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Low-maintenance landscape plants for south Florida

Perennials

Notes

indicates plants commonly available in nurseries and/or garden centers in south Florida
indicates Florida native plants
 indicates plants that can tolerate wet soils or occasional flooding. 

Click on underlined scientific names for photos and/or more information.

Common name
Scientific name

Size
(inch)

Light

Salt tolerance

Comments

Aglaonema

Aglaonema commutatum

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

18

Partial to full shade

Low

Small, herbaceous perennial with fleshy stems, branching from the base, and slender-stalked leaves up to about 12 in long. Flowering stems have narrow, pale green spathe enclosing small white spadix. Other Aglaonema also drought tolerant.

Scarlet milkweed

Asclepias curassavica

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

36-48

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Erect, evergreen, perennial with narrow, elliptical leaves and terminal clusters of scarlet and orange flowers—spring to fall. Attracts butterflies. Can tolerate wet soil.

Butterfly weed

Asclepias tuberosa

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

18-36

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Native perennial with orange, summertime flowers. Essential component of a butterfly garden. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

Cast iron plant

Aspidistra elatior

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

36

Partial to full shade

Moderate

Grown for its deep green foliage. Named for its ability to tolerate harsh, adverse conditions. Spreads to form clumps. Excellent for shady areas.

Star begonia, winter begonia

Begonia heracleifolia
(another link)

24-36

Partial to full shade

None

Rhizomatous (spreads by rhizomes) begonia with large, hairy, deeply lobed, toothed, bronzy green leaves and fragrant, white to pink flowers on long, reddish stalks. Caution: Begonia cucullata is FLEPPC Category II invasive.

White begonia

Begonia popenoei (another link)

24-48

Partial to full shade

None

Rhizomatous begonia with huge, round, dark glossy green leaves to 2’ wide and large white, fragrant flowers held in large panicles well above foliage.

Castor bean begonia

Begonia ricinifolia

24-36

Partial to full shade

None

Rhizomatous begonia with apple green leaves shaped like stars and with rings of red hairs around leaf petioles. Winter blooms are deep pink.

Strawflower

Brachteantha bracteatum

36

Full sun

Low

Annual or short-lived perennial with erect habit. Weak, hollow stems. Thin green leaves bear golden yellow blooms up to 2” in diameter at branch tips—summer to early fall. Good groundcover or small shrub.

Spiral ginger

Costus scaber
(Link is to related species)

72

Partial shade

Low

Tall spiral ginger with attractive roundish jade green leaves with fuzzy underside, and long, hard, waxy 8" to 12" red bracts with small, yellow flowers that peek out as bracts open from bottom up. Long lasting flower; excellent cut flower.

Crossandra

Crossandra infundibuliformis

(another link)

12-36

Partial to full shade

Low

Simple leaves arranged in opposite pairs and bearing erect spikes of showy yellow to red flowers, with petals opened flat into a hand-like shape.

African iris, fortnight lily

Dietes vegeta

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

24-36

Full sun

Low

Drought tolerant perennial, though extra water needed when in bloom. Easy to grow. Attractive white flowers with blue and brown shading appear in spring. Forms spreading clumps. Also available with yellow flowers. Also known as D. iridioides.

Twinflower

Dyschoriste oblongifolia

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6-18

Full sun

Low

Native perennial. Likes pinelands. Grows best in dry sand. Plant close together for best cover.

Euphorbia milii

       

Indian blanket

Gaillardia pulchella

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

12-24

Full sun

High

Colorful native annual or perennial. As easily grown as it is beautiful. Considerable variation in flower color; typical variety bears red flowers with yellow-tipped petals. Plant in open site with good drainage. Good for beach-front plantings.

Whirling butterflies

Gaura lindheimeri

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

24-48

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Herbaceous perennial that grows in loose, bushy clump. Stems slender, wiry, and covered with tiny hairs. Leaves spoon-shaped with toothed margins. Flowers above foliage on long spikes; open white at dawn, fading to rose-pink by day’s end. Requires well-drained soil.

Moss verbena

Glandularia puchella

12

Full sun to partial shade

Unknown

Freely branching, sprawling perennial with 3-lobed, finely dissected, aromatic leaves and clusters of pink, lilac, purple or white flowers. Requires well-drained soil. Attracts butterflies. Good bedding plant.

Tampa verbena

Glandularia tampensis

18-24

Full sun

Low

Native, sprawling, short-lived perennial. Sometimes treated as annual. Flowers purplish-pink. Also known as Verbena tampensis.

Rain lilies

Habranthus spp.

24-48

Full sun

Moderate

Flowers yellow, pink, red or white—produced spring/summer after rain. Goes dormant in cool season, requiring very little water. Flowers best when crowded.

Beach sunflower

Helianthus debilis

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

36-48

Full sun

High

Erect or prostrate, spreading plant with sand paper-like leaves and 2.5-3” yellow “sun” flowers. Suitable for beach-front plantings. Good for attracting butterflies.

Daylily

Hemerocallis spp.

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

12-24

Full sun or partial shade

Moderate

Clump-forming perennial with grass-like leaves and lily-like flowers from late spring to fall, depending on variety. Available in yellow, orange, red, pink, purple, and near-white. Only certain varieties succeed in south Florida (Evergreen, Semis).

Amaryllis

Hippeastrum spp.

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

24

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Spectacular trumpet-shaped, tropical lilies. Many species and varieties. Moderately drought tolerant.

Beach elder

Iva imbricata

24-36

Full sun

High

Scraggly, course, shrubby perennial. Good for beach-front plantings.

Shrimp plant

Justicia brandegeana

3-5

Full sun to full shade

None

Perennial or shrub with stems topped with 6” spikes of red, rusty brown, yellow, or green brachts containing small, white, shrimp-like flowers. Unique, adaptable, easily grown plant. Also known as Beloperone guttata.

Kalanchoe

Kalanchoe blossfeldiana

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

12

Partial shade

Moderate

Small, shrubby African species. Multiple, upstretched branches covered with round to rectangular, deep green leaves with red margins and notched tips. Thick racemes of small, deep red, cylindrical flowers appear from winter to early summer; may also be pink, yellow, or orange. Can be weedy.

Dwarf lantana

Lantana depressa

6-12

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Native low-growing perennial or groundcover, spreading to form a mat. Yellow to orange flowers. Also known as Lantana ovatifolia var. reclinata. Caution: L. camara, is a FLEPPC Category I invasive.

Statice

Limonium sinuatum
(Link is to related species)

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

18

Full sun

Low

Bushy, upright perennial. Dense rosettes of oblong, deeply waved, dark green leaves and masses of tiny, papery flowers on winged stems—summer/early fall. Fairly slow growing. Available in golden, lemon-yellow, white, cream, salmon-pink, purple or blue spikelets.

Sweet basil

Ocimum basilicum

12

Full sun

None

Mounding, perennial herb with densely branching, light green foliage and typical peppery-clove basil scent. Used as border plant. ‘Spicy Globe’ cultivar is best known ornamental basil. Continues to grow in summer if blossoms cut before setting seed.

Pennyroyal

Piloblephis rigida

6-24

Full sun

Low

Low-growing perennial. Not picky about soil, but likes it dry. Small, shrimp-like flowers emerge from green, scale-like brachts. Attractive to butterflies. Also known as Pycnothymus rigidus and Satureja rigida.

Plumbago

Plumbago auriculata

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-10’

Full sun

Low

Attractive light blue flowers in terminal spikes. Drought tolerant once well established. Prone to root and stem rots. Freely draining soil and good air circulation.

Florida mountainmint

Pycnanthemum floridanum

48

Full sun to partial shade

None

Erect, loosely-branched, shrublike perennial. Leaves smell like spearmint or camphor. Tiny, lavender flowers in dense terminal clusters. Attracts butterflies.

Firecracker plant

Russelia equisetiformis

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

24-48

Full sun

High

Grown for weeping habit, masses of small, red tubular flowers, and scale-like leaves. Often used in planters. Requires freely draining soil. Susceptible to nematodes.

Stonecrop

Sedum spectabile

24

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Hardy plant, well adapted for rockeries, with showy fall flowers. Many cultivars (white, pink or red); at least one with variegated leaves.  

Blue porterweed

Stachytarpheta jamaicensis

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

12-36

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Native, small, shrubby perennial with somewhat weedy habit. Flowers highly attractive to butterflies—a ‘must’ for any butterfly garden. Name derived from traditional foamy, porter-like beverage brewed from the plant.

Pink porterweed

Stachytarpheta speciosa

12-36

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Small, shrubby perennial with somewhat weedy habit. Flowers highly attractive to butterflies.

Mexican sunflower

Tithonia rotundifolia

60-72

Full sun

Low

Warm-season annual or perennial. Leaves course, 3-lobed, and covered in soft, downy fuzz. Flowers orange to red-orange.

Tithonia deversifolia

       

Society garlic

Tulbaghia violacea

24-36

Full sun to partial shade

None

Clump-forming, herbaceous perennial with narrow, grayish leaves and large clusters of lavender flowers. Related to garlic.

Purpletop verbena

Verbena bonariensis

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

36-72

Full sun to light shade

Low

Erect, clump-forming perennial with stiff, widely branched stems. Small, purple flowers in clusters held high above foliage. Best when densely planted. Attracts butterflies.

Verbena

Verbena x hybrida

36-72

Full sun

Low

Erect, clump-forming perennial or annual with stiff, widely branching stems. Flowers purple and borne in rounded clusters. Treat as annual. Powdery mildew and whiteflies may be occasional problems. Good bedding plant.

Rain lily

Zephyranthes spp.

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6-15

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Charming, clump-forming, flowering bulbs. Most species have open flowers like small Asiatic lilies and are deciduous. Can be yellow or various shades of warm pink. All bear one flower to a stem, and most close their petals at night.

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  .
Perennials Palms, Cycads & Palm-like Plants (A-E)
Annuals Palms, Cycads & Palm-like Plants (G-Z)
Shrubs & Hedges (A-Ci) Ornamental Grasses
Shrubs & Hedges (Cl-Ha) Groundcovers (A-I)
Shrubs & Hedges (He-P) Groundcovers (J-Z)
Shrubs & Hedges (R-Z) Vines
Flowering & Shade Trees (A-E) Epiphytes
Flowering & Shade Trees (F-Z) Herbs & Vegetables
Fruit Trees  

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Scientific Name / Common Name Cross-Reference

Common Name / Scientific Name Cross-Reference

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