The soil in South Florida tends to be sandy, oft-alkaline, or limestone based and void of nutrients. This makes it difficult for the soil to do anything but hold up plants. But there are native plants that live here that do well in this soil, like the bald cypress and the chickasaw plum.
When looking to create a professional landscape design, it’s key to find plants that can thrive in South Florida soil that are also low maintenance, and in they need a lot of extra work to keep them healthy and looking nice. No regular watering required, except when first planted, and little or no pruning or fertilizing needed.
To help get you started, we’ve put together a South Florida plant guide of the best low maintenance plants for your landscape.
Check it out before you step into creating a beautiful landscape for your home.
Trees: Shade Trees and Flowering Trees
Native to South Florida, the acacia tree provides a few nice options. They love full sun and tolerate salt in the soil well.
The blue acacia grows to about 35 feet and is considered medium-sized. It boasts aromatic yellow pom-pom flowers, nicely offset by silver-blue leaves and red-tinged bark.
The spineless acacia cinnecord reaches about 30 feet with its dense foliage. The bipinnate leaves have a rounded crown and show off the minute golden-yellow pom poms as they fan out in rounded pinnacles.
The sweet acacia, the smallest of the acacias, only gets to be about 15 feet tall. The yellow pom-pom blooms smell sweet, hence the name. This one requires adequate water drainage. Your landscape design professional can easily set this up for you upon planting and set up your low-maintenance schedule so it won’t require you to think about it.
The baobab looks like a bottle with its giant trunk. This African tree is not native but does well in high sun and reaches 70 feet. Thanks to the trunk, it stores water well when it’s dry. Ideal for a larger space, with its night-blooming white flowers that hang down on vines. The flowers are pollinated by bats and can make football-looking pods with a velvety hull.
The marlberry tree works great as a barrier lining as it only grows to about five to 20 feet. It likes a bit of shade and boasts pretty berries.
The evergreen strongbark tree grows very quickly and produces gorgeous tiny white flowers and orange berries that the birds just love. This one is also a native.
Perennials — and a Few Annuals Too
These herbaceous plants (perennials) work wonderfully as ground cover, often with nice blooms, and they last multiple years, three or more, which is why they are called perennial as opposed to annuals which tend to last one season before dropping seeds and saying good-bye.
The right annuals meet most of your low-maintenance needs but require yearly planting. Your landscape designer can advise and work this into your maintenance schedule. A few annuals to consider are native Tampa verbenablack-eyed Susan and non-native, small-flowered butter daisy that makes a great border flower.
Back to the perennials which are more low maintenance. The native scarlet milkweed looks gorgeous at about three to four feet with its tiny orange and scarlet blooms that come out in spring and stay through autumn. They grow upward with their thin leaves and Monarchs and other butterflies flock to them which adds a nice flair to any garden that’s quite popular.
Rain lilies offer a nice pop of petite flowers that appear after the rains and stay through summer. Easy to grow, these natives complement established plants as they grow around them and fill open spots with pink, red, white, or yellow flowers that bloom best when crowded in.
Indian blanket grows easily, loves sand, and colors your property with stunning deep-red and orange-tip flowers reminiscent of a sunset. Especially nice for beachfront homes.
Fruit Trees and Palms
When you think Florida, you think fruit trees and palms, and there’s a reason: They grow well here and with low upkeep. Sometimes during fruit season, a bit of plant-feeding can help grow that deliciousness.
The red mulberry is one of the few natives among recommended fruit trees. The small red berries have no taste but the birds love them. Enjoy bright green leaves with white, green, and brown blooms March through June.
Another native, the American persimmon gifts you with a wonderful, deliciously sweet fruit among its beautiful two-toned leaves of darker green on top and lighter green on bottom. Only the female trees produce the two-inch, bright-orange fruit. Ask your landscaper to recommend a good cultivar.
If you like to be practical and also like key lime pie or a fresh lime in your margarita or beer, the Spanish lime tree could be the one for you. Actually, you’ll need two–a male and a female–if you want fruit. This looker of a tree does great when there’s not a lot of rain, once it’s gotten well moved into your garden.
The Alexander palm, another landscaping beaut, boasts a single svelte trunk that gives it an elegant appeal. Plant several together to make a statement in a smaller area since the palm head is narrow.
The coconut palm tree loves the tropical climate and comes in a few nice varieties, including the Fiji dwarf and the Maypan which don’t turn yellow. Be sure to get the high-quality seed types as recommended by your landscaper.
Take Advantage of Your South Florida Plant Guide Today
With these wonderful options of low-maintenance Florida landscape plants, you’re ready to consult with your friendly local landscape designer to see how this beautiful flora complements your home aesthetically.
Did you find any favorites?
There are more options that fall in these South Florida plant guide categories. We’d love to sit down with you, create a design. and show you how low-maintenance plants will look with your home.
Contact us today to get started with a consultation to discuss your options!