Height: 2 to 4 feet
Spread: 3 to 5 feet
Growth Rate: slow
Sun Light: Grows in part shade/part sun
Soil tolerance: alkaline; sand; acidic; loam
Drought tolerance: high
This native of Florida is also known erroneously as Zamia pumila. The feather-like, light green, leathery foliage of Coontie emerges from a large underground storage root in the early years before a trunk develops. Providing a tropical landscape effect, Coontie’s unique growth habit is ideally suited for use as a specimen or container planting. It looks particularly attractive when plants of differing sizes are planted together to form a clumping, specimen-like effect. Planted on 3 to 5-footcenters for a massing effect, it forms a 3-foot-tall, medium green ground cover. Coontie are rarely used in this manner because of the high cost of plants, but it is well worth the effort. This plant should be used more in the landscape.
Grows best with some shade, Coontie can tolerate full sun and grows on a variety of soils as long as it is well-drained. Watering should be done with moderation, if at all, once established. But like any plant, plenty of water is needed following transplanting.
Propagation is usually difficult by seed, and growth is very slow.
Pest problems include sooty mold, mealy bugs, and scale. Florida red scale must be controlled by regular spraying as it can be fatal to coontie. The alata caterpillar feeds only on the Coontie. It devours foliage at a rapid rate for about two weeks and then disappears. Plants look fine after new foliage appears.