By Connie Timpson


For the Times-Union

I was checking out at my local nursery/hardware store when I saw Hibiscus two for the price of one. Since I brake for BOGO sales I bought two. I love these tropical beauties, but after carefully loading them into my car I realized I have no room to plant them in my little garden. Can I grow them in containers?

These hardy perennials Hibiscus rosa-sinensis add dramatic beauty wherever you put them. They love the sun, but a little dappled light takes stress away from the plant during our warmest months. Given our poor soil, containers are often the best answer. Containers also give you the added benefit of being able to move them around to accommodate changing sunlight and heat. (This job will be easy and save your back if you put them on rollers.) For more information, go to

Transplanting isn’t hard either. Just loosen the roots and put the plant in a pot that is one size bigger than it came in. Hibiscus roots like to feel snug in the container. Hibiscus plants like moist, well-drained soil. When those stunning blooms begin to come out, water them thoroughly and monitor the soil for moisture. To encourage re-blooming, remove the blooms before they form seed heads. For more information, go to:

Give them space on your patio. Make them a focal point, and enjoy them up close. It will make you feel good about your impulse buy every time you look at their luscious blooms.

I love yellow, and know that Allamanda grows well in our area. But there are a couple of kinds. How do I know which one will stay where I put it and not wander over trees or fences?

Just think “bush” not vine. The bush Allamanda schottii will not wander out of its space any more than any other bush. It will not try to attach itself to nearby trees or garden benches. On the other hand, the Golden Trumpet Allamanda cathartica is on Florida’s invasive list and should not be planted here. If you have one in your yard you really should consider removing it, or at least take away its fruit so that it has less chance to spread out. (Always wear gloves and protective clothing while pruning or removing any plant in this family. The sap contains toxins and can make you ill.)

The Allamanda schottii is a great anchor plant for the yard. It brings color to your life far more quickly than many other flowering bushes. It grows up to about 5 feet tall and spreads out to about three feet. Of course, careful pruning can help conform this plant to your landscape scheme. They are easy to grow without much care, and once established, are pretty drought tolerant. For more information on these blasts of sunshine go to:

I want to add more color and separate my yard from my neighbors by using something that is easy to care for. I live in one of those subdivisions that is pretty much devoid of trees. Got any ideas?

Since there seems to be nothing blocking the sunlight, I suggest that you look at a few options. Consider the attractive Cleyera or Ternstroemia gymnanthera. It is an evergreen with dark green leaves that take on shades of red depending on the time of the year. This tree produces small fragrant white flowers followed by dark red fruit. Give them enough room to spread out (about five feet) and they will grow up to 10 feet tall. They make an excellent screen or hedge. For more information on these beauties go to:

If you want a colorful divider and an invitation to hummingbirds, you might want to try planting a row of Red Bottlebrush or Callistemon citrinus. Their spiky red blooms look just like the name of the tree, and hummingbirds love to drink from them. They can be trained as a large hedge, or with a little pruning grow into a nice little tree. They grow quickly and are drought tolerant, but do best in well-draining soil. To keep the hummingbirds coming to those vibrant red blooms, fertilize regularly. (That will also ensure a deep green in the foliage.) You may also want to consider the weeping Red Bottlebrush or Callistemon viminalis. For more information go to:

Take a look at Florida’s Fetterbush or Lyonia lucida. Its name “fetter” literally means to fetter movements, be it animal or human. When young its leaves are copper colored, and as the plant matures the leaves turn a shiny dark green. It likes sun and loves a good drink of water. Fragrant, bell shaped blooms in white or pink make this plant a lovely screen. It spreads out, and grows up to five feet tall, providing a nice separation between you and your neighbors. (Wear gloves when working with this plant because the sap can cause an allergic reaction.) For more information go to:

For more information on gardening, please call the Florida Times-Union, Tuesdays between 9:00-11:00am at 904-359-4111 and ask for the gardening line. You can also reach a Master Gardener at the Duval County Extension office Monday-Friday, 9:00am-12:00noon and 12:30-3:30pm at 904-255-7450.

Connie Timpson is a master gardener with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS. If you have gardening questions, you can speak to a master gardener from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Duval extension office at (904) 255-7450. You can also call the Times-Union Gardening Hotline at (904) 359-4111 between 9 and 11 a.m. Tuesdays.