When designing a landscape for any project, it's nice to use fast growing shrubs. This way we can help save the client money by purchasing a smaller gallon pot since the shrub will sprout up in no time in South Florida's climate. Like with any project it just depends on what type of landscape the client would like, i.e. tropical, formal, exotic specimens, butterfly garden, etc. So let's say we have a landscape in need of some great budget conscious fast growing shrubs/bushes. Depending on the growth habit of the shrub they can even be used as small trees. Shrubs are typically defined as a multi-stemmed plant averaging between 3-15 feet in height, yeah it's quite vague. So let's get started by taking a more detailed look at few of my favorite South Florida fast growing shrubs.
The first to start the show is a truly spectacular native, the American Beautyberry, callicarpa americana, a vertically growing evergreen with super vivid purple berries that are veritable show stoppers against the backdrop of rich green leaves. The once erect branches create graceful arches with the weight of ripe berries. Birds are always stopping by to feast on the berries for a perfect winter's meal. Bees & butterflies are constantly surrounding the multitude of tiny light pinkish purple flowers. The soft white fuzz on the newer branches becomes airborne during trimming time; inevitably making me sneeze. A slight touch of the American beautyberry and it's unusual spicy fragrance will literally linger on me for hours. I guess that's why Native Americans use this as a natural mosquito & fly repellent. The American beautyberry definitely needs room to spread as it likes to reach about 15-20 feet high by 6-8 feet wide. American beautyberry is extremely hardy, drought tolerant, full sun loving, easy growing shrub for any landscape.
|Even the ladybugs love American beautyberries|
|Amazing how many berries were on this branch!|
|The beautyberry blends in our landscape|
This one is about 12 feet high.
|American beautyberry shrub|
This thorn in my side is none other than the Wild Lime, zanthoxylum fagara, a wily growing evergreen native born & raised in the tropical hardwood hammocks of Florida. This shrub grows all kinds of crazy with no rhyme or reason, branches growing over & under themselves. Wild limes can grow as high as 25 feet by 10-15 feet wide. Ours completely took over a corner of the yard until I got out there to tame the beast. Don't let it's dainty bright lemon-lime leaves & tiny lemon flowers fool you, the thorns on this creature are fierce. "Please don't throw me in 'dem 'dare wild lime patch Briar Bear!" lol, (my portrayal of Briar Rabbit) Wild limes can be grown for privacy screens and are excellent security thickets. The giant swallowtail butterflies use the wild lime as a host plant for their caterpillar larvae, as well as the Biscayne Prickly Ash we have in the yard. Both are part of the citrus family. Unfortunately the wild lime is also a host for Citrus Greening Disease which has caused millions of citrus trees in Florida to be eradicated due to citrus canker. The wild lime is extremely resistant to wind, salt, drought, likes full sun and part shade. Yes, the wild lime has an ornery side when it wants but it's also a gentle giant protecting it's broad of baby caterpillars.
|Giant swallotail butterfly caterpillar on|
our wild lime. They like to eat the new
growth with doesn't seem to phase the
wild lime one bit.
|This is our wild lime before I pruned it way back.|
It's about 15-18 feet high here.
|Cocoplum natural upright form|
|Sweet Almond Verbena close up|
|Since I didn't have any pics of the sweet almond I|
had in our garden I looked for some online & found this
picture from Jeanni's blog, Roses & Gargoyles, which is a
very accurate example of how big they can get. Thanks Jeanni!
|Firebush in our backyard|
|Our two firebush's about 12 feet high|
|Firebush with zebra butterflies|
|Texas Sage close up|
|Texas sage in the landscape, natural form|
Some additional fast growing shrubs in which I will add more detail to later are:
Crotons - see my earlier blog Oct 30