Florida’s reputation as the “Sunshine State” is a blessing for gardeners wanting year-round blooms and foliage in their gardens. Many plants thrive in Florida’s warm, tropical temperatures. Many varieties of the state’s flowering plants and evergreen shrubs and trees are also hardy and easy to maintain. Whether you desire a hardy palm tree or perennial flower garden, Florida has the plant to fill your needs.
From tall to short, fan-shaped or needle-leafed, gardeners have a wealth of choices of hardy palms. The cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto), also known as the sabal palm, is the state tree and inhabits the entire state. This hardy palm grows slowly, reaching a height of 25 to 60 feet with a spread of 10 to 15 feet. It has a high wind resistance, and many species of wildlife make the tree a home and feed off the berries. Florida thatch palm (Thrinax radiate) is hardy in the southern regions of the state, growing at a slow pace. The tree reaches heights of 15 to 20 feet with a spread of 6 to 10 feet. It has a high wind resistance and wildlife feed off the seeds. Buccaneer Palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii), also known as the Sargent’s palm, grows in the southern regions and is considered endangered. It produces red fruits the size of grapes and reaches a height of 10 to 40 feet with a spread of 10 to 20 feet.
Gardeners will not be at a loss for flowering annuals or perennials. Salvia (Salvia spp.), also known as sage, has many cultivars and grows throughout the entire state, producing flowers in reds, pinks, purples and blues. Salvia attracts hummingbirds and butterflies, growing up to 20 inches tall. Blanket Flower (Gaillardia pulchella) grows throughout the entire state, producing reddish-orange and yellow flowers. It attracts butterflies and reaches a height of 1 to 3 feet with a spread of 2 to 3 feet. Spotted Horsemint (Monarda punctata) grows in the central-south regions, reaching a height of 1 to 3 feet with a spread of 2 to 4 feet. Its pink flowers on long spikes attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Nothing echoes the south like the Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora). It grows throughout the entire state, reaching heights of 40 to 80 feet with a width of 40 to 50 feet. White or cream-colored fragrant flowers are produced in summer, and wildlife eat the red seeds. Longleaf Pine (Pinus palustris) grows statewide, reaching heights of 60 to 80 feet and widths of 30 to 40 feet. Considered a fire hazard in forested areas, its low to medium wind tolerance means gardeners should plant it at a minimum of 30 feet away from any structures. Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) thrives statewide, growing to a height of 40 to 80 feet with a width of 60 to 120 feet. It is a long-lived tree, sometimes living hundreds of years. The tree has a high resistance to wind, and wildlife eat the tree’s acorns. Use in large yards.