Flowering bushes flourish in Florida, from the tropical hibiscuses in south Florida to the summery hydrangeas in the northern part of the state. Florida encompasses USDA Plant Hardiness zones 8b to 10b, with average low temperatures from 15 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. While some flowering bushes can tolerate the winter temperatures, they cannot withstand the hot and humid summer temperatures. There are flowering shrubs that will grow and bloom all across the state if they are planted in the proper location and receive adequate irrigation and care.
Glossy abelias (Abelia x grandiflora) are large vase-shaped to sprawling shrubs that grow 6 to 10 feet tall, and 6 to 8 feet wide. They are used as specimen plants or in mixed borders. A group of glossy abelias can be grown in a mass or used as a hedge or screen.
Clusters of small white or pink tubular flowers bloom from spring to fall on glossy abelias and attract hummingbirds, butterflies, bees and other insects. The bushes have red-tinged leaves that hold their color throughout the summer and turn redder in colder weather. The leaves remain on the bushes during the winter in south and central Florida, but about half of the leaves tend to drop in north Florida.
Abelias grow best in well-drained soil in the sun. They are drought tolerant and relatively free from pests and diseases. Several varieties are smaller than Abelia x grandiflora.
Many varieties of camellias (Camellia spp.) are suited to north Florida, while only a few varieties will grow in the central and southern part of the state. A camellia needs rich acidic soil with good drainage in partial shade. It should have good air circulation but not be in the direct wind. A location under oak, pine or other tall tree is ideal for camellias. The plants are susceptible to numerous pests and diseases.
Camellias bloom in the fall or winter, depending on the variety. The blooms are shades of red, pink or white, and range in size from 2 to 5 inches across. Camellias are evergreen and are used as specimen plants, accent plants, in a mass or in hedges.
Chinese Fringe Bush
Chinese fringe bushes (Loropetalum chinensis) have upright to spreading forms with green to reddish-green foliage. They grow 5 to 10 feet tall, and 8 to 10 feet wide. The white or pink flowers resemble tufts of fringe and bloom heavily in the spring and sporadically throughout the year.
Chinese fringe bushes are used as screens or hedges as well as specimen plants. They need full sun and well-drained acidic soil. They are relatively disease and pest free and slightly tolerant of salt.
The sweet fragrance of gardenias (Gardenia spp.) fills the air from March to June in Florida. The flowers are creamy white to pale yellow and have a waxy appearance. Gardenias are evergreen shrubs that grow from 2 to 15 feet tall, depending on the variety.
Gardenias need well-drained acidic soil in sun or partial shade. They are not salt tolerant and are bothered by aphids, sooty mold and powdery mildew. They are used as specimen plants and in mixed borders, screens and hedges. Some varieties of gardenias are dwarf in size.