If you’ve lived in Florida, specifically on the Gulf Coast of Florida, for any amount of time, you might be under the impression that you’re limited to local, if not boring, floral and fauna. The numerous reasons are running through your head: it’s too hot, it’s too humid, it’s too salty, it’s too this, it’s too that.
We hear you, trust us. Florida can be particularly fickle when it comes to planting and maintaining certain trees, flowers, bushes, shrubs, and more. But as landscape professionals who have been in the land crafting game for over two decades, we’re here to tell you that there’s far more to Florida landscape than you think.
If you’re looking to spruce up your property with Florida-friendly trees and shrubs, there are actually a large group to pick from. Sure, you’ll have to consider the type of soil you’re dealing with, the moisture in the air in the area you live in, the heat, and more, but as a general rule, these 8 trees and shrubs you see before you are ideal for most Florida properties (specifically for our Pinellas County area).
Check out our list below, pick your favorites (if you can), and you’ll be one step closer to spicing up your property with these Florida tried-and-tested trees.
Marlberry (Ardisia escallonioides)
If you’re seeking out an accent shrub to bring light, life, and color to your landscape, Marlberry is one of the best Florida-approved choices out there. A large, upright, shrub with a narrow crown, Marlberry can offer you thin, pale bark with dark green, flourishing leaves, as well as bright flowers and lush fruit. These shrubs can grow into tall trees, ranging in height from about 8-15 feet. A tough shrub, these plants do best with moist, well-drained soil or in limestone soils (great news for us Floridians), as well as a higher than average salt-wind tolerance. The best part? This tree will stay in bloom all year round with its peak flowers in the Fall.
Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora and cvs.)
Florida is the South, after all, and what’s more fitting for a southern property than a Southern Magnolia Tree. Often called the Bull Bay, this tree is native to the southeastern US and grows from coastal North Carolina to East Texas all the way down to our neck of the woods. Southern Magnolias offer up big, white blooms and glossy, green leaves in the spring and fall, although, they’re technically evergreen trees, so you can anticipate seeing them all winter long. Considered both an ornamental tree and a flowering tree, it can grow up to 80 feet tall and spread about 40 feet. Here’s a pro tip: if you’re hoping for a fully-thriving Magnolia, plant your tree directly in the sun.
Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera)
If you’ve ever been to the coastal parts of Florida, you’ve likely seen a Seagrape plant. With big, round leaves, and upright branches, it’s a staple shrub in South Florida landscape. These plants don’t just look beautiful and tropical, they can grow wide and tall to help with wind – a functional plant if you’re living on the gusty coast. Because they’re especially salt-tolerant and native to Florida, they’re great picks for folks who live on or near the beach. Just remember, these plants tend to grow large, and they tend to do it quickly. Ensure you have the room for these shrubs before you include them in your landscape.
Rusty Blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum)
With dark bark, thick trunks, and flowering, white blooms decorating this tree, the Rusty Blackhaw is one of the most beautiful and versatile Florida-approved trees that have potential on your property. Blackhaws are known for putting on a beautiful display with their long, leathery, dark green leaves in the winter, dark blue fruits in the summer, and scarlet and red foliage in the fall, making it a year-round, jaw-dropping addition to your landscape. These trees can grow anywhere from 20-25 feet tall and are durable, making them a must-have tree in your Florida foliage plan. So long as you’re prepared with fertile, well-drained soil and partial sunlight, this tree could be a possibility in your landscape plan.
Pindo Palm (Butia Capitata)
If you’ve spent any time in Florida, the odds are you’ve seen a Pindo Palm before. These large, stout Palm trees, also known as jelly palms, grow slowly but consistently, often reaching heights of up to 20 feet, with trunk diameters anywhere from 1-2 feet thick. Pindo Palms are great for Florida because they’re exceptionally rugged. They require little care, typically don’t have insect or disease issues, and can survive in harsh summers and the occasional cold snap. A Brazil native, this tree is equipped to deal with the hot, summer winds full of salt and sun.
American Elm (Ulmus Americana)
A versatile, well-loved, and incredibly popular tree to plant in the booming cities of the 19th century, it’s hard to wander any southern state without catching a glimpse of this species of tree. Primarily used to line roads and provide shade in hot climates, the American Elm tree is known for creating a cathedral-like ceiling in the sky with their long, strong branches. They have a graceful shape, spreading fountain branches, and vibrant green leaves that turn gold in the Fall – that’s right, even in Florida’s mini-Fall you can expect a splash of golden color.
Southern Red Cedar (Coccoloba uvifera)
Often called Pencil Cedar, this year-round green tree is a Florida native like no other. Used for windbreaks and screens due to its dens foliage, lots of Floridians, coastal or not, will implement these trees into their landscape to get a break from the ocean breeze. This tree is a bit of everything – not only does it have an incredibly high salt tolerance which makes it great for coastal areas, it has a northern look that popularly makes it appear like a Christmas tree. They can be grown in most areas in Florida so long as you have the space for them to grow. Plant them in full sun for the best results.
Pond Cypress (Taxodium ascendens)
The most popular Florida Cypress tree, the Pond cypress can be found growing in swampy, watery areas all throughout Florida (despite the fact that they grow best in drier landscapes). Though small compared to the other Florida cypress plants (bald cypress) pond cypress can still reach to about 80 feet tall. The greatest part? They’re practically maintenance free, making them a smart, as well as beautiful, addition to your Florida landscape.
Are you ready to transform your outdoor space with these hardy, lovely, environmentally friendly trees? Our experts can help you through the process by inspecting and evaluating your property to offer recommendations tailored to your property and budget and installing only the highest-quality plants and trees by trained professionals. Contact us today at: 727-446-2598
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