8 Native Flowers that Grow in Florida

Native flowers make a great addition to any Florida garden. Which ones should you consider growing?

Invite native plants and native wildlife into your garden to represent your state! 

Florida has a broad assortment of blooming plants compared to its neighbors due to its size, location along the gulf coast, and tropical weather. Native plant landscaping promotes your local environment while decreasing the likelihood of invasive non-native species.

Here are a few native flowers that will keep your Florida landscape beautiful!

1. Milkweed (Asclepias)

Asclepias is a family of over 100 species, some of which are evergreen perennials. Milkweed has small, irregularly shaped flowers that attract butterflies. They can be found primarily in the United States and Canada. They’re popular in butterfly gardens, cottage gardens, prairies, and meadows. They’re also attractive and simple to cultivate in many perennial gardens.

Asclepias thrive in typical garden soil and require plenty of sunlight (at least six hours a day). Milkweeds are fond of self-seeding, so maintain them in a sheltered location to avoid wind spread. These flowers require little care and are essentially free.

Beautiful pink flowers pollinated by a  butterfly

2. Passion Flower (Passiflora incarnata)

This easy-to-grow perennial blooming vine is native to Florida and comes in various colors. They may be found in dry, open knolls and disturbed areas throughout the state.

The three to five-inch blooms have a curling fringe over five petals and appear in lavender or purple colors. With a little yellow bean-like pollen sac floating aloft, the center of the flower resembles a helipad. During the summer and early autumn, each blossom lasts approximately a day. The oval, green fruit is edible but unappealing.

Grow passion flowers in a sunny location on a fence, trellis, or arbor. It tends to expand beyond its initial planting location, allowing it plenty of room to spread out. Passion flowers can withstand extreme aridity. It’s also a must-have for butterfly gardens since it’s the host plant for the Gulf Fritillary butterfly.

blooming purple flower passiflora incarnata

3. Powderpuff Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa)

Powderpuff mimosa, also known as sunshine mimosa, is a native Florida groundcover that has grown in popularity in residential and commercial settings. Powderpuff mimosa can grow in either full sun or light shade, and cuttings can be used to start new plants. 

Gardeners are drawn to the plant because of its attractive foliage and one-inch-wide puffy flowers. When the powderpuff mimosa is stroked, the leaves, which resemble ferns and are bright green, fold up. The foliage may appear delicate, but it is pretty resilient and can withstand some foot traffic without being damaged.

It attracts butterflies and serves as a host plant for several species of butterfly larvae. From April to October, this adaptable plant is covered in blooms of pink flowers in the form of ball-shaped clumps that resemble small powder puffs. Powderpuff mimosa is drought-resistant once established, thanks to its rather deep root system, which may aid in erosion reduction.

blooming pink powderpuff in the garden

4. Coral Bean (Eryhtrina herbacea)

Coral bean thrives as a massive perennial in North and Central Florida. It reaches 6 feet before frost kills it back to the ground in the winter. It grows as a large deciduous shrub or small tree in South Florida. Because it is Florida-friendly, this plant is ideal for the rear of a mixed border. While coral bean is a lovely plant in bloom, it may appear sparse and ragged the rest of the year. In the spring, hummingbirds and butterflies swarm to the red tubular blooms on long stalks. 

Coral bean seed pods appear in autumn, just as the rest of the summer garden begins to fade. Similar in appearance to English pea pods, the pods of the coral bean eventually turn dark, nearly black, and crack open to reveal gleaming crimson red seeds within. They’re lovely but extremely dangerous, so keep them away from kids and dogs.

It grows in many soil types but prefers rich, well-drained, sandy soil. It blooms best in full sun or light shade. Give it plenty of water when you plant it, but you can water it less frequently once it’s established. Because it is salt-tolerant, it is an excellent choice for coastal areas.

coral bean flowers full bloom in the garden

5. Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Carolina jessamine is a twining, evergreen vine that can climb trees, crawl over fences and buildings, and form a tangled mass if left to its own devices. It is indigenous to Virginia, Florida, Arkansas, East Texas, and as far south as Guatemala. The glossy, dark-green leaves turn a subtle yellow or purple in the winter.

It’s hardy and adaptable, with no significant disease or pest problems. These characteristics and its glossy, evergreen leaves and waxy, trumpet-shaped blooms have made it a suburban staple in the Southeast. This plant’s toxic flowers, leaves, and roots have the potential to kill humans and cattle.

Carolina jessamine is resistant to wind, drought, salt, and damp soil. Carolina jessamine can be grown in USDA Zones 7 to 10 on wet, organically rich, well-drained soils with an acid to slightly alkaline pH. It can tolerate shade, but full sun is best for blooming and growth.

It’s also worth noting that it shouldn’t be grown near buildings or other flammable structures because this plant is highly flammable.

6. Blazing Star (Liatris spicata)

Blazing star, also known as Liatris spicata, is a hardy wildflower native to Florida.
It appeals to novice and experienced gardeners because it’s easy to grow and disperse, and it’s a low-maintenance beauty that shines in the heat when other plants wilt.

This clump-forming perennial blooms from midsummer to fall and is a member of the Asteraceae, or aster family, with approximately 40 species in the Liatris genus.

It’s a florist favorite because it keeps well as a cut flower and looks good in containers, cutting gardens, flower beds, and naturalized or informal plantings. Native Americans used the roots of Liatris spicata to treat various ailments, including stomach aches, colic, snake bites, and edema.

liatris spicata flowers blooming in the garden

7. Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)

Gaillardia, also known as blanket flower, is a short-lived perennial with daisy-like flowers that is easy to grow. They’re named after the native Indian blankets that share a color pattern with them.

The plant forms a slow-growing mound, and the common name may refer to how quickly it spreads and covers an area. The plants grow to about 24 inches tall and spread to about 20 inches. This garden classic yields huge beautiful flowers in red and yellow throughout the warm season.

They are usually only present for a short time. Cutting clumps to 6 inches in late summer increases their odds of living in the winter. To keep your plants healthy, divide them every 2 to 3 years in the spring or early autumn.

They thrive in full sunlight and medium, well-drained soil. Despite their drought tolerance, Gaillardia prefer wet soil and require adequate drainage. They’re a wonderful addition to any garden. Tall varieties make excellent cut flowers and are ideal for perennial borders, pots, cottage gardens, butterfly gardens, or cutting gardens.

8. Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Black-Eyed Susan, also known as Rudbeckia Hirta, is a brightly colored grassland plant native to Florida. It’s distinguished by its bright golden, orange, or bicolor blooms with up to 20 rays and dark chocolate-colored dome-shaped cones.

This plant grows in erect clusters that can grow 1 to 3 feet tall. They are heat-tolerant sun worshipers who will forgive neglect. They thrive in full sun and, on average, wet, well-drained soil. They bloom profusely from early summer to frost. They provide weeks of eye-catching color, making them an excellent choice for mixed borders, cutting gardens, grasslands, and meadows, and as accent plants in mass plantings.

They are low-maintenance, attract pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds, and are deer-resistant.

Yellow black eyed susan flower
Alaine Connolly
Alaine has been working way too hard in horticulture since 1992, beautifying golf courses, resorts, and hotels. She is a part time landscape designer who works full time caring for a 28,000 square foot public garden. At home, she maintains her own 400 square feet plot. Alaine lives in northern Illinois - zone 5b.
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