Florida is a rich land of rich vibrant greens with lots of fauna and flowers. The trees and plants are tropical in nature. The below excerpt is taken from a book
“The Art of Maintaining a Florida Native Landscape” by Ginny Stilbolt. Anyone that has slightest interest in tropical trees and plants should read this book it deals with selecting planting caring for Florida native trees.
Selecting Planting and Caring for Natives
While natives have adapted to your climate, the conditions in urban/suburban environments often override the natural climate condition with heat islands, nighttime lighting, and barriers such as buildings or fences. Select natives that are flexible enough to adapt to your conditions. As you add native plant groupings over the years, yours yard may become more like local native ecosystems, but it will take time for this transformation.
Trees are the bones of your landscape. If you are purchasing trees, they may be the most expensive items on a per plant basis. The time you spend in choosing, planting, and caring for new trees is a long-term investment; if done correctly, it will increase the value of your property. First, as discussed in chapter 1, be sure the trees you select are bred from local stock to give them the best chance of thriving.
You may wish to plant your primary, canopy-producing trees two or three years before you plant the smaller understory trees and shrubs. This gives the trees a chance to establish themselves, to begin to fill out, and to cast some shade.
The old gardeners’ tale about buying the biggest trees you can afford for a head start on your landscape is usually bad advice. When it comes to the probability of survival and the time needed to acclimate, a large tree needs much more time to adapt to a new site nada much longer regimen of extra irrigation than a small one. Your money and effort will be better spent on smaller, less expensive specimens that will adjust quickly to their new locations, require less initial maintenance, and begin their vigorous growing cycles much sooner. It’s likely that a 1-inch-caliper sapling will catch up in size to its much more expensive counterpart with a 4-inch caliper within five years. (Caliper for saplings is the diameter of the trunk at 6 inches above the root-ball.)
Another old gardeners’ tale is to choose trees that are bushy or branching. As a result of this bad advice, many growers and nurseries top the saplings so they produce branches too early in their life cycles. The reality is that saplings of many tree species do not branch naturally foe several years. Tree experts tell us that, for most species, the best specimens for strength and wind resistance have one main trunk; in addition, single-trunked trees require less pruning and ongoing maintenance. So when you see trees for sale, look for ones that have not been topped or trimmed back. Single-trunked specimens (also known as whips) may look puny compared to those forced to branch out, but that sturdier form will fare better in Florida’s tropical storms.
Consider the ongoing maintenance of a tree species, because some trees are messier than others with abundant fruit, continuous dropping of leathery or spiny leaves, or the breaking off of many small branches. If a tress is to be planted near human-use areas, choose a species with “neater” habits. Reserve the messy ones for the wilder areas where their droppings do not matter and will become mulch. Include neatness as a factor in researching your trees.
Once you get to the nursery, choose specimens with good leaf color, new growth, and general vibrancy; if the plants are dormant when you buy them, look for good bud formation. When choosing several trees of the same species for an area, select specimens that vary in size and shape for a naturalized landscape. In addition, when choosing a variety of tree species for an area, choose at most only two or three species of complementary sizes and textures. Your landscape is not an arboretum, so don’t plant one of everything.
After you narrow your tree selection by form and size, consider the pots and roots. Look for the root flare-the spot at the bottom of the tree trunk where the roots begin to grow out. The root flare should be above the soil line; If it’s not, the tree has probably been repotted too deeply at least once, or maybe it’s been grown from a cutting that does not form a root flare at all. If the pots are old or cracked with roots growing through the drainage holes, the grower hasn’t kept up with the trees’ growth and the trees will be pot-bound. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t purchase them, but since you’ll have more work to do when you plant them and there will be a longer adjustment period, maybe you can negotiate a better price.
If there are lots of weeds in the pot, this means the grower has not spent the time to care for each specimen and the plant has had to share its meager resources. On the other hand, if the pot looks brand new and the soil also looks new, the tree has probably been potted up recently and may still have circling roots and a very small root-ball, but you can’t tell from its outward appearance. You’ll find out only when you rinse away the soil upon planting. Also, avoid plants that are over-fertilized in their pots. You can usually see the little colored balls of slow release fertilizer in the soil. You’ll known if a plant is over fertilized usually by its poorly developed roots combined with numerous stems and leaves. These plants usually take longer to adapt to in ground sites, especially in nutrient-poor soil.
Developing a good relationship with your local native nursery is invaluable; because the knowledgeable personnel can help you pick the best specimens for your needs. That said, don’t let anyone talk you into another choice just to make a sale. You should have already created a list of acceptable trees for your project, and if that alternative tree is not on your list, don’t purchase it until you do some research to see if it would work within your plan. It’s good idea to bring plant reference book when shopping for plants so you can make educated decisions on-site. Don’t be hurried or rushed, because time and effort taken in choosing the best trees will pay off in the long run with the right trees for your landscape.