For maximum impact in your garden, planting a mix of native and ornamental plants will give you year-round color and interest. These are some of my favorites and all will be for sale at the Key West Garden Club Fall Plant Sale and Artist Market on Nov. 19 and 20.
Purple Dazzler (Pseuderanthemum) has showy purple flowers all year, providing a bit of razzamatazz in your garden. It is a small, erect shrub with pretty variegated leaves of green, pink and cream with starry lavender purple flowers. This plant is worth buying for its colorful foliage alone. Purple Dazzler loves both sun and partial shade, it grows to 3 to 4 feet, and is good for containers as well as borders.
If you want a bit of drama in your garden, look no further than Stingray Alocasia! This is a stunning, drop-dead-in-your tracks kind of plant. It is exotic and rare, and yet quite easy to grow in the Keys. It thrives in well-lit conditions, but not direct sunlight, as it will scorch the leaves, and it likes to be kept moist. it grows to 3 to 4 feet. The Stingray Alocasia is so named because of its large, uniquely shaped leaves that resemble the wings and tail of its namesake. The distinctive dappled coloring of the stem adds further interest.
For an excellent border plant or flowering hedge, you should consider the Panama Rose (Rondeletia stigosa). This trouble-free plant is a consistent and constant bloomer with pretty pink star-like flowers year-round. It prefers hot sunny spots and is moderately drought tolerant. Panama Rose has a nice, light perfume in the day, which gets stronger at dusk. It is wonderful for a patio or a butterfly garden as it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. It can tend to get leggy, so needs to be regularly trimmed to keep its shape.
If you want to brighten up a shady area, look no further than White Candles (Justica Whitfieldia longiflora). A member of the shrimp plant family, this is a constant bloomer that loves the shade. Each flower is 1 inch and is part of a 4 inch pure white calyx, resembling a burning white candle. Each flower cluster or calyx lasts for weeks. The plant is fast growing and, at 3 to 4 feet tall, is excellent for a background or boundary plant.
If you want a taller, easy-to-maintain plant that attracts butterflies, bees and birds, consider the Jatropha (Jatropha integerrima). This beauty blooms 365 days a year with clusters of tiny, but vivid scarlet flowers against deep green, scalloped leaves. Jatropha comes in tree and shrub forms, depending on what you want. It also comes in a dwarf format. It is a fast grower, ranging from 6 feet as a shrub to 12 feet as a tree. Once established, Jatrophas are drought tolerant, and they love a bright, sunny spot. They make good specimen trees or can also make a good flowering hedge. Japtrophas are an excellent choice for snowbird gardeners who want easy-care color during the winter.
Find all of these plants and more, along with gardening advice, at the Fall Plant Sale and Artist Market sponsored by Key West Garden Club at the West Martello Tower from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Nov. 19 and 20. Join the club for a 10% discount on garden club plants.
For expert advice about your gardening issues, consult our team of volunteer Master Gardeners at our table at the plant sale or at the plant clinic held the first Monday of every month from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can also consult us any time at email@example.com.
Rosi Ware is a Master Gardener and president of the Key West Garden Club.