20 Florida Native Plants That Thrive in the State’s Heat and Humidity

Close up Vivid Orange Butterfly Weed Flowers Asclepias Tuberosa
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When it comes to natural resources, Florida’s climate is one of its most important assets. Nicknamed the “Sunshine State,” Florida boasts a humid subtropical climate in the north and central sections along with a tropical climate throughout a majority of the south.

Florida native plants are already well suited for its climate and soil conditions, so they usually have the ability to thrive without additional irrigation or fertilization. Even better, since the state’s native plants evolved alongside its native wildlife, they’re able to enhance and nurture the biodiversity there, including important pollinators that are necessary to Florida’s plant and food production.

Here are 20 native plants to include in your Florida landscape.

Some of the plants on this list are toxic to pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

1
of 20

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
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The American beautyberry plant is known for its striking purple berries that grow in clusters on its branches. These berries represent an important food source for many bird species, while the foliage is a favorite of white-tailed deer. The perennial shrubs can reach heights of 9 feet when grown in the right soil and moisture conditions.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Well-draining.
2
of 20

Yellow Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)

Yellow Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens)
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The yellow jessamine is native to the Southern states of the country. With its trumpet-shaped yellow flowers and sweet scent, this vine blooms from February to May in small clusters with evergreen foliage. The stems can exceed 20 feet, climbing over trellises and fences to provide dense coverage all year round.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Moist, well-draining.
3
of 20

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
Created by MaryAnne Nelson / Getty Images

These branching perennials grow up to 2 feet tall and show off their drooping, bell-like flowers from mid-spring to early summer. The unique blooms come in colors of red, yellow, orange, purple, and multi-colors, often growing in two separate layers with star-shaped petals on the back and rounded petals in front. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Well-draining and not too dry.
4
of 20

Buttonsage (Lantana involucrata)

White lantana, Wild Sage, Button sage, Lantana involucrata
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The densely clustered flowers—known for strong fragrances and whitish-lavender tones—of the buttonsage plant are found along coastal areas and pinelands from the west of Florida to the Keys. They’re a great addition to pollinator friendly gardens as the nectar is attractive to a wide range of butterfly species.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Sandy, well-draining.
5
of 20

Black-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia spp.)
Ana Jecmenica / EyeEm / Getty Images

Native to dry, prairie ecosystems and known for their brightly colored petals with dark contrasting centers, these biennial wildflowers require minimal care and bloom for weeks at a time. Black-eyed Susans really come alive in August, adding cheerful pops of color to personal gardens and open fields alike.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Neutral pH and well-draining.
6
of 20

Firebush (Hamelia patens)

Firebush plant
Photo credit John Dreyer / Getty Images

Firebush plants (also known as scarlet bush) grow perennial clusters of long, tubular flowers in the summer and berries in the fall. Native to South Florida, these vibrant shrubs are fast-growing and attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and other pollinators. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Well-draining.
7
of 20

Elliott’s Aster (Symphyotrichum elliottii)

Elliott’s aster (Symphyotrichum elliottii)
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Herbaceous perennials that typically bloom in the late fall, Elliott’s aster are compound flowers made up of light purple petals and yellow floret centers. They’re also known to overtake gardens as they spread quickly (and grow to 4 feet high), so it’s always a good idea to keep it pruned and controlled.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Moist, sandy.
8
of 20

Powderpuff Mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa)

Powderpuff mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa)
Yulia Arsenova / Getty Images

Powderpuff mimosas are often used as ground cover since they spread very quickly and form a deep root system that helps control erosion and maintains drought tolerance. Their puffy, round flowers bloom from the spring until fall, and its bright green leaves look like ferns and fold up when they’re touched. Some gardeners even choose to use these plants as a turf replacement by keeping them mowed. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 10.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Sandy, well-draining.
9
of 20

Common Tickseed (Coreopsis leavenworthii)

Tickseed (Coreopsis spp.)
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Tickseed plants have small flowers with yellow, alternate or opposite leaves. Some of these plants may bloom year-round but mainly in May, June, and July. All 12 species of Coreopsis are native to Florida and collectively known as the state wildflower. The common variety is almost entirely endemic to Florida, but is more abundant in North Florida and the Panhandle.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Slightly moist, well-draining.
10
of 20

Swamp Mallow (Hibiscus coccineus)

Swamp mallow (Hibiscus coccineus)
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Also known as the scarlet rosemallow or wild red mallow, the swamp mallow looks similar to a small hibiscus with divided leaves and shiny petals. The flowers grow to over 6 inches in width and bloom late in the season over a long period in the summer.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 6 to 9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Medium to wet soil.
11
of 20

Bahama Cassia (Cassia bahamensis)

Bahama cassia

Photo by David J. Stang / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

Fast-growing cassia plants are pruned into either shrubs or trees, blooming usually in the late summer to fall in their native state of Florida. Their upright blossoms are bright and showy, with feathery leaves and a shallow root system. These plants are commonly found near mangrove forest edges along the coast as they are extremely salt-tolerant.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Sandy, well-draining.
12
of 20

Coralbean (Erythrina herbacea)

Coral bean (Erythrina herbacea)
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Part of the pea family and native to tropical climates, the coralbean is a thorny annual that grows up to 6 feet. The leaves are scattered along the stems that are prickly underneath. The flowers are tubular and grow in scattered clusters on the upper portions of the stems, blooming primarily in the spring.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 8 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Sandy, well-draining.
13
of 20

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera semperviren)

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera semperviren)
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These vines are a favorite for pollinators thanks to their long tubular flowers with long stamens full of pollen. Their glossy, semi-evergreen leaves grow in an oblong shape and while they are climbers, they aren’t necessarily known for being too aggressive. Once the bloom has ended, they’re replaced by small, bright red berries.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Medium moisture, well-draining.
14
of 20

White Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)

White Fringetrees (Chionanthus virginicus)
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With clusters of fragrant, white flowers that hang down about 4 to 6 inches long, white fringetrees grow in either shrubs or small trees of 15 to 30 feet. They’re one of the last trees in Florida to bear new leaves in the spring, which are dark green and glossy in contrast to their gray and white trunks.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Well-draining.
15
of 20

Florida Anise (Illicium floridanum)

Illicium floridanum
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An evergreen shrub or tree that tolerates heavy shade and moist locations, the Florida anise is both fast-growing and low-maintenance. Growing as tall as 15 feet, these plants enjoy habitats that are wet, swampy, and wooded with acidic soil, but can still tolerate full sun if kept adequately watered.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 7 to 10.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to full shade.
  • Soil Needs: Acidic, moist.
16
of 20

Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)

Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Daniela Duncan / Getty Images

These short-lived perennial plants grow thick clusters of light orange, tubular flowers that emerge in late spring, attracting butterflies and other pollinators. They tend to grow inland as they have low to no tolerance of salty wind or salt spray. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Dry, well-draining.
17
of 20

Railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae)

Railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae)
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Perennial, fast-growing railroad vines also go by the name beach morning glory, since they open up in the morning and last just one day at a time. With funnel shaped flowers that come in purple or pink, these flowers grow naturally in most of the coastal counties. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 9 to 12.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun.
  • Soil Needs: Sandy.
18
of 20

Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)

Hydrangea quercifolia
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Oakleaf hydrangeas grow pyramid-shaped clusters of flowers that bloom in the late spring and summer, slowly turning from bright white to pink or purple as they develop. Their leaves are large, slightly fuzzy, and shaped like oak leaves. The deciduous shrubs grow anywhere from 4 to 8 feet tall and their flowers are especially known for their long-lasting qualities.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Rich, well-draining.
19
of 20

Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus)

Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus)
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Both salt and drought tolerant, the buttonwood tree is popular to grow in coastal areas and as a screening or privacy plant. These trees are native to the entirety of Florida but are best suited for the southern parts of the state. They reach up to 40 feet in height and grow similarly to a mangrove plant.

  • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Gravel, sand, well-draining.
20
of 20

Gumbo-limbo tree (Bursera simaruba)

Gumbo-limbo tree (Bursera simaruba)
Mlyons / Getty Images

The gumbo-limbo tree is native to tropical regions throughout the Americas from southern Florida to Mexico, Brazil, and Venezuela. It’s a semi-evergreen tree that can reach 60 feet in height, with soft wood and copper-colored bark. Although their growing zones are limited, they’re one of the state’s most wind-tolerant trees. 

  • USDA Growing Zones: 10 to 11.
  • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
  • Soil Needs: Well-draining.

To check if a plant is considered invasive in your area, go to the National Invasive Species Information Center or speak with your regional extension office or local gardening center.