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April Showers, May Flowers, Etc.

It’s that time of year again… You’ve probably already wandered the aisles of our many nurseries and home improvement stores, looking for beautiful things for your garden, yard, and container pots. If you are new here, OR if you’ve struggled to find the right plants to thrive in our unique climate, you’ve come to the right place. I’m not an expert but my garden is definitely my happy place. AND I can also testify that nice landscaping boosts home selling prices. So, step outside with me and let’s talk planting in Jacksonville.

 

Our climate tends to bust the myths about Florida weather. Yes, our summers are HOT and humid, but we also have cold winters too – including a few freezes. Add sandy soil, salty air, heavy rains with high winds in hurricane season, and a multitude of pests, and it’s no wonder gardening here is a challenge. Let’s focus on the kinds of plants that actually like what our area has to offer.

 

Trees:

 

·      Let’s start with one of our local show-offs – crape myrtles. They come in large or small sizes. Most have pink flowers but there are also red, white, and purple varieties. They thrive in full sun and aren’t fussy about their soil.

·      We DO live in the south, so consider a magnolia tree as part of your landscape. Those waxy, deep green leaves really POP when the big white flowers bloom. And they can grow big and tall and imposingly in your yard.

·      Low-maintenance Junipers keep their beautiful, blue foliage all year AND love the sun. Low maintenance and gorgeous – junipers are a no-brainer.

·      Palms. Not just a Florida cliché! Palm trees come in lots of shapes and sizes, look as fancy as you’d want them to be, and you’ll find varieties that love sun AND some that prefer some shade. It’s Florida – you probably SHOULD add a palm tree! Here are a few that do well in northeast Florida: Pygmy Dates, Queens, Sabals, Chinese Fans, and Canary Island Date palms.

·      Lantanas. These tropical shrubs can stand up to our weather and bloom frequently. Think red, purple, red, or orange. Lantanas are gorgeous and bees love them too.

 

Ground Plants:

 

Look for native plants for the heartiest and happiest greens. Easier to maintain and more pest-tolerant, native north Florida plants can also be beautiful! Consider the following:

 

·      Beach sunflowers (Helianthus debitis). Small and daisy-like ground covers, their blooms are yellow and happy-looking and butterflies love them.

·      Hibiscus – what a star! While the blooms don’t last long, they will come back repeatedly through the season. They come in lots of colors and love the humidity.

·      Egyptian stars (Pentas Lanceolota) feature beautiful, tiny flowers on tall and dark green stalks. They can steal the show from smaller plants.

·      Butterfly weed (Asclepias) are native weeds that bloom in a variety of colors and are tall and wave in the breeze. It’s a milkweed though, so keep your pets away as it’s toxic.

·      Coral (or coral) honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) is gorgeous and draw hummingbirds and butterflies. Low-maintenance and drought-resistant. Don’t miss these little stars.

·      Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta). I don’t ONLY love these flowers because they are named Susan! These are friendly daisies that love our salty, drought-prone climate and they don’t require much maintenance.

 

Please let me know your favorite plantings for North Florida!

 

Finally, while trees and flowers can be the standouts in your yard, don’t forget that it’s your lawn that really gets attention from potential buyers. Take care of your grass at a minimum. A sprinkler system is an investment that will likely pay off when you are ready to sell.

 

Check out these great resources:

·      Earth Works Gardens www.earthworksjax.com

·      UF/IFAS Extension Duval County www.sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/duval

·      Florida Native Plant Society www.fnpcs.org

 

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