what to plant to fill in durning the winter months?

kaye620(z8bGA)July 6, 2006

Hello! This is my fist full season of having my tropical garden. I started it last summer with a few things here and there. It is starting to look great and the humming birds love it.

My question now is what can I add to my garden that can help feel in durning the winter months? I have a L shaped area about 25'x 20', currently 2-4' in width. I have room to expand in all directions. It is light shade in the morning and full sun in the afternoon. I live outside of Savannah, GA so it is HOT and Humid most of the summer with mild winters.

Thanks for any advice you might have for me!

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Nell Jean

By 'filling in' do you mean what kind of 'bones' can you give your garden so that it has some kind of structure and shape when frosts come and all the tropicals turn to mush? By bones I mean trees, shrubs and perennials that don't lose their leaves and decorative elements like arbors.

Or, do you mean what filler plants can replace the ones that die down? Things like pansies, flowering kale and all those cool season pretties that we enjoy in winter then yank out and replace with tropical annuals and tender bulbs in late spring?

I garden on the other side of the state, but we can plant pretty much the same thing.


    Bookmark   July 7, 2006 at 10:21PM
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Winter interest around here - Columbia, SC, also z 8 - with a tropical look is mainly fatsias, cast iron plants, palmetto shrubs, and pindo palms. Oh, and evergreen ferns. Any other suggestions, I'll gladly copy them.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 4:36PM
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Nell, I need some bones and fillers. Currently I have bannana, cannas, and eleph. ears as my bones. I use white yarrow, drawf cannas, caladiums, spring. fern, and red verbena as my fillers. I have one cat palm that I have just planted. The verbena and yarrow will stay green but all else will die with the frost.

Sojay, I can add the cast iron plants. I think I have some wild ferns in the back of our property that I might be able to use. Palmetto grows all around and I am sick of it.

What do you think about me adding drawf gardinas?

    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 8:25PM
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Nell Jean

Gardenias -- and the larger ones are easier for me than the dwarf -- would give you some evergreen when your summer bones turn to mush. So will cycads (Sago palm). I like Camellias, but that's a personal preference. If you need a tree, Loquat is a good tropical.

Would you consider winter annuals like violas, dianthus, snapdragons, iceland poppies for winter color? Lantana montevidensis (the lavender one) blooms off and on all winter for me. Setcreasea is a good filler if you like purple.

One of my favorite books is 'The Exotic Garden' by Richard R. Iversen, subtitled 'Designing with tropical plants in almost any climate.' He doesn't go into much information about winter interest. Many of the plants he uses are hardier for us.


    Bookmark   July 9, 2006 at 9:32PM
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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

Hi Sojay! I'm in Sumter S.C. I am slowly going over to the tropical side and am just starting out with some palms. I would love to hear about what palms, and especially palmetto shrubs are doing well for you in this area. I am also interested in variegated cast iron plants.

After the bananas, cannas, and other stuff dies out in the winter my yard is a pretty drab place.

Also, what evergreen ferns are doing well for you - honestly I didn't realize there was such a thing as an evergreen fern - sounds like a 'must have'.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 10:56AM
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Hey Nell, I just got back from my neighbors where I took some cuttings for his gardenias. I plan on using most of them as foundation shurbs but I do want to save a few for my tropical area. I love camellias too. I haven't found anyone who has one I can take some cuttings from yet. Setcreasea? I haven't heard of it before. I will have to do a search for it to see what it is. I plan on using a lot of pansies in my front yard so I don't really want any in my tropical back yard. My husband and I have both been wanting to get a loquat tree. Do you know when the best time to plant then is?

Gurley, variegated cast iron plants? I didn't know they came that way. Ahhhhh, I would like those. Any idea where I could find some?

Thanks All! This has been a great help! Kaye

    Bookmark   July 12, 2006 at 3:47PM
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Nell Jean

Purple Heart is the common name for Setcreasea. I think it also goes by something like tradescantia pallida. Here's a photo with some around the legs of another good tropical that will remain green and sometimes bloom most of the winter in a mild year, Shrimp Plant.

Shrimp Plant attracts hummingbirds.


    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 12:27PM
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gurley157fs(zone 7/8sc)

My Setcreasea dies back in the winter but comes back in the spring. I do wish it would stay all year long - it is one of my favorites.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2006 at 7:26PM
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Setcreasea, oh ok. I know it by the common name queen jew. I planted some in my front yard this spring. If it keeps all year I will try it for the tropical next spring.

I'll have to try some of the shrimp plant. It is hard to find much in the stores that are still healthy this time of the year.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 12:07PM
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watergal(z6/7 Westminster, MD)

Plant Delights Nursery sells variegated cast iron plants. I tried to overwinter one outdoors in my zone but it didn't make it. :(

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 8:57AM
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