Inspiration You Can Draw On: The Cardboard Plant Brings Florida Landscapes to Life

It’s stiff as cardboard, but unlike the kind boxes are made of, the Cardboard plant will grow when planted in dirt. As most Sarasota and Venice homeowners will tell you, the Cardboard is practically a staple in their Florida landscapes.

Cardboard plantKnown also as a leatherleaf palm, the Zamia furfuracea is actually a cycad with thick smooth foliage and up to 12 pairs of dark green leaflets cascading from each frond. No needles or spines, so you can plant it along a walkway if you like (just remember it may spread up to eight feet wide and five feet tall). Looks gorgeous as a dark backdrop for your colorful flowers or in simple clusters under large palm trees. Cold-hardy cardboards will do well in partial shade to full sun; just remember to apply a slow-release fertilizer twice a year.

Your slow-growing Cardboard also won’t mind getting wet. Its underground trunk stores water, which makes it a perfect choice for xeriscape gardens or when droughts roll around. Just don’t let it stand in water or the roots will rot. Give it enough moisture so the trunk stays healthy and the leaflets don’t shrivel up.

The Cardboard’s only downside is its toxic red berries, which have been known to cause liver damage to roaming pets. So please don’t mess around; as soon as you see the seed cones, remove them.

If you’re looking for year-round striking foliage that’s been around since the dinosaur age, fold the Cardboard into your Florida landscape. Once established, it requires very little maintenance or watering. Or, if you prefer, contact a professional landscaper who thinks outside the box. Contact ArtisTree Landscape Maintenance & Design serving Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. artistree.com; 941.488.8897.

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