Monday, January 24, 2011

These Natives Are Friendly

Back in October I attended Boktoberfest at Bok Tower Gardens where I purchased some Florida native plants.  All but one have made it through what I hope is the worst of our winter.

(You can read about the original purchase here.)

Beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, is still holding onto its leaves and berries though it is showing some effect from the cold.  I have been surprised with the leaves continuing to stay on the plant as everything I've read says this plant is deciduous.  I'm hoping for new leaves and flowers in the spring. 

The Beautyberry and a Wild Coffee, Psychotria nervosa, were planted in the shady area of the garden near each other and where the soil stays dry.  I saw these planted together at Bok Tower and thought they made a great combo.  The Wild Coffee, however, has not fared well this winter.  It has lost all its leaves, so no photo of it; too depressing.  I do hope it will return with warmer weather, but it isn't the winter interest for which I've been striving.

Needle Palm, Rhapidophyllum hystrix, is doing quite well through the cold and even appears to have grown a little.  I really like the fan shaped leaves and the way it seems happy in the shady part of the garden.  It hasn't yet been tested by the soggy soil but I'm optimistic from what I've read about it's natural habitat.

The little Simpson's Stopper, Myrcianthes fragrans,  lost a few leaves but is growing new ones so I'm hoping that is all in the natural, native way of things. 

These plants are placed in the toughest part of the garden.  It is partly shady and sometimes quite wet.  If we have a wet spring, they will get a chance to show whether they have what it takes. 

I'm hoping these will be a spot of life in this area during the winter.  All the pinecone gingers and canna lilies go underground until spring and leave quite a blank spot. 

Once winter is over (just a few more weeks) I'm hoping these natives will become established and healthy.  I would like to see this trouble spot become an attractive natural and native habitat.


  1. I can't wait for you to post their progress in a month or two...I may have neele palm out back in the woods...hmmm

  2. Oh my, I wanted to go to Boktober Fest soooo badly!!! We had something going on that Saturday, but I did hop up there on Friday afternoon, as I wanted to see the giant water lilies in bloom. I did see the vendors setting up, but they weren't open for business.

    You have chosen some good natives. My son's beautyberries do indeed go deciduous in winter. They are still one of my favorites.

  3. I have always wanted to go to Boktoberfest.One of these years....
    Love all your choices.They're on my list of must-haves,along with quite a few more,but the checkbook is saying not now.

  4. The two Beautyberry bushes that are in the Sandpit are looking kinda beat up also. In fact they are looking just like your Beautyberry picture except minus the berries. They had berries this year but the resident Mockingbirds here ate them all off. Glad to see that it is not just my bushes but maybe just the season.

  5. I really like that Simpson's Stopper. Do you think it can easily be kept small, say 3x3? I see from Dave's Garden that it grows into a tree?

  6. Hi Kay...I'll be your coffee plant returns in warmer weather. The Simpson stopper is one of my favorites, especially when it's loaded with red berries...the birds eat them first. I've got to try one of the needle palms. They are very attractive. Hopefully, we've only got 4 to 5 weeks of winter left.:-)

  7. NanaK, I love Bok tower and I am glad you got to go. Janis

  8. Hi Kay,
    You've picked some fine choices to carry you through the winter. Praise be to all the cold hardy survivors! My beautyberry shrubs are all naked as can be. My little one and I checked just today to be sure as we were on the hunt for berries. The coffee should come back but this habit is exactly the reason I've hesitated to add it. Although I have had my eye on them for a couple of years now.

    I do love my lady palms, too. I think you are going to be very happy with them as long as you've given them plenty of space to sprawl.

  9. Darla - How cool if you do have needle palm growing in your woods. I plan to keep updating on these natives in the coming year. I sure hope they will be upbeat updates!

    Floridagirl - I loved Boktoberfest and hope to go again. Free admission to the park means more money to spend at the vendors!

    ChrisC - If you get a chance to go to Boktoberfest it is a good way to see Bok Tower Gardens for free. You only pay for food if you want and, of course, PLANTS! But, in theory, you could get a free day out of it. In theory.

    sanddune - I'm hoping to attract birds to those beautyberries in the future. That is one of the attractions of this bush for me. I rarely see mockingbirds anymore around here, so having them eat the berries would be a welcome thing.

    sherryocala - I don't really know about keeping the Stopper small. Really, when I've seen it growing wild it hasn't been all that big and naturally it grows a little scraggly. Not sure if that would be what you want. The area I have mine I'm trying to go for a natural Florida look as opposed to its current dead-zone look.

    Susan - 4 or 5 weeks of winter?!? I'm so hoping for just 3. I can't wait until I have all my new native, berry producing plants growing well and providing birds a place to hang out in my garden.

    Janis - I love it too. But, it's a little pricey to just go and visit. That's why Boktoberfest is so fun for me. I love their plant shop even when the festival isn't going on.

    Meems - I'm hoping I love all the natives this spring and summer. I really was hoping to have winter interest from them, but hey, 3 out of 4 isn't bad.


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