By Rusty, Fri, 05/15/2020 - 07:47

In this video, we go over 3 types of Gainesville Landscape Plants we are using in Annual beds this spring to add seasonal color. The flowers are Dwarf Penta (actually a perennial - but we use as an annual), Angelonia, and Helenium - all with varying colors. Some are great for bringing butterflies to your Gainesville garden and other pollinators as well (as you can see from the bumble bee in the video!)

Penta Tips:

  • Pentas are available in traditional and dwarf varieties. The traditional varieties can reach 2 – 3 feet in height and get a little sprawling, while dwarf varieties stay compact and top out around 12 – 15 inches. Read tags carefully and choose the variety best for your location.
  • Pentas are fairly easy to grow, but do require regular deadheading to look their best and flower well.
  • Grow pentas in full to part sun, and provide regular water especially as they establish. They grow well both in the ground and in containers.
  • You’ll find pentas in reds, pinks, purples, and white. All shades are attractive to butterflies, though many report that red is the most popular, and is also known to attract hummingbirds too.

Angelonia Tips:

  • Angelonia plants grow about 18 inches tall, and some people think the fragrant foliage smells like apples.
  • The flowers bloom on upright spikes at the tips of the main stems. Species flowers are bluish-purple and cultivars are available in white, blue, light pink and bicolors.
  • Angelonia flowers don’t need deadheading to produce a continuous display of blossoms. Use Angelonia as an annual bedding plant in borders or plant them in masses where they make a striking display. They also grow well in pots and window boxes. They make good cut flowers, and the foliage retains its fragrance indoors

Helenium Tips:

  • This sun-loving, low-maintenance perennials are a cinch to grow and will flower reliably. Occasionally called sneezeweed.
  • Helenium can grow tall and has dwarf varieties that produce pretty orange, red, yellow or bi-colored flowers that look great in the garden and in fresh-cut bouquets.
  • Birds and butterflies also enjoy helenium for its late-season bounty of pollen and nectar.
  • Helenium is drought and disease resistant, as well as deer resistant. 
What can I use to add color to my Gainesville Landscape this Spring? (4 Types of Seasonal Color)
By Rusty, Sun, 02/16/2020 - 10:08

Delphinium Pacific Giants are an award-winning Gainesville Landscaping perenial strain with tall, elegant spires of closely packed, large, well-formed blossoms in pink, violet, and many shades of blue flowers. They are a great background plant that attracts hummingbirds and other pollinators.

The downside of Delphiniums require a good amount of maintenance (staking, pruning, deadheading, disease control) in order to perform well in the garden,  but their beauty makes them worth it for most landscapes.

They're susceptible to powdery mildew, blight, leaf spots and crown rot. Plants grown in full sun generally show better resistance to powdery mildew. Watering these plants at the base with drip irrigation helps to avoid wetting the foliage. Crown rot will inevitably develop if plants are grown in poorly drained soils or planted too deepWatch for aphids, leaf miners, stem borers and mites. Taller plants may need staking and appreciate being sited in locations protected from wind. Plants parts are considered toxic to humans if ingested.

The large, showy blossoms are densely packed on erect spikes. Great as tall borders in sunny gardens, be sure to stake the plants to protect them from the wind. Don't worry about protecting delphinium from cold, unless temperatures drop into the mid-20s. Once temperatures rise in summer, the plants will fade and you'll need to remove them.

It should be noted that delphiniums are poisonous to humans and some animals if eaten, so be sure to keep small children or the family pet out of the flower beds that contain these. Planting in the front yard instead of the backyard is recommended for this reason.

By Rusty, Mon, 11/18/2019 - 15:25

"Elijah Blue" (Festuca glauca) is one of the most low-maintenance and Florida Friendly grasses around. It is easily grown in  well-drained soils in full sun. Although it can tolerate some light shade, they show the best foliage color in maximum sunlight.

This Gainesville Landscaping Plant of the month has outstanding, icy blue coloration and it's clumping ornamental grass holds up even through the heat of summer. Buff-colored plumes create eye-catching contrast. Perfectly suited for edging borders or mass planting as a groundcover. Drought tolerant when established. Semi-evergreen.

They are intolerant of wet, poorly-drained soils. Foliage is semi-evergreen. Clumps tend to die out in the center and need to be divided and replanted or replaced every 2-3 years. Cut back foliage in early spring to 3-4" to tidy clumps and to facilitate emergence of the new leaf blades. Clumps may decline in hot, humid summers, and should be cut back if such occurs. Mass densely (plant 8-10" apart) when planting as a ground cover since clumps do not spread outward very much and weeds may grow between clumps if spaced too far apart. May be grown from seed, but variations in foliage color often occur.

Festuca glauca, commonly called blue fescue, is a short-lived, low-growing, semi-evergreen, clump-forming ornamental grass noted for its glaucous, finely-textured, blue-gray foliage. Foliage forms a dome-shaped, porcupine-like tuft of erect to arching, needle-like blades radiating upward and outward to a height of 6-8" (inflorescences typically bring total clump height to 10-14"). Light green flowers with a purple tinge appear in terminal panicles atop stems rising above the foliage in late spring to early summer, but inflorescences are not very showy. Flowers give way to buffy seed heads which some gardeners find attractive but others find detractive to both the symmetry of the plant and the foliage color. Synonymous with Festuca ovina var. glauca and Festuca ovina 'Glauca'.

Genus name comes from the Latin word meaning a grass stalk or straw.

'Elijah Blue' is one of the best of the blue fescues. Synonymous with Festuca ovina 'Elijah Blue' and Festuca ovina var. glauca 'Elijah Blue'.

Compact and versatile ornamental grass that may be used as an edging plant for borders or path, a ground cover for small areas, or as an accent in rock gardens and border fronts. Mixes well with other ornamental grasses.

If you would love to have this in your Gainesville, Florida Landscape Design - please don't hestitate to contact our team of lawn professionals at (352) 378-5296 or the Contact form at the top of the page.

Elijah Blue Ornamental Grass
Elijah Blue Ornamental Grass
Elijah Blue Ornamental Grass


By Rusty, Mon, 10/21/2019 - 14:07

Instant impact! That's what you'll get when you put a generous helping of chrysanthemums (commonly just called "mums") in your entryway, flower border, or containers. Generally sold in ready-to-bloom form, mums add a fall finale of color to any setting. They come in a wide variety of flower colors and shapes, from small button-sized blooms to giant corsage-worthy flowers. Mum colors include white, yellow, pink, orange, red, burgundy, cream, salmon, and bi-color - which are all also great fall colors to go with Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations. There are also dwarf forms that grow just 8 to 10 inches tall and standards that can reach a couple feet in height. Mums are very popular with bees and butterflies, too. 

They're only downside? They aren't this colorful year-round. As beautiful as they are for fall, they typically don't last through winter without special care and maintenance. A cold winter will freeze them down completely, but it depends on how they're protected. 

Mum Growing Instructions
Be sure to select plants that are labeled "garden mums." Varieties sold indoors at florists are generally not cold hardy and should be treated as short-lived seasonal gift plants for interior design only. Mums prefer a sunny spot in the garden with well-drained soil. Avoid locations where water stands after a heavy rain or flower planters without good drainage as they will get root rot. To get the best bloom on large-flowering types, pinch off all the buds in late May. If your mums grow too large, divide them in the early spring every two to three years. After a few years some mums may begin to weaken or die out. Add new plants every year or two to keep the fall color show going. Deer and rabbits generally avoid dining on mums, so this is a safe plant for those Millhopper Rd and other deer feasted landscapes.


Orange, Pink, Purple, Red, White, Yellow

Moist, well-drained soil

Special Features:
Attracts butterflies
Attracts hummingbirds
Deer/rabbit resistant

By Rusty, Mon, 08/19/2019 - 16:45

Our seasonal color nursery's first crop of 'Jolt' Dianthus is coming in and we're excited about these plants for fall.   This is our second year with 'Jolt' and our customers could not have been happier with its Gainesville landscape performance.

First, Jolt is an interspecific hybrid that is perennial locally. Basically, it survives throughout the year even though it struggles through the summer  These are taller than some Dianthus at 16"-20" tall and should be planted with 10"-14" spacing to enjoy the clusters of flowers up and down the plant.

Dianthus may be used in borders or containers, and make great bedding plants when massed together at commercial property entrances. Although this is our plant for September, our Gainesville Landscape clients should wait until October to plant. They will flower through winter and spring, only stopping when temperatures rise, usually in May.

They will do best in full sun to partial shade, and prefer rich, well-drained soil. Dianthus will not tolerate wet soil conditions, so irrigate carefully to avoid overwatering. 

By Rusty, Wed, 05/15/2019 - 08:30

Often times, when folks find out what I do for a living, one of the first questions asked is “What is your favorite plant?” or "What plant would you use here?"  Of course, being somewhat of a plant nerd, that can be a tough question to answer! The answer may vary depending on what is currently blooming, what type of soil or sunlight your yard has, or even a new and exciting plant variety was recently released!

And to be completely honest, I’m not entirely sure that I could pick just one. They all have different strengths and weaknesses. What I have put together for you, instead, is a list of ten of my favorite Gainesville landscape plants. These are my favorites for a combination of factors including how well they do in our particular climate, lower maintenance, drought tolerance, overall beauty, colors in bloom, and general resistance to issues like pests and disease. If planted in the right spot in your yard, they are almost guaranteed to do well in any Gainesville, Florida landscape.

So here we have it, Rusty’s list of Top 10 Gainesville Landscape plants!

Hydrangea 'Endless Summer'

hydrangea plant

If I really had to pick one favorite, mophead hydrangea might just be the winner. It’s a great looking shrub with beautiful masses of color. Few specimen give more floral firepower while asking so little in return! Hydrangeas need minimal care in well-drained, fertile soil, and are shade lovers. They’ll grow to several feet in height and can be three to five feet wide. Many new varieties are coming out that bloom for longer periods of time and we’re excited to try some of these newer types in Gainesville yards. Very important with this one is where you plant them. Attempting to grow hydrangea in full sun in Florida leads to less than spectacular results.  All species of hydrangeas are most happy when sited to receive at least some afternoon shade, if not filtered shade throughout the entire day.  Exposure to blistering afternoon sun is highly problematic!

Flax lily 'Dianella'

flax lily plant

This plant is more of a workhorse than it is a showstopper, flax lily is a plant I include in many of my landscape designs. Evergreen, compact and strappy, flax lily is a proven performer in Gainesville yards. The green leaves with contrasting yellow stripes will brighten the garden year-round and it’s tidy clumping habit is ideal for mass planting in borders, near pools, and in garden beds and in borders. It brings great contrast in texture and requires very minimal care. The flowers are not showy and the plant looks best when the thin stalks of flowers are trimmed off. (Bonus video on dividing flax lilies available here.)

Dwarf Variegated Shell Ginger

variegated ginger plant

Variegated shell ginger brings a contrast in color and texture that compliments many landscapes in town. There are few yards where this plant won’t work! Larger varieties can grow up to 10 feet tall , but in our climate the dwarf varieties generally only get  a few feet tall. They can get frost damage when we get very cold winters and may need heavy pruning but they will return with warm weather. The leaves vary considerably in the amount of variegation, with some mostly green streaked with creamy yellow or gold, whereas others are primarily yellow with some green stripes. This is a great choice for clients who enjoy a tropical landscape aesthetic in our cooler north Florida climate or want shade-tolerand landscaping.

Agapanthus 'Lily of the Nile'

Agapanthus plant

Agapanthus, also known as Lily of the Nile, has a beautiful texture and deep green foliage. We love the way they look year round and especially the delicate pop of color with blue, purple or white flowers in summer. Agapanthus looks wonderful when planted in large groups in landscape beds, but it works equally well in containers. Agapanthus can take full sun but in Florida prefers a bit of shade. Likewise, it's relatively drought tolerant but performs better with regular watering.

Azalea 'Formosa'

azalea plant

No list of Gainesville plants would ever be complete without this true Gainesville favorite. It’s our sign that winter is ending and warm days are coming when we get that spectacular show of flowers each year. The Formosa azalea is very well adapted to our climate, shade tolerant with large and showy flowers. They will do best in dappled shade, making them a great option under oak trees. These plants are very hardy and quite vigorous, once they are established in your landscape they need very little maintenance. While the blooms are only once a year, the foliage is evergreen making them a great privacy screen or backdrop in a landscaping bed. If you are interested in blooms year round there are many other varieties of azalea that are options, but nothing packs quite the same color punch as the Formosa azalea each year!

Loropetalum 'Red Chocolate'

Loropetalum plant

'Red Chocolate' Loropetalum is a very versatile plant that work well in almost all landscapes. Varieties range in size and color with my favorites being the richer colors such as red chocolate or purple plum. In the spring you’ll see small, frilly flowers, but it’s the year round color variety that makes this one of my favorites. We use this as shrub as a hedge, screen planting or shrub. Loropetalum is generally free of pests and diseases and will grow best in full sun, but can also be grown in partial shade. Make sure you choose a spot with well-drained soil, as sitting in moisture will cause problems for this plant.

Liriope 'Royal Purple'

lilirope plant

If you are looking for a plant that does well with very little care, liriope may be exactly what you’ve been searching for. This clumping, evergreen ground cover forms dense, grass-like clumps. The leaves are generally dark green and you’ll sometimes see small purple flowers. Most liriopes grow to a height between 10 and 18 inches and can spread rapidly by underground stems (rhizomes) to cover a wide area. This plant is very easy to care for and is going to do well in most Gainesville yards.

Wax-Leaf Ligustrum

Wax Leaf Ligustrum plant

You will often see ligustrum used as a shrub or hedge, and it works great for that, but it can also grow into a lovely tree with multiple trunks and dark green canopy creating an interesting architectural focus. If used as a hedge it’s going to provide great coverage with thick lush foliage with glossy evergreen leaves. Ligustrum will need to be kept trimmed as it can grow over 15 feet tall! As a tree it can be kept manicured for a more formal shape, or it can be left to grow naturally for a more casual look.

Viburnum 'Odoratissimum'

viburnum plant

Another excellent hedge in our climate is Viburnum odoratissimum, commonly called "sweet viburnum." This is an evergreen shrub that grows to as much as 20' tall and can be grown in tree form as well. The small flowers that come in late spring to early summer aren’t very showy but they are extremely fragrant. This is another favorite of mine for use as a hedge or privacy screen and performs very well in our climate. Low maintenance and usually pest free this is a top choice for Gainesville landscapes.

Crape myrtle

Crape myrtle plant

You will rarely go down a road in Gainesville without coming across a crape myrtle tree, and for very good reason! These beautiful trees flower for months, are highly heat and drought tolerant and there are varieties available as small trees, medium trees, large trees, and even shrubs and container plants! Choose with care, the right tree in the wrong location is one of the most common placement mistakes we see. They will want a location with lots of sunlight and need plenty of moisture when young but once the tree is established it will tolerate drought well. A final word of caution when it comes to crape myrtle trees, take care to use correct pruning procedures and at the right time of year. In our climate February to early March is the ideal time.

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