It’s fall, and your summer-loving plants are likely beginning the process of going dormant. This year’s winter is predicted to be colder than usual, which is likely to pose a threat to our normal garden plants. If you are concerned about maintaining a beautiful garden through the winter, try adding some of these cold-hardy South Florida species to your garden, and consider obtaining a frost blanket.
Bougainvillea: If you want to add color to your garden, bougainvillea (shown above) will deliver. Each plant produces hundreds of bright flowers that come in a range of colors depending on the species and variety. You can find plants with pink, red, orange, purple, blue yellow, or white flowers. It needs at least six hours of full sun to thrive along with a deep watering about once a month; so long as these needs are met, it’s hardy enough to withstand some freezing events.
Crepe myrtle: If you want to add trees to your landscape, crepe myrtle is a showstopper specimen. Their bark is interesting and colorful, and as the weather cools their leaves become a beautiful and fiery red-orange. Plant in a sunny area, and be sure to prune each fall. Thin the branches so that sunlight penetrates through the crown, and so that the crown doesn’t get too wide or unruly.
Expert Tip: A frost blanket can help to retain heat and keep your plants warm through cold winter nights.
Oleander: This ornamental tree is a tough cookie–it can tolerate high amounts of sea salt spray, heat, and drought. They grow extremely quickly, so while extremely cold temperatures will harm the aboveground growth, they bounce right back. Oleander grows densely, making it a great privacy hedge, and blooms in gorgeous yellows, oranges, and pinks. Be careful if you have pets though–any part of the oleander plant is toxic when eaten.
Nandina: This bamboo-like plant is a popular ornamental to add to gardens. Its leaves are composed of lacy leaflets that fall in beautiful wave-like patterns when its branches are long. In the winter, bright red berries provide lovely contrast against the dark green leaflets. Nandina mostly spreads through rhizomes, and thus is easy to transplant. It’s very hardy–it is deer and disease-resistant, and can withstand cold temperatures.
Piccabeen palm: This evergreen palm is an excellent choice when you want to maintain a tropical-looking garden throughout the winter. It is able to survive the frosts and cold snaps we experience and still stay beautiful. No pruning is needed with this palm either–it will drop its browned fronds by itself. Provide full sun or partial shade and consistent watering, and this palm will give you year-round enjoyment.
Ruellia: Also called “wild petunias”, these hardy, low-growing evergreens produce lovely pink, purple, or white flowers from late spring through early fall. They self-sow rapidly, so while they make an excellent cover species, you should take steps to contain the plant to only where you want it to grow; if left alone, it could take over a large area. Plant these in full-sun and they will survive any winter that nature brings us in South Florida.
Red fountain grass: Ornamental grasses add lovely movement, height and texture variation to a garden as they sway in the wind. This native grass grows a fluffy purple-red head in summer that remains through most of the fall and early winter. It’s quite hardy and low-maintenance, making it an excellent winter garden plant.
No matter how hardy the plant, you may wish to obtain a frost blanket to cover and protect your plants and trees. Don’t let the cold weather catch you off guard – Big Earth Landscape Supply has the inventory of frost blankets you’ll need to make it through the winter.