Coastal and Tropical South
Florida Native Plants
A Gardener's Guide to Florida's Native Plants, by Rufino Osario (University Press of Florida, 2001; $26.95), deserves more attention than it got when it was first published. As we work to replant huge areas in our regions, and as we landscape new homes, the more we know about the natives around us, the better. This book is appropriate for novice and veteran gardeners and anyone who wants an identification guide to these great plants, especially southern Florida natives.
Favorite or New Plant
From a nearly flat rosette of leaves in early spring, cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) springs to life and soon reaches 2 to 3 feet tall. Flower stalks called racemes can be a foot long, covered with small, bright red flower tubes. The plant is hugely popular with hummingbirds and shade gardeners, though it will grow in sun as long as the soils are relatively wet. Several cultivars have been named, including, 'Alba', a white-flowered version that grows well with the reds.