Perennials can add color to your yard

By MARY CHUDZYNSKI, MASTER GARDENERMy Nassau Sun

A perennial plant is a plant that lives for more than two years. Perennials, especially small flowering plants, grow and bloom over the spring and summer. They usually die back in late autumn or winter. In the spring, they return from their root rather than seeding themselves as an annual plant. In Florida, many perennials flower until winter's cold begins.

There are perennials for every climate and condition. It is important to have a plan before you make your selection. Consider the following questions first: Is the soil wet or dry? Does your site have full sun or part shade? How tall and how wide will the plant eventually grow? Is there a dwarf variety if your space is limited? Can it handle the Florida heat, drought or salt? Does it attract wildlife?

With all of the above in mind, I've found several perennials that are relatively easy to grow flower almost year-round, are heat-, drought- and, somewhat, salt-tolerant. Best of all, these attract birds and butterflies.

- Bottlebrush is an easy-to grow evergreen tree or shrub. It can be used as a shrub border, foundation plant or water accent. It can grow 6 to 15 feet.

- Common Coreopsis (tickseed) is a Florida native wildflower, simple to grow and reseeds itself! The yellow, daisy-like flowers are beautiful in mass plantings. These grow to 3 feet.

- Daylilies are very low-maintenance. These come in a myriad of colors, can be used in masses, along a border, on banks and in containers. Dwarf varieties are available.

- Firecracker Plant is a multi-branched plant that is a favorite of mine and hummingbirds. The wiry branches start out erect, then fall over to cascade down in lengths as long as 4 feet. Several colors are available, from cream to red, almost all year.

- Hibiscus can be added as a tree or shrub (I have both), used in masses or as a specimen. It flowers in pinks, reds or yellows and will garner many oohs and ahs.

- Muhly Grass has airy plumes that add soft color and texture to the garden from early fall through midwinter. It can be used to prevent erosion and stabilize soils. It works well with seaside goldenrod, cabbage palm and coral bean.

- Plumbago provides beautiful blue blooms all year. It loves light sandy soils and can grow 3 to 10 feet. You may need to prune lightly to keep it neat.

- Ginger will spice up your garden, especially in variegated form. It adds a tropical feel to summer borders and container plantings. It grows from 5 to 8 feet tall and wide in partial shade.

If you want to add year-round color to your landscape and attract birds and butterflies without a lot of labor, consider perennials.

 


Master Gardeners

Master Gardener volunteers are trained by County Horticultural Extension agents and are required to serve 75 volunteer hours in the first year of their accreditation and 50 volunteer hours annually in all subsequent years, to maintain their certification.

Nassau County Master Gardeners serve under the direction of Rebecca L. Jordi, UF/IFAS Nassau County Horticultural Extension Agent. For information on the Master Gardener program and application requirements, contact Jordi at 548-1116 or rljordi@ufl.edu.

 

Mary Chudzynski

Mary Chudzynski lives in Fernandina Beach and is an active Master Gardener volunteer.