Anise shrubs are easy to grow in the Southern states where they are native. I have a couple of green leaved Illicium in deep shade and they are doing well. This past spring I fell in love with a fairly new member called Florida Sunshine. Its leaves are chartreuse to bright yellow but still hold that strong licorice smell when the leaves are broken.
Although most anise shrubs do best in part to full shade, this Florida Sunshine keeps its best color in a protected light shade spot. It needs sunshine for best leaf color but winter sun can burn its foliage. It is an evergreen shrub reaching about 5 feet tall at maturity.
I think I found the perfect companions to grow near the sunny shrub. Purple pineapple lilies ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ (Eucomis) were languishing in a too shady spot. Their leaves were more green than purple. So, I dug them up and moved them to either side of the new Florida Sunshine. The purple pineapple lily foliage played well off the bright yellow foliage on the Florida Sunshine.
The long wide leaves of the pineapple lily contrasted well, too, with the stiff, shiny, pointed foliage of the anise. Did I mention that the Florida Sunshine shrub has reddish stems attaching its bright leaves to the branches? The Sparkling Burgundy pulls both colors out of the anise. Then, come summertime, the pineapple lily throws up a flower stalk and you can see where it got its name. The flowers resemble miniature purple pineapples! They have made a lovely companion to under-plant the Florida Sunshine.
Pineapple lilies are hardy in USDA Zones 7-10 but you can dig them to overwinter indoors where they are not outdoor-winter-hardy. The Illicium parviflorum ‘Florida Sunshine’ is hardy in USDA Zones 6-9.
Posted November 16, 2012
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Avid gardeners who know how to get their hands dirty tend the beautiful gardens featured in this article. Special thanks to Betty Norris & Laura Lander, Publicity Co-Chairs from the Cape Fear Garden Club, for the tour of many wonderful gardens during the Azalea Festival Garden Tour in Wilmington, North Carolina. Read more...