SELECTING THE RIGHT PLANT FOR YOUR SOUTH FLORIDA HOME AND GARDEN
Placing the right plant in the right place is of foremost importance in creating a healthy and successful low-maintenance landscape. However, this principle is dependent upon one’s ability to accurately select the ‘right’ plant species for a given location. Common names are often misleading, and sometimes more than one plant species may be referred to by the same or similar common name. Therefore, whenever possible, it is best to refer to scientific names when researching and selecting plants for your South Florida Landscape Design.
SOUTH FLORIDA PLANT CATEGORIES
At Zito Landscape Design Co., we strategically design our landscapes with the client space and needs in mind. With our reputable landscape architects, plants are often categorized by their function or role in native Florida landscape designs and were then assigned to one or more of the following categories: A. Perennials; B. Annuals; C. Shrubs & Hedges; D. Flowering & Shade Trees; E. Fruit Trees; F. Palms, Cycads & Palm-like Plants; G. Ornamental Grasses; H. Groundcovers; I. Vines; J. Epiphytes; and K. Herbs & Vegetables. A definition of each category follows.
- Florida Perennials. Perennials are typically herbaceous plants that live three or more years. They often bear attractive flowers, and many can be used as groundcovers. (37 perennials are listed)
- Florida Annuals. An annual is a plant that typically lives for one year or less—or is commonly treated as such in the landscape. Although most annuals require moist soil, a few are considered low-maintenance. In south Florida, many annuals are cool-season plants, and, thus, will not tolerate the heat and/or wet/humid conditions of summer. Only drought-tolerant annuals were included. (18 annuals are listed)
- Shrubs & Hedges. A shrub is typically a woody plant with several stems. However, a wide variety of plants can function as shrubs. A hedge is simply a row of closely planted shrubs that form a border or boundary; hedges may require some pruning to maintain proper form or function. (117 shrubs and hedges are listed)
- Flowering & Shade Trees. A tree is a woody plant that is usually very large (tall or wide or both) and usually bears a single trunk. Flowering trees are those that are cultivated primarily for their showy flowers, whereas shade trees often lack significant floral displays. (59 flowering and shade trees are listed)
- Fruit Trees. Fruit trees are typically grown or cultivated for their edible fruit. To ensure a healthy, productive fruit tree, it may be necessary to feed and/or water them during fruit set. (13 fruit trees are listed)
- FloridaPalms, Cycads & Palm-like Plants. Palms are predominantly tropical and subtropical evergreen trees, shrubs, or woody vines of the Family Palmae (also known as Family Arecaceae). Palm stems are generally unbranched, bear a single growing point, and are topped by a crown of pinnate (feather-shaped) or palmate (fan-shaped) leaves bearing conspicuous parallel venation. In a few cases, entire palm genera are considered low-maintenance, including Brahea, Coccothrinax, Copernicia, Livistona, Phoenix, Sabal, Thrinax, and Washingtonia. Although many palms require regular fertilization, the species listed herein require less than most. (44 palms are listed) Cycads are cone-bearing evergreen plants of the Division Cycadophyta; they are often mistakenly considered palms. Note, the cycads included on this list are resistant to the cycad aulacaspis scale, which is a serious pest of cycads in the genus Cycas (which includes the sago ‘palms’). (20 cycads are listed) Palm-like plants are those that superficially resemble palms but belong to unrelated plant families. (four ‘non-cycad’ palm-like plants are listed)
- Ornamental Grasses. Ornamental grasses typically grow in tuft-like clumps and bear numerous small flowers on tall stalks that rise above the blade-like leaves. Many are quite showy, and are welcome additions to a non-traditional landscape. (14 ornamental grasses are listed)
- Groundcovers. This category includes a diverse group of unrelated plants that are used to cover areas of ground for aesthetic purposes (e.g., in shady areas where grass will not grow). Groundcovers also function to stabilize soil, or to provide focal points at the front of planting beds. Generally planted in dense stands, groundcovers can be vines, small shrubs, annuals, perennials, or grasses. (59 groundcovers are listed)
- Vines. Vines are weak-stemmed plants that derive their support from climbing, twining, or creeping along a surface. Although most people think of vines as climbing vertically, a few species also grow horizontally and can function as groundcovers. Some vines have aggressive growth habits, so they need to be watched carefully to prevent them from growing out of control. (25 vines are listed)
- Ephipytes. Epiphytes are plants that grow on other plants (e.g., trees) or objects (e.g., rocks and boulders) for support or anchorage, but not for water or nutrients. This category includes orchids, ferns, bromeliads, and some cacti. (11 epiphytes are listed)
- Herbs & Vegetables. Herbs are plants whose leaves, stems, or roots are used as flavoring in food or as non-traditional medicines, while vegetables are plants that produce edible parts (roots, stems, leaves, or fruit) that are grown for food. Although not included in most landscapes, some herbs and vegetables have ornamental value. (four herbs and two vegetables are listed)
Depending on your landscape needs, you might want to vary the height of your hedge or privacy screen to make it more visually interesting. That means choosing trees and shrubs of different heights. When you’re looking into shrubs and trees, you’ll also need to consider how much sun and shade they get, as different plants have different needs.
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