Florida gardeners living throughout the state have many choices when it comes to adding native Florida plants to their landscapes. Whether you live within the northern regions in planting zone 8, the central region in planting zone 9, or the southern sections in planting zone 10, there are native plants fitting your needs. From shrubs to trees, perennial and annual flowers or groundcovers, there are many native plants that thrive throughout the state. Native Florida plants are less problematic than non-native species and require less maintenance and water because they are used to the state's living conditions.
Select native plants that will thrive in your region of the state's average temperatures. Plants such as the Florida Azalea (Rhododendron austrinum) will live in the cooler northern and central regions but will die in the warm, South Florida weather. Gardeners unsure of which plants to use in their landscapes should utilize "The Florida-Friendly Plant List" published by the University of Florida. (See Resources.)
Choose plants that will tolerate the amount of salt spray your landscape experiences. Plants such as the Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera) grow well statewide in coastal areas, but plants such as star anise (Illiccium) have a low salt tolerance and will die in salty environments.
Group plants together with the same water requirements. Do not situate a plant with high water requirements such as Carolina aster (Aster carolinianus) next to a plant with low water requirements such as Coontie (Zamia floridana).
Situate native plants with the same light requirements together in the landscape. Plants such as firebush (Hamelia patens) bloom profusely in the sun, but their foliage looks better when planted in shady areas.
Create a tiered effect in your native garden by planting taller plants in the background, followed by a layer of shorter plants, and then a layer of groundcover or shorter perennials and annuals. It will give the garden a balanced look.
Create a native garden that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and other bird species. It will be attractive as well as beneficial to nature. Utilize native plants such as milkweed (Asclepias), beach sunflower (Helianthus debiles) and Salvia (Salvia) that give color, are perennials and attract birds and butterflies to the garden.
Plant your native plants in native Florida soil. Native plants are used to propagating and growing in the native soil of the state and amending the soil is not a requirement. This makes the garden require less maintenance.
Plant native trees around your home and outer landscape to protect your structure from strong winds and hurricanes Florida frequently experiences. Pay attention to the plants' mature size when selecting a planting site. Native plants are tolerant of the state's weather conditions and are less likely to suffer permanent damage.