Monday, October 19, 2020

Tips From the Calusa Garden Club:

Colorful Winners for Your Winter Landscape

Aloe ferox, with its spectacular red blooms, grows taller than most aloe. In the background: a robust carpet of beach sunflower.

Aloe ferox, with its spectacular red blooms, grows taller than most aloe. In the background: a robust carpet of beach sunflower.

There is no reason to have a boring landscape when you live in Southwest Florida. Post Irma, here are some of the favorites that came back strong for the winter. They all took a beating from the wind and salt spray and are “musthaves” for easy salt/drought resistant winter enjoyment.

Aloe has been cultivated as a medicinal plant for more than 2,500 years. This plant is easy to grow and ideal for gardeners with limited space. They require very little care and thrive on neglect. They are not picky, and thrive in the shade or sun. Aloe vera is the most common, but a lesser-known variety, aloe ferox (known as the “ferocious aloe,” for the spines along its finger-like leaves) has the most spectacular bloom.

Coleus, a versatile, easy-to-grow plant, may be found in many patterns and colors. Photos by Maria Lamb

Coleus, a versatile, easy-to-grow plant, may be found in many patterns and colors. Photos by Maria Lamb

Panama Rose or bush penta is another “no-fuss” favorite. It has penta-like clusters of purplish pink tubular flowers. It is lightly scented during the daytime, but its scent grows stronger during the evening. It is best to plant it near walkways to enjoy the fragrance. It is a heavy bloomer and also does well in containers.

The beautiful beach sunflower, often used as ground cover, is both drought and salt tolerant; Planted on slopes or embankments, it helps with erosion control.

The beautiful beach sunflower, often used as ground cover, is both drought and salt tolerant; Planted on slopes or embankments, it helps with erosion control.

Pentas are great to attract butterflies and hummingbirds and will grow best in partial sun. They come in pinks, purples, reds and whites. They do well after a heavy seasonal pruning to maintain their shape. Not a fussy plant, pentas can be grown as a container plant mixing all the colors together to form a multicolored mass.

Coleus makes a bold addition to any garden. Coleus is both sun and shade loving and comes in a rainbow of colors and patterns. They can grow up to 12-24 inches, and are quite stunning cascad- ing from a large container by your front door or back lanai. Though somewhat fragile, they are super easy to grow and propagate. Just pinch an overgrown stem, stick it in moist soil, and watch it grow every day. Butterflies can’t resist their spikes of small blue flowers.

Dwarf royal poinciana is a yearround bloomer.

Dwarf royal poinciana is a yearround bloomer.

Beach Sunflower is ground cover that hates to be over-loved. It does well with our sandy soil. Beach sunflower will flower on and off all year round, adding that “cottage garden” appeal to your landscape. For limited spaces, try growing it in a tall container and enjoy its cascading effect. These sun-loving beauties are great for borders around palm trees, lampposts or bird feeders. Butterflies love the daisylike blooms.

Enjoy the pink clusters of a Panama rose’s sweetly scented flowers from December to June.

Enjoy the pink clusters of a Panama rose’s sweetly scented flowers from December to June.

Dwarf Royal Poinciana is the perfect plant for those who have always wanted a royal poinciana, but in a much smaller size. This fast-growing small tree/shrub (up to 12 feet tall) is a year-round bloomer, and comes in yellow or the more common red/ orange variety. It also does well in large pots.

On January 8, 2018 at 1:15 PM, Echo Global Farm Staffer, Alyssa Barrett will present “Organic Gardening around the World.” The public is invited to this free program, which will take place at Fellowship Hall, Wesley United Methodist Church, 350 S. Barfield Drive, Marco Island.

For more information about the Calusa Garden Club, visit their website at www.calusa.org.

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