While one might think Florida would be bursting with flowers that bloom year-round, the reality is that Florida plants face challenges. Soils can vary between very dry to absolutely swamped, and the sun can be very harsh. If the location is near the ocean shores, plants need to be able to resist salt. And, of course, insects love the Florida climate and need to eat, too.
With that in mind, we gathered our favorite flower choices to keep your Florida garden bright and showy and shared some of the more interesting facts we found about these plants.
Beach Sunflower – This drought-resistant hardy flower is especially fun to grow. You will notice that its head literally follows the sun, facing east in the morning and moving west toward sunset. Also called the dune sunflower, this plant doesn’t withstand freezing well, so may is best suited for south Florida. Some varieties like to grow tall, at one to two feet, while others prefer to spread out three to four feet. Tolerates both salt and wind well and attracts pollinators.
Blanket Flower – Long thought to be native to Florida, a 2020 study showed this plant’s origins to be Texas. But it’s very happy in Florida anyway, with year-round blooms in full sun in both south and central Florida. The plant can grow to 18 inches tall and reseeds itself well. It is especially tolerant of areas where other flowers give up, like around parking lots, says the University of Florida Gardening Solutions. It’s an excellent flower for pollinators.
Bougainvillea – This plant will bloom year-round and celebrates Florida’s winter season with lots of flowers. It’s considered salt-resistant, but it may stop blooming under extremely wet conditions, preferring well-drained soil. It doesn’t die in wet weather; it just waits to return when the weather clears. Bougainvillea does require proper pruning to ensure it continues to flower, and it’s apparently picky. You may want to learn how or hire a professional to help.
Fikespike – Perhaps not the most glamorous of plants, the Fikespike is an easy one to grow. It will tolerate all sorts of soils and conditions, as well as shade or sun. This plant can grow to over 4 feet in height and produces clusters a few inches long containing several small blooms. It can get big enough to require pruning. While a hard frost will make the plant appear doomed, mark the spot. It will come back when conditions warm back up.
Gerbera Daisies – The inclusion of this beautiful flower may shock some Northerners because in most areas of the United States, it’s an expensive annual. However, the 12-inch-high plant does very well in central and southern Florida. It gives big bright blooms year-round and does well as a cut flower for indoor vases. The plant produces beautiful green leaves and generally grows with a mound-like appearance.
Hibiscus – While individual blooms don’t last long, the flower keeps producing them and, in Southern Florida, this results in year-round color. Well-drained soil and full sun are largely considered ideal, although some experts claim the Hibiscus likes a little relaxing shade each day. Extreme heat can be difficult on it, though, so watering a couple of times a day during those times is wise. There are many varieties of Hibiscus, be sure you choose one of the ones marked as a “hardy Hibiscus.”
Ixora – The Ixora is a classic Florida shrub that produces large clusters of blooms that last for around six weeks. The height of its blooming will be in the warmer months, but it keeps going in the winter, too. Unpruned, this plant can reach heights of 10 feet or more. It’s generally quite salt tolerant. It grows best in sunlight but is forgiving if it needs to endure some shade. This plant is found on almost every list of the best-blooming plants for Florida.
Plumbago – According to the University of Florida, this is a low-invasion-risk plant in Florida, meaning it’s not going to take over your entire garden. The easy-care shrub grows in a sprawling mound of up to eight feet wide and tall. It can be hurt by freezes but generally grows back. It produces rounded foliage with blue or white flowers. It attracts butterflies and is very fragrant. It does well as ground cover, but in the hottest temperatures, it appreciates a little shade, so keep that in mind when choosing its location.
Salvia – A member of the sage family, this pretty plant’s tubular blooms do well as cut flowers. Some Salvia varieties can reach four feet. It blooms best in sun, and it does not do well if it freezes. A wide variety of colors are available. There are over 900 species of Salvia plants with variations in color, size, and growing requirements. Salvia generally spreads on its own, so you may find “baby” Salvia plants growing in your garden.
SunPatiens – This hybrid impatiens plant was developed to take the heat and sun of Florida. The name and variety are copyrighted by its Japanese developer, Sakata. Impatiens are arguably one of the prettiest flowering plants, but they’re notorious for being picky about their locations and sunlight. Not the SunPatients, which should give residents in in south and central Florida year-round blooms. Incredibly, one source said it can grow as tall and wide as a yardstick.
Posted on February 8, 2023
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