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Thursday, September 18, 2014

Flower Friday: Flaveria adds a little "flavor" to mixed wildflower plantings.

Photo by Walter Taylor
Narrowleaf yellowtops (Flaveria linerias)

Narrowleaf yellowtops is a perennial, low-growing herbaceous shrub with a woody base. Its inflorescence is a showy corymb of bright yellow flowers that are somewhat flat-topped. Flowers are small but great in number. Its leaves are linear, sessile and oppositely arranged.

Narrowleaf yellowtops occur naturally in Florida's depression and basin marshes, wet prairies, pine rocklands, hydric hammocks, mangrove swamp and tidal marsh edges, and in disturbed or ruderal areas. It attracts many butterflies, bees and flower beetles.

Family: Asteraceae
Hardiness: North, Central and South Florida (Zones 8–11)
Soil: Well-drained, sandy and nutrient-poor soils
Exposure: Full sun to minimal shade
Growth habit: 2-3 feet tall, usually wider than tall
Garden tips: Narrowleaf yellowtops is a tough plant that has a high tolerance for stress. it does well in urban settings and areas where soil may be disturbed. It is highly salt- and drought-tolerant. Yellowtops can become weedy after flowering, so pruning is recommended. It is easily propagated from seed, as well as by division or cuttings. 

Because it is grows low and wide, it does well in mixed plantings and as a tall groundcover.

Narrowleaf yellowtops is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery in your area. Seeds are available through the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative.

To see where narrowleaf yellowtops  occurs naturally in Florida, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=2245.



Yellowtops used in mixed wildflower planting.
Photo by Ann McCormick



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Flower Friday: Seaside goldenrod dazzles our dunes (and other habitats)!

Photo by Walter Taylor
Seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)

Seaside goldenrod's conspicuous golden blooms can be seen on dunes, in tidal marshes and bogs, in sandy flatwoods, along roadsides, and in disturbed areas. Its flowers are yellow and borne on spikelike racemes. Its basal leaves are strap-like in shape and alternately arranged.

Seaside goldenrod grows throughout Florida but, as its common name suggests, it is primarily found in coastal counties.
It attracts butterflies and other pollinators with its nectar, and also attracts birds that are searching for insects.
 
Family: Asteraceae
Hardiness: North, Central and South Florida (Zones 7–10)
Soil: Well-drained, sandy soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 3-5+ feet tall in bloom
Garden tips: Seaside goldenrod does best in dry, sunny conditions. This will keep its height in check and allow it to produce more blooms. It has a tendency to spread, and thus is better suited to mass plantings rather than small areas. It can be propagated by seeds, cuttings or division. It is also salt-tolerant.

Seaside goldenrod is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery in your area. Seeds are available through the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative.

To see where seaside goldenrod occurs naturally in Florida, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3935.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Flower Friday: How about a little passion in the garden? Passionflower, that is!

Purple passionflower bloom and leaves.
Photos by Stacey Matrazzo
Purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata)

Purple passionflower, also known as maypop, is an herbaceous, perennial vine that can be prostrate or climbing by way of axillary tendrils. The flower is extraordinarily intricate, with 10 lavender tepals, a purple-and-white-fringed corona, and a central "crown" of pink filaments,  resembling something out of a Dr. Seuss book. The leaves are deeply three-lobed, alternately arranged, with dark green upper and whitish lower surfaces. The fruit is a large yellow-orange berry with edible pulp that is typically borne in late summer to fall. The entire plant has known medicinal uses.

Purple passionflower occurs naturally in open hammocks, along roadsides and in disturbed areas. It is the larval host plant of several butterflies including the gulf fritillary and zebra longwing.

Family: Passifloraceae
Hardiness: North, Central and South Florida (Zones 7–10b)
Soil: Well-drained, acidic to slightly alkaline, sandy or loamy soils
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 3-10+ feet long
Garden tips: Purple passionflower can be propagated by seeds, cuttings and root suckers. It also can spread vigorously on its own, covering a lot of ground in a short time. It is deciduous and will usually die back in the winter, is drought tolerant and moderately salt tolerant.

Purple passionflower is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery in your area. Seeds are available through the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative

To see where purple passionflower occurs naturally in Florida, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3464.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Flower Friday: Dune sunflower makes an attractive groundcover in coastal landscapes.

(Photo by Walter Taylor)
H. debilis makes an excellent border planting, too. (Photo by Lisa Roberts)
Dune sunflower (Helianthus debilis)
 
Dune (or beach) sunflower is a sprawling, herbaceous groundcover that produces many yellow, daisy-like flowers. Its leaves are deltoid-shaped, with rough surfaces and toothed margins; they are alternately arranged. Blooms consist of brownish-red disk florets surrounded by bright yellow ray florets.

Dune sunflower typically flowers in the summer, but may flower year-round in South Florida. Its flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including butterflies, moths and bees. Its dense growth pattern provides cover for many small animals, while its seeds are eaten by birds.

The genus name Helianthus comes from the Latin heli (sun) and anthus (flower). There are 17 species of Helianthus native to Florida.

Family: Asteraceae (Aster famiily)
Hardiness: North, Central and South Florida (Zones 8–11)
Soil: Well-drained sandy soil
Exposure: Full sun
Growth habit: 1–2+ feet tall with a 3–4+ foot spread
Garden tips: Dune sunflower is a prolific self-seeder, and has a tendency to spread quickly if not maintained. It is also easily propagated by cuttings. Periodic removal of spent plants is recommended.

Note: There are three subspecies of Helianthus debilis occurring in Florida, all of which are capable of hybridizing and thus, should not be planted together. When using in a landscape or garden setting, It is recommended that the subspecies native to/appropriate for the region be used. Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery in your area that sells the appropriate subspecies for your region. Seeds of the East coast subspecies are available through the Florida Wildflowers Growers Cooperative.

To see where each subspecies of dune sunflower occurs naturally in Florida, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=660, www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=3367 and www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=1249

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Flower Friday: Butterflies flutter for blue porterweed

Photo by Eleanor Dietrich
Blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis)   

Blue porterweed is a low-growing and sprawling evergreen shrub. Its leaves are dark green, oval- to lance-shaped with serrated margins and are oppositely arranged. Its diminutive purplish-blue flowers are borne on long spikes. Flowers open for only one day and won’t open on very cloudy days.

Blue porterweed typically flowers in the summer, but may flower year-round in South Florida. It is an excellent addition to a butterfly garden. It is the host plant of the tropical buckeye and is a nectar source for many butterfly species including the clouded skipper, gulf fritillary, red admiral and julia.

Stachytarpheta is from the Greek stachys (spike) and tarphys (thick or dense).

Family: Verbenaceae
Hardiness: Central and South Florida (Zones 9–11)
Soil: Well-drained sand, clay or loamy soil
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
Growth habit: 1–3 feet tall with a 2-3+ foot spread
Garden tips: Blue porterweed is easily propagated by cuttings and will also self-seed. It also drought-tolerant and does well in poor soil.

Note: The non-native Stachytarpheta cayennensis is often mistaken for the native Stachytarpheta jamaicensis as both have the distinctive purplish-blue flowers. S. cayennensis, however, is a Category II FLEPPC listed invasive species and should not be planted. The native species is often available at nurseries that specialize in native plants.Visit PlantRealFlorida.org to find a native nursery in your area.

To see where blue porterweed occurs naturally, visit florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Plant.aspx?id=703.