South Florida has the advantage of having a subtropical environment, making it possible for gardeners in south Florida to plant flowering trees from the Caribbean and Central and South America, which cannot be grown in most of the rest of the continental United States. The trees grow small enough for small lawns, and can be planted in groupings on larger properties.
Temple tree (Plumeria spp.) is also known as the frangipani. The tree is deciduous and grows from 25 to 40 feet tall. It produces medium green, oblong-shaped leaves that grow up to 20 inches long and three inches wide, red, pink or white flowers that measure two to four inches across and dark seed pods.
The Temple Tree is a tropical plant that is native to the Caribbean, Central America and Mexico and is hardy in the two hottest zones in Florida, USDA zones 9-10. The tree needs bright sun and prefers rich, moist soils. It will not tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees F.
Plant the tree near a patio or porch where you can enjoy the rich fragrance. Anyone who has been to Hawaii, has come in contact with the flowers; they are the ones the leis are made from.
Southern catalpa (Catalpa bignonioides) is also known as catawba and Indian bean tree. It grows from 25 to 50 feet tall and about the same in the spread of the branches. The plant produces green heart-shaped leaves that grow up to eight inches long, white bell-shaped flowers that grow to two inches in length and grow in clusters that measure six to 10 inches across and 16-inch-long, cigar-shaped seed pods.
Southern catalpa is native to the southern United States and its natural habitat is near the water in natural flood plains along the rivers. The tree likes full sun or partial shade and moist, well-drained soils and can be grown in all of Florida. The southern catalpa has one feature that makes it a favorite of fisherman. It attracts catalpa worms, otherwise known as bream, that are used as fishing bait.
Golden Trumpet Tree
Golden trumpet tree (Tabebuia chrysantha) is also known as golden tabebuia. The tree grows from 30 to 80 feet tall and produces leaves that measure two inches across, two-inch-long, bright yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers that grow in clusters and 10-inch-long seed pods. The flowers and the leaves are not on the tree at the same time.
The flowers bloom in late winter after the old leaves have fallen off and in early spring before the new leaves appear. Golden trumpet is a native of Central America and the northern sections of South America. The tree does well in the sandy soils and salty air of the South Florida beaches and likes full sun.