Everyone likes their privacy. Usually, a large eight-foot privacy fence is built for that reason. That option tends to be expensive. What is a different approach for a similar result? A natural wall!
One advantage of having a natural wall is that a homeowner has options when choosing plants. When it comes to choosing plants for a natural wall, the first thing to decide is if a wall needs to be year round or seasonal. Size would be the next factor to determine.
Japanese Cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) has the capability of growing 40 to 60 feet in height and 15 to 20 feet in width. There are some smaller varieties to pick from, but where is the fun in having a small wall?
Another plant option that would require pruning, but make an excellent natural wall is Japanese Yew (Podocarpus macrophyllus). This specimen will grow 30 to 40 feet tall and 20 to 25 feet in width if left unpruned, however, it is a slow grower. Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) comes in several selections of various sizes so the height range is 3 to 20 feet. The width range is 5 to 15 feet.
The Emerald Green Arborvitae is a fast grower that would be ideal for the homeowner who does not want a tall wall. It keeps a tight pyramid shape that will reach heights up 12 to 14 feet and needs 4 to 6 feet of space. Green Giant Arborvitae or Thuja Giant (Thuja standishii x plicata ‘Gre) is an excellent tree to pick for a natural wall. It has the capability to reach 50 to 60 feet in height and spreads out 12 to 20 feet at maturity. This arborvitae is considered to be a fast grower since it can increase more than 24” per year.
The larger selections of Loropetalum are other shrubs that homeowners have used to establish their privacy wall. One can expect a height up to 15 feet if left unpruned and pinkish to purple strap-like flowers, which makes for a great wall height.
‘Yoshino’ Japanese cryptomeria
Photo by Karen Russ, ©HGIC, Clemson Extension
A yaupon holly cultivar (Ilex vomitoria ‘Roundleaf’). John Ruter, University of Georgia, Bugwood.org Creative commons license.
Thuja plicata: Giant Arborvitae. Credit: Ed Gilman, UF/IFAS
Podocarpus macrophyllus or Japanese Yew. Credit: UF/IFAS
These plants are some of the selections homeowners may choose to start their natural walls. Given time, these shrubs will develop into a dense screen for the interruption of unwanted light or noise. To learn more about the aforementioned plant material, contact your local UF / IFAS extension agent.
Blooming amaryllis flower. Photo by Logan Boatwright
Are you tired of seeing only green from your shrubs such as boxwood or yew? Are the areas next to your home walls, fences, terraces, tree islands, gate entrances, and/or borders barren? Do you want to add color to these areas? You may want to consider planting these areas with the beautiful amaryllis (Hippeastrum x hybridum).
Amaryllis grows from a tough, dependable bulb that will bloom during the spring after winter dormancy. The strap-shaped leaves will emerge first and grow about 1.5 inches wide, up to three feet long, and persist much of the year in Florida. They are reduced later in the summer and ultimately die back from frost.
In the late winter, bulbs will eventually produce one to three leafless stalks, or scapes, that will each have two or more trumpet-shaped flowers. Flowers come in a variety of forms and shapes: from single and double, miniature or large. Flower colors can be red, bright pink, shades of pink, orange, white, rose, or even salmon. It does not stop there! The flowers may even be striped and multi-colored. Amaryllis can create a striking focal point when they are planted in clusters of 10 or more of similar color.
Double flowers of amaryllis. Photo by Logan Boatwright.
Amaryllis may be planted anytime of the year, but winter is best. They are sun- and shade-tolerant, but planting in light shade is best since leaves will yellow in full sun and plants bloom poorly in heavy shade. Amaryllis prefer well-drained sites to prevent bulb and root rots.
For the best amaryllis performance, till and amend the soil with a 3- to 4-inch layer of organic matter and 2 to 3 pounds of 6-6-6, or a comparable amount of other complete fertilizer per 100 square feet. Plant 12 to 15 inches apart. Amaryllis can greatly benefit from at least one fertilizer application in the early spring and two to three applications during the growing season.
Many blooms from multiple amaryllis bulbs. Photo by Logan Boatwright.
After flowering it’s a good practice to remove the stalks, unless seeds for planting are desired. If the bulbs become crowded, dig and separate them out. Doing this will encourage large, uniform flowers.
Go out, plant a few amaryllis plants today, and be ready to. To learn more about Amaryllis, please follow this link.
Blooming amaryllis plant. Photo by Logan Boatwright.
Hurricane Michael Damage – Photo Credit Larry Williams
The aftermath of Hurricane Michael has many homeowners preparing their landscapes for the upcoming season. Several have called the office in need of a home visit because they want ideas of what to replant with and how to kill the weeds that have popped up. One common question is, “What trees can I plant that are fast growing and has plenty of shade?” Before I answer their question, I ask them, “Are you planning for future storms or not?”
Trees that are considered ‘fast’ growing are not necessarily the best choice for future storms. Many of the fast growing trees can be easily uprooted, break easily in strong winds, are more prone to decay, and/or are rather short-lived (<50 years old). Additionally, a missing structural pruning plan for young and mature trees will increase the chances of fallen trees. Homeowners can expect to replant trees once again if these characteristics are likely. Keep in mind that no tree is absolutely wind-proof since other factors need to be ideal for wind-resistance. Trees like laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia), water oak (Quercus nigra), cherry laurel (Prunus caroliniana), bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana), and pecan (Carya illinoensis) are some to be cautious of when replanting for wind resistance.
A few tips for homeowners re-planting hurricane damaged trees:
- Plant trees with higher wind resistance in groups with adequate soil space and soil properties.
- Prevent damage to the roots.
- Have a variety of native species, ages, and layers of high-quality trees and shrubs.
- Some of the best trees a homeowner should consider replanting with could be live oak (Quercus virginiana), southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), baldcypress (Taxodium distichum), river birch (Betula nigra), and Japanese maple (Acer palmatum). A more in-depth look at wind resistant trees can be found by reading Wind and Trees: Lessons Learned from Hurricanes.FOR 118