The climate in Florida, even in the coldest USDA zone in the state (zone 8), is sub-tropical to tropical, and the native plants in Florida have tropical and sub-tropical characteristics. Gardeners in Florida must be careful about planting too close to the ocean as many plants are not salt-tolerant. Do not remove plants growing in the wild and transplant them to your garden; instead, buy them if they are commercially available.
Scarlet buckeye (Aesculus pavia) is a member of the horse chestnut family and is native to Northern Florida (USDA hardiness zone 8). The plant is a large deciduous shrub or small tree that grows from 12 to 36 feet tall. The dark-green leaves are elliptical and grow horizontally from the tip of the branches, resembling a large, green daisy. The leaves turn yellow before dropping off in late summer. The flowers are less than 2 inches long, bloom in early spring and form in red and yellow clusters that grow from 6 to 10 inches long. The flowers give way to 1- to 2-inch long brown fruit. Plant scarlet buckeye in partial shade and a moist, but not wet, soil. Hummingbirds and bees will come for the nectar and squirrels will make a meal out of the nuts.
Indigo bush (Amorpha fruticosa) is a member of the pea family and is native to all of Florida. The plant is a short deciduous shrub that grows from 6 to 10 feet tall. Most of the leaves grow on the top 1/3 of the plant. The plant produces small purple-yellow or dark blue-yellow flowers that bloom from April to June and grow in 3- to 6-inch long clusters at the ends of the stems. Plant indigo bush in full sun or partial shade and in a moist soil. The nectar attracts bees and butterflies.
Crossvine (Bignonia capreolata) is a member of the trumpet-creeper family and is native to Northern and Central Florida. The plant is a vine that grows as long as 50 feet with semi-evergreen, dark-green leaves that grow from 4 to 6 inches long and 2 inches wide and turn purple-red in the winter. The yellow-red or all red flowers are trumpet-shaped, 2 inches long, 1-1/2 inches wide and grow in hanging clusters from March through May. Plant crossvine in full sun or partial shade and in a soil that is moist to dry and well-drained. The vine has the ability to climb up brick or stone walls without any support. Hummingbirds and butterflies like the nectar, and deer will browse the leaves in the winter.
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