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Name: Patrick Allen
Lakeland, FL (Zone 9b)
May 15, 2017 2:32 PM CST
Hey guys,

I posted this in the "Ask a question" thread and they suggested I come here with it.

My wife and I bought a house a little over a year ago and we are finally looking at doing some landscaping. We have a bed in front of the house that we want to fill in. My wife likes things to look full and I was going over some ideas of what to put there. We live in central FL (Polk County) and the front faces mostly west. It gets about 6-8 hours of direct sunlight and the soil is mostly sand as is much of Florida. It seems to be well draining as I have never seen it wet for very long. We are looking for relatively low maintenance plants but the most important part of that is fertilizer requirements and low water requirements. I was considering Confederate Jasmine for use as full ground cover. I love the smell and I know they can be trained to stay off of our columns. What I am having a tough time finding is a nice bush/shrub that can be used as feature plants. I was only going to plant 2-3 of them and they can't grow any wider than about 3 feet. I would like to also keep them around 4 feet or so. The shorter the better.

My wife really likes red flowers too. I was thinking some type of hibiscus or pentas? What do you guys think?
Name: Elaine
Sarasota, Fl
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
May 26, 2017 5:33 PM CST
Hi Patrick, and welcome! Gosh, it took a long time for anybody to get back to you on this question.

As far as a small shrub that you can keep trimmed to a size, hibiscus is probably an excellent choice. Pentas are wonderful, and attract butterflies but are a fairly short-lived perennial flower. The tall ones do get to be 3ft. or so, and if you are willing to re-plant them about every 3 years they will look beautiful.

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Scott
Tampa FL
Tropicals Region: Florida Enjoys or suffers hot summers Bromeliad Plumerias Dog Lover
Foliage Fan Orchids
May 27, 2017 7:23 AM CST
Patrick, I read your post when you posted and wanted to think this one over before replying. You will experience the same weather conditions as myself, having to take the cold and frosts every now and then.
The planting bed facing west will be prone to the coldest of our blustery winter wind when the cold fronts push thru. Is there any kind of protection like tree canopy nearby?
The Tropical Hibiscus are very sensitive to the cold winds and will do better not exposed to such.
Of the tropical Hibiscus I have found the 'Snow Queen' and 'Fire And Ice' pretty hardy to such winds with only leaf drop. They will make a fast recovery from such leaf drop. I have found the other types of tropical Hibiscus slow to leaf back out and even killed to the ground.
'Snow Queen'
Thumb of 2017-05-27/ScotTi/587486

'Fire And Ice'
Thumb of 2017-05-27/ScotTi/c52e28

The Pentas will need to be replaced every so often and once the C. Jasmine is established as a ground cover it will become hard to replace them without damage to the Jasmine.
If you and your wife decide on Pentas plant them in large decorative pots sitting among your Jasmine ground cover. But you will have to keep them watered in pots.
If you want really low maintenance, in the pot idea in the Jasmine bed, plant the smaller leaf type of the red flowering Crown Of Thorns.
The decorative pot idea can give you and your wife many interesting choices and even planting mixed types of plants in the pots together depending on the pot size.
Crown Of Thorns
Thumb of 2017-05-27/ScotTi/e7a933

[Last edited by ScotTi - May 27, 2017 7:55 AM (+)]
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Name: Alice
Saint Helena Island, SC (Zone 9a)
Charter ATP Member Hummingbirder Garden Photography Container Gardener Butterflies Bromeliad
Birds Ponds Region: South Carolina Tropicals
May 27, 2017 3:13 PM CST
What do you all think about the Confederate Jasmine being low maintenance? Is it well behaved in FL?
Around here it is a thug and needs constant pruning or it will swallow houses.
Minds are like parachutes; they work better when they are open.
North Central TX (Zone 8a)
Million Pollinator Garden Challenge
May 27, 2017 10:52 PM CST
@ardesia - since you asked, I've never seen Confederate Jasmine that was well behaved. In fact, it has literally swallowed a neighbor's garage. (Good thing for her that she's planning to remodel.)
Name: Ken
Central FL (Zone 9b)
Jul 13, 2017 8:21 PM CST
Welcome to Polk County!

Got to agree with the last 2 posts, Confederate Jasmine (in Central FL) grows rather aggressively. Never thought to use it as a ground cover, it climbs up anything and mounds rather deep for me.

True, it smells nice (IMO), and I've not watered nor fertilized it since it became established, but the CJ gets a severe cut back at least 1x per year, maybe 2x or it would take over the pergola. And the sap when you cut it is a nasty, sticky mess.

If the viney ground cover look is something you like, Asiatic Jasmine, either green or variegated, is much slower growing and better behaved and does make a nice ground cover.

A good ground cover in this area, and a Florida Native, is Sunshine Mimosa. (Mimosa strigillosa) It lays pretty flat, needs no water after getting established, has little Dr. Suess-esque pink puffball flowers. I doubt you'll find it in a big box store, but you can usually get some at the county extension office in Bartow when they have their plant sale(s), or at the annual Native Plant Sale at Street Audubon Center (115 Lameraux Road in Winter Haven), or at the USF (Tampa) botanical garden plant sale (4x per year). The Florida Native Plant people also come to the plant shows in Munn Park in Lakeland. (2x or maybe 4x per year.) Oh, or at the plant shop at Bok Tower.

You can grow Sunshine Mimosa on bare soil or in a lawn (HOA permitting, LOL) where it helps shade the grass roots and holds the soil together during the spring drought / grass hasn't come out of dormancy yet period.

I've tried perennial peanut, but I was never able to get it to establish in my yard. I know they have it in the lawn outside the extension office and I've seen it in the hwy-60 median in Brandon.
[Last edited by WellWatered - Jul 13, 2017 8:27 PM (+)]
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