Tips for Success! – Planting a shrub (the right way)

Are you getting ready to plant new shrubs in your landscape? Before you buy another plant or dig another hole, watch this quick step-by-step video tutorial. I’ve included tips about plant selection, hole sizing, mulching & more. Get ready to achieve landscape success!

Part 1 – Before you buy… tips for choosing the right plant

Part 2 – Before you dig… watch this!

Part 3 – “…plant ’em low, they won’t grow…”


Part 4 – Finishing touches – water & mulch



TIP: Don’t forget about watering!

As long as you follow the principle of “right plant, right place,” your new shrubs should typically be able to survive on rainfall once they’re well-established.* But even the most drought-tolerant shrubs need a period of regular watering until they get fully established. The following table can be used as a general guide, based on the size of plant material.

(Source: A Guide to Microirrigation for West-Central Florida Landscapes – pdf)Watering recommendations for new plant material. PDF can be found at

*(Note: During periods of extreme prolonged drought, even well-established, drought-tolerant plants will sometimes benefit from a bit of supplemental watering.)

About the featured shrub –

As I mentioned in the first video, there are several varieties, or ‘cultivars’ of Walter’s viburnum (Viburnum obovatum) available in the nursery trade. They range from tiny, compact shrubs like ‘Mrs. Schiller’s Delight’ to very large forms that exceed 25′ in height! The shrub in the video is a compact “dwarf” cultivar of Walter’s viburnum called ‘Whorled Class.’ Aside from the compact growth habit, a key distinguishing feature of this cultivar is that it has three leaves from each leaf node, giving an especially dense look to the dark green foliage.


Planting Shrubs in Florida Landscapes

Establishing Shrubs in Florida Landscapes




  • Florida Native Plant Society – Searchable plant selection guide for Florida native plants. This guide allows you to choose your county, select site characteristics, salt tolerance, etc. (NOTE: To avoid losing your search results, click the green Back to List button, rather than using the ‘back’ button on your browser.


  • Waterwise Plant Selection Database – A user-friendly, searchable plant selection guide from the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) – This guide includes both native and non-native “Florida-Friendly” options. The guide allows you to select plant type (groundcover, flower, ferns, trees, vines, etc.), soil conditions, plant height, growth characteristics, flower color, etc. Includes photos for many plants.


  • Florida Friendly Landscaping Plant Selection Guide – A searchable plant list that includes both native and non-native “Florida-Friendly” options. After selecting your region (north / central / south) and plant-type (tree / shrub / etc.) you have the option to refine your search based on specific site conditions (soil type, moisture levels, salt tolerance, etc.)


  • NOTE: If you live within the Southwest Florida Water management District, you can also request a paper copy of the UF/IFAS publication – Florida-Friendly LandscapingTM Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design. Click this link to visit the free publications section of the Southwest Florida Water Management’s page, Outside of the SWFWMD region, check with your local UF/IFAS Extension office –


  • Other UF/IFAS online materials: There is an enormous collection of information available online from UF/IFAS. I always tell people, “If it can grow in Florida, UF/IFAS has info for you.” Simply go to your favorite search engine, type (name of the plant/animal) + ‘IFAS’, and you’ll have a good starting point.



Scuba diver underwater

About the Author: As the Florida Friendly Landscaping (FFL) Program Coordinator in Pasco County, I work with the residents, homebuilders, and businesses of Pasco to help create attractive landscapes that DON’T require a lot of water, fertilizer, and pesticides. Through an innovative collaboration with Pasco County Utilities, the Pasco County FFL Program also provides on-site troubleshooting assistance to individuals and communities identified as high water users. My motto is – Less guesswork, better landscapes.” I can be reached at


Thirsty for more FFL knowledge? Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook & Twitter!

Have an idea for a future post? Let me know at

by Frank Galdo

UF/IFAS Extension Is An Equal Opportunity Institution.


Avatar photo
Posted: August 27, 2020

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Horticulture
Tags: Design Tips, Drought Tolerant Plants, Florida Friendly Landscaping, Landscape, Landscaping, Native Plants, Planting, Pollinator Gardens, Pollinators, Resilient Landscaping, Right Place, Right Plant, Roots, Shrubs, Tips, Wildlife


September 27, 2021

Thanks for the info!

Frank Galdo

September 27, 2021

Hi Kay, thanks for checking out the blog! A border can potentially be helpful in some situations. A good solution for a slight slope can sometimes include using a border in combination with a mulch like pine straw, which tends to "knit" together. Another trick that can help is to create a slight "dip" behind the border by removing a bit of the soil back there. It doesn't necessarily need to be a major trench. Just a slightly lower area... (Side-note- Pine straw has recently been difficult to source in some areas. Hopefully, dry fall weather will be more favorable for baling, and the supplies will rebound.) It's difficult to make a blanket statement though, because each situation can be different... Often, your ability to keep the mulch in place using the various solutions mentioned above will depend on a combination of both the slope, and also the volume of water that's pooling or flowing through the area. For example, if a downspout causes a LOT of water to flow through at a high rate, that can definitely increase the concerns for washout, etc. One thing especially important to keep in mind is that if the area has standing water during any of our wettest summer rainy periods, certain types of mulch (i.e. pine bark nuggets) might go floating down the road... Feel free to send me some photos by email if you'd like some additional brainstorming of solutions - or if you'd like to show some before/after success stories. Those are always great too! Hope that helps. Happy gardening!

September 25, 2021

If the mulched area is sloped (slightly) towards the street, can a border keep it where I want it? Or will it become another high-maintenance project?

Frank Galdo

September 8, 2021

Hi Ken, thanks for checking out the blog! Due to the difficulty in tracing the origins of the cypress trees used for production of mulch, the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Program encourages alternatives such as melaleuca, eucalyptus, pine bark, pine straw, etc. They are effective mulches which offer better assurances of sustainability. Each has some pros and cons, as outlined in the post above. If you're converting large areas, it can sometimes be beneficial to solarize the ground prior to planting, or use some other method to address the dormant seed bank. Otherwise, weeds can definitely become problematic, even with a decent layer of mulch. Dr. Chris Marble did a great webinar a few months back discussing a variety of good weed control strategies. The link for the recording is: If you'd like some advice for any specific sites you're working with, please feel free to get in touch with us. We're happy to follow up by phone or email. Hope that helps!

September 8, 2021

We are removing a lot of the grass in our yard and replacing it with Florida friendly plants. Is there a mulch you would recommend. Our landscaper recommends Cyprus but with the ecological damage that we are causing from removing Cyprus trees I am concerned about this.

gái gọi hà nội cao cấp
September 6, 2021

Really enjoyed this post.Really looking forward to read more. Will read on

Ok ok, letsgo
August 10, 2021

Really informative post.Thanks Again. Cool.

BJ Jarvis
August 9, 2021

I love your sense of humor along with the great gardening content!

Frank Galdo

August 3, 2021

Hi Mohammed, thanks for checking out the blog, and for that interesting bit of information - I learned something new today!

Mohammed Alharbi
August 3, 2021

This is a good one and it fools many people. Black disc is a term used to describe the appearance of deteriorated spinal discs on medical imaging studies.

July 17, 2021

I discovered the frog fruit and purslane in our front yard, so thrilled to have it growing wild in our yard, the pollinators love it!

Derek Hines
June 21, 2021

Great article. I especially like the questions that make me think about whether I've used something and why I'm still keeping it! Thanks for sharing.

Shari Bresin, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Pasco County Extension

March 18, 2021

Hi Rick Have you looked up the upcoming events for Pasco County Extension on our website? The calendar of events can be seen here: There isn't an upcoming canning class in Pasco scheduled at this time, but some Florida counties and other Extension schools are doing virtual classes. You can find those on Event Brite: Hope this helps :) Our office number is 352-518-0156

Rick Morrison
March 17, 2021

am looking for canning class, and garden class and other phone number for ex service

Shari Bresin, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Pasco County Extension

March 12, 2021

Hi Carolyn The biggest thing to remember is if the food requires temperature control/refrigeration for safety. Under cottage food law, the food cannot be a TCS food (time and temperature control for safety). A cheesecake would not be allowed, but bread products that can be left out at room temperature may. See this literature from FDACS for more info: You can also email me if you have any additional questions:

March 11, 2021

I live in Hudson, FL. I am trying to find what I can and can't bake to sell from home. Please help me. Thank you.

Frank Galdo

February 15, 2021

Hi Chris, thanks for checking out the blog, and for the great question about invasive plants. Here's one way I like to think about it: The first FFL Principle, "right plant, right place" means that you should be matching your plant selections to your site conditions, and to the amount of available space. For example, if you have a 3' x 3' area next to your front door, you wouldn't want to plant a live oak there. It would obviously be the "wrong plant," because if it grew to it's maximum potential, it would cause significant maintenance costs, harm to your home's foundation, etc. So, any plant (native or not) that's destined to outgrow its available space and become a maintenance nightmare would be considered the "wrong plant" for that space, according to the FFL Principles. However, invasive plants take that concept further. By definition, invasive plants are those that have proven themselves to be unwilling and unable to be contained and maintained in the place they are planted. Likewise, they've proven themselves again and again to be 100% capable of becoming maintenance nightmares. They are known to escape cultivation, and when they do, they cause significant environmental and/or economic harm. They disrupt habitats, out-compete, smother, and displace native plants (and the wildlife that depend on them), many are toxic to wildlife and livestock, and they almost always cost significant amounts of money and labor for control and removal. (Furthermore, because many invasive plants are capable of being are spread long distances by water, wildlife, landscape equipment, etc., often the person who originally planted them is not the one bearing those costs - at least not directly - however, because management of invasive plants impacts the operations and budgets of many municipalities, parks, ranchers, farmers, etc., EVERYONE actually pays the costs to manage invasive species.) So I hope this answer helps you, and other blog readers, to see the connection - by their very nature, invasive plants can't meet the criteria for "right plant, right place!" If you're interested in learning more, be sure to follow @PascoExt on Facebook or Twitter. I'll be sharing lots of information, tips, and trivia for "Invasive Species Awareness Week" later in February! Sneak peek: Did you know? Some invasive plants actually make it much more difficult to manage Florida's fire-dependent habitats with prescribed burns, and can even allow natural wildfires to burn bigger, faster, and hotter than they otherwise would!

Chris L.
February 15, 2021

How does removing invasive plants fit into these principles?

Frank Galdo

February 4, 2021

Hi Steve - Thanks for checking out the blog! Regarding your questions about mulch depth and turning mulch, the answers will probably depend on a number of different factors (i.e. type of mulch, environmental conditions, aesthetic goals, etc.), so it's difficult to provide a good "one-size-fits-all" recommendation... The 3-4" recommendation comes from the fact that it's often a good functional balance between preventing weeds while still allowing water to percolate through. Mulching at less than 3" will tend to diminish the mulch's weed-blocking capabilities, while using more than 4" will often start to intercept too much rainfall, and can potentially even begin to affect gas exchange with the soil, etc... So it's about striking that balance. (Also, mulch costs money, so if you're working with a budget, and a 4" layer is effective, why spend extra $ for minimal benefit, right?) Regarding raking, here are a couple of factors to take into consideration - In some situations, there's no turning necessary - (particularly if leaves and pine needles are being used) - because the natural networks of soil microbes & decomposers do a great job of transforming these mulches into a rich layer of humus. So if using needles and/or leaves, you'd probably just want to spread more on top to replenish the mulch as it breaks down. In other situations, especially where wood or large-chunk bark mulches are used, there can sometimes be benefits to raking... BUT it's ultimately going to depend on the site conditions, etc. The primary reasons to turn or rake the mulch would be: 1) Some mulches are extremely slow to break down, so they may fade in color before they actually NEED to be replenished (from a functional standpoint). If your community's mulch is primarily being re-applied because it's lost its "pizazz," raking can potentially help revitalize and refresh the appearance of the mulch between re-applications. (That saves $ and prevents the mulch from piling up too excessively.) 2) Over time, certain mulches - especially wood-based mulches - can become very matted to the point where they begin repelling water. If the mulch is very matted, raking can help break up that "waterproof" surface layer, helping water penetrate again. 3) If the mulch has spread from where it was originally applied, and is now encroaching on plants, walkways, etc. it may need to be rearranged back where it belongs. So long story short, consider the mulch's function, looks, and costs, and let those factors determine the correct approach. I hope that helps. Feel free to follow up with me by phone or email if you'd like to dive into specifics for your community's landscaping. or 727.514.5488

February 4, 2021

Thank you Frank. Our HOA mulches every year but the mulch is never turned and seems too thick in many areas. I'd like to share with the board of directors, your recommendations on turning mulch, frequency, time of year, pros vs cons, etc. I see you recommend 3 to 4 inches in thickness, how much is too much and why? Thank you very much.

Frank Galdo

September 10, 2020

Hi Robin - Welcome to Florida! Sorry to hear about your hibiscus troubles. Unfortunately, many hibiscus plants are prone to attracting piercing/sucking insect pests like mealybugs, aphids, & whiteflies. In general, the earlier you notice the issue, the easier it is to treat, so regular scouting is really important in order to grow hibiscus successfully. Another thing that can be helpful is to work on building up your population of beneficial insects. For tips on that, check out my recent webinar here - For some additional info about growing hibiscus & managing their pests, check out -

September 5, 2020

Oops. Same comment without my typos: I’m new to Florida and I believe they were aphids that overtook my hibiscus. Tiny white bugs that looked like a small white line, followed by the sooty mold BUT then horrible fur that looked like brown mice on my plant! Before the fur arrived I tried unsuccessfully to treat it with a mild organic spray and then I threw the plant out but wondering what it was so I don’t get it again.

Frank Galdo

August 28, 2020

Hi, Thanks for checking out the blog! I appreciate your feedback & completely agree. It would have been great to show that step, and that was my initial plan. Unfortunately, I didn't have a tripod or stand available for the camera, and I was shooting the video solo... I wasn't able to spread the roots effectively while simultaneously filming. If I manage to film it next time, I'll be sure to update the post! Thanks again for checking it out - Happy gardening!

August 28, 2020

Need video on setting disturbed root ball into new hole to ensure no voids around roots. Previous video left a flat bottomed hole and a promise of video of released roots.

Frank Galdo

August 24, 2020

Hi Rebeca - Thanks for checking out the blog, and sorry to hear about your struggles with aphids. Summertime in FL can be a tricky time to grow veggies. Heat, humidity, insects, and disease can challenge even the best of us. This summer has been particularly brutal in terms of heat stress. However, there are always a couple of things that we can do as gardeners to tip the scales in our favor. 1) During summer, limit your crops to those that are well-adapted to hot, semi-tropical conditions. Sweet potatoes, roselle, Asian longbeans, okra, etc. Other veggies such as greens, broccoli, cabbages, etc. should be saved for the fall & winter gardens. 2) Check for signs of root nematodes, which can be a major cause of stressed plants in summer veggie gardens. These microscopic worms harm your plants' roots, making them unable to effectively take up water and nutrients. Plants affected by nematodes look stunted & wilted, and are more susceptible to attacks by aphids & mealybugs. (Okra is especially vulnerable to nematodes, so if you've got tiny, stunted, struggling okra, it's a good reason to check for nematode issues.) For more about nematodes, check out this post: 3) Make sure your garden is attracting & supporting lots of beneficial insects. Including a lot of pollinator-attracting flowers will help draw in the "good bugs" - lacewings, hoverflies, parasitic wasps, etc. For more about that, check out this recording of a recent webinar - or for a quick summary, you can take a look at this blog post - 4) Check for ants "farming" the aphids. Sometimes, fireants will protect the aphids in exchange for the aphids' sugary excretions. The ants will often have a nest at the base of the plant, and they will actually protect the aphids from the beneficial predator insects. This happened on some of the Asian longbean plants at the community garden this year. Once you get the ants under control, the beneficial insects can often restore balance. Anyway, hope that helps. Don't give up!

August 21, 2020

First year doing an entire edible garden and aphids seem to have taken out two entire raised beds full of plants, before fruiting could even begin. I've tried dish soap and water, many Bonide organic products, water. You name it. Nothing keeps them off or kills them. If anything it stresses my plants out more than the aphids. Is this a more common issue in summer? I read that they thrive in cooler temps. Im just trying to figure out if I should even bother planting my fall garden. The only things they haven't destroyed are plants in containers. Tomatoes and jalapeños. Thank you in advance for your help.

Shari Bresin, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Pasco County Extension

July 27, 2020

Hi Rick The commercial kitchen in Dade City, where I would normally hold the class, can't have more than 2 people in it at this time. I hope to offer this again as soon as it's safe to do so :) In the meantime, check out the USDA's Complete Guide to Home Canning: Let me know if you have any questions:

Rick Morrison
July 26, 2020

looking for a class in canning no rush

Frank Galdo

July 20, 2020

Hi Pam, thanks for checking out the blog! I don't know that anyone at UF has done any official research on best storage practices for bagged mulch. However, here are a couple of general tips and things to consider - 1) Bags will likely be degraded by the UV in sunlight, so to avoid a bag blowout when you eventually try to move it, try to keep it covered, or someplace shaded. 2) The longer it sits, the more it will break down. Moisture will speed up the decomposition of the mulch. The wetter it is, the faster it will break down. Eventually, it could end up somewhere between mulch and compost. 3) Over time, you may see white mycelium* growing in the mulch, unless it is really, really dry. That’s perfectly normal & still safe for using around your plants. (*Think of mycelium as a bit like the "root system" for the beneficial fungi that help decompose leaf litter and dead wood - a bit of an oversimplified comparison, but that's the basic idea...) 4) Keeping it up off the ground (i.e put on pallet, etc.), might help reduce ants and other critters. Hope that helps!

July 18, 2020

I purchased bagged melaleuca mulch. What is the best way to store my extra bags?

Frank Galdo

July 13, 2020

Hi Adele, thanks for checking out the blog and sharing your experience with purslane! Really interesting to hear about its positive response to a controlled burn. In response to your question about whether I've published any books about native plants and sustainability - no, BUT... there are some really excellent books available through the University of Florida Press. Here's a direct link to the "Gardening" topic section - LINK: On the topic of Florida native plants, gardening, and sustainability, authors such as Craig Huegel, Ginny Stibolt, and others have written some wonderful how-to guides, available through the UF Press link above. Hope that helps!

July 11, 2020

I can give you some more info on this plant, we did a prescribed burn on our property and now have a 20 x 20 space we cleared for an in ground garden, I have had a over abundance of the purslane in pink and purple come up since the burn, I left if as ground cover as the pollinators love it, I walk all over it, drag hose across it and move it out of the way to weed around it, in my experience it just seems to thrive and continues to reseed easily, it has made a huge difference in the garden..also have you published any books on florida native plants and sustainability??

Frank Galdo

June 15, 2020

Hi Carlee – Thanks for checking out the blog. Sorry to hear about your struggles with pests. Sometimes, even when we’ve taken steps to provide good habitat and food sources for beneficial insects, the pest pressure can ramp up faster than the beneficials. Particularly, this can become a problem if you have young plants with plenty of new, tender growth, or your plants are stressed by environmental conditions (like the recent extreme springtime dry season). Sometimes, additional steps are called for until “the cavalry” can arrive... If you can get a few clear, well-focused photos, I’d be happy to take a look at the specific pests you’re dealing with. That way I’ll be able to make the best recommendations to help your plants. (A tip to get really clear, close-up photos – Sometimes cameras have a difficult time focusing on a small, thin object like a leaf or a plant stem. Hold a flat object (a book, your hand, a piece of paper, etc.) near the leaf or branch you’re trying to photograph. First, lock your camera’s focus onto the flat surface, then take the photo of the pests.) Without photos, the general recommendation would be to apply a low-toxicity product containing neem oil, or a horticultural soap, as described in the following publication: Just remember to always read labels carefully, follow all instructions closely, and pay attention to any temperature precautions listed.

Carlee Weston
June 13, 2020

We have a FL natives yard. Aphids are on the growing tips of our Slash Pine, Fire Bush, and Coco Plums. I see no evidence of beneficial predators though we have plenty of nectar plants, tuck seed, rosin weed, FL green eyes, twin flower and salvias and spider wort. What are we missing? Help!!

Frank Galdo

May 18, 2020

Hi Gia, thanks for checking out the blog! I've moved to a new home since the writing of this post, , so unfortunately, I can't provide an update on the purslane patch. We only moved a few miles away from the old house, but the landscape conditions are VERY different - it actually gets soggy in the summertime! New challenges, new opportunities... To answer your question - the purslane in the photos was planted along the edge of a pollinator garden I'd built, so they weren't really getting walked on... Therefore, the photos really show how it can look when densely planted, without being regularly trampled. That said, there were plenty of other purslane plants scattered around the yard, and they seemed to survive occasional foot traffic just fine. I'm just not sure if you'd achieve the same full, "fluffy" growth as in the photos, but it will likely stick around, once established... Next to a driveway, there's likely a bigger issue to consider though... The purslane tends to die back in the winter, and re-appear in the springtime. That worked ok in my pollinator garden, where I had a constant rotation of things in bloom to provide interest, but if you're thinking of using it along the edge of the driveway, I could potentially foresee two issues - 1) sand/soil erosion from bare ground; and/or 2) HOA complaints due to those winter bare spots. One possibility to deal with the winter dormancy issue... you might consider inter-mixing purslane with one or more other creeping groundcovers such as Phyla nodiflora. That way, there's always something green for appearance, and to help hold the soil in place.

May 16, 2020

I see that you wrote this article nearly 2 years ago. I have been repotting some of the multitude of volunteers in my yard with the intent of placing in a "bad area" next to my driveway. In 're-searching' (googling mostly), many articles say it doesn't tolerate being stepped on, but I have quite a bit throughout the backyard and the kids play and run around, but it is not in one big patch, just here and there. I am curious to know if you still have this patch and if it holds up to being walked on. Thanks for the article!

Kara Woods
January 26, 2020

Hi - would you please tell me if we need to rinse out the eggshells before tossing them in our composting bin? We haven't been including eggshells at all in it, but friends told us we can. Thanks!

December 22, 2019

I did absolutely the same. I found these pretty weeds on my lawns and saved them before my gardener mow them away. I planted them under a frangipani tree as ground cover. I wanted to know the name of this plant and found your blog - thank you. "kiss me quick flower" such a cute name. Gold Coast Australia

November 19, 2019

Where can I buy eculyptus mulch in nugget form? Anyone? I live in Delray Beach Florida

Frank Galdo

November 5, 2019

Hi, thank you for checking out the blog, and for your question. There can be a number of factors that potentially could be affecting your persimmon tree. We'll need a bit more background info to help narrow down the possibilities, so I'll follow up by email.

November 5, 2019

Can someone tell me why my Persimmon tree is not bearing fruit? It barely grow has few leaves despite all the care i gave. Do you think the roots are affected by root pests ? Any advised will be appreciated.

October 28, 2019

I enjoyed the article and details of your relocated "rescued" portulaca. Similarly, I have "rescued" these charmers from many places on our property in Kissimmee and transplanted them in planter pots that decorate our back patio. I'm glad to know that someone else has such an interest in the maintenance of this plant.

September 27, 2019

Love this plant.......almost as much as the pollinators. What an interesting looking bloom. Yes, it spreads like crazy, but as you said, find the right place for them and you will be rewarded. I'm in an HOA, and it just adds so much to the yard (along with my other natives, and less turf all the time). Got it at the Nature Coast Native Plant sale a few years ago. Which by the way is coming up in October.

Leonard A.
July 23, 2019

Great principles!

Donald Price
July 19, 2019

Thanks for the tips regarding this. Your reader will surely appreciate what you've shared with us. Congratulations!

Shari Bresin, Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Pasco County Extension

October 11, 2018

Hi there, Thanks for your comment! I just sent you a message at the email you provided below your name. If you don't see it, please message me:

Melissa L Gray
October 10, 2018

I am wondering if you will be offering these classes again. I have just found this, but the dates are already past. I live in Pinellas county, but would gladly drive to Pasco for a class.

Whitney Elmore

May 15, 2017

Good to hear! Glad to help!

Comments are closed.

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