Florida's warm, wet climate makes it an excellent spot to garden. While the state has thousands of native plants, there are some non-natives that thrive in Florida's climate, including most varieties of ferns, kudzu and lantana, all of which are prevalent throughout the state. Each of these plants, however, is considered invasive, according to the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, and should be kept in check in backyard landscapes and gardens.
Ferns are a large group of perennial plants that offer interesting foliage ranging from the long, narrow and serrated sword fern to the vine-like, thorny asparagus fern. While they are not native to Florida, ferns thrive in the state. According to the 1997 Sunset National Garden Book, different ferns require different care, but when used as ornamental plants, ferns are best kept well-groomed and in moist soil. Some varieties, like the sword fern, may be invasive and should be kept in check.
Introduced at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia as an ornamental plant, kudzu (pueraria montana) was later removed from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Permissible Plant List when it became apparent it was a pest, according to the University of Florida IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Kudzu, a woody vine, still grows all over Florida and, if uncontrolled, can kill other plants by shutting out sunlight. Kudzu, which spreads by runners and seeds, does have a fragrant purple flower.
Found all over Florida, this non-native plant can grow to six feet, has oval leaves and small blooms ranging in color from purple to yellow to multicolor, according to the University of Florida IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants. Lantana (lantana camara), which is fast growing, is used throughout the state as an ornamental shrub, though it is considered invasive and destructive in citrus groves. As a garden or landscape shrub, lantana needs little water, can take full sun and spreads.