Everyone is talking about butt rott — Ganoderma butt rott that is! Lately I’ve had more phone calls than ever from homeowners seeking to identify the strange fungus growing out of their palm trees and wondering what to do next.
All palm trees in Florida are susceptible to Ganoderma butt rott, a disease caused by the fungus Ganoderma zonatum and that is characterized by wilting and general decline. If your palm tree exhibits a hard, shelf-like fungal conk, this is a tell-tale sign that it is infected with G. zonatum.
Because this fungal spreads through spores, palm owners will want to remove conks as soon as they see them appear. The entire palm will also have to be removed as soon as possible because it eventually die and become a safety hazard.
Recently I’ve had several inquiries from homeowners — they’ve had several palms decimated by this fungus and they’ve taken the appropriate action of removing the palm and it’s roots. Because the fungus lives in the soil, they know they cannot replant with palms. People want to know — what are some planting options? This is what I always get asked – what to plant, what to plant, what to plant!!!
When selecting an ornamental replacement, the number one principle is to select the right place for the right place. Do you want a tall, upright structure? A large wide shrub? Do you need privacy? What aesthetics are important to you…for example, does the plant need to flower? Do you want a native plant? And what will your location allow — what are the soil, drainage, and light conditions? With some many considerations to ponder, it’s no wonder so many folks are calling in to ask what they should plant!
In this post I’ve gathered a roundup of a few of my favorite plants. This is a highlight of some plants I enjoy, I’ve love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!
So you want a small to moderate sized, flowering tree….
Geiger Tree: drought and salt tolerant, native, gorgeous orange or white blooms that are a favorite of hummingbirds.
Powderpuff: Lovely delicate pink puffs that appear on and off all year, this tree is excellent as a single specimen in a yard or as an accent adjacent to a home or driveway. Grows quickly!
Jatropha: Stunning scarlet flowers with year-round blooms. Can be grown as a bush or trained into a small tree.
So you want a moderate to large, flowering tree….
Hong Kong Orchid Tree: Purple flowers bloom for ~120 days in the winter attract butterflies and birds, this is a fast-growing tree that can be shaped to your liking.
Desert Cassia: Salt tolerant, butterfly attractant with showy yellow blooms. Prefers sunny locations.
So you need a privacy screen…..
Check out this ultimate guide to hedges and screens by Lee County agent Stephen Brown! Sea grape and silver buttonwood are two of my favorites!
So you want some tropical and smaller accents…
Say you’ve already got some nice trees and want to fill in the space with some colorful blooms and shrubs. Here are some choices for you….
Bromeliads: A rainbow of color options and low maintenance, they are also a favorite breeding ground for mosquitos — nature is full of tradeoffs!
Ginger: a handsome plant for a shaded area, fills in corners or can surround trees or palms
Beautyberry: outlandish purple berries on this shrub provide food for our native birds
Wild Coffee: A fast growing, evergreen native shrub. Versatile and can be used as a shrub, hedge, or accent. The flowers attract pollinators and the berries help the birds.
Lantana: Select a native species, Lantana involucrata and Lantana depressa, which are more charming than their invasive counterpart, Lantana camara. These native plants are tolerant to salty air, hurricane winds, and attract birds and bees
And there you have it! While Ganoderma butt rot is a stinker, it might just present a unique opportunity to add floral diversity to your landscape!
For more recommendations, check out the following resources.