Coastal and Tropical South

September, 2012
Regional Report


Tropical Plants
I humbly direct your attention to my new book from Cool Springs Press, Gardener's Guide to Tropical Plants. The beautiful book is both a reference and a celebration of fabulous plants native to the tropics around the world. I was asked to define the joys of this plant group, provide vivid descriptions of the plants, and useful, practical, readable information about growing them in the temperate, subtropical, and tropical zones. At 240 pages with more than 140 color photographs, it is available nationwide and online; autographed copies at

Favorite or New Plant

Chocolate Plant
A low growing native of Mexico and Central America, chocolate plant (Pseuderanthemum alatum) can only be described as surprising. The plants are usually less than a foot tall, hardy across our zones, and a stunning addition to the shade garden in pots or well-drained beds. Deep brown with copper undertones and silvery patterns, the leaves are often 5 inches wide and longer than that. They are broad, ribbed, and coarse textured. To see the tall, delicate sprays of purple flowers emerge from the chunky leaf clump is to see Nature chuckle at the foolishness of expectations.

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