GARDENING

Plants that thrive in our Central Florida gardens


Published: Saturday, April 27, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 25, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.

I'm really excited this week because classes have finally ended and I can now take a break for a few days to do some serious gardening. Here are a few of the plants I selected for my landscape that thrive in this area that you may also want to try.

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Indigo Spirea or Blue Salvias is just one of the hundreds of different species of salvia. (Lakeland Ledger/File)

African blue basil: This is an herb that grows well in full sun. The purple flower spikes will attract numerous bees to the garden. It grows 2 to 3 feet in height and roots easily from cuttings.

Salvia: There are hundreds of different species of salvia. These are excellent plants to add to the landscape because they are heat-tolerant and attract bees, butterflies and humming birds. They are available in multiple colors and can be grown as annuals or perennials depending on the type selected. Grow in full sun to partial shade directly in the ground individually or in mass plantings, or even in containers.

Guara: An excellent border or specimen plant that grows 18 to 36 inches tall. The pinkish-white flowers are borne on long stalks and are very whimsical. This perennial is drought-tolerant and blooms spring through fall. Refrain from replanting once it has established to avoid damaging the tap root.

Coleus: I think these are my second-favorite plants after firebush. There are numerous varieties available that range from creeping to upright. Coleus plants are grown for their attractive foliage. Once the plant begins to flower, snip the inflorescence off so the plant will remain bushy and not become leggy. Coleus can be grown in full sun or partial shade in containers or as mass plantings in borders.

Bush Daisy: This plant has stunning yellow flowers. It is moderately drought-tolerant, and will do well planted in containers or in the landscape. If planted in a protected area, it can grow up to 3 feet tall.

Norma Samuel is the Urban Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Marion County Extension Service. Contact her at norma.samuel@marioncountyfl.org.

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