|Hamelia cuprea- Bahama Firebush|
|Sabinea carinalis- Caribwood|
|Caesalpinia pulcherrima- Dwarf Poinciana|
|Cordia boissieri- White geiger|
|Cassia bahamensis-Bahama Cassia|
|Cassia afrofistula- Dwarf Cassia|
|Senna polyphylla- Twin Senna or Desert Cassia|
|Guiacum sanctum- Lignum Vitae Tree|
There are good plant choices for every size garden, for every climate and any budget. Some of the more compact trees are pictured here, including the king of all native trees, the Lignum Vitae, arguably one of the slowest growing of all trees. Resplendent with cobalt flowers draped over deep green shiny leaves, Lignum Vitae grows in solid coral rock with minimal care.This Florida native is found in the Florida Keys and into the Caribbean. It needs only a very sunny area and great drainage. The trees pictured above all do well in well-drained areas, with little additional irrigation in the short winter days. Many trees in the Legume and Coffee plant families can be found in rocky Caribbean habitats, most of which will grow well here.
The only criteria for growing many small trees is good soil drainage and at least 6 hours of direct sunshine. Many of these small trees grow in clusters naturally and support each other by having their crowns grow together. Therefore, when planting a single tree it would be wise to stake trees for 18 months to allow them to build a strong root system. Even then, some of the more common species, like Senna polyphylla and Senna surattensis, and Tabebuia caraiba are notorious for blowing over in thunderstorms, even as mature trees. In such cases, a strong metal stake driven 2 feet into the ground right next to the tree will help. Loosely attach fabric tie wraps to the tree trunk in 2 or 3 places on the stake, and the tree will have the extra support it needs.
One of the best tactics for growing these trees is to start with a small tree and let it grow into its environment. The vigor of youth in a small potted tree is sometimes better than having a large field-grown tree try to recover its root system. This is especially true in the genus Tabebuia. For condo and townhome owners, there are small-statured trees suitable for container growing, and with a large enough container, you can even grow shade trees ! There are numerous options, so use your imagination and experiment a little.