Florida Plants That Grow in Hot Dry Areas

The subtropical climate and sandy soils in Florida can make gardening in hot, dry beds difficult. Several Florida native plants exist that tolerate this growing condition, especially when established with a good root system. An array of native grasses, wildflowers, perennials, shrubs, trees and palms may be grown in Florida, where they are hardy.

Perennials and Shrubs

Flower perennials native to Florida that make nice accents in garden borders are many: tropical sage (Salvia coccinea), Florida greeneyes (Berlandiera subacaulis), pine-hyacinth (Clematis baldwinii), roseling (Cuthbertia ornata), prickly-pear (Opuntia humifusa), seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), Chapman's gayfeather (Liatris chapmanii), Adam's needle (Yucca filamentosa), pineland lantana (Lantana depressa) and beach verbena (Verbena maritima). Shrubs that handle hot, dry areas to consider are sea-lavender (Argusia ghaphaloides), dwarf caesalpinia (Caesalpinia pauciflora), prostrate cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco), gulf croton (Croton punctatus), coralbean (Erythrina herbacea), Atlantic St. John's wort (Hypericum reductum), winged sumac (Rhus copallina), Chapman's senna (Senna mexicana) and necklacepod (Sophora tomentosa).

Grasses and Wildflowers

A lovely native grass is sea oats (Uniola paniculata). Short-living wildflowers include seashore ageratum (Ageratum littorale), yellow prickly-poppy (Argemone mexicana), partridge-pea (Cassia fasciculata), Indian blanket (Gaillardia pulchella), beach sunflower (Helianthus debilis), Spanish daisy (Helenium amarum) and toadflax (Linaria canadensis).

Trees and Palms

Drought and heat-tolerant native palms include the Florida silver palm (Coccothrinax argentata), buccaneer palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii), scrub palmetto (Sabal etonia), and the green--but especially blue--leaved forms of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens). Pine trees require well-draining soils that are not disturbed. Sand pine (Pinus clausa), yellow pine (Pinus echinata) and southern slash pine (Pinus elliottii var. densa) are three species of note. Small trees with good tolerance to heat and drought include Jamaican caper (Capparis cynophallophora), tamarindillo (Acacia choriophylla), sea-grape (Coccoloba uvifera), green and silver-leaved forms of buttonwood (Conocarpus erecta), stoppers (Eugenia spp.) and yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria). A large shade tree possibility is West Indian mahogany (Swietenia mahogoni).

Keywords: Florida native plants, xeriscape plants, drought tolerant

About this Author

James Burghardt has written for The Public Garden, Docent Educator, numerous non-profit newsletters and for Learn2Grow.com's comprehensive plant database. He holds a Master's degree in Public Horticulture from the University of Delaware and studied horticulture and biology in Australia at Murdoch University and the University of Melbourne's Burnley College.