With Valentines Day approaching, not only is love in the air but red seems to be everywhere from the candy aisles and craft shelves to the flower bouquets in floral departments. But how do we keep that sweet feeling in our Tampa Bay yards without it looking like cupid spent a morning hangover in the garden?
The answer to colorful success is simpler than one may think. By having a mix of seasonal blooms and foliage among your trees, shrubs, and flowers you can ensure a splash of red in Florida landscapes for a subtle look of love all year long.
How to Add a Seasonal Splash of Red to Your Landscape
As nice as it is to travel through northern states for the breathtaking fall foliage, there’s something special about watching the colorful leaves change in your own backyard. Yes, that’s possible in Florida’s Gulf Coast!
Red Maple (Acer rubrum) is a stunner and one to consider if you’re on the lookout for vibrant fall color. For several weeks each autumn, the leaves of this Florida native tree pop with yellow, orange, and red.
An abundant seed source, the red maple is a favorite of local wildlife, especially during the winter when it blooms, and flowers otherwise tend to be scarce. If you’re looking for that loving feeling in your backyard, this is the tree for you.
The red maple is home to many birds who tend to sing during the winter months. The eastern meadowlark is particularly fond to perch on the high, barer branches and serenade.
Depending on the variety you choose, the mature red maple can be up to 75 feet tall. Smaller cultivars, such as the ‘Gerling’ reach just 35 feet which is a good height for smaller landscapes. Perhaps the most popular variety suited for Florida is ‘Florida Flame.’
Feeling frisky? Try ‘Summer Red’ for a red spring and a purple fall.
All varieties do best in wet soil but can grow in other locations with proper irrigation. With a fast growth rate and high tolerance to southern heat, sand, and pest, the red maple is the ideal tree to add some red to your landscape.
Luckily, we live in a climate where there are many shrubs to choose from to meet your landscaping needs. However, for the sake of this article, we chose the rouge plant (Phytolaccaceae) because something about the word rouge evokes red and love and mystique, right?
This long-lived perennial evergreen blooms and fruits all year. The showy flowers are white and pink, and the knock-out berries are a striking red. The berries are so red, in fact, that they’ve been used for cosmetics, hence the name rouge plant.
Also called pigeonberry, this shrub grows anywhere between 3 to 5 feet tall. It’s well-tolerated throughout most of Florida, easily maintained, and attracts the birds and the bees. The goal is to add a little love and red to your landscape, so this works perfectly.
Roses Are Red
When it comes to showing love ‘petal-style,’ roses maintain their stature as the most popular flower. After all, red roses are the most gifted flowers on Valentine’s Day. According to orchidrepublic.com, the flowers’ symbolism for passion and romance is rooted in ancient Greek mythology:
“‘Some stories say that the first red rose was created when the Greek goddess Aphrodite was scratched by a white rose’s thorn, causing that rose to turn red,’ Sara Cleto, Ph.D., a folklorist and cofounder of the Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic, told Readers’ Digest. ‘Others say that the first red rose grew on the ground where Adonis, Aphrodite’s lover, died and the goddess’s tears fell,’ she explained.”
There are many reasons to love roses besides their rich history and poetic appearances. They are, for instance, fragrant, colorful, and come in a multitude of sizes. They’re also extremely talented–with a green thumb nudge. They climb, spread, contain…some are miniature some are quite large.
There are societies around the world dedicated to roses. In all fairness, it is remarkable to watch a healthy rose bloom. Most roses need at least six hours of sunlight and lots of water. Though there are heritage roses that don’t require as much care.
When selecting a rose, The Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) at The University of Florida recommends considering Florida-Friendly roses. In their article on roses, the IFAS states that “By definition, a Florida-Friendly rose is one that’s suited to the site and requires little maintenance.”
We highly recommend reading the IFAS post on roses to help you with your research to determine which rose is best for your location. Of course, you can always ask your professional local landscaper.
Some roses make for good cutting flowers to bring inside while others are too short for such display. Others are magnificent for trellis decoration over an archway on a path, at the door, or alongside your home or building. Some roses bloom once a year, some roses bloom multiple times a year.
Lastly, not every rose has its thorn. However, the rose with thorns makes a good natural barrier if a fence doesn’t cut it.
Already have red blooming in your landscape? Or don’t want the floral commitment? Try landscape decorations like a red accent pillow that can be changed seasonally.
Perhaps more suiting, hang a hummingbird feeder. Most hummingbird feeders have red on them to mimic flowers with high sugar level content, which tend to be warmer colors.
Maybe that’s why red represents love? Such a sticky, sweet emotion deserves display four seasons long, yes?