10 Shrubs to Consider Growing in Florida

Shrubs are crucial to the development of any proper landscape. Which ones should you grow in Florida?

In Florida, the summers are long, warm, and particularly humid. But even with its subtropical climate there is a broad variety of shrubs that can be planted all year round.

The following is a list of shrubs that can be used to construct Florida-friendly landscaping.

Why Plant Shrubs?

Because of Florida’s warmer weather, you can plant pretty much all season. Only a few plants, though, will be able to grow in the states’ perpetually hot and humid climate.

Shrubs are essential to the ecosystem of any garden. They are tiny woody plants with numerous stems at or near ground level, smaller than a tree. Shrubs are typically less than 12 feet (4 meters) tall, with stems less than 3 inches (8 cm) in diameter.

Shrubs are obviously immensely multifunctional, but they also give a significant benefit you may not have thought of. To name a few:

  • Energy Saving: Planting shrubs in the proper setting can help you save money on your energy bills both in summer and winter.

Plant them in front of your east and west-facing windows to give shade and minimize your dependence on air conditioning units. Deciduous plants drop their leaves in the winter, and your home benefits from indirect solar heat gain.

  • Provides Seasonal Winsomeness: Even at the height of summer, there’s no excuse  why your garden can’t be as brilliant, vivid, and rich as your springtime landscape. In fact, by planting heat-loving shrubs as the temperature rises, you can keep your garden flowering all season.
  • Some shrubs change color in fall, while others have masses of beautiful blooms in the spring and summer and brilliant berries in the autumn.Even deciduous shrubs add interest to the garden throughout the winter, typically with their odd shapes or colorful, contoured bark.
  • Food Source: Shrubs supply food, pollen, and nectar to insects such as butterflies and bees. Some have an abundance of luscious berries that provide food for songbirds throughout the winter months when food is scarce.
  • Provide Natural Habitats: Shrubs also serve as shelter. They’re fantastic for laying eggs, cooling down, burrowing into the ground, and/or evading less agile predators.
  •  Reliability: If planted in the correct temperature and soil conditions, shrubs are reliable and simple to grow. Most live to adorn the garden for several years.
  • Privacy and borders: Woody plants, such as shrubs, are frequently used as a background for perennial plants. They are utilized to bulk up and fill up the flower bed or border.

They are ideal for hedges or as stand-out highlights in the landscapes.

  • Elevate Property Value: Landscaped properties are more valuable than unadorned properties. Households with established landscapes appreciate their homes 5 to 20% more than those without.

It should be noted, however, that not all shrubs thrive in hot conditions. Temperature, rainfall, and other environmental factors can all have an impact on shrub establishment.

Planting in hot, sunny, dry circumstances, which are prevalent in Florida during the spring and fall, may lower shrub vigor and hinder establishment unless frequent irrigation is provided.

The shrubs below can thrive in Florida weather. 

blooming pinkish red flowers under the sun

1. Shooting Star

Shooting Star or Starburst Clerodendrum (Clerodendrum quadriloculare) is a plant native to New Guinea and the Philippines that belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae).

This plant has breathtaking star-shaped blooms that show up in late winter or early spring in Florida. The shrub thrives in Central and South Florida, requiring full to partial sunlight and moist but well-drained soil.

What makes this outstanding specimen unusual is that you may have it both ways: as a densely packed, captivating shrub or as an enchanting tree. A maximum height of 15 feet is possible.

It derives its name from its flowers, which resemble small white stars with a pretty pink tail dangling after them.

The foliage is equally attention-drawing, with green tops tinged with purple and a lustrous purple side. The leaves may lose some of their luster during the winter, but a magnificent flowering is right around the corner.

It makes an excellent accent plant, backdrop plant, hybrid garden, hedgerow, or large screening shrub.

full bloom bush of starburst flowers

2. Golden Shrimp Plant

Pachystachys lutea, also known as the golden candle or lollypop plant, is a delicate-stemmed, large-leaved plant in the acanthus family (Acanthaceae). It is only found in the lowlands of Central and South America, from El Salvador to Peru. 

The golden shrimp plant is a tropical and subtropical perennial shrub that is frequently used in landscaping.

If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind Florida evergreen, the Golden Shrimp Plant is a perfect choice because it has flowers with such beautiful golden hue that flourish in a distinctive shape and pattern.

The overlapping, vivid yellow bracts of the 4-sided, 3-5′′ long cone-shaped inflorescences give this plant its common name since they resemble the shrimp we eat. The stunning bloom is composed of a dense raceme of brilliant yellow bracts from which pure white flowers emerge over a period of weeks.

The Florida-friendly plant can be grown all around the state in moderate conditions and blooms all year. Frost kills it, but it usually returns in the spring.

Deadheading promotes bushy growth and the production of additional blooms. Pinching the growth tips promotes branching, resulting in a fuller plant.

It can be used as an accent plant in a patio mixed arrangement or as a single potted plant in conjunction with other pots.

Typically used as a background plant in a mixed perennial planting or in massed groupings in beds. It is used as a hedge and foundation planting in tropical and subtropical regions.

Beautiful bush of yellow lollypops flowers

3. Pentas

Pentas lanceolata, referred to simply as Pentas. Because of its unusual star-shaped flowers, it is also dubbed the “Egyptian Star Flower.”

Pentas plants are members of the Rubiaceae family, which also comprises gardenias and coffee plants.

This shrub comes in various sizes, ranging from dwarf (growing 12 to 14 inches tall) to full size (growing 3-4 feet tall).

One of the most appealing qualities of pentas is their white, red, and pink blossoms. This flowering happens when the weather is warm.

Pentas is a perennial that grows in the northern, central, and southern parts of Florida.

Pentas are also fantastic for your home since they invite butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Zebra longwing butterflies (Florida’s official state butterfly) are frequently seen as lingering visitors.

Plant pentas with lantanas, butterfly bush, marigolds, and salvias to create a beautiful butterfly garden. These shrub are not harmful to humans or pets, and they are not an encroaching species.

They work well in mixed landscaping, hedges, mass plantings, and planters. Falling Star, a new cultivar, keeps its foliage low and is ideal for ground covers, window boxes, and hanging baskets.

bush of Little pink pentas flowers

4. Yaupon Holly

The yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), like many other hollies, is an evergreen shrub or tree that is renowned for the vivid red berries borne by the female plants. 

Yaupon is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are birthed on different host plants; male plants do not yield berries.

The captivating twigs’ exquisite evergreen foliage and plenteous red berries have been adopted as Christmas decorations, adding a nice touch to the ambient winter air. Birds and other creatures actually eat the berries, which could be red, yellow, or even orange, during the winter.

The leaves are deep green and tiny, reaching approximately 1 1/2 inches in length on average. The light gray bark has white dots.

 In North and Central Florida, yaupon is a durable and low-maintenance shrub that grows 15 to 20 feet tall with a comparable spread but seldom surpasses 25 feet.

These evergreen beauties are known for the vase form that they take on, which takes approximately ten years to fully develop. You can groom it into a miniature tree with the lower branches sliced, displaying the attractively shaped multiple trunks.

This versatile plant can be used as hedging, screening, cordon, or even a bonsai. Yaupon holly is excellent for topiary due to its rapid growth and thin leaves.

red holly berries bearing tree

5. Mexican Heather

Mexican Heather is a tiny shrub native to Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras, among other countries. It is salt tolerant and has been naturalized in Hawaii.

Although it looks like ordinary heather, it is not a member of the heather family, earning it the moniker “false heather.”

From summer through winter, tiny trumpet-shaped blooms with six spreading petals, often lilac in color, and green calyx tubes appear on a multi-stem shrub that matures to be 2 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Flowers attract hummingbirds and pollinators like butterflies such as the common sootywing and Southern Plains Bumble Bees.

The leaves are orbicular, glossy, and emerald in color, measuring about a quarter-inch long.

When planted in the landscape, Mexican heather can grow to be 2 feet wide and 2 feet tall.

Mexican heather will normally take up all of the space you give it in smaller areas, such as container gardening or a window box. As a result, Mexican heather works well as a pot filler.

Because it reblooms continuously throughout the summer and autumn seasons, it is an excellent choice for a border plant, along sidewalks, or in tight, narrow places. 

This small shrub can also be used to fill a hanging basket. Arrange it in pots around a patio, pool, or other surface water.

mexican heather plant with pink flowers

6. Persian Shield

Strobilanthes dyerianus, or Persian shield, is a magnificent ornamental plant native to tropical, humid Myanmar, where it keeps growing as a gentle evergreen perennial.

Persian shield thrives in humid areas, making it ideal for Florida summer gardens. It will thrive if planted in fertile, well-drained soil that is regularly watered. 

This soft-stemmed herbaceous shrub may grow up to 5 feet tall and 3 feet broad, although it is considerably smaller when cultivated in pots or in milder climates. It’s preferable to plant it in partial to full shade in Florida. 

Persian shield is a large, evergreen perennial with vibrantly colored foliage. It has quilted-looking orbicular leaves with somewhat serrated margins and prominent veins.

The iridescent leaves are a deep purple, lilac, and green with silvery overtones, giving the top surface a unique metallic and glossy appearance. The hue of the bottom leaf surface is purple-maroon.

Each leaf can grow to be 4 to 7 inches long and 3 inches wide. The veins of the leaves contain vibrant green stripes that add to the overall beauty of the plant.

For moderate climates, mature plants produce short pyramidal spikes of mini blossoms seated above the foliage in the autumn and winter. The five-lobed flowers range in hue from light blue to violet and have two, three, or four stamens.

These shrubs provide an incredible foliar contrast in much bigger gardens. It is a plant that can be widely planted or can be grown in pots or similar containers.

It can be used as a temporary specimen planting in the landscape or around ponds, or it can be utilized in large mixed container plantings assuming its growth is restricted. 

Persian shields look amazing with caladiums, elephant ears, and/or cannas for a dramatic, tropical look. For a monochromatic aesthetic, pair the purple leaves with pink, lavender, or purple flowers, such as purple-flowered lantana or Verbena bonariensis, or with yellow or orange blooms, such as Tithonia or marigolds, for a striking contrast.

indigo leaves of a persian shield plant

7. Plumbago

Plumbago is an easy-to-care-for shrub that brings interest to many Florida landscapes.

Although the genus Plumbago contains a dozen or more species, two are most frequently found in Florida: Plumbago auriculata and Plumbago zeylanica (also called P. scandens).

Plumbago creates spreading, mounded formations in both of the above-mentioned species. Pruning will keep them compressed, but they will look even better when planted with plenty of room to flourish. 

In most landscaping settings, foundation and mass plants are the favored installation approach.

The plumbago’s phlox-like blue or white blossoms generate a pleasant aroma that attracts butterflies.

Gardeners in Central and South Florida will be able to enjoy flowering all year until the arrival of winter. Floridians in the north, on the other hand, can enjoy blooms from spring through fall.

Plumbago auriculata

This South African native, sometimes known as the Cape plumbago or sky flower, is a shrub that can reach 6 to 10 feet tall and 8 to 10 feet wide in its natural habitat.

Plumbago plants are spreading shrubs with vine-like branches. It is admired for the quantity of blue phlox-like flowers it produces over time.

Plumbago zeylanica

The native white plumbago, often known as doctorbush, is a 5 to 6 feet tall perennial under shrub with sprawling branches. Its active growth occurs during the wet season and ceases after flowering.

The leaf is simple and opposite, measuring 1.5 to 4 inches long, 1 to 2 inches wide, elliptical, pointy, smooth, and shining. When new, roots are pale in color on the inside and reddish-brown when dry.

Small white flower plumbago plants

8. Ixora

Ixora, also known as Ixora coccinea, is a Southeast Asian native that has gained considerable attention in South and Central Florida. It belongs to the Rubiaceae family, which also include coffee, firecracker vine, gardenia, and pentas.

One of the biggest selling points of this shrub is that it flowers all year. Each bloom cluster can last anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks, providing your garden with long-lasting and strikingly beautiful color.   

Brilliant red, tangerine, yellow, pink, and white are just a handful of the colors available in the Ixora variety.

It has a bushy, spherical shape with 4-inch long, glossy, dark evergreen leaves and 4 petaled red blooms in 5-inch broad cymes throughout the summertime. The spherical fruits range in color from deep violet to black.

Certain ixora types reach a height of 10-15 feet and a width of 4-10 feet when left unpruned, although shorter varieties reach 4-6 feet and miniature cultivars are also available.

It can be grown in pots and brought indoors for the winter. Because they are small, highly branching shrubs, they can be utilized as hedges, borders, curtains, or featured specimens, depending on the variety.

9. Banana Shrub

The banana bush (Michelia figo or Magnolia figo) is a broad-leaved evergreen shrub that is not related to the Musaceae family of banana trees. It features cream-colored blossoms with a banana smell.

The banana bush originated in China, but it has been tailored to a range of Florida landscape settings.Magnolia figo is also recognized as port wine magnolia,  Chinese tulip tree, banana magnolia, and brown-stalked magnolia, among several other names.

In the spring, it bears cream-colored, one-inch blooms that resemble miniature magnolia blossoms with a scarlet edge. There will be erratic flowering all summer.

This evergreen shrub has elongated, lustrous green leaves that are 3 to 5 inches long. They last all year.

This shrub has a lush, tropical appearance due to its abundant leaf growth and overall rounded shape. It typically grows to a height of 6 to 10 feet and has a matching spread.

This functional and aromatic plant looks well as a border, hedge, or near a window, balcony, or walkway, where everybody can appreciate it.

Although the leaves are susceptible to false oleander scales, the banana bush is generally trouble-free. To get rid of pests, use horticultural oil; however, don’t use it on hot days because it will scorch the leaves.

pinkish shrub of figo banana plant

10. Beautyberry

Callicarpa americana is the scientific name for this Florida native, and its vibrant purple fruits are some of the most eye-catching fruit worldwide. Callicarpa is derived from the Greek words calli, which means “beautiful,” and carpos, which indicates “fruit.”

Beautyberry, generally referred to as American mulberry, is endemic to flatwoods and hammocks, but it has spread far and wide thanks to birds.

The leaves of the shrub provide sanctuary for little creatures. Its flowers attract butterflies and bees, while its rich berry clusters give food for birds and deer in summer and fall.

It can grow between 3 to 8 feet tall and wide if left undisturbed, but when managed, it grows to be about 3-4 feet in height and 4 – 5 feet wide.

Tiny flowers bloom in late spring and early summer that can be pink, lavender, or white in color.  The leaves are petiolate and ovate to elliptic, with sharply jagged edges, pronounced pinnate venation, and a rough top surface.

The fruits are tiny (14″–12″) fuchsia drupes that appear in thick, striking clusters along the branches. Stems have a square shape. The bark on the branches is grayish-brown and loose.

This plant is deciduous and cold-hardy. It can be grown anywhere in Florida.
This drought-tolerant and sprawling shrub grows 3-8 feet tall and spreads 4-8 feet.

Beautyberry can be planted at any time of year and become drought tolerant once established. Beautyberry grows best in rich soil, but it will also grow in poor, sandy loam.

It can be used as an accent plant in a mixed bed, near a birdbath or feeder, in a butterfly garden, or among tall palms. Alternatively, they can be planted as understory planting for trees that allow some sunshine through and along garden walkways.

Jeffrey Douglas
Jeffrey Douglas own a landscaping company and has been in the business for over 20 years. He loves all things related to lawns or gardens and believes that proper maintenance is the key to preventing problems in the first place.
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