Passalong plants are a southern tradition, with certain species being passed down through centuries of Florida families. These plants are also often called "bulletproof," because they thrive in the hot, humid summers and survive the colder North Florida winters without a care. If you are restoring a historic home and garden and want plants that fit its period, ask your landscape contractor to add these to your plan.
Crinum lilies have been in Florida forever. The native Crinum americanum, also called swamp lily or giant spider lily, grows wild throughout boggy areas. Enormous clumps of giant crinums are often found in the yards of historic homes, along with the smaller hybrids of the original "milk and wine" crinums which dot landscapes in every corner of the state. They are especially popular for commercial landscapes because of their ability to flower continually while living only on what nature provides.
Bulbine has regained its popularity in recent years due to its drought resistance and formation of huge spreading clumps that send up voluminous stalks of dainty orange or yellow flowers. It is often used as a ground cover in parking lots and apartment complexes throughout the state where it thrives with little to no care. It's prolific formation of new shoots makes it a perfect passalong plant because there is always enough to share with family and friends.
The walking iris is so named because it forms baby plants on the ends of the bloom stems which then bend over and root into the ground, forming a new clump next to the mother plant. Blue walking iris, also called Louisiana iris, has flexible strap leaves and loves moist soil, whereas the yellow walking iris has rigid upright leaves and is extremely drought tolerant. These prolific bloomers are in almost every old homestead in the state, from the Panhandle down to the swamps of South Florida.
Floridians have had a lasting love affair with bromeliads since the first plants came out of the Everglades to be planted into settler's yards in South Florida. Over the generations, species have been found and hybridized that will grow in shade or sun in all areas of the state. With their propensity to send out multiple babies, or "pups," each year, they have become a treasured passalong for gardeners and collectors alike. These easy-to-grow air plants can be mounted in trees, planted in the ground or kept in containers to make them easier to protect from the infrequent cold snaps. Happy with whatever nutrients they can draw from the air, they are nearly impossible to kill.
If you're looking to fill your landscape with easy-care, colorful blooming plants, these traditional Florida passalongs are just what you need. There is something for every area of your yard, whether it be in sun or shade, wet or dry. Talk to professionals from a company like Bill and Dave's Landscape about using these plants to create an authentic landscape for your historic home.