Tag Archive: Shrub

A Shrub that Likes it Shady

Almost every landscape has a problem area where the sun just doesn’t shine and many plants won’t make it, maybe it’s the north side of your house, under a small tree, or tucked away in an oddly-shaped alcove.  We all know the same old boring green choices that work well here (Holly Fern, Cast Iron Plant, etc.) but maybe you want something a little bit different, something that will provide a pop of color and interesting texture!  Look no further than a recent introduction, a whole-plant mutation discovered from the little-used Grape Holly (Mahonia spp.), aptly named ‘Soft Caress’.

‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia is a beautiful little evergreen shrub from the Southern Living Plant Collection (one of the best of the collection in my opinion) and really is a game changer for full-shade areas.  Some of you may remember the traditional Mahonia, also known as Grape Holly, from your grandmother’s lawn.  Those plants were coarse, spiny, produced messy purplish berries and often appeared generally unkempt.  ‘Soft Caress’ is a major departure from its parent.  Possessing finely-cut, deep green, bamboo-like foliage, this plant’s texture really contrasts well with many traditional shady species.  As a bonus, ‘Soft Caress’ sends up brilliant yellow-gold flower spikes in the dead of winter, certainly a welcome respite from the other barren plants in the landscape; although in this unusually warm year, the plants are just now blooming in the Panhandle.

Photo courtesy: Daniel J. Leonard

‘Soft Caress’ is advertised to grow three feet in height and width, a more manageable size than the larger traditional Mahonia species, but I’m not sure I’d take that as gospel, the three-year old plants (hardly mature specimens) in my parent’s landscape are already that size and show no signs of slowing down.  However, I’ve found you can easily manage their size with a once a year prune to slow down some of the more rapidly-growing canes.  Be sure to time the prune as soon as possible after flowering is finished as ‘Soft Caress’ blooms only once a year and produces its flowers on the previous season’s wood, just like Indica Azaleas and old-fashioned Hydrangeas.

The uses in the landscape for ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia are nearly endless.  It pairs well with almost anything in a shady mixed shrub border.  It works nicely as a foundation plant against a porch or under windows on the north or east side of a house where it will be protected from hot afternoon sun; I have employed a grouping of the plants in this way in my own lawn with success.  It even thrives in containers!  If you want to show off some serious horticultural design skills, mix ‘Soft Caress’ in a large container on the porch with some like-minded perennials for a low-maintenance, high-impact display that you don’t have to replant each season.  All this shrub requires is partial to full shade, moist well-drained soil, and an occasional haircut to keep it looking tidy!  If you’ve been struggling to find a plant that’s a little more unusual than the standard garden center fare and actually looks good in shady spots, you could do a lot worse than ‘Soft Caress’ Mahonia. 

As always, happy gardening and contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension office for more information about this plant and other gardening questions!

PG

Author: Daniel J. Leonard – d.leonard@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Walton County

Daniel J. Leonard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/04/25/a-shrub-that-likes-it-shady/

Native Shrub Option for Sandy Soils

Native Shrub Option for Sandy Soils

We often talk about sandy, nutrient poor soil in Florida and how difficult it is for growing many favorite landscape plants. Gardeners may spend considerable time and money amending soils with organic matter to improve quality.

The low maintenance approach is to embrace your sandy soil and consider plants that thrive in sandy, well-drained soil. One very attractive native shrub that actually prefers this type of soil is false rosemary, Conrandina canescens.

False rosemary is a member of the mint family that is well adapted to drier, sandy soils. It can be found in many coastal communities growing in natural areas.  It is easily recognized in the spring and early summer by light purple blooms.  Considered a small shrub or groundcover, False rosemary needs full sun. One plant can easily spread out to 4-5 feet in diameter with a height of 2-3 feet.

False rosemary is an attractive native plant for Gulf Coast landscapes. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF Escambia County Extension

False rosemary does have aromatic foliage and is attractive to bees. It is a very low maintenance plant once established and its few issues tend to be related to soils with too much moisture and plants being shaded after establishment.  New seedlings will emerge around the main plant when growing conditions are right.  If you want to try this native plant in your landscape, talk to a local nursery.

False rosemary flowers are attractive to pollinators. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF Escambia County Extension

 

PG

Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/30/native-shrub-option-for-sandy-soils/

Saltbush – A Late Blooming Native Shrub

Saltbush – A Late Blooming Native Shrub

 

Female saltbush plant in bloom. Credit: Niels Proctor

Female saltbush plant in bloom. Credit: Niels Proctor, hort.ifas.ufl.edu

If you have noticed bursts of white-flowered shrubs along roadsides, trails, and other natural areas the last couple of weeks, there’s a good chance that it was saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia). Saltbush is a native shrub in the sunflower or daisy family (Asteraceae) that can be found throughout the Coastal Plain. It often grows along the edges of freshwater and brackish water wetlands, but also seems happy in upland sites as well. It prefers sunny sites and can reach a height of ten to fifteen feet. There are separate female and male plants of this species, with females having the showy, white blooms while males are somewhat plain.

While it can be quite common in natural areas, it is rarely seen in the home landscape. Although saltbush is a somewhat leggy shrub, its home landscape value comes from the fact that it blooms at a time when most other plants are done blooming or are going into dormancy. In addition to its show of white flowers at a time when many other landscape plants are becoming drab, saltbush is also an important nectar source for migrating monarch butterflies. It is also tolerant of salt spray, so makes a good addition to the landscape in coastal areas.

Leaves and seed of saltbush. Credit: Niels Proctor

Leaves and seed of saltbush. Credit: Niels Proctor, hort.ifas.ufl.edu

Saltbush may be hard to find in the retail nursery trade, but can often be sourced from nurseries that specialize in native plants or ecosystem restoration plantings. There are male and female plants, so when purchasing, you may want to see it in bloom to verify that you picked a female. If you know someone with saltbush on their property, you can start some on your own by collecting seed or propagating it through soft or hardwood cuttings.

If you would like to try out an underused, native shrub that provides great late fall color and helps feed monarch butterflies for their journey home, plant a saltbush in your landscape. You may have neighbors asking about that unusual, but pretty, shrub.

 

More information can be found at Baccharis halimifolia Salt Bush, Groundsel Bush

PG

Author: Mark Tancig – tancig00@ufl.edu

Mark Tancig

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/16/saltbush-a-late-blooming-native-shrub/

Fall: An Ideal Time for Shrub Installation

Fall: An Ideal Time for Shrub Installation

It was a hot summer that has continued into Fall.  We hope cooler temperatures are on their way to the panhandle of Florida.  Fall can be a great time to spruce up your landscape with some new shrubs.

Image Credit UF / IFAS

Image Credit UF / IFAS

It may be time for your landscape to receive a mini-makeover and to get a new look.  Perhaps some strategically placed shrubs  will be what makes an outdoor living space pop.  Proper selection and installation is key to future health of new shrubs.

Selection

There are several factors that need to be considered before installing new shrubs to the landscape.  Selecting plants carefully, based on the following points, will help with long-term success of the plant:

  • Climate – Be sure that the species are climate appropriate.
  • Environment  – Study the light level, acidity, and drainage of the planting site.
  • Space – Account for the mature size of the plant before planting. This will eliminate the possible need for plant removal if space is not adequate.
  • Inspect the plant – Check for mechanical injury (scars and open wounds), cold injury, condition and shape of the canopy, and examine the root system.

Installation 

Now that essential considerations have been made, it is time to give the shrub the best chance for survival with proper installation techniques.  Fall and winter is an ideal time for planting shrubs.  The roots can develop before the tops begin to grow in spring.  The following are keys to proper establishment of container shrubs.

  • Root ball preparation – Remove the container from the root ball and inspect for circling roots.  If there are circling roots than make three or four cuts vertically to cut the roots.  Pull some of the roots away so they will take on a new growth direction (massage the roots).  Also find the top most roots, as sometimes they are covered by extra potting media.  Remove the extra potting media so the top most roots are exposed and become the top of the root ball.
Planting Diagram

Image Credits: UF/IFAS, Edward F. Gilman

  • Wider is better – Dig the hole two or three times the diameter of the root ball.
  • Proper depth – Make sure to dig the hole 10% less than the height of the root ball.  In poorly drained soils dig the hole 25% less than the height of the root ball.  The top most roots should be slightly above the native soils.
  • Backfill – Fill the hole with existing soil half way and tamp the soil to settle.  Again fill the rest of the hole with the existing soil and tamp again to settle the soil.  Do not place any backfill soil or mulch over the root ball as it is crucial that water and air are able to be in contact with the roots.
  • Aftercare – Irrigate daily for the first two weeks, followed by every other day for the next two months, and weekly until the shrub is established (For <2 inch caliper shrubs).

If these key points are followed regarding selection and installation, the shrubs will be well on their way to becoming established in the landscape.  If you would like  read more in detail about installation please read the following:

Specifications for Planting Trees and Shrubs in the Southeastern U.S.

Literature:

Gilman, E.F., (2011, August) Specifications for Planting Trees and Shrubs in the Southeastern U.S.. Retrieved from: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep112

Black, R.J. and Ruppert, K.C., (1998) Your Florida Landscape, A complete guide to planting & maintenance. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

PG

Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/11/03/fall-an-ideal-time-for-shrub-installation-2/

Waxmyrtle, an Overlooked Landscape Shrub

Waxmyrtle, an Overlooked Landscape Shrub

Waxmyrtle. Image Credit UF / IFAS Solutions

Waxmyrtle. Image Credit UF / IFAS Solutions

Myrica cerifera Southern Waxmyrtle, Bayberry is a large shrub to small tree that is now native to much of Florida and much of the Southeastern United States. It was introduced to Europeans in the 1700s and is considered native by many botanical authorities. Sources disagree to the validity of its native status. It is usually found as an understory plant in lightly forested areas, swamps, brackish areas, as well as around old home sites.

It was planted widely in the 18th,19th and early 20th century as a plant for medicinal and industrial purposes. Four pounds of its berries will yield one pound of wax for candle making. When processed, this wax was also used in  surgeon’s soap, shaving lather, and sealing wax. Fermented leaves were used to produce a substance which was said to treat fever, stomach aches, and headaches.

Southern Waxmyrtle can reach up to 25 feet but is best maintained as a 10-20 foot multi-trunked shrub or small tree. It can also be trained as a smaller hedge and several dwarf form exist. Landscapes are enhanced by the shrubs’ olive green foliage, leaf aroma, open, rounded form and waxy blue-green berries. Wildlife enjoy the berries as a food source as well. They can provide dappled shade for outdoor entertainment spaces or front entrances.

Waxmyrtle Leaves. Image Credit Brent Sellers - UF IFAS EXTENSION

Waxmyrtle Leaves. Image Credit Brent Sellers – UF / IFAS Extension

Another benefit of Waxmyrtle is that it can be used in tough-to-landscape roadside and coastal areas since it is both pollution and salt tolerant and will cease to require irrigation once it is established. ‘Pumila’ is a dwarf cultivar suitable to small spaces.

Waxmyrtle is susceptible to few pests and diseases but can occasionally be attacked by webworms, mites and caterpillars. These can be controlled by pruning out of infested areas, forceful applications of water or Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis for caterpillar). It is also occasionally susceptible to canker on old branches and Fusarium wilt in central and south Florida. It is also considered a weed in pasture situations.

 

References:
50 Common Native Plants Important In Florida’s Ethnobotanical History
Myrica cerifera: Southern Waxmyrtle
Texas Native Plant Database: Waxmyrtle

PG

Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/11/05/waxmyrtle-an-overlooked-landscape-shrub/

Fall: An Ideal Time for Shrub Installation

It has been a hot summer but Fall is right around the corner.  Cooler temperatures and changing colors are a welcomed change in the panhandle of Florida.  Fall can be a great time to spruce up your landscape with some new shrubs.

 

Image Credit UF / IFAS

Image Credit UF / IFAS

 

It may be time for your landscape to receive a mini-makeover and to get a new look for fall and years to come.  Perhaps some shrubs strategically placed will be what makes your outdoor living space pop.  Proper selection and installation is key to health of the shrub moving forward.

Selection

There are several factors that need to be taken into account before buying shrubs to add to your landscape.  Carefully selecting plants based on the following points will help with long term success of the plant:

  • Climate – Be sure that the species will tolerate the climate you live in.
  • Environment  – Study the light level, acidity, and drainage of the planting site.
  • Space – Account for the mature size of the plant before planting.  This will keep you from having to remove the plant if the space is not adequate.
  • Inspect the plant – Check for mechanical injury (scars and open wounds), cold injury, condition and shape of the canopy, and examine the root system.

Installation 

Now that the proper plant has been selected it is time to give the shrub the best chance for survival with proper installation techniques.  Fall and winter is an ideal time for planting shrubs.  The roots can develop before the tops begin to grow in spring.  The following are the keys to proper establishment of container shrubs.

  • Root ball preparation – Remove the container from the root ball and inspect for circling roots.  If there are circling roots than make three or four cuts vertically to cut the roots.  Pull some of the roots away so they will take on a new growth direction (massage the roots).  Also find the top most roots as sometimes they are covered by extra potting media.  Remove the extra potting media so the top most roots are exposed and become the top of the root ball.
Planting Diagram

Image Credits: UF/IFAS, Edward F. Gilman

 

  • Wider is better – Dig the hole two or three times the diameter of the root ball.
  • Proper depth – Make sure to dig the hole 10% less than the height of the root ball.  In poorly drained soils dig the hole 25% less than the the height of the root ball.  The top most roots should be slightly above the native soils.
  • Backfill – Fill the hole with existing soil half way and tamp the soil to settle.  Again fill the rest of the hole with the existing soil and tamp again to settle the soil.  Do not place any backfill soil or mulch over the root ball as it is crucial that water and air are able to be in contact with the the roots.
  • Aftercare – Irrigate daily for the first two weeks, followed by every other day for the next two months, and weekly until the shrub is established (For <2 inch caliper shrubs).

If these key points are followed regarding selection and installation, the shrubs will be well on their way to becoming established in the landscape.  If you would like  read more in detail about installation please read the following:

Specifications for Planting Trees and Shrubs in the Southeastern U.S.

Literature:

Gilman, E.F., (2011, August) Specifications for Planting Trees and Shrubs in the Southeastern U.S.. Retrieved from: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep112

Black, R.J. and Ruppert, K.C., (1998) Your Florida Landscape, A complete guide to planting & maintenance. Gainesville, FL: University Press of Florida.

 

PG

Author: Blake Thaxton – bthaxton@ufl.edu

Santa Rosa County Extension
Agent I, Commercial Horticulture

Blake Thaxton

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/09/23/fall-an-ideal-time-for-shrub-installation/