Southwest Florida is a region located along the Gulf of Mexico. This area is south of Tampa Bay, west of Lake Okeechobee and north of the Everglades. This area of Florida receives twice the amount of sunshine than the states in the northeast of the United States. The winters are mild and warm while the summers are long, hot and humid. The plants in this area enjoy temperatures that rarely fall below 60 degrees F. Plants in Southwest Florida benefit from lots of rain and a year-round growing season.
Balsam (Impatiens balsamina) is an annual that is also known as touch-me-not. This tropical looking flower grows 12 to 36 inches tall. The leaves are medium green on an upright stem. Blooms appear from early summer through the middle of autumn. The trumpet-shaped flowers have an enlarged lower petal that flares out. Pink, purple, orange, yellow, red, rose and white blossoms connect directly to the stems and snuggle in the leaves. Balsam is susceptible to powdery mildew and nematode attacks.
Black-Eyed Susan Vine
Black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata) is a perennial evergreen vine reaching 8 feet in length. The triangular-shaped leaves are 3 inches long. Black-eyed Susan vine blooms in the summer with five bright yellow and orange petals around a purple black center. These 1 1/2 inch flowers cover the vines. Black-eyed Susan vines need lots of water.
Canna lily (Canna spp.) is a summer and fall flowering bulb. This bulb is a tropical perennial when grown in Southwest Florida. In cooler climates, canna lilies are treated as an annual bulb. The leaves resemble a large banana plant and are multicolored. The coloration on the leaves are combinations of green, purple, bronze, brown, yellow, cream, orange and red stripes. The upright flower stalk reaches 3 to 8 feet tall. Large blossoms cluster around the top of the flower spike in red, orange, yellow and pink blooms. Leaf roller caterpillars are a pest to canna lilies.
Golden Shrimp Plant
Golden shrimp plant (Pachystachys lutea) is a perennial shrub growing 24 to 36 inches tall. This upright bush is covered with dark green, oval leaves that are 6 inches long. Bright yellow blossoms with white tails poking out of the petals cover the flower spike looming over the foliage. Golden shrimp plant can survive temperatures down to 20 degrees F. Scales and spider mites attack golden shrimp plants.
Strawflower (Bracteantha bracteata) is a short lived perennial producing 3 to 4 foot upright, hollow stems. Lance-shaped, 5-inch leaves are gray-green in color. Daisy-like blossoms reach 2 inches across. The flowers are yellow, pink, bronze, cream, purple and white. The paper-like texture of the blossoms allows strawflower blossoms to dry without losing their color or shape.
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