Flowers can often be fickle in the landscape, so, this year, I decided to add a shot of no-maintenance color to my landscape with foliage plants!  The benefits of ornamentals that don’t need flowers to put on a show are many.  Their water and fertility needs are often less because they don’t have to support the large energy and irrigation requirements the flowering process demands.  They don’t need deadheading to look their best and they lend an awesome texture that is overlooked in many landscapes.  My summertime foliage plant of choice provides all those things in a small, bright yellow package; it’s a widely sold selection of Duranta called ‘Gold Mound’.

Mass of ‘Gold Mound’ Duranta in the author’s landscape.

‘Gold Mound’ Duranta is a small shrub known for its chartreuse to bright yellow foliage and generally grows 24” or so tall and wide in the Panhandle, allowing it to fit in nearly any landscape.  ‘Gold Mound’ has been around in the horticulture trade a long time and is a popular perennial shrub in the southern parts of Florida. It was recognized as the Florida Nursery, Growers, and Landscape Association’s (FNGLA) plant of the year in 2005 and regularly occupies a spot in the color displays of big box and local nurseries, even in the Panhandle, however, despite these attributes, ‘Gold Mound’ is a rare find in Northwest Florida landscapes.  That needs to change!

In our neck of the woods, Duranta ‘Gold Mound’ is incredibly low maintenance.  I planted a grouping of thirteen specimens near the end of my driveway to provide a consistent season long splash of color to complement the fleeting blooms of the spring flowering shrubs, the drab greenery of the neighbor’s lawn and the on-again, off-again ‘Drift’ Roses they share the bed with.  The result has been awesome!  I watered frequently until the small shrubs were established and on their own, with no irrigation since.  I fertilized at planting with a slow release, polymer coated fertilizer and have not had to help them along with subsequent applications.  Even better, despite our frequent rainfall and heat/humidity, no pests or diseases have come knocking.  Just because I enjoy gardening doesn’t mean I need a landscape full of divas and I can count on ‘Gold Mound’ to not need pampering.

Incredible chartreuse foliage of ‘Gold Mound’.

Maybe my favorite part of ‘Gold Mound’ Duranta in the Panhandle is that it isn’t permanent.  Duranta is a native of the Caribbean tropics and is not particularly cold hardy, most Northwest Florida winters knock it back hard, if not outright killing it.  Therefore, ‘Gold Mound’ is best enjoyed here as an annual, planted when the weather warms in the spring, enjoyed until the first frost, then pulled up and discarded.  Easy peasy.  No long-term commitments required.  My uncle, the chainsaw gardener, doesn’t even have to chop it back!  Just compost the plants each winter or toss them in the trash, hit up your local nursery the next spring for some new plants and do it all over again.  Though it has to be replanted each year, Duranta ‘Gold Mound’ won’t break the bank.  The generic ‘Gold Mound’ is commonly sold in 4” containers for just a few dollars apiece in the annual section of plant nurseries, making it a very affordable option, especially compared to some of the new, designer perennials it competes with.

Though some landscape designers recommend just using a single specimen of ‘Gold Mound’ here and there for small pops of color, I prefer using groupings of the plant.  I’ve seen successful plantings of ‘Gold Mound’ massed in large groups to create annual color beds at key points in landscapes and also planted across the front of a bed to complement darker foliaged backdrop or foundation plants, such as Boxwood or Loropetalum.  Regardless of how you decide to use them in your yard, I don’t think you can go wrong with adding some color pizazz to your landscape with the inexpensive, low-maintenance, Florida-Friendly plant, ‘Gold Mound’ Duranta.  Happy gardening!

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