In The Garden: Bay cedar is salty native
Bay cedar (Suriana maritima) is one of our most salt tolerant shrubs. It tolerates salt breezes and even some saltwater flooding during storms. It likes moist, well drained soil, but is very drought tolerant at the same time. You will find the bay cedar along coastlines from the Florida Keys up to the salt marshes of northern Florida. Of course, it likes the sun but does well in partial shade, as well. It grows to about 6 feet in height in a scrubby environment, and can be persuaded to grow as tall as 10 feet in a more cultivated setting.
The velvety silver-green leaves of the bay cedar resemble the needles of a regular cedar, and the coastal native produces small yellow flowers that bloom year-round. Bay cedar can be directly propagated from the fallen seeds that can be collected as they fall off naturally. Planted as a shrub, along with other coastal plants like joewood, sea purslane, beach elder and prickly pear cactus, it makes a nice coastal beach planting that preserves the coastline and protects against beach erosion.
In an inland native garden, the bay cedar is attractive to butterflies, bees and birds. The larvae of the mallow and martial scrub hairstreak butterflies love to feast on the foliage. When planted in an inland landscape, regular watering and fertilizer would be advised. However, if planted on the oceanside of a dune, no extra care is needed as it is truly in its natural habitat.
Share the dunes with this salt-loving plant or enjoy in your native landscape garden. Either way, it loves the islands as much as we do.
In The Garden is a joint effort by all at the local garden center, at 3889 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel. For more information, contact 239-395-5859 or visit “http://www.facebook.com/rswalshinthegarden”>www.facebook.com/rswalshinthegarden.