Looking for Inspiration in Florida

Tampa, FL(Zone 9b)

I have a garden area in my front yard that gets full sun almost all day. Living in Florida (Zone 9B), the summers can be brutal on plants and the humidity makes fungal infections a potential problem. I am looking for ideas on what to put in there. I have a tropical/jungle theme throughout my yard; filled with hibiscuses, heliconias, salvia, bromeliads and birds of paradise (to name a few). I like the "chaotic" look of different plants growing together with a variety of colors and patterns (the weirder the better) and want it to attract butterflies/hummingbirds. The garden area is in my front yard, so I really want it to "pop" and stand out. The garden borders my neighbors fence, and my initial thought was to start with growing a variety of hollyhocks along the fence, but I don't know what to do with the rest of it. I go to my local nurseries looking for inspiration and have come up empty. :-( I like perennials and re-seeders so that once the garden is established, it will be self-sufficient and won't need tons of maintenance. It used to be full of roses, but with all the fungal problems I dealt with, I decided I wanted something different.

I appreciate your thoughts and help! :-)

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Hi Shauna...I stumbled across this site a few days ago. Seems it has a lot of info that would be helpful for you.


and here are a couple others that may be of interest:



Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

Drive around your neighborhood and see what grows well in your area.

Tampa, FL(Zone 9b)

Hi Owl, I checked out that site: http://www.south-florida-plant-guide.com/ and i already have about half those plants somewhere throughout my yard, so I guess I am doing something right in picking my plants. :-)

I have been browsing nursery catalogs online and keep seeing Columbines - Aquilegia. I know they are the state flower for Colorado, but wonder how they would do down here. Has anyone had any luck growing those in a hot, humid environment?

There are a few roses still in the flower bed, so I also want some good companion plants for roses.

I have a couple of Rose of Sharon hibiscuses that will end up planted in the flower bed too.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Hi Shauna. here is some info on heat tolerant Columbines...of which there are only a couple at present, but cultivars are being developed of A chrysantha and A canadensis. At least now we southerners get a chance at these lovelies....grin Moon

Heat-Tolerant Columbines

Aquilegia chrysantha var. hinckleyana, or Hinckley's columbine, a zone 4--hardy species, grows wild in Southern Texas's Big Bend region. At 1 to 2 feet tall, with a similar spread, Hinckley's columbine has fragrant, solid yellow spring blooms. While it flourishes in moist soil and partial shade, this tough columbine withstands southern Texas's summer sun and heat. It's passed that warm-weather tolerance on to Aquilegia chrysantha "Texas Gold." This cultivar also inherited Hinckley's columbine's size, solid yellow color and honeysuckle fragrance. Its flowers appear from March to May. It performs best in the light shade beneath deciduous trees and benefits from 1 inch of water every week to 10 days during the summer


Tampa, FL(Zone 9b)

Hi Moon, I happened to run across some Columbine seeds at my local Walmart and am going to plant them to see how they do here.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Cool Shauna. Does it say what species they are on the package? Fingers crossed that they grow well and bloom for you.

Tampa, FL(Zone 9b)

Hi Moon, it read on the package "Dragonfly Hybrid Mix".

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

Dragonfly is a hybrid of Aquilegia vulgaris....normally listed as zones 4 to 7. Make sure you plant them where they get ONLY morning sun and shade the rest of the day. Make sure the soil stays moist, but not wet. Since they are perennials, I would suggest maybe next year, you start them in the Fall...that way you would stand a better chance of them blooming before it gets too hot for them.

Tampa, FL(Zone 9b)

I saved about half the seeds and (if they grow well), will likely do a fall planting of them as well. If you think they will need more shade, once the seedlings are ready to plant; I will have to find a different flower bed to stick them in. The one I was originally planning, gets full sun or close to full sun most of the day. I have a few roses in there, will be adding 2 different salvias as well as 2 Rose of Sharon hibiscuses that will end up in that flower bed.

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

A full sun bed would be way to hot for those Columbines....they are really picky about too much heat/sun. Sounds like that bed is gonna be full of color.

Tampa, FL(Zone 9b)

That's the plan...lots of color and variety!! The roses and hibiscuses keep getting bigger, while my perennials and re-seeders filling in the empty spaces in between.

Moon, I see you are almost in the same zone as me. What kinds of plants have you had success with in a full sun garden?

Prairieville, LA(Zone 9a)

I have lots of Daylilies, Crinum Lilies, Irises, (siberian , bearded, African and La irises) Crocosmia, Gladiolas, Coreopsis (a number of species/cultivars) Various Rose of Sharon, clematis, angel trumpets, azaleas, abelias, crape myrtles, citrus trees, Japanese magnolias, japanese maples, gingers, durantas, Forsythias, Loropetalums, Callistemons (bottle brush) Giant turks cap, clerodendrons, fig trees, Viburnums, African bush daisies, Ornamental grasses, yucca and cordylines, ferns hostas, roses....and some other shrubs and bulbs....I moved a lot of my stuff when we moved here in 2001 and have added to it over the years.

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