Under The Jakfruit Tree

Vitex agnus-castus (Lilac Chaste Tree or Shrub) is native to the Mediterranean and Central Asia, but grows very well in South Florida. The leaves resemble maple leaves and the flowers resemble lilacs and are even fragrant like lilac flowers. Some may consider it a tree, and it can be grown as a single trunk, but it tends to grow as a large shrub if left to do so. It can attain a height of 10-15 feet tall. Even in South Florida, this shrub is mostly deciduous during the winter months. If your planting a fragrant garden, you should consider this plant.

Richard Lyons Nursery currently has this plant in stock.

Under The Jakfruit Tree

Two common names, one Thailand Powderpuff and the other Pink Powderpuff, and thus the confusion with common names. These two plants are not related at all and come from opposite ends of the world. Thailand Powderpuff doesn’t even come from Thailand, but rather from tropical Africa. Pink Powderpuff comes from South America. Botanical names are very distinctive and leave no confusion. So, Thailand Powderpuff (Combretum constrictum) is in the Combretaceae Family and Pink Powderpuff (Calliandra surinamensis) is in the Fabaceae Family. Two things they do both have in common is that they both thrive in South Florida, and they bloom year round. Although they are considered shrubs, they both get a substantial trunk and can reach 10-15 feet in height.

Richard Lyons Nursery currently has these plants in stock.

Under The Jakfruit Tree

This week’s highlight is on 2 grasses that resemble bamboo, but are in fact true grasses. The first is Pogo Grass (Pogonatherum paniceum). This is a clumping grass with very delicate stalks forming an umbrella shape 2-3 feet tall. Pogon is greek for beard, which its fine dense appearance resembles. This grass can be used as a border to a garden, a stand alone specimen, or even in a decorative pot on a patio.

The second grass is Bamboo Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia dumosa). This grass is closely related to our native Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris). However, this much larger species is native to Arizona and California, and is bamboo like and can reach 4-6 feet in height. It has a very fine and delicate appearance, which makes it a very attractive stand alone specimen in the landscape.

Richard Lyons Nursery has both of these grasses in stock.

Under The Jakfruit Tree

One of the most vexing problems for gardeners everywhere is how to deal with the areas of their property in which there is not enough light for turfgrass to grow.  In the southern U.S., St. Augustine grass outperforms other turfgrasses in terms of shade tolerance, but eventually it, too, becomes sparse as lighting decreases.  Rather than put up with bare patches of soil, Richard Lyons’ Nursery recommends that homeowners plant a shade-tolerant ground cover.  Among the best of them is Giant Liriope (Liriope gigantea).

Also known as Giant Lilyturf, L. gigantea features dark green grasslike leaves that grow in clumps ultimately reaching 3 ft. x 3 ft.  The leaves recurve, giving each clump a rounded appearance.  Consequently, the manner in which you lay out containers of Giant Liriope allows you to achieve varying effects.  To create a continuous ground cover, install containers a foot or less apart, but to emphasize the mounding habit of the species, increase the spacing.  L. gigantea also functions very successfully to create a border between one element of the landscape and another, and its versatility allows it to handle the transition from shady to sunny settings.

Giant Liriope is not only attractive, but easy to grow.  It is undemanding with respect to soil types, and, once established, can survive dry periods with no more than weekly irrigation.  About the only condition to avoid in installing this valuable ground cover is poorly-drained areas of the yard.

Like Liriope, Ophiopogon japonicus (Mondo Grass) is a member of the Liliaceae (Lily) Family, despite its appearance and common name.  It is much smaller than Liriope, but its growing requirements are essentially the same.  Mondo Grass is native to shady forests of Japan and Korea, while Liriope extends into China.

Giant Liriope is available at the nursery in 1-gal. and 3-gal. sizes while Mondo Grass is available only in 1-gal. containers.

Liriope gigantea (Lilyturf)

Liriope gigantea (Lilyturf)

Ophiopogon japonicus (Mondo Grass)

Ophiopogon japonicus (Mondo Grass)

Ophiopogon japonicus (Mondo Grass)

Ophiopogon japonicus (Mondo Grass)

Under The Jakfruit Tree

White Bird of Paradise Tree (Strelitzia nicolai) and Orange Bird of Paradise Plant (Strelitzia reginae) are this weeks highlighted plants. I think most people are familiar with the 3-4′ clumping orange bird of paradise plant. However, its close relative, the white bird of paradise tree, probably is not as well known. The white bird of paradise tree can reach 20-30′ and clumps much like a banana plant and heliconia plant. It even has leaves that split along its veins much like the banana and heliconia. Unlike these two plants, the white bird of paradise has woody trunks that resemble palm trees. Regardless, of which bird of paradise you plant, they both have unusually shaped flowers that do resemble exotic birds.

Richard Lyons Nursery currently has both of these plants in stock.