No other state has more native flowering plants suitable for use in home landscapes than Florida does, says the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service's Professor Emeritus Professor Dr. Robert J. Black, Ph.D. The Sunshine State's native plants range from delicate ground covers to towering ornamental shade trees. All of them share an adapted tolerance for Florida weather and soil, and a general resistance to the state's garden pests. Choose flowers from Florida habitats that closely match the growing conditions in your landscape.
Partridge berry (Mitchella repens) is an evergreen groundcover native to moist, acidic soils of northern central Florida. A creeping plant that stands only 2 inches high, it has miniature, round green leaves. Delicate pairs of small, white or pale pink trumpet-like flowers appear from May to October. Bright red berries, a favorite partridge food, follow the blooms and provide additional garden interest. Plant it, recommends the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, beneath acid-loving shrubs or use it as a winter terrarium plant. It likes a partly shady to shady location with acidic (pH below 7.0) sand or loamy soil. Keep the plants consistently moist. They will wilt and possibly die if they go more than 48 hours without water during drought.
Carolina Yellow Jessamine
An evergreen vine growing wild in woodlands from northern Florida south to Osceola County, Carolina yellow jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) climbs up to 20 feet. Without support, it creates a mound. Its deep green foliage becomes shaded with yellow or purple in winter. Between December and May, and again in the autumn, it flowers with exceptionally fragrant, trumpet-like yellow blooms. They bring hummingbirds to the garden.
Largely pest-and-disease-resistant, this vine grows in sun--for heaviest bloom--to partial shade. Give it moist, well-drained, organically rich acidic soil. Use it, recommends the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, on fences, trellises, or arbors. It also makes an attractive ground over. Note that its roots, leaves, and flowers are toxic, and potentially fatal to livestock.
Growing wild on south central Florida's hammocks and coastal dunes, flowering firebush (Hmelia patens) is a 3-to-12-foot tropical shrub. Plants are tallest in the southern part of their range. Florida gardeners value deciduous firebush for its for its year-round color. Both bright red, tubular flowers and clusters of reddish-black berries adorn the plants in every season. In spring, summer, and fall, they contrast with its deep green leaves. Give this salt-spray tolerant plant full sun to partial shade and sandy or rich soil, advises the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.