Friday, October 29, 2010

Going Native

The back fenceline at My Garden Path has been a difficult area to garden successfully.  Part of it is deeply shaded and the soil is moist but well draining.  Another part of this area gets more sun and can be boggy during the rainy season but dry the rest of the year.  Many Florida native plants can take these conditions so I've been on the look-out for some natives for this troubling area. 

American Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, was planted in the drier area with shifting shade.  It is just setting berries.  The bushes along the roadsides have been laden with magenta fruit for several weeks now.  Soon those lovely berries will be brightening up this shady spot. 

Shiny leaved Wild Coffee, Psychotria nervosa, was planted nearby.  This plant is not cold tolerant so I'm not sure it will survive here, but I just had to try it.  On top of all the other difficulties this area has, it is at the bottom of a slope and the cold air in winter collects against the fence. 

For the usually moister side of this area a Needle Palm, Rhapidophyllum hystrix, was chosen.  It has plenty of space to form a nice clump.

It is surrounded by Pinecone Ginger, Zingiber zerumbet, and Umbrella Sedge, Cyperus involucratus, which hopefully will all grow with abandon and give this spot a natural wetland look.

Another little Simpson's Stopper, Myrcianthes fragrans, was also placed in the occasionally wet spot.  It joins one planted at the beginning of summer which has done well. 

While on the hunt for native plants, I came across Pink Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, in all its glory.  Of course, this one isn't a good fit for the troublesome back fence growing conditions, but I had to get several anyway.  They are planted in another area where it is sunny and dry and the late afternoon sun can show them off to great advantage.

These native plants are soon to be experiencing an unpredictable Florida winter.  Hopefully, all will come through just fine and be ready to grow lush and full in the springtime creating an interesting naturalized setting.


  1. You have some wonderful natives that I don't have. I hope they all survive this winter. Maybe it won't be as cold down here as last year.

    I love that pink muhly grass. We couldn't find it anywhere when we looked for it.

    Thanks for visiting my blog and leaving your kind comment.


  2. You always have such interesting plants, NanaK. Makes me want to go plant shopping. Wish we had a native nursery 'round here. For now, I'm using my son's property as my hunting ground. ; )

  3. Ooh, those Wild Coffee sounds interesting. Have it bloomed for you yet? I heard the flower scent is fuity, and fruits look beautiful too. Please show us more pictures of it later when it blooms, and I do wish it can survive the winter.

  4. Hi Kay...Looks like you're having success with your problem area. Don't we all have an area like that. You just can't beat beautyberry and muhly grass. I've got my muhly planted in an area similar to yours...VERY wet in the summer and VERY dry in the winter, and it does quite well. I've discovered that a lot of drought tolerant plants will tolerate damp to wet feet for a short period of time...hurray since I have a large area with this particular problem.

    I read that this winter should be mild...let's hope. Have a wonderful weekend!

  5. NanaK, Looks like your getting some really great Florida native plants. I just know we are going to have a great winter this year. Janis

  6. FlowerLady - I'm hoping that "native" means "tough." I have planted very few things in this area that are still living. The muhly grass is everywhere around here this time of year. I even saw it at the Wal-Mart garden center.

    Floridagirl - I have to travel to find native plants usually but I'm finding more and more at garden centers that never used to carry them. You're fortunate to have 'six-acres' in which to plant hunt.

    Ami - Ooo, I hadn't heard that wild coffee flowers have a scent. I saw some planted in another garden that were full of berries so I'm hoping to get to see flowers and berries on mine soon.

    Susan - Hmmm.. I didn't plant the muhly there because I was worried about the wetness (when we have it!) But maybe I'll try some there. That sure would fill in some of the bare spots nicely.

    Pumpkin - I sure hope you're right about winter! But this time, whatever comes, I'm NOT going to be such a baby about it like I was last winter.


Thank you for travelling down My Garden Path with me. I love hearing from you. Please leave a comment and share what is going on in your gardens.