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Low-maintenance landscape plants for south Florida

Shrubs & Hedges (He-P)

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
(feet)

Light

Salt tolerance

Comments

Heliconia

Heliconia episcopalis

(another link)

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-7

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Smaller heliconia with tight, arrowhead-shaped inflorescence bearing dense but colorful bracts which begin red then fade to orange then yellow toward the tips. Year-round bloomer.

Heliconia

Heliconia latispatha

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6-15

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Tall heliconia with long-stalked, yellow-green, banana-like leaves with a red margin and erect inflorescence with widely spaced, triangular-shaped bracts that are yellow or orange at base, changing to scarlet at tips.

Lobster claw heliconia

heliconiadescriptions

Heliconia rostrata

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-20

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Tall heliconia with long-stalked, green to bluish-green, 5’-long, banana-like leaves and pendant inflorescence with zig-zagging bracts of scarlet and yellow.

Chinese hat plant

Holmskioldia sanguinea  

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-6

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Unique flowers are main interest of this scrambling shrub/vine: each is a narrow, orange-scarlet tube backed by a broad, circular calyx, appearing in dense terminal clusters through summer and fall. Leaves oval and slightly serrated. Rampant growth can be contained by pruning after flowering. Old canes can be removed. Loses leaves during drought.

Beach elder

Iva imbricata

2-3

Full sun

High

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

Joewood

Jacquinia keyensis

10

Full sun to partial shade

High

Very slow-growing, native shrub with attractive foliage and year-round, showy, fragrant blooms. Good resistance to wind and salt spray. Some shade from hottest sun beneficial.

Primrose jasmine

Jasminum mesnyi

5-10

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Rambling, open, evergreen, shrub with long, arching stems that will climb if given support. Without support, grows as fountain-like mound. Fragrant, yellow, trumpet-shaped flowers. Caution: J. dichotomum and J. fluminense are FLEPPC Category I.

Downy jasmine

Jasminum multiflorum

5-10

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Evergreen, branching vine that can be trained as a shrub. Stems and leaves covered with downy pubescence—giving plant grayish-green appearance. Small, white, star-shaped flowers in clusters—year-round. Caution: J. sambac is FLEPPC Category II.

Peregrina

Jatropha integerrima

15

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Deeply-lobed leaves and showy display of small red flowers throughout the year.  Needs good drainage. Mites and scales can be problems.  Poisonous.

Coral plant, physic nut

Jatropha multifida

6-20

Full sun to partial shade

High

Shrub to small tree with loose, spreading crown. Large, distinctive leaves with 7-11 narrow lobes and each lobe divided into narrow, pointed segments. Flowers coral red, in flat-topped clusters on long stalks above foliage. All parts are poisonous.

Chinese juniper

Juniperus chinensis  

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

2-50

Full sun

Low-Moderate

Evergreen groundcover, shrub, or tree, depending on variety. Both adult and juvenile foliage found on adult trees. Berries fleshy and glaucous white.

Shrimp plant

Justicia brandegeana

3-5

Full sun to full shade

None

See description in “Perennials” above.

Crepe myrtle

Lagerstroemia indica

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

8-25

Full sun

None

Grown for peeling bark and outstanding late spring to summer blossom in various shades of pink, red purple and white. Miniatures used for edging; standards used as specimen plants. Aphids and powdery mildew can be problems.

Barbados cherry

Malpighia emarginata

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

5-10

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Attractive shrub. Produces clusters of small, pink flowers, followed by red, cherry-sized, edible fruit that is tart in flavor and rich in vitamin C. Makes good hedge. Nematodes a problem on sandy soils. Plant bugs spoil fruit. Benefits from mulch. Also known as M. glabra.

Monstera

Monstera deliciosa

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

5-6

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Slow-growing vine or shrub with huge, broad, glossy, perforated and deeply cut leaves and woody stems with aerial roots. Mature plants bear thick, cream spathes followed by sweet-smelling, cone-like, edible fruit.

Simpson’s stopper

Myrcianthes fragrans

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6-20

Full sun to partial shade

High

One of the most beautiful and ornamental native woody plants. Densely branched, densely leafy large shrub to small tree. Pure white, puffy flowers followed by large, bright orange berries which contrast with dark foliage. Attractive to birds.

Wax myrtle

Myrica cerifera

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

10-25

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Native, clumping, fast-growing shrub to small tree with small, evergreen leaves, inconspicuous flowers, and waxy gray fruit attached to twigs. Leaves and fruit smell like bayberry. Tolerates periodic flooding. Natural insect repellant. Attracts birds.

Mazari palm

Nannorrhops ritchiana

10-20

Full sun to partial shade

None

Medium-sized, shrubby palm with branching trunks and whitish-blue, fan-shaped leaves. Each stem flowers only once and dies back. Exceptionally cold-tolerant. Prefers cool, arid climate but tolerates south Florida quite well. Slightly susceptible to lethal yellowing disease.

Firespike

Odontonema strictum

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Small, showy, evergreen shrub with sparse, thick, upright branches, shiny, dark green leaves with wavy margins, and 9-12” upright panicles of brilliant red, tubular flowers in late summer to early winter. Tolerates all but most severe droughts. Attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Caution: Do not plant within 500’ of native hardwood hammock in Miami-Dade County.

Prickly-pear cactus

Opuntia spp.

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6”-30’

Full sun

High

Many species, from tiny plants with tuberous roots to ‘trees’ over 30’ tall. Branches constricted, forming broad/flattened or cylindrical ‘joints’. Most have sharp spines and small bristles. Flowers generally yellow or red, followed by edible fruits (prickly pears). Caution: O. aurantiaca is a federal- and state-listed invasive species (Burks, 2000).

Jacob’s ladder

Pedilanthus tithymaloides

6

Partial shade

High

Flowers insignificant; surrounded by showy, slipper-like red bracts. Zig-zag stems, with prominently keeled leaves. Well adapted to poor dry soil. Variegated cultivars.  Poisonous. Prune to avoid leggy appearance.

Selloum, tree philodendron

Philodendron selloum

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

5-15

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Prostrate to upright trunks. Huge, deeply divided, dark green leaves. Also known as tree philodendron because it does not climb. Also known as P. bipinnatifidum.

Pittosporum

Pittosporum tobira

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

10-15

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Broadleafed, evergreen shrub with bright green, glossy leaves (can be variegated) and clusters of small, white flowers that smell like orange blossoms. Moderate to fast grower.

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.

Podocarpus

Podocarpus macrophylla

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

5-40

Full sun to partial shade

None

Evergreen shrub or tree with needle-like leaves. Makes an excellent hedge. Bears small, bluish ‘berries’.

Aralias

Polyscias spp .

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

2-25

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Many species and cultivars used as shrubs, hedges and groundcovers. Foliage differs in form (usually compound); leaves often lobed and/or variegated.

Elephant bush

Portulacaria afra

3

Full sun to partial shade

High

Grown for jade colored leaves and red stems. Rarely flowers in cultivation. Grow in gritty, freely draining soil. Provide good air circulation. Variegated form exists. Excellent for rock gardens.

Wild coffee

Psychotria nervosa

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6-9

Partial to full shade

Low

Native small shrub with distinctive, highly glossy, dark green leaves with deeply impressed side veins. Related to gardenia and similar in overall appearance. Flowers abundant over much of the year, followed by decorative red berries.

Velvetleaf wild coffee

Psychotria sulzneri

6-9

Partial to full shade

Low

Native small shrub similar in all respects to P. nervosa, but with velvety, deep blue-green foliage.

Bahama wild coffee

Psychotria ligustifolia

       
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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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