Regions / Tropical South
Selecting plants suited to the Tropical South climate is a key step to success.
Various initiatives have taken place to determine how well plants would withstand the cold winter temperatures (Plant Hardiness Zones) or when plants would start suffering from the heat (Plant Heat Zones).
The Tropical South region lies in USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 10-11 and in AHS Heat Zones 10 through 12.
Surprisingly cold hardy, Agave ovatifolia 'Frosty Blue' (Whale's Tongue Agave) is an evergreen, perennial succulent forming a solitary rounded rosette of thick, broad, distinctively cupped, gray to powdery-blue leaves. Adding interesting texture and interest year-round, the leaves are lined with small teeth along their margins and tipped with a dark gray terminal spine.
Surprisingly cold hardy, Agave ovatifolia (Whale's Tongue Agave) is an evergreen, perennial succulent forming a solitary rounded rosette of thick, broad, slightly cupped, gray to powdery-blue leaves. Adding interesting texture and interest year-round, the leaves are lined with small teeth along their margins and tipped with a long terminal spine.
Slow-growing, award-winning Agave parrasana (Cabbage Head Agave) is a compact evergreen, perennial succulent forming pretty rosettes of broad, closely packed and overlapping, pale blue-gray leaves, armed with gnarled teeth along the edges. The thick, rigid leaves are often irregularly dusted with a silvery blue coating, that shows impressive bud imprints and creates a lovely mottled appearance.
Highly sought after, Agave parryi var. truncata 'Huntington' (Artichoke Agave) is an evergreen, perennial succulent forming tight rosettes of thick, broad, short, pale blue-gray leaves with widely spaced small teeth and a wavy terminal spine. Dark reddish-brown on new leaves, the spines fade to gray on older leaves. Adding intriguing beauty, the leaves carry on their lower surfaces the distinct imprints of the thorny leaf margins of the previous outer leaf-bud.
Particularly stunning when lit by the morning or late afternoon sun, Agave shawii (Coastal Agave) is an evergreen, perennial succulent forming a rosette of fleshy, sword-shaped, green leaves which radiate gracefully from the center of the plant, giving it a neat and rounded shape. They are lined with gray spines which exhibit coral, gold, pink or red shades when backlit, adding intriguing beauty.
A very hardy Agave from northeastern Mexico, Agave striata (Narrow Leaf Century Plant) is an evergreen, perennial succulent forming interesting rosettes of thin, gray-green leaves with a sharp, dark brown terminal spine. Radiating from the center, the leaves can be stiff or upward curving, and may add lovely purple tones in drought or cold.
An exquisite small Agave, Agave univittata 'Quadricolor' is a highly ornamental evergreen succulent forming colorful rosettes of toothed, strikingly-striped leaves about 6-12 in. long (15-30 cm). Dark green in their center, the leaves are adorned with a pale green midstripe and golden-yellow edges, which are lined with a row of dark reddish teeth.
Incredibly attractive, award-winning Agave victoriae-reginae is an evergreen, perennial succulent forming a perfectly spherical, solitary rosette of thick, smooth and spineless, dark green leaves. Each leaf is adorned with almost 'hand-painted' white margins and a small terminal spine.
Prized for its graceful foliage, Aloe vilmoriniana (Octopus Agave) is an evergreen succulent perennial adding great interest in the landscape. It forms a solitary rosette of long, slender, gray-green leaves that arch and undulate, resembling the tentacles of an octopus. The teethless edges of the leaves curl inward, particularly around the tips.
Native to the southern United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and northern South America, Agaves are evergreen succulents with handsome rosettes of usually thick, rigid, fleshy leaves with marginal teeth and often a sharp terminal spine. They exist in a wide range of sizes, colors and offer an amazing array of leaf shapes.
One of the tallest, Ageratum houstonianum 'Blue Horizon' (Floss Flower) features fluffy round clusters of lavender to purplish-blue flowers resembling asters.
Fast growing, Ajuga reptans 'Bronze Beauty' (Carpet Bugle) is a vigorous perennial prized for its rich blue flowers and contrasting bronze-tinged leaves, which quickly form a dense mat of attractive rosettes. Ajuga reptans is valued as a wonderful spreader making a colorful groundcover, which will thrive in shady areas where grass has difficulty growing.
Noted for its wonderful tricolored foliage, Ajuga reptans 'Burgundy Glow' (Carpet Bugle) is a popular low-growing perennial prized for its short spikes of pretty blue flowers and contrasting creamy-white, rose-burgundy, and dark green foliage. Spreading more slowly than many other varieties, 'Burgundy Glow' will form over time a thick mat of attractive, lustrous rosettes.
Allium 'Summer Beauty' is a bulbous perennial with charming, rounded umbels, 2 in. across (5 cm), packed with up to 30 soft lavender-pink, bell-shaped flowers. Blooming in mid- to late summer, the luminous flowers are borne on sturdy, upright stems above a foliage of onion-scented, strap-shaped leaves, which remains attractive all season long.