Friday, February 15, 2008


Nandina is a plant introduced in our area for landscapes in the 1970's. It comes China and Japan. It is called heavenly bamboo because its stems are long an bamboo like but the leaves are small and splotchy reds to green so it is attractive. It does not get dense dense growth like the Burford holly. It is planted for its showy bloomis, unusual foliage contrast and its racemes of abundant green berries that turn to bright orange and last months. Each about 4mm in diameter. The plant can get as high as 8 feet though now their are dwarf varieties tht grow onl to 5ft or ultra dwrf to just 2'3 feet. It can grwo in shade or full sun and tolerates various soils. There are numerous hybrids to show off different leaf colors and even different berry colors.The problem with nandia is not that it sends rhyzomes a spreads locally (filling in an area of landscape or more ) but that birds love the berries and they seed lage areas. It has become quite invasive. But because it isnot as dense it does not cause the same problems as ardesia which I will discuss next.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Burford Holly

Burford's holly
(Ilex cornuta 'Burfordii') I widely used a s a landscape plant. It lends itself to trimming into shapes which is what most people do to give their front yards a more formal look. This is unfortunate because they trim after blooming which are tiny innocuous scattered clusters. The berries will form without pollination. Though most people like the hedges, I like the fruit and let my one plant grow wild near a pasture gate. It has long lasting red berries It tolerates abject neglect in nearly full son. In the winter the leaves are quite dark and the berries also a deep red.

Though their are hollies native to North Florida, currently I am not growing any. I am trying to switch to more and more native plants. Burford is from Asia. There are a number of hybrids so that their are now dwarf varieties and variegated leaf varieties of several types though all have the distinctive 8mm dark berries. Though birds love the berries, for whatever reason, like the pyracantha these are not considered 'invasive.'

Thursday, February 7, 2008

It is hard to believe it is winter here as this is the second day ofmid-day temps in the 70’s, But it is winter One of the things that ismost outstanding this time of year are the red berried plants . There arefour that grown in this area of Zone8-9 surprisingly, none is native.Two are considered invasive one terribly so. Commercial nurseries are discouraged from selling it ( see Ardesia in a soon to be posted note).
Today I will discuss the pyracantha. It is grown though out the South as ashrub or against walls. This is due to its hardiness and ability togrow so fast that it does well leaning on walls. This particular plant is a closeup of a well, but infrequently pruned shrub It shows the typical berry color is a brilliant red orange. seen on what the natives call scarlet firethorn. The berries are 6mm in diameter.(Pyracantha coccinea). The plants have thorns. They have tiny whiteblooms in dense clusters (corymbs) in the late Spring.Pruning should be done in the late winter before the blooming to maximze the berrry production. The plant tolerates full sun to partial shade. The more sun the more flower Though the berries are usually this color there are hybrids from red to yellow. I fertilize once a year with balanced fertilizer in the Spring. like everything I grow it gets well mulched. It tolerates neglect quite well. Though non native it is infrequently invasive. And though birds are attracted to large shrubs to nest they don’t prefer these red winter berries to the extent they do some of the others, conssequently they make for along showy winter display.