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July 19th, 2023

Bahama cassia: Butterfly attractor

by R.S. Walsh

Bahama Cassia (Cassia chapmanii) also known as (Cassia Bahamanesis) is an excellent choice for a South Florida butterfly garden. With delicate green leaves and pretty buttercup yellow flowers it attracts many of the Florida sulfur butterfly species as both a nectar source, as well as an important larvae food source. This plant could also be used in the landscape as a specimen planted by itself, or as a screen, hedge, or border. In a sunny location it grows to about 4 to 6 feet tall so would make a nice background plant in a shrub border. It will grow taller in partial shade to approximately 8 feet. Allow plenty of room for its rounded, spreading habit of growth as they can easily grow to become 6 to 10 feet wide.

This shrub prefers well-drained, acid, sandy soil and is moderately drought tolerant. Prune the plant back to the ground in the spring every few years to rejuvenate it, or following a winter with freezing temperatures. The plant often sprouts back quickly in the spring and does best in hardiness zones nine and 10. Native only to Southern Florida, it will bloom throughout most of the year, making this a welcome addition to any native or flowering garden.

This column is a joint effort by all at In The Garden, a Sanibel garden center located at 3889 Sanibel Captiva Road, Sanibel, Florida.

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