Written by Sam Runyon- UF/IFAS Extension Clay County Master Gardener Volunteer
Coontie, Zamia floridana, is a slow-growing shrub that is native to Florida and can be used in tropical landscaping and container gardening. It can be planted year-round and grows in zones 8B to 11.
Coontie grow 2 to 4 feet tall; has a spread of 3 to 5 feet; moderate density and round in shape. Prior to trunk development, the plant stems from large underground storage root.
Foilage is light green, feathery and fine in texture; and produces red berries that attract butterflies. The plant prefers light shade but can grow in full sun, is drought-tolerant; will thrive in alkaline, sand, acidic and loamy soil.
Problems with sooty mold, mealy bugs and scale plague this ornamental and can be infested with Florida red scale which requires regular spraying. The alata caterpillar only feeds on this plant.
Due to the high cost of this plant, ground cover growing can be cost-prohibitive. This Florida native evergreen shrub does well when clumped together in the landscape.
For more information see https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp617