Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Tropical South

August, 2004
Regional Report


Shade Gardening for Florida
It took me a long time to realize that all the shade gardening books had both plants and methods that we can't use in the tropical south. So I wrote Shade Gardening for Florida (Great Outdoors
Pub., 2003; $19.95) and addressed such things as too much shade, different kinds of shade, and canopy management. If you don't have shade here, you can get it quickly, so you need to be careful what trees you plant. If you want fruit, let the fruit trees be your shade. There are 16 pages of color photos and 178 different kinds of plants described in the book, but since these include such broad categories as begonias, bromeliads, ferns, orchids, aroids, and gingers, the number of choices is almost infinite.

Favorite or New Plant

Vireya Rhododendrons
I was traveling in southern Florida and stopped at a nursery where I saw the only Vireya rhododendron I had ever seen or was to see for many years to come. I would never have bought it because it was large, in bloom, and $31, and I wasn't sure if it would live in the Tampa area, except that my companion insisted. It has been the star of my garden ever since. It does well in partial sun, requires little care, and has never frozen back because I always remember to cover
it. This year I finally got on the Internet and selected several more. There are even a few varieties with fragrant flowers. Check them out on


Today's site banner is by nmumpton and is called "Gymnocalycium andreae"