Here in Southern Florida, we’re blessed to have some of the most gorgeous tropical plants in the world that many people in the rest of the country struggle to grow, and we want you to take full advantage of them! To help you generate a bit of home-grown inspiration, we’ve created a list of some of our favorite tropical native plants to add to your Fort Lauderdale garden this year—take a look!
Why Should I Grow Native Tropicals in My Florida Garden?
If you’re looking for reasons to use native plants in your South Florida landscape this year, look no further! Native plants are very likely to do well in your garden because they’re adapted to your local area’s unique growing conditions, something that can be difficult to do for many non-native ornamental species. As well, our local pollinator species like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds have evolved to pollinate native plants, meaning that when you include a native tropical Florida plant from our nursery in your garden, your local pollinators will thank you!
Our Top Seven Florida Native Tropicals
Here are seven of our all-time favorite native tropicals that are sure to add a ton of local flair to your Florida landscape this summer!
One of South Florida’s quintessential tropical plants, the fire bush is a must-grab from the nursery if it isn’t already growing on your property. Their gorgeous green leaves and sprays of crimson flowers make them one of the best plants for South Florida landscaping, not to mention how popular this plant is with the local pollinators. Hummingbirds and butterflies will flock to this beauty’s blooms, while our native songbirds will feast upon its ripe fruit. If you love our tropical wildlife, this is the plant for you.
Sometimes known as Christmas berry, quail berry is a native Florida staple, featuring brilliant red berries and a creeping habit, making it a fantastic addition to your tropical landscape as a groundcover. Especially happy in sandy or rocky soil, quail berry is resilient and easy to grow, while adding a little extra dimension to your landscape. This is one you don’t want to miss out on!
To add some personality and color to your native garden, look no further than Florida’s own blue porterweed! Not only is this native plant a butterfly magnet that can bloom year-round here in South Florida, but it makes an excellent groundcover as well. Porterweed’s low-growing habit and spreading nature allows it to fill areas in your landscape with lovely dark leaves and bright blue to purple blooms. The perfect groundcover for a butterfly-lover!
One of the more unusual and delightful native tropical plants out there, beautyberry is a lovely shrub that can grow up to six feet tall. In the spring, each stem is encircled by pink flowers that attract bees. These flowers then eventually mature into jaw-dropping purple berries that are a favorite of native birds. These shrubs are truly a sight to behold and will have people stopping to gawk as they pass your home. In the fall, simply cut back your beautyberry to allow it to form new growth in the spring, and enjoy!
If you like tropical butterflies as much as tropical gardens, do not miss out on the beautiful Bahama senna! This breathtaking shrub produces profusions of yellow blooms and acts as a host for caterpillars from several of our native butterfly species. If you’ve ever dreamed of having your very own butterfly colony right in your backyard, this is your chance! Like many other tropical landscape plants in Florida, just keep your Bahama senna well-watered and fertilized, and it’ll wow you for years to come.
There’s almost no better native plant to make your South Florida garden a true tropical paradise than the perfect tropical thatch palm. These trees are resilient and can reach up to 15-20 feet in height. Best of all, caring for your thatch palm is simple! They’re resistant to both pests and diseases. They’ll take a while to grow to their full height, but they’re so worth your patience for the true tropical feeling they’ll imbue on your property!
As it so happens, one of the most beloved and sought-after ornamental grasses is a Florida native that is sure to bring a touch of whimsy to your garden nestled between your other tropical wonders. Just plant it in full sun or partial shade and watch it bring in the wildlife and sway gently in the breeze. The sound alone will transport you to your very own tropical paradise!
We are so lucky here in South Florida to have such a wide variety of native tropical plants. From grasses to vines, there’s a native Florida tropical plant out there that is sure to add a bit of magic to your garden. If you’re on the lookout for the perfect native plant for your garden, be sure to stop by our nursery at Living Color Garden Center in Fort Lauderdale, FL! We are the go-to nursery for native Florida tropical plants, and our team has all the expertise you need to get your garden started!