Jane Jordan is a horticulturist and has studied and worked at the RHS botanical gardens in Cannington, England. She now lives in Sarasota. In addition to her passion for horticulture, she is also a novelist.

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The Florida Weepers
by Jane Jordan       #Flowers   #Trees

Weeping bottlebrush trees are both practical and beautiful – low maintenance and an abundance of blooms. Their bright red blooms attract bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

There are hundreds of types of weeping trees, but only a few that grow well in Florida. If you’re looking for a plant with cascading branches that reach toward the ground, or merely curve downward, consider the following:

Weeping bottlebrush tree (Callistemon viminalis, Zones 9-11) is one of the most popular and attractive weeping trees. It is a moderate to fast grower, maturing to about 15 feet tall. The bright red flowers that resemble bottlebrushes appear at the end of the branches and each flower is made up of long stamens that form the distinct blooms.

Bottlebrush trees bloom heavily in spring, but will also bloom sporadically throughout the rest of the year. They do well in a wide variety of soils, except for those that are highly alkaline. They are evergreen and can be grown in either sun or part shade. Water regularly and fertilize three times a year – spring, summer, and fall. A supplement of bone meal will increase blooms.

This tree shouldn’t be pruned unless you want a symmetrical fringe effect. Weeping bottlebrush trees attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees, and are perfect for adding a tropical effect or as a focal point.


‘Anderson Crepe’ tropical hibiscus produces numerous beautiful pink flowers on delicately arching branches.


Weeping tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis ‘Albo Lacinatus’, also sold as ‘Anderson Crepe’ or ‘Shirley Temple’, Zones 9-11) is a shrub that is often trained into a single trunk. It produces large delicate pink flowers that form year-round on gracefully arching branches. They grow up to 12 feet tall and may need some cold protection in central Florida.

Tropical hibiscus like to be watered regularly and fertilized three times a year. A supplement of bone meal will increase blooms. They are fast growing, low maintenance, and are best trimmed sparingly, if at all, to promote the weeping effect. They can be used amongst other plantings, but they look most spectacular as a single specimen. Don’t plant near walkways unless you don’t mind cleaning up the litter of old blooms.

Yaupon holly has bright red berries in winter.

Angel’s trumpets have flamboyant flowers that are powerfully fragrant at night.

Weeping yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria ‘Pendula’) is a Florida native that has an extreme and very distinct weeping growth habit. It usually grows up to 20 feet and, like other hollies, has dark green evergreen leaves and produces clusters of bright red berries each winter. This tree requires very little maintenance or water once established. It does best in sun or partial sun and is happy in a wide range of soils and conditions.

As with all hollies, you will need to buy a female holly if you want a tree that produces berries. Both male and female plants produce small white flowers in spring that attract pollinators such as bees. When planted in full sun, they grow very dense, making them ideal for screening. Yaupon hollies provide food and shelter for birds and wildlife in late winter.

Angel’s trumpet (Brugmansia spp., Zone 10) is popular not only for its beautiful weeping flowers in shades of white, pink, peach, or yellow, but for its intoxicating nighttime fragrance as well.

Angel’s trumpet is a member of the nightshade family (Solanaceae) and most parts of this plants are highly toxic and extremely dangerous to ingest.

Although classified as a multi-stemmed evergreen shrub, it is often considered a weeping tree, as it can be trained to grow into a single trunk. It does well in full sun or partial shade and and reach 14 feet. Angel’s trumpet prefers enriched soil, regular watering, and fertilization three times a year. As with the plants above, bone meal will boost blooms.

These truly spectacular plants have a wide variety of uses – as a show-stopping specimen, a stunning addition to a flower border, or in a container as a focal point.

Weeping higan cherry (Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’, P. pendula ‘Pendula Rosea’, Snow Fountains, aka ‘Snofozam’) is the only weeping cherry species we can grow, and then, only in North Florida. When I think of a classic beautiful weeping tree, this is the one that comes to mind.

This weeping cherry is magnificent. Generally used as specimen trees, they are fast growing and can reach 30 feet tall. They are deciduous and the flowers, in various shades of pink, appear in early spring before the leaves emerge. It also produces black cherries that, while inedible, attract wildlife.

Higan cherry trees are strongly weeping ornamental trees with light pink flowers that cover the branches before the leaves emerge in spring.

Weeping higan cherry trees require full sun, well-drained soil, and should be watered regularly until established. The tree can be trimmed after flowering to maintain its shape, but when considering where to plant, be sure to choose a location so that the weeping effect will not be hindered as the tree grows.


A version of this article appeared in Florida Gardening Volume 23 Number 1.
Photography courtesy of Jane Jordan, Sandy Poore, Richelle Stafne, Troy B. Marden, and Peter Burka.


Posted: 12/28/17   RSS | Print


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