2009 Spring Plant Sale

Join us for our Spring Sale featuring spectacular plants, music and food from the Caribbean. South Florida has always been a gateway to the islands and has traditionally been a blend of their people, food, music and plants. Come celebrate this rich diversity and culture at Fairchild's Spring Plant Sale.

The plants of the Caribbean are extremely well suited for South Florida and many of our native plants are also native to our island neighbors. These plants survive easily with very little care, water or fertilizer and are perfect for the home garden. These wonderful plants are found growing in hammocks and backyards alike all over the West Indies and South Florida and will make a tremendous addition to your garden landscape. 

The food and music of the Caribbean will be on display at Fairchild for this special Saturday only event. What better way to spend your day than shopping for plants while listening to vibrant island beats and enjoying food with a tropical flair. The Fairchild Spring Plant Sale, where the Caribbean comes alive.

Plant Societies Participating in the 2009 Spring Plant Sale

  • American Bamboo Society
  • American Bougainvillea Society
  • Bromeliad Society of South Florida
  • South Florida Cactus & Succulent Society
  • Tropical Fern & Exotic Plant Society
  • Rare Fruit Council International 
  • Horticulture Study Society
  • Dade Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society
  • Orchid Society of Coral Gables
  • South Florida Palm Society

There will be plant valets, but you may want to bring a wagon or cart as well. As always, Garden members have the advantage of early admittance. From 9:00 to 9:30 a.m., members have the first chance to make their selections. If you are hoping to take home a rare, unusual or one-of-a-kind plant, you'll want to plan an early start. If you have friends or family members who are not Garden members, this would be an advantageous time for them to join. For membership information, call 305-667-1651, ext. 3331 or join online.

  • Location: the Palmetum, south of the Cycad Circle.
  • Parking is available in the lowland meadows. Enter through the first driveway north of the Garden; watch for signs.
  • Your membership card must be presented before you may purchase plants from 9 to 9:30 a.m. 
  • There will be "plant valets" to help you move your purchases to convenient plant loading areas but you may want to bring a wagon or cart as well. 
  • You must be at the sale in person. We cannot ship or hold plants for members or non-members unable to attend.

This might be a good time to turn a part of your yard or patio into an oasis of tranquility and beauty. The stars in our plants available at the 2009 Spring Plant Sale will add color, fragrance, attract butterflies and birds. Some of our special butterfly plants will be small plants ready to plant in the ground as soon as our rainy season begins. These include Passiflora suberosa, Lantana involucrata and Chromolaena odorata. To encourage the beautiful painted buntings to your yard, plant a Lantana involucrata near a bird feeder filled with millet seeds. These buntings are in the south Florida area throughout our dry season.

There will be local plant societies participating in the sale. Please check back for more details.

Click on photos to enlarge

Fairchild's 2009 Plant of the Year, Stemmadenia litoralis, the Milky-way tree, is a perfect small tree for Florida landscapes. Not fussy about water or sun, it can be grown in filtered light or full shade and needs no irrigation once established. Left to branch naturally, it will create a pleasing shape and produce flowers on every branch. The finely textured, light colored bark is an attractive contrast to the deep green leaves. The fragrant flowers begin to appear in late winter or early spring and continue through the summer into the fall. Each linen-white flower has five petals formed in a pinwheel fashion, overlapping in a counter-clockwise direction. The pale yellow throat draws the eye to the heart of this whirl where a star is formed by the joining of the petals. A delicate fragrance surrounds the area near the tree, evoking early-morning freshness.

Senna polyphylla is a supreme butterfly attractor which is drought tolerant and excels under the toughest growing conditions. Canary yellow flowers smother each branch, setting the shrub aglow with color. It blooms most of the year, heaviest during South Florida's dry season. This senna is a shrub or small tree, to 10' tall and wide. Tiny leaves and interesting gnarled branches create a bonsai-like appearance. The desert cassia is a specimen plant deserving enough space in the garden to show off its wonderful form. It is a charming plant, underused in the South Florida landscape.

Jacaranda caerulea is native to the Bahamas. It is a smaller tree than the more commonly grown Jacaranda mimosaefolia and with more bold, shiny foliage. It is one of the most attractive ornamental trees native to the Bahamas with its panicles of blue-violet flowers appearing throughout late spring and summer. The crown is more narrow and upright than the more common Jacaranda, making it a great choice for small yards. This species prefers a sunny location and thrives in the soils of south Florida. Its furrowed bark makes this tree an excellent place to put epiphytic orchids and bromeliads among the branches.


Neomarica caerulea, 2004 Fairchild Plant of the Year, is a tropical iris from Brazil with long, strap-shaped leaves forming a fan shape similar to temperate irises. Large, fragrant blue flowers appear every few days during the fall and winter, adding sparkle to the garden. It prefers morning sun and moist, fertile soil. It may be planted among other plants, and is a good edging plant. Our plants in the nursery have been blooming throughout this winter and early spring. Neomarica caerulea tolerates a wide range of soil and light conditions.


Alvaradoa amorphoides, Mexican alvaradoa, is listed as endangered by the state of Florida. It is native to a few hammocks in the southern portion of Miami-Dade County and a few areas of Everglades National Park; the Bahamas, southern Mexico and Central America. Mexican alvaradoa has small pinnate leaves and slender branches imparting an open airy texture. This is the host plant for the rare Dina Yellow (Eurema dina) butterfly in Florida. It is usually a shrub but may eventually grow into a slender tree to 20' tall. It is a dioecious species with female plants producing small pendant clusters of reddish, winged seeds. Mexican alvaradoa is drought tolerant, shade tolerant and a great choice for butterfly enthusiasts.


Coccothrinax argentata, known as silver palm, was selected as a 2008 Fairchild Plant of the Year. Watch Coccothrinax argentata as the undersides of its deep green leaves flash metallic silver and you will know why it is one of Florida's native gems. It is small but perfectly proportioned, with a five foot wide canopy of fan leaves sitting atop a trunk that is six inches thick. In late summer, two-foot long spikes laden with hundreds of small creamy-white flowers hang down from within the canopy. Small pearl-sized fruits follow the flowers, changing color from green to dark purplish black. Silver palm is a small, slow growing palm perfect as a specimen plant in a patio garden. It will thrive in a hot, sunny location. Salt spray is no problem either, as C. argentata grows naturally along the coastline. The only thing that can kill it is too much shade and water.

Pinanga coronata, ivory cane palm, is native to Java and Sumatra. It is a handsome, clustering species with ivory-hued crownshafts and leaf stems. Showy bright pink inflorescences with black fruit are produced among the broad pinnate mottled leaves. New leaves emerge with reddish mottling. A wonderful palm for south Florida, it should be grown in a shady, moist location. The ivory cane palm will also grow beautifully in a container on a shady patio.

One of our 2008 Fairchild Plants of the Year, Myrcianthes fragrans, Simpson's stopper, 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. When grown in shade, the foliage is less dense and the trunk displays its attractive, smooth, exfoliating bark. Plant one near a feeder or bird bath for shy birds such as painted buntings and cardinals to use as a safe haven.

Bourreria cassinifolia, smooth strongbark, is a Florida endangered species native to a few pinelands of south Florida and the Florida Keys. Strongbark is a shrub to 8 feet tall and about 6 feet wide. Small leaves, small white flowers and bright orange fruit attract butterflies to the flowers and birds to the fruit. The fragrance of the flowers is a wonderful, fresh, light but oh so nice perfume. If there was such a thing as smooth strongbark eau de cologne, I would be in line to buy a bottle! This shrub prefers a sunny location and does not require irrigation once established. 

Zamia integrifolia, coontie, is our only native cycad. Once locally abundant in Florida, it is now uncommon and threatened by urban development. The stems, after suitable treatment, were used as a source of starch by the Seminole Indians; a small starch extraction industry was established in South Florida in the 1850s. Coontie is a small cycad, with much-branched, underground stems. The leaves are a favorite larval food for the rare Atala butterfly. It grows in full sun to light shade. New growth appears each spring, although if cut back, new leaves may be generated at any time.

Native Wildflowers

We will be offering a number of South Florida native wildflowers. These will add beauty, color and attract butterflies to your garden. The plants we will be selling include: a fabulous purple flowered ground cover Glandularia maritima, beach verbena; a low growing plant with bright yellow flowers Heliotropium polyphyllum, pineland heliotrope; a pink to light lavender hued flower Monarda punctata, spotted beebalm;  the wonderful shrub for birds and butterflies Hamelia patens, firebush; and a rare, yellow flowering shrub Lantana depressa var. floridana, East Coast lantana.

Special Butterfly Plants

We will have a selection of these very special plants which will attract butterflies and birds to your garden. They are young plants in small containers but should be perfect for planting in your garden when our rainy season begins.

Lantana involucrata, wild lantana or butterfly sage, is native to South Florida, the Florida Keys, the West Indies, and Tropical America. This five-foot tall shrub has soft, light green, oval leaves which give off a spicy aroma when crushed. Lightly fragrant clusters of white to pink flowers followed by pink to lavender fruit are produced year round. Wild lantana may be grown in full sun to light shade. It attracts many kinds of butterflies, including skippers, gulf fritillary and hairstreaks, which feed on the nectar. Many birds eat the fruit. Wild lantana is easy to grow and very drought tolerant. Photo by Roger Hammer.


Passiflora pallens, pineland passionflower, is a state listed endangered species native to some pinelands and sunny edges of hammocks in South Florida. It attracts several kinds of butterflies including Gulf frittalary, zebra longwing, and Julia. This vine grows best in a sunny location. Photo by Roger Hammer. 

Passiflora suberosa, corkystemmed passion flower, is one of our best native plants for attracting butterflies to your garden. This vine may be grown as a ground cover or allowed to climb upon a low structure or shrubs. It is the larval host plant for gulf fritillary, julia and zebra longwing butterflies who linger around this vine, searching for new growth to lay their eggs. Birds will visit this vine to eat the tiny dark purple fruits. The corkystemmed passion flower may be grown in full sun to light shade. Photo by M. Collins. 

Chromolaena odorata, Jack-in-the-bush, is a shrub native to South Florida. Clusters of fragrant white flowers appear in the late summer to fall. In Fairchild, our Jack-in-the-bush has attracted Long Tailed Skipper, Horace's Duskywing and Atala butterflies. It may be grown in full sun to light shade. Pictured: Chromolaena odorata with Atala butterfly feeding on nectar of the flowers.

by: Mary Collins, Senior Horticulturist 

Page created 3/6/09  Updated 4/10/09