You may have heard that it is hard to grow plants in Southwest Florida, but this page is dedicated to proving that it can be fun and easy once you are educated about the horticulture of the area.
In Southwest Florida, the common types of soils arenít really soils at all by most definitions! Sand is usually what you will planting into, and itís not an ideal growing medium. Sand lacks nutritional value and doesnít hold water. However, this can be easily dealt with by adding an equal amount of organic compost of some kind. The equal parts sand and compost make the soil acceptable for growing, though you will have to continue adding organic matter to the sand yearly.
The other kind of soil that you will see in Southwest Florida is marl. Marl is a mixture of other elements commonly found in the area such as limestone, shell and sand. In order to make marl an acceptable soil, you must dig a small hole and saturate it with water so that the water can soak into it. Continue this process until the hole you have dug is large enough to put your plant in. Just as with sand, marl will need organic compost, although marl will need much more Ė in fact, in the hole you just dug, fill the bottom 8 inches with organic compost and then put even more organic compost back in on top of whatever you are planting.
Once youíve got your soils straightened out, the next choice is to decide what to plant! Obviously, the most common hedges and shrubs tend to be plants that do well in full sun or full shade and can do with little water such as Seagrape, Buttonwood, Pittosporum and any kind of palm or palmetto plant. Surprisingly, there are just as many flowering plants that will grow happily in Southwest Florida. Firecracker Plants, for example, will live happily in full sun with little water and carry beautiful, colorful blooms for most of the year. Bromeliad, Oleander and several types of Lily will grow in full sun with little water if you are cautious with the soil, while Aloe, Begonia and Impatients will grow in partial sun as long as you keep them moist.
I think you will see that Southwest Florida is just as plant-friendly as other places in the U.S., and with a little knowledge and elbow grease, you will have smooth landscaping, beautiful blooms and full shrubs before you know it!