Florida has a great variety when it comes to flowering plants. The state has the advantage of being able to use plants from subtropical and tropical areas as well as plants native to the United States. You can choose from small plants, shrubs and trees that will add a splash of color to the garden and draw in a variety of butterflies and birds that bring their own flashes of color.
South American Air Plant
South American air plant (Kalanchoe fedtschenkoi) is also known as lavender-scallops and gray sedum and is a native of Madagascar. The plant is a succulent that produces upright stems that grow to a height of about 2 feet and a width of about 1 foot, thick blue-green leaves that grow from 2 to 8 inches long and purple or red bell shaped flowers that grow in clusters from the stems. It needs partial shade, lightly moist soil in the growing season and dry soil in the winter. In Florida, it is only hardy in the hottest USDA Plant Hardiness zone (10) and in the southern most part of Zone 9. South American air plant does well in a rock garden and can be planted in containers or used as a house plant.
Mexican orange (Choisya ternata) is also known as mock orange and Mexican orange blossom. It is a small broadleaf evergreen shrub that grows from 6 to 8 feet tall and about the same spread. The shrub produces 2- to 3-inch-long glossy green leaves and fragrant 1-inch-diameter white flowers that grow in clusters above the leaves. Mexican orange can be grown in all areas of Florida and needs full sun in northern Florida and partial shade in the warmer areas. The soil should be dry to moist and well drained. Plant it in a hedge with other types of shrubs, as a border or a privacy hedge. Honeybees and butterflies find the shrub very attractive.
Smoketree (Cotinus coggygria) is also known as Venetian sumac, European smoketree, fustet and Hungarian fustic and is native to Europe, China and the Himalayas. It grows to a height of 15 feet and can be planted as large shrub or small tree. The plant produces blue-green leaves that measure from 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long and turn yellow, orange, purple and red in the fall. The flowers are small yellow-green with long pink filaments. Tiny brown berries appear when the flowers are done. The tree is adaptable to most kinds of soil that is kept dry. It does not do good in rich fertilized soils. Plant it in the sun to get the best color out of the leaves, but it will do well in very light shade if need be. Smoketree can only be grown in northern Florida. Plant it as a specimen tree or as a shrub border