The Florida peninsula's subtropical and tropical climates offer prime growing conditions for a wide variety of plants. Low lying and sandy, the peninsula experiences weather coming in from the Atlantic on the eastern coast and storms that often pop up along the Gulf of Mexico coast. Occasional frosts and hurricanes will kill plants, but the Sunshine State generally lives up to its name, with temperatures rarely dipping below freezing or above 100 degrees F.
Swamp sunflowers resemble tiny sunflowers or black-eyed Susans. They are natives that are found throughout the peninsula and are perennials. They grow up to 2 feet tall and bloom in the fall. Plant them in areas that receive full sun and in any soil types. Provide consistent water. This species tolerates short dry periods. Butterflies and birds feed from these flowers.
Also called taro or giant taro, this perennial native grows throughout the peninsula and in the keys. Its large leaves, which extend up to 10 feet tall, lend a tropical feel to any landscape. Grow this species in an area that receives either sun or shade and in soil that remains consistently moist. It is not tolerant of drought conditions. Frost will kill the foliage, but it returns when temperatures warm back up.
Milkweed features bright orange flowers that butterflies feed from. Several species exist that have different soil and light requirements, but many grow best in areas that receive full sun and in soil that is moist and well drained. Certain species are less hardy and will go dormant in the winter in the northern portion of the peninsula. These fast-growing bushes reach up to 5 feet tall.
Necklace pod grows in south Florida in USDA hardiness zones 10 and 11. It is a native bush that reaches up to 10 feet tall and 12 feet wide. Small yellow flowers bloom on it all year, and dangling seed pods provide visual interest. The seeds are poisonous, but the flowers attract hummingbirds, other birds and butterflies. Grow necklace pod in sandy soil and in a spot that receives full sun. Water it occasionally. The species has a high drought tolerance.
Like necklace pod, this tree also grows in south Florida. It has a medium to high wind resistance and reaches up to 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide. Small yellow flowers bloom throughout the summer. Plant it in an area that provides plenty of growth room. It has medium drought tolerance and prefers full sun to light shade. Avoid cultivating it around sidewalks and driveways because the shallow roots have a tendency to break through the surface.