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Low-maintenance landscape plants for south Florida

Shrubs & Hedges (R-Z)

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

White indigoberry

Randia aculeata  

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

1.5-10

Full sun to partial shade

High

Native shrub with no outstanding features. Fragrant flowers and white berries on female plants. Main attribute is ability to grow under adverse conditions.

Buckthorn

Rhamnus spp.

15

Full sun

High

Deciduous plant with glossy, dark green, oval leaves up to 3” long. Insignificant green flowers followed by small fruit that change from red to black as they ripen. No outstanding landscape value, but well adapted to dry, infertile sites. Numerous spines make these plants useful as security screens.

Lady palm

Rhapis excelsa

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

5-10

Partial to full shade

None

Small, densely clumping fan palm with numerous slender, dark brown trunks bearing distinctive fibers and leaf scar patterns. Small, deeply segmented, glossy dark green leaves on thin, delicate petioles. Often used as shrub or potted plant.

Rosemary

Rosemarinus officinalis

3

Full sun

High

Evergreen, woody shrub with aromatic, needle-like leaves and gray, scaly bark. Easy to propagate from cuttings. Widely used as herb or nontraditional medicine. Upright forms perform best.

Firecracker plant

Russelia equisetiformis

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

2-4

Full sun

High

See description in “Perennials” above.

Scrub palmetto

Sabal etonia

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-4

Full sun

Moderate

Small, native, trunkless, shrub-like palm resembling Serenoa repens but with smooth petioles.

Dwarf blue palmetto

Sabal minor

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-4

Partial shade

Moderate

Small, native, trunkless, shrub-like palm resembling S. etonia, but smaller and with bluish-green leaves. Can tolerate wet soils.

American elderberry

Sambucus canadensis

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

10-15

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Native bushy, multi-stemmed, wide-spreading shrub with deciduous, compound leaves. Tiny, star-shaped, white flowers followed by shiny, blue-black fruit. Provides colorful autumn display of yellows, oranges, and reds in south Florida. Branches brittle. Forms dense thickets by suckering from roots.

Inkberry

Scaevola plumieri

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

2-4

Full sun to partial shade

High

Native plant with succulent leaves. Insignificant, small, pink/white flowers. Spreads by underground stems. Well-suited to sandy soils at beach-front. Caution: Scaevola sericea (=S. taccada v. sericea, S. frutescens) is FLEPPC Category I invasive.

Dwarf schefflera

Schefflera arboricola

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6-15

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

Many cultivars, some with variegated foliage.  Used as specimen or informal hedge. Takes pruning well. Mealybugs and scales can be a problem. Caution: Schefflera actinophylla is FLEPPC Category I invasive.

Candle bush

Senna alata

       

Desert senna

Senna polyphylla

12

Full sun

Low

Small tree with a beautiful cascading habit. Prefers well-drained soil. Small, yellow flowers mostly in dry season. Caution: Senna pendula is FLEPPC Category I invasive.

Saw palmetto

Serenoa repens

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-8

Full sun to partial shade

High

Native clumping fan palm with subterranean, prostrate, or upright trunks. One of the most abundant and widely-planted palms in Florida. Green and silver forms. Spreading tendency can be problem when left uncontrolled.

Necklace-pod

Sophora tomentosa

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6

Full sun

High

Large, densely branched native shrub with natural rounded shape. Bears clusters of yellow flowers at tips of branches. Fast-growing and easily cultivated.

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 mutabilis

       

Pink porterweed

Stachytarpheta speciosa

12-36

Full sun to partial shade

Moderate

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

White bird-of-paradise

Strelitzia nicolae

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

8-20

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Named for the appearance of the spectacular flowers. Foliage dark green, banana-like. Drought tolerant once established. Relative of banana.

Orange bird-of-paradise

Strelitzia reginae

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-5

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Named for spectacular flowers. Foliage gray-green, fan-like. Drought tolerant once established. Scales can be a problem.

Marmalade plant

Streptosolen jamesonii

6

Full sun

Low

Fast-growing, evergreen shrub grown for showy yellow to dark orange flowers produced winter to spring. Needs open, sunny site with excellent drainage. Sprawling growth benefits from support. Prune hard after flowering is complete.

Bay cedar

Suriana maritima

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6-12

Full sun

High

Native, small-leaved, evergreen shrub or small tree. Clusters of small, leathery leaves and attractive, peeling bark. Will grow in sand or on bare rock. Good choice for ocean and beach-front sites.

African milkbush

Synadenium grantii

16

Full sun

High

Large shrub to small tree. Fleshy leaves and stems, becoming woody with age. Showy clusters of red flowers. Milky latex is poisonous.

Cape honeysuckle

Tecomaria capensis

2-10

Full sun to light shade

High

Sprawling, rampant, evergreen, sometimes vine-like shrub. Compound leaves with 5-7 toothed, diamond-shaped leaflets. Clusters of brilliant red-orange to scarlet, tubular flowers. Can be pruned to shrub, trained to espalier, or grown as vine or ground-cover. Requires well-drained soil.

Tetrazygia, West Indian lilac

Tetrazygia bicolor

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

6-40

Full sun to light shade

Low

Extremely ornamental, native, tropical shrub to small tree. Beautiful white and yellow flowers followed by purple-black berries, highly attractive to birds. Elegant, glossy, dark green foliage. Cannot be used as hedge, as branches die when pruned.

Limeberry

Triphasia trifolia

3-10

Full sun

Moderate

Small, glossy, trifoliate leaves. Fragrant, diminutive white flowers. Edible red berries. Well adapted to rocky, calcareous soil.

Walter’s viburnum, black haw

Viburnum obovatum

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

12-30

Full sun to partial shade

Low

Native large shrub to small tree with attractive, pure white blossoms in spring, before leaves fully developed. Flowers followed by berries that turn from green to pink to red to purplish-black in the fall. Ideal as a hedge.

Spanish bayonet

Yucca aloifolia

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

5-20

Full sun or partial shade

High

Trunk-forming yucca with dangerous sharp, pointed, strap-like leaves. Trunks often topped with large, upright clusters of creamy white flowers. Spreads to form thicket.

Bear grass, Adam’s needle

Yucca filamentosa

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-6

Full sun

High

Leaves, resembling long green spears edged with white threads, form basal rosette. White, bell-shaped flowers bloom in terminal spikes from the mid to late summer.

Spineless yucca

Yucca elephantipes

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

12-15

Full sun

High

Attractive form. Leaves with soft spines. Showy, white, fragrant blooms. Requires freely draining soil.

Spanish dagger

Yucca gloriosa

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-4

Full sun

High

Stout, erect stem bears tufted crown of stiff, spear-like gray-green to green leaves. White, bell-shaped flowers in very long, terminal spikes—summer through fall.

Cycad

Zamia amblyphyllidia

3-4

Partial shade

High

Mounding, clumping cycad with elegant leaves to 4’ and wide, paddle-shaped leaflets. Requires well-drained soil.

Florida coontie

Zamia floridana

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

1-5

Full sun to shade

High

Florida’s only native cycad. Host for atala hairstreak butterfly. Comes in a variety of sizes. Narrow to wide leaflets. Separate male and female plants; both bear reddish-brown cones; male cone small, elongate; female cone larger and wider. Also known as Z. pumila, Z. integrifolia, Z. sylvatica, Z. umbrosa. Requires well-drained soil.

Cardboard palm

Zamia maritima

(Click here for UF Fact Sheet )

3-6

Full sun to partial shade

High

Medium-sized cycad with broad, stiff, cardboard-like leaflets. Commonly planted in south Florida as shrubs, specimen plants, or in large planters. Name recently changed from Z. furfuracea. Can be weedy if both male and female plants are in the same vicinity. Requires well-drained soil.

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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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