Low-growing hedges define, but don't strangle, the view

Dwarf bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus 'Little John') is a repeat bloomer with showy red powder puff flowers and attractive grayish-green foliage. Doug Caldwell

Dwarf bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus "Little John") is a repeat bloomer with showy red powder puff flowers and attractive grayish-green foliage. Doug Caldwell

Bougainvillea 'Silhouette' (also known as "Singapore Pink") has a full head of arrow-tipped pink bracts that makes it a wonderful median plant. Coutesy www.vistafarms.com

Photo by www.vistafarms.com

Bougainvillea 'Silhouette' (also known as "Singapore Pink") has a full head of arrow-tipped pink bracts that makes it a wonderful median plant. Coutesy www.vistafarms.com

A row of bromeliads can make a striking tropical short hedge. The tall ones in the center are Aechmea 'Lole's Pride' from Excelsa Gardens in Loxahatchee. Doug Caldwell

A row of bromeliads can make a striking tropical short hedge. The tall ones in the center are Aechmea 'Lole's Pride' from Excelsa Gardens in Loxahatchee. Doug Caldwell

Walters viburnum "Compacta" or cv. densa remains at about 4 to 5 feet with impressive springtime flowering impact  Courtesy www.hortusoasis.com

Walters viburnum "Compacta" or cv. densa remains at about 4 to 5 feet with impressive springtime flowering impact Courtesy www.hortusoasis.com

A few weeks back, I wrote about it not being a good idea to use vines (Jasminum species) as short — say 3 foot-plus or minus a foot — perennial hedging material: tinyurl.com/2vsnx9w

Unfortunately, I neglected to mention what species would be the right plant for short shrub use.

Since then I have been collecting opinions from experienced horticulturists and have since decided this topic would be a nice book … some day. However, these choice plant species, excluding annuals — are reported to top out around 3 to 4 feet or are such slow growers they would only need to have a touch-up pruning, say once a year instead of three times or more per year.

Some recommendations from the experts (this is a short list of the short shrubs, more are available upon request):

Arboricola (Schefflera arboricola “Trinette” or “Gold Capella”)

Dwarf bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus “Little John”)

Bougainvilleas “Miss Alice,” “Silhouette,” “Helen Johnson,” and “Vera Deep Purple” PP10950. These are supposed to stay lower than 4 feet according to Kellie Pilicer with BGI-The Bougainvillea Growers.

Cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco “Red Tip”). Its mature height is near 8 feet.

Ficus microcarpa “Green Island” or Ficus microcarpa var. crassifolia “Green Mound”

Dwarf firebush — Hamelia “Compacta’” or “Firefly”

Dwarf yaupon holly — Ilex vomitoria “Schillings” or “Bordeaux’”

Natal plum — Carissa macrocarpa “Emerald Blanket” or “Emerald Beauty”

Podocarpus macrophyllus — “Pringles Dwarf’”

Viburnum obovatum “Compacta,” ‘“Mrs. Shillers Delight” and “Whorled Class”

I would appreciate any feedback, negative or positive, on these selections. For instance, there have been some reports of poor establishment of the “Whorled Class” viburnum, in part, due to root-feeding aphids.

Some other ideas include using bromeliads, gingers (Alpinia zerumbet dwarf variegated, Alpinia purpurata) and dwarf bamboo (Nandina domestica). I’m sure that other plants could be added.

Please send in plant suggestions and experiences to comments section for this article at the Naples Daily News web site.

As always, be sure to check the plant’s requirements for the best growing environment in regard to: shade versus sun, water needs, soil type and the potential pest problems. For pictures and information on some of these plants, see these two sites:

toptropicals.com

tinyurl.com/33nr96m .

Doug Caldwell, Ph.D., is the commercial landscape horticulture extension agent and landscape entomologist with the University of Florida Collier County Extension Service. E-mail dougbug@ufl.edu ;phone, 353-4244 ext. 203. On the Web: collier.ifas.ufl.edu

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