- Fast-Growing Florida Hedges
- Golden Bamboo
- Japanese Privet
- Need to screen off your neighbors? Here’s how to grow a green privacy barrier | Miami Herald
- Large Shrubs
- Zone 9 Hedges – Growing Hedges In Zone 9 Landscapes
- Zone 9 Screen Plants and Hedges
- What Matters Most
- Shrub Choices: Small Leaves
- Shrub Choices: Needled Evergreen
- Shrub Choices: Large Leaves 1″ to 3″
- Ligustrum vs. Ficus Hedge. Can you Tell the Difference?
Fast-Growing Florida Hedges
Isolated hedge image by Pamela Uyttendaele from <a href=’http://www.fotolia.com’>Fotolia.com</a>
Gardeners in the sunny state of Florida are envied for their selection of plants, as the warm weather of the region promotes vigorous growth from a vast number of species. Florida gardeners who are looking for fast-growing hedges have a wide selection of attractive hedge plants to choose from.
Reaching an average height of about 5 feet, golden bamboo (Pleioblastus viridistriatus) is a showy shrub notable for its pointed, variegated golden and green leaves. The striking plant is lovely as a naturalized, exotic hedge, and like most bamboo species, golden bamboo is a quick grower. The plant will grow throughout the entire state of Florida, from 8A in northern Florida all the way down to zone 11 in the southern tip of the state. Golden bamboo does best in fertile, well-draining soil that’s enhanced with organic matter. The plant will tolerate both sun and partial shade so long as its watered frequently. Golden bamboo can spread rapidly if not monitored, so consider using underground barriers.
Pittosporum (Pittosporum cvs.) is fast growing shrub notable for its tightly packed clusters of green leaves. The plant reaches an average height of between 8 and 12 feet, with an even wider spread. Pittosporum boasts fragrant, crisp white flowers in the spring. Pittosporum is an excellent shrub for Florida, as it has a high saline tolerance and will grow throughout the state in USDA zones 8 to 11. The shrub should be grown in full sunlight for best results, but the plant will also tolerant partial shade. Plant pittosporum in a well-draining sandy loam that is slightly alkaline to acidic, and water occasionally during summer droughts.
A member of the olive family, Japanese privet (Ligustrum japonicum) is a large shrub or small tree that responds well to pruning and can be trimmed into a formal, clean-cut hedge. The fast-growing shrub sports dark green or variegated yellow and green leaves accented by white, spring-blooming flowers. The shrub is tolerant of a range of soil conditions, and will grow in full sun or partial shade. Japanese privet is suitable for all of Florida except for the very southern tip in USDA zones 11. The shrub requires little care, though it should be watered frequently to keep the soil moist.
Need to screen off your neighbors? Here’s how to grow a green privacy barrier | Miami Herald
Bambusa vulgaris ‘Wamin,’ common bamboo, is anything but common. Kenneth Setzer Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Bambusa vulgaris — common bamboo — is a fast-growing, clumping bamboo, and has been cultivated into some wild forms lest it become too common. The rhizomes spread horizontally at a very slow rate, so won’t invade. Planted along (but not directly against) a fence, bamboo will grow tall with lower parts unbranched. The foliage should become denser up high, thus providing privacy where your fence ends. This also blocks unwanted light from passing cars and other activity.
Fairchild has an extensive bamboo collection for you to judge them for yourself. Bambusa textilis var. Gracilis is another nice option with thinner stems nicely suited to a narrow garden area. Both bamboos prefer full sun to partial shade.
If your living situation is less permanent and you don’t want to dig, or for apartments and efficiencies, consider hanging potted plants with a trailing habit onto a trellis or fence for a moveable privacy barrier or create a vertical bromeliad wall — hmm, maybe this is a decent topic for another column.
Kenneth Setzer is writer and editor at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden.
Large shrubs of over 6 feet are a versatile group of plants with many different looks – a tropical accent, a beautiful flowering plant, or dense green foliage for privacy.
Best used in more expansive areas or with larger or taller homes, South Florida’s bigger plants have many different looks and uses.
They can be used individually as the star of the show or grouped as full, lush shrubs for hedges.
Some of the tall shrubs in this section are also available in tree form, and they’re covered in the Plant Pages within the Small Flowering Trees and Accent Trees sections.
The Plant Pages will link each shrub to its tree-form page so you can see both possibilities.
Landscape uses for larger shrubs
- tall hedge plants
- backdrop for medium-height shrubs
- large accent plant in the garden
- blocking a neighboring spotlight or street light
- to create privacy from second story neighbors
- grouped as a windbreak or noise reduction planting
- to fill in a large garden space or a corner of the yard
- in a row along the back property line
- between tall palms or pine trees
- as privacy for a patio “enclosure”
- as a focal point in the center of a circular drive
- single specimen plant in the yard
- to draw attention to an architectural element of the house
- lined up to create a visual pathway to a focal point
- on each side of the entrance to the driveway
These plants can get very big. Many in this section grow wide as well as tall, and as hedge shrubs may go well beyond a comfortable trimming height.
A yearly hard pruning can keep things under control. See the Plant Trimming page in the Gardening How-To section for pruning and trimming info.
And each of the individual Plant Pages will give you trimming specifics and suggestions.
Just be prepared for the ultimate mature size of the plant you choose, and pick a spot for it that allows enough space for growth.
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- Large Shrubs
Zone 9 Hedges – Growing Hedges In Zone 9 Landscapes
Zone 9 hedges serve a variety of useful purposes in the garden. They establish a natural boundary, create a feeling of privacy, serve as a windbreak and reduce noise in busy areas. Some hedges provide shelter for wildlife and berries that sustain songbirds when food is scarce during the winter. Due the mild winters, selecting hedge plants for zone 9 isn’t difficult. However, some shrubs prefer chilly winters in more northern climates and don’t do well in hot summer temperatures. Read on for tips in selecting hedges in zone 9.
Zone 9 Screen Plants and Hedges
Your local garden center or nursery should have plenty of choices for your area, but in the meantime, here is a brief list of zone 9 hedges and their growing conditions.
Florida privet (Forestiera segregata) – Frequently grown as small trees, shrubs or hedges, Florida privet tolerates areas with full sun to light shade and most soil types.
Abelia (Abelia x. grandiflora) – Abelia is a great choice for a flowering hedge. Its dangling, trumpet-shaped flowers attract butterflies and hummingbirds. Plant in full to partial sunlight in areas having fertile, well-drained soil.
Podocarpus (Podocarpus spp.) – This sturdy, drought tolerant evergreen prefers full sun or partial shade. It also tolerates nearly any well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
Firethorn (Pyracantha spp.) – Valued for bright red berries and vibrant fall color, firethorn makes an attractive hedge in sun to partial shade areas and tolerates nearly any well-drained soil.
Japanese pittosporum (Pittosporum spp.) – Japanese pittosporum is a dense, compact shrub suitable for fences or privacy screens. It can tolerate nearly any soil as long as it’s well draining and can be planted in either sun or shade.
Wax myrtle (Morella cerifera) – Wax myrtle is a fast-growing shrub with a unique fragrance. It tolerates partial shade to full sun and nearly any well-drained, slightly acidic soil.
Yew (Taxus spp.) – Yew shrubs are evergreens available in a variety of sizes and forms. They make great hedge plants in partial shade areas in warm climates. Also, give them rich, well-drained soil.
Sawara false cypress (Chamaecyparis pisifera) – A slow growing evergreen valued for its lacy, delicate foliage, Sawara false cypress likes partial shade in warm climates but will tolerate most
Soil types provided it’s well draining.
Barberry (Berberis spp.) – Barberry shrubs provide attractive foliage in red, green, burgundy and chartreuse. Most soil types are suitable and they will tolerate shade or partial sun. (Note: may be invasive in some areas.)
Oleander (Nerium oleander) – Oleander is a tall, drought-tolerant shrub that produces white, peach, pink or red blooms throughout summer and early autumn. Plant the hedges in full sun to part shade. Beware, however, as this plant is considered toxic.
Boxwood (Buxus spp.) – Boxwood is a popular hedge plant that tolerates frequent shearing and shaping. It performs best in loose, well-drained soil but can thrive in both full sun and partial shade.
One of the best ways to get privacy from your neighbors, or to screen unwanted views is to plant a hedge. But which shrubs make the best screens? If you have a small garden, I’d like to steer you in a direction that cuts down your overwhelm:
Oh no, hundreds of plant to choose from!
No, not really. Especially when you’re looking for the best choice for a small space.
First, take a look at the most important factors that will immediately reject most plant choices. Or, factors that will matter to you most.
What Matters Most
- Being Evergreen
- Plant’s Mature Height and Width
- Speed of Growth
- Roots and Invasiveness
- Small Leaves versus Big Leaves
First of all, for privacy/screening purposes you want to select an evergreen shrub – one that’s going to remain in leaf all year long. Secondly, knowing the speed of growth, and a plant’s size at maturity (height and spread) gives a clue as to how much pruning and clipping you might need to be doing (especially if a formal clipped topiary is desired). The following 11 selections include these details so that you can make a more informed decision.
Shrub Choices: Small Leaves
About Pittosporum tenuifolium varieties: Below are three varieties of P. tenuifolium that work well as hedges for small spaces. These varieties have been around for a while and are some of the most popular to find and buy, at least out west. All have spring blooming small, fragrant flowers followed by tiny orange fruits, which are insignificant, especially if you’re clipping a lot. All are good for both formal and informal gardens. And finally, All are long lived and fast growers. To keep them dense and well structured regular pruning is important.
1. Pittosporum tenuifolium (Kokuhu) Zones: 8 – 11. Besides the varieties to follow, the species, Pittosporum tenuifolium, is a good hedge plant, so I’ve included to the list. *That said, the size can be overpowering for a small garden so consider this choice only if you want a taller hedge, say 10 – 11 feet, or, higher, and don’t mind maintaining it. Mature size: 15 – 25 feet high x 10 – 15 feet wide. Medium green leaves are small, glossy, oval and pointed. Exposure: full sun to part shade. Plant spacing: 3 – 4 feet. Growth rate: fast. From a 5 gallon container this plant can reach 6 to 7 feet in a year.
10 to 12 foot Pittosporum tenuifolium hedge.
2. Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Sheen’ (Silver Sheen Kohuhu) Zones: 8 – 11. Small gray-green leaves contrast against blackish stems to give a shimmering effect. Though ‘airy’ and not for everybody, this plant is great for formal hedging or screening along paths and driveways. Mature size:12 – 16 feet tall x 6 -8 feet wide. Exposure: full sun to part shade. Water: Moderate initially, little water once established. Can be kept as low as 5 feet. Plant spacing: 2 – 4 feet. Growth rate: fast.
7 foot hedge: Pittosporum t. ‘Silver Sheen.’ Mill Valley, CA.
Pittosporum t. ‘Silver Sheen’ 7 foot screening hedge. Mill Valley, CA.
Pittosporum t. ‘Silver Sheen’ hedge. Mill Valley, CA.
3. Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Silver Magic’ (Silver Magic Kohuhu) Zones: 8 – 11. A variegated shrub very similar to the above variety, ‘Silver Sheen.’ It’s also known as: Pittosporum tenuifolium vareigatum. An upright, airy evergreen shrub. Leaves are small, glossy, oval, and gray with creamy pink edges. Stems are a wispy dark brownish black. Small, fragrant, deep purple flower clusters bloom in spring. Mature size: 8 – 12 feet high x 8 – 12 wide. Exposure: full sun to part shade. Heavier sun denser foliage. Water: moderate. Plant spacing: 2 – 4 feet. Growth rate: fast.
7 to 8 foot Pittosporum t. ‘Silver Magic’ tightly pruned. Mill Valley, CA.
4. Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Marjorie Channon’ (Marjorie Channon Kohuhu) Zones: 8 – 11. A dense, fast-growing evergreen shrub. Variegated, light green with creamy white margin leaves are small, glossy, and oval. Stems are a dark brownish black. Small, fragrant, deep purple flower clusters bloom in spring. Mature size: 8 – 10 feet high x 8 – 12 feet wide. Exposure: full sun to part shade. Water: moderate. Plant spacing: 2 – 3 feet. Growth rate: fast.
Recently planted Pittosporum t. ‘Marjorie Channon.’ Mill Valley, CA.
‘Marjorie Channon’ growing up! Mill Valley, CA.
Pittosporum ‘Marjorie Channon.’
5. Boxwood ‘Green Tower’ (Green Tower Common Boxwood) Zones: 5 – 9. Evergreen leaves are small and glossy. This plant makes an excellent choice for a lovely tight hedge or a clipped formal hedge. Densely arranged leaves are small, glossy, elliptic to oval, and dark green with yellow-green undersides. Growth habit is upright and columnar. Mature size: 7-9 feet high x 1 -2 feet wide. Good choice for a narrow hedge. Exposure: full sun to part shade. Water: moderate. Note: This shrub can easily cost more than twice as much as other plant choices listed in this post. Plant spacing: 1 – 2 feet. Growth rate: slow to moderate.
8 foot boxwood screening hedge. San Francisco, CA.
6. Euonymus japonicus ‘Green Spire’ (Green Spire Euonymus) Zones: 6 – 9. An evergreen shrub with a narrow, upright growth habit. Tightly stacked leaves are small to midsize, oval, and have scalloped edges. Coloration is glossy dark green on top with light green undersides. Mature size: 6 – 8 feet high x 1 – 2 feet wide. Exposure: full sun. Water: moderate. Plant spacing: 1 – 2 feet. Growth rate: moderate.
7. Ilex crenata’Sky Pencil’ (Sky Pencil Japanese Holly) Zones: 5 – 9. Thin hedge with deep dark green foliage. Excellent for a very tight space where you don’t have much width. Mature size: 7-8 feet high x 18″ wide. This columnar evergreen shrub looks more like a boxwood than a holly with small, leathery, finely toothed foliage. Exposure: full sun to part shade. Water: moderate. This plant comes in handy in narrow spaces when you don’t have room for the width of bushier plants. It also looks neat without much pruning. Plant spacing: 1 – 2 feet. Growth rate: moderate.
8. Myrsine africana (African Boxwood) Zones: 9 – 11. Small glossy foliage looks similar to boxwood with a clear difference being bronze colored new growth which matures to a dark green. Dense foliage is dark green and this upright shrub tolerates clipping. This plant is a good choice for coastal conditions, and once established it is pretty drought tolerant. Water: high to low. Drought tolerant once established. Exposure: full sun to part shade. Water: moderate. Mature size: 3 – 8 feet high x 3 – 6 feet wide. Plant spacing: 2 – 3 feet. Growth rate: slow to moderate.
Shrub Choices: Needled Evergreen
9. Thuja Occidentalis ‘Emerald Green’ (Emerald Green American Arborvitae) Zones: 3 – 8. An evergreen tree with a narrow, pyramidal growth habit. Bright green scale-like foliage is arranged in flattened sprays and holds color throughout the winter. Mature size: 10 – 15 feet high x 3 – 4 feet wide. Exposure: full sun to part shade in hotter summer climates. Water: moderate. Plant spacing: 3 – 4 feet. For quicker privacy space 2 feet apart. Growth rate: moderate to fast.
10+ foot Thuja (arborvitae) hedge. San Francisco, CA.
Tallest boundary hedge: Thuja (arborvitae). Formal garden with 3-different hedges. SF, CA.
Shrub Choices: Large Leaves 1″ to 3″
10. Ligustrum japonicum ‘Texanum’ (Waxleaf Privet) Zones: 7 – 11. This dense evergreen shrub is slower-growing and shorter than the classic species, Ligustrum japonicum. Glossy, dark green leaves are thick, pointed and oval. Showy clusters of frothy, fragrant, white flowers are followed by black berries. Useful as a hedge, screen, windbreak, or trained into various topiary forms. Mature size: 6 – 9 feet high x 4 – 6 feet wide. Exposure: full sun to part shade. Water: moderate, but drought tolerant once established. Plant spacing: 2 – 4 feet. Plant 3 feet on center for quick screening. Growth rate: fast.
7 to 8 foot tightly clipped Ligustrum japonicum hedge (might be variety: ‘Texanum’). San Francisco, CA.
For fragrant flowers, you can go with looser pruning in spring and summer.
11. Ficus retusa nitida (Indian Laurel Fig) Zones: 10 – 11. Though often grown as a tropical evergreen tree, its dense foliage and upright branches make it an excellent candidate for a tightly clipped hedge. This makes the list, but only in carefully chosen locations, or with appropriate preparation due to its invasive and aggressively spreading root system. Leathery leaves are dark green, large and glossy. Mature size: 20 – 60 feet high x 20 – 60 feet wide. Exposure: full sun to part shade. Water: moderate. Plant spacing: 2 -3 feet. Growth rate: fast.
12+ foot Ficus retusa nitida hedge. San Francisco, CA.
Same hedge as above photo. Shorter hedge in front: Camellia sasanqua.
Recently planted large columns: Ficus r. nitida. This will quickly create a tall, formal screening hedge. San Francisco, CA.
Ligustrum vs. Ficus Hedge. Can you Tell the Difference?
Comparison: Ligustrum & Ficus hedge. San Francisco, CA.
Let’s face it, you don’t want to choose a screening hedge plant willy nilly for a small space. Start by planning ahead. First decide how tall you want or need the hedge to be, and it’s a good idea to think in terms of feet. If you’re maintaining the hedge yourself, keeping it lower, say…6 to 8 feet tall, will make it much quicker and easier to maintain. If you need a taller screen, not a problem, there are no rules. Take a look at the 11 choices here and I hope you find one that you like. 🙂
ps: When it comes to maintaining the shape of a hedge, we love our Japanese hedge shears. After using several other brands over the years, and then getting introduced to a pair of high quality Japanese hedge clippers, there was no turning back, (nor was there any comparison.) Though the exact brand and model of our clippers is not available, the Okatsune Precision Hedge Shears are very similar and similar in cost. Truth be told, we’re very hard on our tools, so they need to be tough. The blades are made of forged steel (the kind they use for Samurai swords, if that gives you an idea of how sharp these are) with Japanese white oak handles. And sharp they do stay, for months. That sharpness and their precision really help speed up any pruning job. If you read through the reviews on Amazon you’ll see that everyone gave these shears 5 stars. They all say things like ‘best shears ever’ or ‘wish I bought a pair of these years ago’ or ‘It’s like using a lightsaber to trim your hedge’ – our thoughts exactly!! 🙂