Those who live in Florida make their home in a tropical environment--the balmy weather is signified by its USDA hardiness zones of 8 to 11. Plants designed for this warmth typically are less hardy outside of these hothouse conditions. Plants that grow well outdoors in Florida are ones that incorporate these hardiness zones and designed for warmer-than-normal temperatures.
Manihot esculenta, from the spurge family--also known as cassava or manihot--is a drought-tolerant, perennial shrub. Leaves are dark green, 2 feet long, and red. Roots are edible and 8 to 30 inches long. The entire plant will reach 20 feet tall in very warm climates or 10 feet tall in cooler climates. Grow in poor soil in full morning sun and afternoon shade. Propagate via stem segments.
Annual Lion's Ear
Leonotis nepetifolia also known as annual lion's ear or just lion's ear, is a drought tolerant annual from the mint fmaily that attracts hummingbirds. Flowers are tubular, 1 inch long, and orange. Leaves are 2 to 5 inches long and smooth. The entire plant will reach 8 feet tall. Grow in full sun to partial shade with regular watering. Propagate via seed.
Hamelia patens from the madder family, also known as firebush or scarlet bush, is an evergreen drought tolerant perennial shrub that attracts hummingbirds, song birds, and butterflies. Flowers are in clusters, red or red-orange in color, and ¾ inch long. Leaves are 6 inches long, whorled, and reflexed. The entire plant will get 15 feet tall. Grow in full sun or partial shade with well drained soil. Propagate via seed or cuttings.
Setaria palmifolia from the grass family, also known as palm grass or bristle grass, is an evergreen fast growing wetland plant that is easy to grow. Leaves are 1 to 3 feet long and pleated. The entire plant can get 8 to 10 feet tall. Grow in full sun or partial shade in moist soil. Propagate via division or seed.
Caesalpinia pulcherrima, from the bean family--also known as peacock flower or dwarf Poinciana--is a drought tolerant perennial shrub that attracts butterflies. Flowers are orange or red and 2 to 3 inches wide in clusters. The entire plant can get 15 to 20 feet tall but averages 8 to 12 feet tall. Grow in well-drained soils in full sun to partial shade. Propagate via seed.
Lantana camara, also known as lantana or shrub verbena, is an evergreen fast growing shrub from the verbena family that attracts butterflies. Leaves are 2 to 5 inches long. Flowers are in clusters, 1 to 2 inches wide, and are white, red, or yellow. The entire plant can get 8 feet tall. Grow in sun or partial shade in moist soils. Propagate via seed or cuttings in USDA hardiness zones of 8 through 11.