Our rainy season started about a month early this year. We can capitalize on this moisture by planting lovely perennials that like to have wet feet. Yes, I really do know that plants do not have feet, but as you can imagine, I’m referring to their roots. Three of my favorites include Swamp hibiscus, Cardinal flower and Muhly grass. These plants thrive in low areas in your landscape that retain water.
Swamp hibiscus, Scarlet rosemallow, Hibiscus coccineus, native to Florida and the southeastern U.S., produces amazingly beautiful red flowers. We have this plant on our lower pond in the Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden, located in the courtyard of the Extension office. This plant can reach a height of 15 ft. For additional information, refer to Hardy Hibiscus for Florida Landscapes by Gary W. Knox and Rick Shellhorn, https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP24500.pdf.
Cardinal flower, an aquatic perennial, sports tubular red flowers that attract and are dependent on hummingbirds for pollination. This is a native plant that can be propagated from seeds, cuttings or division. This plant is poisonous to humans and livestock, so if you purchase and plant it, keep that in mind.
Refer to Native Aquatic and Wetland Plants: Cardinal Flower, Lobelia cardinalis, by Kimberly A. Moore, Luci E. Fisher, Carl J. Della Torre lll, and Lyn A. Gettys, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag402.
Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, a native plant, reaches a height of 3-5 ft. and a spread of
2-3 ft. It prefers full sun and can tolerate extreme drought and flooding. Muhly Grass has narrow foliage and produces pink fall flowers. It is used as a border, accent, in mass plantings or as cut flowers. See Muhlenbergia capillaris Muhly Grass by Edward F. Gilman, http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp415.
There are several reasons to stop by our office. We have the magnificent Bette S. Walker Discovery Garden, a gorgeous perennial garden and a pollinator garden created by Girl Scouts.
There is a Master Gardener on duty who can answer your questions and you can submit a soil sample for testing at a nominal cost. Please check our calendar of events at http://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/hillsborough/upcoming-events/.
The Extension office is located on the corner of CR 579 and Old Hillsborough, at 5339 CR 579 in Seffner and is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–5 p.m