard Florida landscape plants but in traditional Japanese styles. Are their any proscriptions from using very colorful plants or are white flowers prefered? I want to select species that would lend themselves to Japanese gardening but be a little unusual too.


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Jando_1(Zone 5 IL)

Hi Jerry, I am no pro but I would say choose plants that have varied shades of green and use the foliage to play off each other. The Japanese Garden uses more plants for foliage than for the flowers. If you do have plants that flower try to plan so only one plant is in bloom at any given time.

Hope this helps.

Cheers Jando

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 6:29PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Jando_1(Zone 5 IL)

Jerry a good friend reminded me that white flowers are avoided in Japanese Gardens because they represent death.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2006 at 11:51PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
yukio(PDX, OR)

Jerry, the person who created the Morikami Garden is well versed in the use of plant material appropriate for Japanese gardens. He is from Japan and has installed gardens in temperate and tropical environments. If you know who he is go to his webiste otherwise drop me an email and I will email the web address to you.

    Bookmark   January 8, 2006 at 8:33PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo


I love Morikami gardens. Whenever I go down to South Florida I try to stop by.

One thing I did not see at Morikami though was the use of Native Sand Pines (Pinus clausa) in place of the dwarfed pines normally used in Japanese Gardens.

The sand pine takes trimming very well. It was once used for Christmas trees, and kept trimmed into neat cones. You can trim them into big bonzai shapes. I haven't done it myself, but I saw of photograph of a beautiful sand pine trimmed this way.

I think you can really get the feel of the Japanese garden using easy-care natives and naturalized plants if you just go for the same style of planting. For example, for those low mounding shrubs, you could use coonties. Lots of the native stoppers can be trimmed into picturesque little trees. There is of course a big selection of tropical bamboo. The one problem is finding a substitute for the Japanese maple, which won't grow down there. At Morikami I noticed they were using Firebushes for this effect, but to be honest I wasn't really crazy about it. Finding a deciduous small tree with "fall color" that will work down there would be difficult, but there must be some kind of tropical shrub or small tree with burgundy/reddish leaves. You wouldn't have the change of seasons, but you could have the look.

Down where you are you probablly have access to lots of natural Florida limestone rocks too.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2006 at 9:09AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
yukio(PDX, OR)

another way to look for plants which are used in tropical areas may be found in Okinawa and Hawaii, where, the climate zones are closer to Florida.
In Hawaii, in place of maples, strawberry guava are used.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2006 at 12:23PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
I built a Japanese Torii for my garden.
Please help! How can I save my 7' Fireglow??
I really hope someone can help me. I purchased a 7'...
Can gravel be kept clean with a leaf blower?
Can graveled areas be kept clean with a leaf blower?...
Canadian west coast winter
Not a desirable state for a layout aspiring to look...
Your Japanese garden questions
There seems to be little new questions on this forum....
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™