No where is shade more appreciated than in Florida. Gardeners there create their own shade by planting trees for shade-loving plants, to shield a house from the afternoon sun to help cut back on electric bills and by planting shorter trees to shade a patio. With the exception of the Florida Keys, gardeners in all areas of the state have the same choices in shade trees.
Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii) also is known as Shumard red oak and is a member of the beech family. The tree is deciduous and grows 75 to 100 feet tall. The plant features a broad crown up to 40 feet across, leaves that grow 6 to 8 inches long and turn red or golden brown in the fall. The tree produces female flowers growing in small clusters and male flowers growing in hanging clusters up to 6 inches long. The flowers bloom in early spring and are followed by acorns that measure 1 inch long. Plant Shumard oak in full sun and a moist, well-drained soil. Plant the acorns in the fall and new trees will appear in the spring. The tree is hardy in all of Florida except for the Florida Keys.
Jerusalem thorn (Parkinsonia aculeata), also known as Mexican palo verde, is a member of the bean family.The tree grows up to 25 feet tall with a crown up to 20 feet wide. The name comes from the thick, sharp spines on the branches and twigs. Leaves made up of two or four thin strips resemble a feather and grow 10 to 16 inches long and less than 1 inch wide. Yellow flowers bloom in the spring, growing in clusters, and are followed by brown seed pods measuring about 3 to 4 inches long. Plant Jerusalem thorn in full sun and a moist-to-dry soil. The tree is hardy in all of Florida and the Florida Keys.
Southern catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides), also known as catawba and the Indian bean tree, is a member of the bignonia family. The tree grows 25 to 50 feet tall with an equal spread. The heart-shaped leaves grow up to 8 inches long in groups of three. White, bell-shaped flowers with purple and orange markings are followed by 16-inch long, cigar-shaped seed pods. Plant southern catalpa in full sun or partial shade and a soil that is moist and well-drained. The tree is hardy in all of Florida, except for the Florida Keys.