Taking Root Seasonal gardening advice

Friday, December 6, 2019 0 Comments

Taking Root Seasonal gardening advice

You may not often think about using native plants as part of your landscape.

Most of us are used to the colors and standard plant material we see at the big box stores.

But shrubs that are indigenous to our region provide food and shelter for all types of wildlife, and support pollinators such as butterflies and hummingbirds.

I’m going to suggest three plants native to Florida that are all part of the Verbenaceae family.

They will add character and color to your garden as well as sustain wildlife.

American Beautyberry, or
Callicarpa americana

The Beautyberry’s small lavender-pink flowers bloom in the spring; those blossoms are followed by bright purple or white berries that show in the fall.

It is a perennial, deciduous shrub that grows 4 - 8 feet high and 3 - 5 feet wide.

The alternating green leaves provide the setting for attractive purple berries that grow along the main stems.

It does well in full sun to partial shade.

The berries are showy and more than 40 species of birds eat them; foxes, opossum, racoons and squirrels also find them tasty, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

It prefers moist soil and generally has few pests.

This is one plant that rarely needs pruning as it has an open form of display.

Dwarf Porterweed, or
Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

Blue Porterweed is a perennial and is known as one of the most popular plants for attracting butterflies in South Florida.

The blue flowers grow partway up the twirling, upright stems of the plant.

Porterweed comes in many colors and varieties but it is the blue native that stays small and compact.

Full sun is fine, but it does best in partial sun and shade.

Moist soil is preferred.

Blue Porterweed maintains a height of 6 inches - 1 foot. It will also attract hummingbirds.

Native Lantana, or
Lantana involucrata

Sometimes known as Buttonsage, it is an evergreen shrub that produces dense clusters of very small, white, fragrant flowers.

You’ll notice that if the leaves and flowers are crushed, they smell like sage.

The leaves are more rounded compared to its non-native cousin.

Lantana enjoys well drained, sandy soils and full sun to minimal shade.

It grows 3 – 5 feet high, with a 1 - 5 feet spread.

Lantana is an excellent addition to any butterfly garden.

It is drought and salt tolerant.

Just be careful not to confuse it with its non-native relatives that have larger, more colorful blooms, as they are highly invasive.

Photos: Steve Poulson

Please login or register to post comments.

Theme picker