Plan before you plant, says expert gardener

It is winter on the Space Coast, cool enough to make those resolutions count: It’s time to get working on sprucing up your lawn and garden.

Don’t view it as a piecemeal project but try to see the bigger picture, says Joe Libasci of Hearts & Hands plant nursery, a nonprofit organization in Palm Bay that assists disabled people with horticultural-related job skills.

“The thing that is important is picking the right balance in the garden, not planting for the sake of planting or having a little bit of everything here and there. For example, my big thing is height: knowing how tall a plant will grow so that it doesn’t obstruct everything around it. It’s important to educate yourself a little; to know how you want your garden to look and know what plants will serve the purpose,” Libasci says.

Think about climate too.

“Some plants are hardier than others, especially when it comes to cold tolerance. In that respect, perennials rather than annuals are popular for planting this time of year. Flowering perennials bloom year-round and they’re easy to care for,” he says.

The important thing, Libasci reiterates, is to go in with a plan. Consider the entire area in which you will plant and the way it will look after you have finished.

“It’s not difficult. Consider the way you want your (property) to look. Educate yourself a little about plants; ask someone in the nursery for advice. Gardeners are happy to help. Then plant. You’ll be glad you did.”

I. The wonderful word of color

When most homeowners consider planting they also consider color, and there the balance of which Joe Libasci speaks is especially important. He recommends:

— Red hibiscus, which can be planted on either side of a door, patio, driveway, etc. for symmetry as well as brightness;

— Pentas, annuals that comes in shades of red, white, lavender, purple and pink and are available as bushes or as trees.

— Ground lilies and ground orchids


II. Covering ground

Libasci recommends the following plants as ground cover:

— Dwarf mondo grass planted eight to 12 inches apart;

— Ice-blue juniper, which looks like pine and grows well in Brevard’s climate and soil;

— Bronze carpet, another evergreen perennial that spreads well and stays low;

— Scaevola, which has deep green leaves and purple flowers;

— Dune sunflower, an annual ground cover with yellow blooms.