Many people have Ficus benjamina, which can quickly become a huge tree, hedges which require regular pruning and now there is a whitefly which is killing it in south Florida. My favorite hedge is Myrcianthes fragrans, Simpson's stopper, which is a native of hammocks of south Florida and Tropical America. This shrub or small tree grows to 20 feet tall. It makes a great hedge and is a low maintenance alternative to the commonly used ficus hedge. Simpson's stopper's silvery gray to warm brown bark naturally peels to reveal a smooth burnished copper colored inner layer. Crush the small, slightly leathery leaves and you will discover a pleasant aroma. Fragrant little white flowers are produced intermittently through the spring and summer. Showy red-orange fruit provide food for several bird species. Simpson's stopper will have a dense branching habit if grown in full sun, creating a wonderful, carefree hedge. To create a hedge or screen, it should be planted about 3-4 feet apart. When grown in shade, the foliage is less dense and the trunk displays its attractive, smooth, exfoliating bark. Look for Simpson's stopper in our plant sales. We will be selling this species at the 2009 Spring Plant Sale on Saturday, April 25.
Myrcianthes fragrans - Simpson's Stopper flowers among the glossy,oval, leathery leaves