Green Iguanas have spread rapidly across the Sunshine State. This invasive species is now frequently seeing strolling Fort Lauderdale neighborhoods, leaving damaged plants and poop in their wake. Iguanas pose a formidable challenge for Fort Lauderdale homeowners; their vegetarian diet and voracious appetite make them a key landscape plant predator. Thankfully, there are still many plants that Iguanas avoid. In this post we cover some general guidelines for Iguana prevention and showcase three plant species they are known to avoid.
Iguanas tend to avoid plants with thick leaves and that release milky sap when cut. These include the following:
Any Citrus plant
Lemongrass (Cymbopogon citrate)
Chenille (Acalypha hispida)
Cordyline (Cordyline australis)
Copperleaf (Acalypha wilkesiana)
Ixora (Ixora Taiwanensis)
Lilyturf (Liriope muscari)
Mexican Petunia (Ruellia Brittaniana)
Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Flax Lily (Dianella tasmanica)
Purple Queen (Tradescantia Pallida)
Society Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea)
On the other hand, Iguanas love most plants with flowers, delicate leaves, and soft fruit. This includes plants such as bougainvillea, gardenias, and mango trees.
One option to protect trees is to place sheet metal around the lower three feet of their trunks. Iguanas have poor grip on smooth materials such as metal and plastic, so these materials can form a barrier around plants or vegetable beds you want to keep safe.
Though shredded leaves and dying plants can have many causes, Iguana bites leave a unique imprint on plants they have damaged. Iguana bites create a curving imprint on leaves, much like a human bite on a slice of pizza. If you see damage in straight lines or holes in the center of the plant with no marks on the edges, you may have another pest in your yard. You can learn more about South Florida pest identification in our handy guide.
Three Great Iguana-Proof Plants
Orange Bird-of-Paradise - Strelitzia reginae
A close relative of the banana, the orange Bird-of-paradise has stunning flowers that resemble a bird in flight. Orange Bird-of-paradise will add a degree of exotic flair to your Fort Lauderdale landscape design that few plants can match.
Planting: Bird-of-paradise is versatile and will grow in many soils as long as there is good drainage. It should be placed in sunny or partially shaded locations. Though slow growing, bird-of-paradise should be placed 6 feet away from other plants as it will spread and produce flowers on the edges. Water regularly during the first 6 months but keep an eye out for soggy conditions.
Care: Dead leaves and old flowers stalks should be removed to reduce risk of fungi. Fertilize every 3 months and water whenever the soil is fairly dry. Bird-of-paradise rarely suffers from pest problems and should grow steadily given frequent fertilization.
Use: Bird-of-paradise is a fantastic container plant and will spruce up any sunny indoor area. In gardens they can be used as single specimens or as the focal point for a garden bed. For a full tropical look you can plant several of birds of paradise around the perimeter of a garden or building.
Banana Croton - Codiaeum variegatum 'Banana'
Crotons are tropical low-maintenance evergreen shrubs. The banana croton is smaller than most crotons, making it an ideal accent plant for smaller spaces in your Fort Lauderdale Landscape Design.
Planting: Banana croton can be placed as close as 2 feet apart. They can adapt to partial shade or full sun but do best in bright but indirect sun. Place in area that is well draining but does not dry out too quickly. Crotons are prone to root rot when left in moist conditions.
Care: Keep soil moist but do not overwater. Fertilize banana croton three times a year (spring, summer, autumn) with slow-release fertilizer. It does not require frequent pruning and is mostly pest resistant.
Use: Banana croton looks best when grown in groups at the edge of a garden bed or surrounding large trees or palms. Its yellow leaves allow it to nicely contrast darker foliage or rocks. Banana croton is also an excellent indoor plant when given enough light.
Silver Buttonwood - Conocarpus erectus
Silver leaves and rustic bark make the Silver Buttonwood an eye-catching shrub or tree.
Planting: For maximum color and fullness place in full to partial sun. Place 4 feet apart from other plants and structures. Can be placed in salt exposed areas. Water regularly for 3 months following planting.
Care: Fertilize three times a year (spring, summer, and fall) with slow-release fertilizer. Can be trimmed regularly for a manicured appearance but avoid pruning more than 1/3 of the plant. Water regularly to maintain fullness.
Use:: Fertilize three times a year (spring, summer, and fall) with slow-release fertilizer. Can be trimmed regularly for a manicured appearance but avoid pruning more than 1/3 of the plant. Water regularly to Dealing with Iguanas in Fort Lauderdale Landscape Designsmaintain fullness. will contrast the grass.