Too Much Sun in the Courtyard Garden!

Neoregelia "Tequila" finishing its bloom cycle.

As any gardener in Florida can tell you, its not only been hot and humid, but uncharacteristically devoid of rainfall lately.  My "Balinese Courtyard Garden" in my parent's front yard gets a lot of sun this time of year, so my shade loving chamaedorea palms, lady palms and bromeliads have been showing a goldish tinge.  No burning, mind you, but I did need to come up with a solution to the brutal sun.  
My bottlebrush and pineapple guava were planted to eventually shade the courtyard, and though they are growing fast it will take a while for them to get tall enough to help out my radicalis palms and bamboo palms.  Even the large live oak in the background of this photo has been growing quickly this year!
Some of the struggling bromeliads were relocated to a newly planted bottlebrush in the backyard where they'll get more shade, but I really do like having them in this area, as they are the most eye stopping features the visitor sees upon entering the house.

The above photo says it all.  You can see how intense the sun is for my radicalis palms, but since the spot is so close to the house its hard to simply plant a tree or shrub to shade them.  The taller palm in the group is actually an aerial trunked sport that will continue to grow taller until there's no shade to be found!  The palms you see actually consist of two clumps, so I may just divide the areal trunked one and plant it under a taller canopy out back.
In the foreground you can see the vigorous bottlebrush trying to shade the area and the encroaching branches of the live oak right above it.  I have since cut the oak's lowest branches for obvious reasons, but it should be able to shade this area in a couple of years.
Here's another view of the house so you can see it in context.  I'm going to train the bottlebrush with an asymmetrical trunk, leaning out over the courtyard and away from the future shade of the oak.  The grassy area will eventually be planted with a couple of schillings hollies to complement those on the other side of the sidewalk, and the paved area will be extended to allow more room for my mom's wheelchair.

Here you can see my replacement for the fried birds nest fern, (it got way too much sun and heat) a papaya!  Since this is the warmest part of the garden it has the best chance of overwintering, and it will at least help to shade the lady palm and bromeliads otherwise.  In winter I may get a large tupperware container or cardboard box, cut a slot, slide it into place and then cover with leaves and mulch.  That way the base of the trunk will remain unharmed by frost so it can branch back out.

Here are some other photos of the front yard as of late:

Here's another view of the papaya, so you can see the surroundings.

I also found some Galangal, or Thai Ginger to complement the supermarket ginger and lemongrass.  I can't wait til I can harvest some for cooking!

Lemongrass is looking pretty good next to the bromeliad!  In the background I have Nandina "Firepower" and the ginger I started from the produce aisle.

Here's a Neoregelia "Red Bands" blooming!  I hate it when people call neo's flowers "inconspicuous". 

Bonus shot!  Neoregelia Pauciflora climbs up the base of the oak tree with its long stolons.  You can also see my Quesnelia Arvensis and Macho Fern.  Check out all the lichen on the oak trunk!


  1. Good luck with the moves and shading, I'm experiencing the same issue here. We went from setting a record low on Monday night to a record high on Wednesday. All of a sudden BLAZING sun. Still, I am loving it. Everything you picture looks great and I love the papaya!

  2. Ooh, love all those broms! Your courtyard garden has a lovely collection, and the ones growing on the trunk are awesome! I love seeing broms on a tree. I have some neos in full sun (helps them color nicely), though I admit full sun to me translates as morning sun with a tall house shading them after about 1:00. And some day, when all my trees mature, they will be in shade.

    By the way, we've been lucky down here. We had six inches of rain the first week of July. It was kinda nice to see the sun yesterday and today.

  3. So many tropical beauties in your mom's garden. I can understand why the plants are bleaching out. The sun has been a real scorcher laterly. Right up near all that concrete is a hot place. I have the same problem in my front entry area.

  4. What gorgeous bromeliads!!! The pink ones are so pretty! I have the same problem here with where I can plant them in a shady spot. I may have just uncovered an area though along my back fence, where my husband has cleaned out a bit, and a few pink broms would fit nicely in that new nitch! :)
    Glad you liked that site I posted about...can't wait to see what you might submit there!!!

  5. Your courtyard garden is looking really nice. I agree that the broms are perfect to have in there. Perhaps some more sun-tolerant ones could replace the ones you moved. Sun and shade are factors that are always changing in the garden as new trees grow larger and old trees have to be removed. I have only just begun to take notice of the change in light patterns due to the shift of the sun due to the seasons. I'm learning to pay more attention to things that in the past were beyond my notice.

  6. Hi i am sorry i have not been keeping up in looking at my followers site. I can see you really have tropical plants there, somehow i felt you have affinity to my country. By the way, that papaya seem to be so thin and needs some little nutrients so it will bear fruits. Some organic fertilizers will do the trick. I love your different kinds of ginger in your older posts.

  7. It is blistering hot here too and so humid i can smell the moisture in the air! You have some beautiful tropical plants. I really like the bromeliad with the tiny, but not insignificant, flowers!

  8. Dangergarden:
    Thats pretty hot for your area, especially since we haven't hit 100 yet this year. The humidity's what will kill you around here though, so I just think about how happy my plants are.

    Full sun in Florida is a little more intense than it is up north, huh? At least my bottlebrush is growing up quickly.

    The bright side is that its also a good microclimate for a freeze! The wall and concrete retain heat and slowly release it at night.

    Why not? Bromeliads have a way of looking good everywhere!

    Ironically the ones I moved are known for being sun tolerant! Its just too much of a good thing. I'll get more shade soon though.

    Thanks for stopping by! Though I grow a lot of the same plants that one would where you live, we get some pretty tough freezes around here so my garden is an unusual one in my neighborhood. BTW I do need to fertilize it... I just planted it a little while ago. I love your blog by the way!

    Its funny you mention that... I can actually smell the cardamom ginger, wax myrtle and anise trees through the liquid air in my swampy backyard. When the passionflowers bloom you can smell them around the house!


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