Well the temperatures have only slightly cooled, but the day lengths are definitely getting shorter. Don’t worry, the fall colors of central Florida have arrived! As we get ready to turn the clock back, check out some of our fall flowering and fruiting plants featured at the UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Florida-Friendly Landscaping Demonstration Garden.
Elliott’s Lovegrass (Eragrostis elliottii)
Elliott’s Lovegrass (Eragrostis elliottii) is a sign that fall is here with its tan flowers that are most prominent during the month of October in our FFL demonstration garden. If you have not tried an ornamental grass in your landscape, this may be a good place to start. Elliott’s lovegrass prefers full sun to part shade and is very drought tolerant. It does go dormant in the winter, but will come back in the spring.
Georgia Calamint (Calamintha georgiana)
Georgia Calamint (Calamintha georgiana) is a native small shrub that thrives in full sun and is drought tolerant. Each fall this plant is full of tiny lavender flowers that are great for pollinators. It is deciduous, so do not fret if the leaves fall off in the winter, they will come back in the spring.
Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)
Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) produces bright yellow flower spikes from late summer through fall. This native wildflower does well in full sun to partial shade. It has high drought tolerance and can reach 2-6 feet in height. The flower spike on the end tend to lay down so you can leave it that way for a natural look or stake the stems to give the flowers some height in the garden.
Yellow Sun Bromeliad (Aechema blachetiana)
There are so many bromeliad options for the landscape. Their blooms are a special treat to those who watch carefully. This fall the yellow sun bromeliad (Aechema blachetiana) has produced a bright red and yellow flower spike in our FFL demonstration garden. For more information on this sun bromeliad check out the blog by Ralph Mitchell, Director/Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Charlotte County.
Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
Looking for those deep rich fall colors? Well beautyberry (Callicarpa americana) has it with purple fruits in the fall. This native shrubs prefers part to full shade and can reach 6 to 8 feet in height and width. Beautyberry is drought tolerant and the fruit are a food source for birds.
Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)
Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) is another native ornamental grass that definitely gives off the feel of fall. The dark pink-purple flowers of muhly grass usher in fall in Florida. Muhly grass looks very striking when planted in a mass. This ornamental grass tolerates full sun to shade and can grow to 2 to 5 feet in height. A great choice for a rain garden since it tolerates both drought and flood. For more information on rain gardens check out UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions.
Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)
Another favorite fall blooming plant is cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis) with it striking red flowers. This plant is better suited for the edge of a pond or in a bog garden. Cardinal flower tolerates full sun to shade, is pollinated by hummingbirds, and goes dormant in the winter.
Blazing Star (Liatris spp.)
Fall in Florida would not be complete without blazing star (Liatris spp.). Topped with beautiful light purple flowers, liatris is somewhat drought tolerant once established. Another flower that tends to lay down, but certainly can be staked. These fall flowers put on a show when planted in a mass. So, plant your liatris in full sun and let the pollinators enjoy!
Skyblue Clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos)
Last, but not least, is a vine known as skyblue clustervine (Jacquemontia pentanthos). This is one of newest additions to our garden. A native vine with beautiful blue flowers in fall and winter. It prefers full sun and is suitable for hardiness zones 10A-11. To protect our plant in the winter, we have planted it on the south side of the building. This warmer microclimate in our landscape will help this plant during cooler winters.
Remember to practice Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ and use the principle of right plant, right place to select plants that match the site conditions in your garden or landscape. For more information on Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ check out our website.
Have you visited the Florida-Friendly Landscaping Demonstration Garden in Bartow recently? If not, we invite you to stop by and check out the gardens!
UF/IFAS Extension Polk County
1702 Highway 17 South
Bartow, FL 33830
For more details and directions, call 863-519-1041.
Calamintha georgiana. Florida Native Plant Society. https://www.fnps.org/plants/plant/calamintha-georgiana. Accessed Oct 30, 2019. J
acquemontia pentanthos. Florida Native Plant Society. https://www.fnps.org/plants/plant/jacquemontia-pentanthos. Accessed Oct 30, 2019.
Moore, Kimberly A. , Luci E. Fisher, Carl J. Della Torre III, and Lyn A. Gettys. Native Aquatic and Wetland Plants: Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis. SS-AGR-398. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, 2018. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag402. Accessed Oct 30, 2019.
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design. 2010. University of Florida. https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/FYN_Plant_Selection_Guide_2015.pdf