2011 Spring Plant Sale

On April 30 and May 1, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden will be overflowing with treasured plants specially grown in the Garden's own nursery, and plants propagated from the Garden's own collections. Below are the detailed descriptions of just a few of the plants offered.  Please remember: there are many plants, but quantities of each species and cultivar are limited. In addition to the Fairchild plants, there will be extensive offerings from local plant societies, which will offer both dependable favorites and fascinating new discoveries. This is the perfect place to find a special plant for your garden. With such a variety from which to choose, you'll be happy to know that Fairchild's knowledgeable staff along with enthusiasts from local plant societies will be on hand to help you make your selections. They will also provide culture and care information to ensure that your choices thrive in our sometimes challenging South Florida environment.

There will be plant valets, but you may want to bring a wagon or cart as well. If you are hoping to take home a rare, unusual or one-of-a-kind plant, you will want to plan an early start. For membership information, call 305-667-1651, ext. 3331.

  • 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.
  • 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 2011 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 Heliotropium angiospermum. 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.

Plant Societies Participating in the 2011 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
  • Going Bananas
  • Heliconia Society of South Florida   
  • Dade Chapter of Florida Native Plant Society
  • Orchid Society of Coral Gables

For the complete list of plants for sale by Fairchild click here 

Click on images to enlarge

The 2011 Spring Sale features plants that are both attractive to birds and butterflies and don't need regular irrigation once they are well established. Soon, summer rains will arrive and these plants will add carefree color and charm to your landscape. Among the plants for sale are:

Jacquemontia pentanthos, known as skyblue clustervine, is one of our most beautiful native vines. At times this vine produces hundreds of lovely, small, sky-blue flowers. It is fast growing, showy and pest free. Skyblue clustervine is an excellent choice for growing on a chain link fence. It prefers a sunny, dry location.


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.

Salvia coccinea, tropical sage, is native to southeastern U.S. and tropical America. Bright red flowers are produced on 12 to 16 inch long spikes nearly all year. Both hummingbirds and butterflies visit the nectar-filled flowers. This wildflower grows best in a sunny location with well drained, organic soils. 

Guaiacum officinale, native to continental Tropical America and the West Indies, is known as lignum vitae or tree of life. This species, although not native to Florida, is similar to our native Guaiacum sanctum. It will grow faster than our native species, eventually developing into a beautiful flowering tree to 20 feet tall with gorgeous mottled green trunks. Lovely blue to pale blue flowers appear in spring to summer, followed by orange-yellow fruit. Birds love the seeds. Grow in full sun to light shade. If you have room for just one tree in your yard, Guaiacum officinale should be your choice.

If you want monarch butterflies to visit your yard, you should have some Asclepias curassavica, scarlet milkweed, in your garden. Once this plant is established, seedlings will sprout in areas with mulch or bare ground. Milkweed is both a nectar source and larval food for butterflies. The yellow-orange and red flowers appear throughout the year. Plant this milkweed in full sun to light shade.


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 old leaves are removed, new leaves will be generated at any time.

Zephyranthes citrina, native to Mexico, Colombia and Guatemala, has bright golden yellow flowers which are goblet-shaped. It re-seeds nicely and will go through several bloom cycles through the summer, flowering a couple of days after a good shower. It makes a great edging plant since its strap leaves resemble Liriope, but it doesn't smother other plants.

Colubrina elliptica, soldierwood, is native to the Florida Keys, Caribbean, Mexico, Central America and Venezuela. It is a shrub to small tree, from 10 feet up to 30 feet tall with an open branching habit. The trunks have flaking orange to brown bark which adds to its character. We are offering this plant because it has proven to be a bird magnet! During last fall expert birders surveyed Fairchild for migrating songbirds. Soldierwood attracted more species by far, than any other plant. Among the birds seen visiting soldierwood were: Tennessee Warblers, Red-eyed Vireos, Blue-winged Warblers, Blackburnian Warblers, Summer Tanager, Scarlet Tanager and Baltimore Orioles. We are delighted to offer this plant to FTBG members. Bring nature to your own yard – plant a soldierwood and keep your binoculars handy!

Glandularia maritima, beach verbena, is a fabulous purple-flowered groundcover. Endemic to peninsular south Florida, it is an endangered species. Beach verbena  typically grows 4 to 12 inches tall and prefers a sunny, dry location. Butterflies visit the nectar-filled flowers.


Heliotropium angiospermum, known as scorpion's tail, is native to southern Florida and the Florida Keys. It is a small herbaceous to slightly woody shrub to 3 feet tall and as wide. It is a wonderful choice to attract butterflies to its interesting white flowers. It is a nectar source for these butterflies: Bahamian Swallowtail, Cassius Blue, Florida White, Gray Hairstreak, Great Southern White, Gulf Fritillary, Miami Blue, Queen, Ruddy Daggerwing, Schaus' Swallowtail and other butterflies. Plant in full sun to light shade.

Pimenta racemosa, bay rum, is native to northern South America and the West Indies. The dark green, shiny evergreen leaves produce a wonderful spicy aroma throughout the year when crushed. The trunk and main branches have interesting bark, which peels to expose lighter shades. It is a small to medium sized upright tree 15-25' tall. Fragrant white flowers are followed by black oblong berries. Pimenta racemosa leaves contain aromatic oil similar to clove. This essential oil is extracted from the leaves through distillation. It is an ingredient of bay rum cologne. Lemon-scented bay rum is a naturally occurring form of Pimenta racemosa. This species is best grown in full sun. Once established, it is drought tolerant. Add a uniquely fragrant plant to your garden; plant a bay rum tree!

Suriana maritima, bay cedar, a fine-textured, spreading shrub, has gray- or yellow-green, downy leaves clustered at ends of the branches. Small yellow flowers usually appear nestled among the soft leaves during spring and early summer. It grows near the shore, where high winds, shifting sands, and salt spray sculpt it into interesting shapes. Plant in a bright, sunny location. (Butterfly garden)


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. Pineland passionflower produces large white flowers followed by pale yellow fruits. This vine grows best in a sunny location. (It may be seen in Fairchild's Butterfly Garden.)




Muhlenbergia capillaris, muhly grass, is a native clumping species 18 to 36 inches tall and wide. One of our most ornamental native grasses, it produces beautiful cloud-like pinkish-purple plumes during the fall months. When not in bloom, its airy texture fits nicely into any landscape or garden. We have found that grasses go nicely when planted among palms. (May be seen in plots 54 and 87)

 Stachytarpheta jamaicensis, blue porterweed, is a wonderful flowering ground cover. Native to South Florida, this porterweed stays low, usually under 1 foot tall. It grows best in a sunny to lightly shaded location. An added bonus to this plant is that it is a butterfly magnet! It is a larval host for tropical Buckeyes and a source of nectar for many kinds of butterflies, including Great Southern White, Gulf Fritillary, Julia, large Orange Sulphur, Long-tailed Skipper, Schaus' Swallowtail, Variegated Fritillary, Lyside Skipper. Once established, no irrigation is required.

X Ruttyruspolia 'Phyllis van Heerden', a shrub to 6 feet tall, is a natural, sterile bigeneric hybrid between Ruttya ovata and Ruspolia hypocrateriformis var. australis from South Africa. It produces showy clusters of lovely pink flowers from fall through spring. This plant has been in Fairchild's plant collection since 1982. It has proven to be pest free, an easy grower and attracts butterflies too! Plant this lovely shrub in full sun to light shade. You can call her Phyllis!  

Brunfelsia plicata is a small, erect eight-foot shrub endemic to Jamaica. The sturdy, dark green leaves make a good background for the showy, white flowers. Appearing in profusion several times during the year, the flowers waft forth a spicy, clove-like fragrance at dusk. Stems tend to be upright, but the uppermost ends of the branches cascade down, giving the plant a vase-like shape. Grow it where it will receive morning sun and afternoon shade. (May be seen in plots 52 and 27.)

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.

Satakentia liukiuensis is a beautiful palm endemic to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. A lush crown of ten-foot long, dark green, pinnate leaves tops an exquisite crownshaft: smooth, lustrous, and dark red to mahogany green. In Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, a 30-year old plant is 20 feet tall, with a trunk twelve inches in diameter. The straight, gray-brown trunk provides a foil to the colorful crownshaft and leaves. Pink inflorescences produce slightly fragrant, cream-colored flowers which give way to small, orange fruits. Grow it in full sun to partial shade. Pictured: Satakentia trio planted next to Victoria amazonica pool. 


Pavonia bahamensis,  from the Bahamas, is a shrub to 15' tall. A member of the hibiscus family, it produces small, nectar-filled, yellow-green flowers that hummingbirds find hard to resist. This shrub is best grown in full sun to very light shade. In the Bahamas, pollinators of Pavonia are Bananaquits and Bahama Woodstars. Several years ago, there was a Bananaquit sighted near our Pavonia in the lowlands. Birders from all over the country came to see the rare bird and add it to their life list. Two years ago a rare buff-bellied hummingbird was also sighted at Fairchild, feeding on the nectar of our Pavonia bahamensis for a few weeks. Ruby-throated and rufous hummingbirds are the most commonly seen species that visit Pavonia in South Florida.


We will also be offering several cultivars of Begonias, including 'Boomer', 'Honeysuckle', 'Smarty Pants' and the everblooming Begonia odorata 'alba'. We will have more vines such as Congea tomentosa, shower of orchids; Combretum aubletii, monkey's brush; and our native wild allamanda, Pentalinon luteum.

Check this page regularly for updates on plants which will be available at the sale.

Page added 3/17/11
Page updated 4/28/11