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When most people think about growing a garden in Florida, they tend to envision palm trees and saw palmetto. Very rarely do non-native gardeners think about growing flowering plants; often because they wrongly assume that it is just too hot for flowers to grow. In actuality, there are hundreds of species that do remarkably well in Florida.
Even the name of our state translates directly to “full of flowers”! Early explorers told tales of the thousands of new native plants they found in this area, all of them bursting with color and scent.
Over the years, however, many people replaced these native plants with varieties they knew from their homes in colder parts of the country. Not only was it a struggle to grow these plants, many of them die out quickly.
Perennial flowers in Florida tend to follow a different pattern than perennials in the northern part of the country. Throughout most of the state, flowers bloom in the late winter and spring, close up for the summer, then bloom again in the fall.
There are some varieties that will continue to bloom throughout the summer, however, especially if they are planted in partial shade or container gardens that can be moved to protect them from he worst of the Florida heat.
Many people in the northern part of the state report that they can keep certain varieties of flowers blooming throughout the year as well.
Whether you’re new to Florida or you just want to add some color back into your garden with a low amount of effort, try to add some native or easily adaptable perennials to your indoor or outdoor space.
Consider varieties of perennial flowers for Florida garden as you get started, but don’t be afraid to try out different plants on your own.
The Easiest Flowers To grow in Florida
In general, the easiest flowers to grow in Florida are going to be ones that tolerate heat well and thrive in sandy soils. Many parts of our state receive a large amount of rainfall or have a high water table; so these perennials also tend to do well in very wet conditions. Some of my favorites to start with include.
This plant is one of my favorite flowers to grow. You’ll often find it growing wild along trails and in empty fields throughout the northern parts of the state. In fact, one of my favorite plants is from a patch of lavender I dug up that was growing wild in my backyard near a riverbank.
Lavender has a wonderful scent, and tends to thrive in sandy soil with a moderate amount of water. Keep soil moist year-round to get blooms. Most gardeners will get blooms throughout the spring, then the plant goes dormant for the hottest part of the summer.
A second bloom will usually happen again in the fall, and will sometimes continue through the winter in the warmer parts of the state.
This plant is not only beautiful to look at or add to a bouquet, it also has some limited medicinal purposes. Ass the dried-out blooms to a poultice and use it to relieve headaches and other types of muscle stress.
2. Ox-Eye Sunflowers
These are really easy to grow, but they are different from eh sunflowers that many people associate with the Mid-west.
This variety tends to grow as a two to six foot high shrub with tons of small to medium size yellow-orange flowers with brown centers. It’s a perfect plant to fill in space near pools since it rarely looses leaves or petals.
A wild version of this grows all throughout the northeast part of the state, but the blooms tend to be smaller than the cultivated versions. Buttercups will take over any area of your garden with plenty of sun and water, so be careful what you plant them next to.
If you want to limit their growth, scale back on their watering schedule.
By the way, you may have heard of the children’s game where you rub one of the flowers on your chin then lick it to taste butter. Go ahead and give it a try; it really does work!
Perennial Flowers That Grow Well in South Florida
4. Anise Hyssop
A native of the Mid-west prairie, this plant gets tall; reaching anywhere from two to five feet. The ends are usually a bright blue or purple cluster of small flowers.
While beautiful, the flowers only tend to bloom for about two months. In South Florida, this period tends to be in late spring or early summer. After this, the stalks will stay green and form a small oval-shaped end cap.
Be aware that this plant does not have a very long-life; it tends to survive for only a few years. The flowers are edible, and many people like to add them to salads for added nutrition.
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5. Buddha Belly
This plant has a unique appearance that can make it a fun addition to a South Florida garden. The flowers look like sprawling hands with spherical end caps; the” fingers” are usually red with green ends and stems that can hold a lot of water.
Because of this, the plant is extremely heat tolerant, and will usually bloom throughout the South Florida summer season.
Buddha Belly does best in full sun and thrives with lots of water. It will tolerate South Florida thunderstorms very well.
Flowers That Do Well in Florida Summers
This plant provides pink, purple and blue flowers on vines that are perfect to cover a house, fence, or trellis. This plant thrives in heat and humidity; it does the best in areas where it can receive a minimum of six hours of full sun everyday.
It will absorb just about any amount of water; it’s nearly impossible to drown it, making it ideal for our South Florida summers full of heat and thunderstorms. Many gardeners will use this plant in areas will water tends to pool in their gardens.
7. Black and Blue Salvia
This plant has beautiful hummingbird shaped flowers, giving it it’s other name, Humingbird Sage. Although it’s originally from South America, the plant has adapted remarkably well here. It typically starts blooming in early summer.
Be aware that there are actually hundreds of varieties of this plant, and each one has a slightly different blooming schedule. Some varieties will even stop blooming in the winter altogether.
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8. Mexican Heather
This plant, also known as false heather, will stay green year-round throughout Florida. It will bloom in the spring and summer, and in the northern part of the state it will usually have flowers year-round.
In the Southern parts of the state the blooms may fall off at the height of the summer heat, but the plant will stay green.
Mexican heather makes an excellent ground cover. The plant will spread quickly, and thrives in both full sun and partial shade. However, plant it in the shade if you want to keep it blooming. Many gardeners use this plant to attract bees and butterflies.
Yes, it’s not exactly a flower, but it’s hard not to mention this one if you’re looking for plants that will do well in Florida summers. This ground cover is a native to Florida and you’ll often find it growing wild everywhere from parks to parking lots.
Grow it by taking a cutting from a thriving plant and placing it directly into good potting soil.
Nearly everyone in Florida likes to keep one of these plants in a container or garden near their house for it’s medicinal purposes. Cutting the leaves open releases a gel that is great for sunburns when applied directly skin. Many people will also mix the gel into a drink to soothe an upset stomach.
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While it’s not native to Florida, this plant is certainly adapted well to Florida heat. Cactus will usually bloom in the late spring and throughout the summer, and there are hundreds of varieties to choose from.
The best way to pick which variety will work best for you is to look at the gardens in your area and ask about which varieties they are using.
The “trick” to growing cactus in Florida is to plant it in full sun and sandy soil. It is very easy to over-water cactus, and many people who plant it outside quickly discover that even just natural rainfall in our area is too much water for the plant to really thrive.
Consider planting it in a container that can be moved inside when it rains.
Most varieties need about a teaspoon of water once a month for every four inches of growth. If you do plant it in the ground, make sure that it receives as much sun as possible and is located in a very well-drained area.
Once your cactus takes off, it will spread naturally, or speed up the process by taking cuttings.