South Florida perennials renthat live at least three years with cyclical bursts of blooms are the crown of impressive landscaping. Some of them are perennials, but gardeners in other states with more adverse climate treat them as annuals because they are too tender and can’t survive low temperatures during winter.
Keep in mind that many species actually flourish during these months that are not cold in Florida. Therefore, these plants are highly appreciated here since they offer year-round garden color. The only thing you need to do is water them regularly and trim when needed to promote new growth and long-lasting bloom.
Over 150 species of perennial flower lantana are native to tropical regions of North and South America. That list includes both evergreens shrubs and herbaceous plants growing from 1.5 to 6.5 feet (46 cm – 2 m) in height.
You can plant any of existing lantana types, depending on your preferences:
- Common lantana (Lantana camara)
- Wild lantana (Abronia, sand-verbenas)
- Popcorn lantana (Lantana trifolia)
- Trailing lantana (Lantana montevidensis)
- Texas lantana (Lantana urticoides)
- Buttonsage (Lantana involucrata)
- Lantana Pastazensis
Its so-called umbels, rounded aromatic flower clusters with white, yellow, orange, red, blue, and purple florets, attract butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees. They bloom all year round and often change their color during maturation. That often results in multicolored inflorescences.
This drought-tolerant flower thrives on the bright and full sun but blooms more when watered regularly. Unfortunately, lantana is considered invasive in some climates. Plus, its citrus-smelling leaves are highly poisonous to animals.
2. Hamelia patens
Hamelia patens (redhead, firebush, scarlet bus, hummingbird bush) is a large, fast-growing Florida native perennial shrub. Its Mayan name is Ix Canaan, which literally means – a guardian of the forest.
This showy plant reaches 4 to even 15 feet (1.2 – 4.6 m) in height and forms clusters of long tubular orange or deep red blooms surrounded by dense, 3 to 8 inches (7.6 – 20 cm) long pointed foliage.
This flower is one of the first you should plant when you want to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to settle your garden. After flowers wither, you can enjoy decorative, edible fruits surrounded by beautiful reddish-orange fall leaves.
3 Lavender (Lavandula)
Lavender is a fragrant plant from the mint family native to Europe and Asia. It is a common flower in Florida since it tolerates drought and can grow in full sun. The bloom is usually violet-purple, but you can find species with white or pink flowers, as well.
Whatever the color, lovely spikes attract bees and butterflies, and its silvery-green leaves make the view much more elegant. If you plant lavender along your walkway, you can brush it up whenever you pass near blooming flowers to release the enchanting scent.
You should grow this ornamental plant to beautify your garden, but it can also be a culinary herb and a flower traditionally used in medicine and cosmetic industry. It is a base for the extraction of essential oils.
4. Blue Daze (Evolvulus glomeratus)
Blue daze (dwarf morning-glory) is a lovely annual or perennial evergreen plant with bright blue 1 inch (2.5 cm) long flowers. However, you can grow it as a perennial if you live in Central or South Florida.
Since this fast-growing flower can spread approximately 12 to 18 inches (30.5 – 46 cm) wide, most gardeners grow it as a groundcover. The true-blue color of blooms is a beautiful combination with attractive silvery-green leaves.
Since these 6 inches (15 cm) high plants are highly tolerant of drought, it makes them an ideal option for Florida gardens. A downside of blue daze is that close-up by late afternoon so that you can enjoy these glorious flowers only in the morning and during the night.
Bougainvillea (paper flower) is a gorgeous thorny, ornamental vine that originates in South America and blooms almost all year long. You will admire the large sepal-like white, yellow, orange, pink, magenta, red, or purple papery bracts that surround three white waxy flowers.
The long blue-green leaves of the 1.5 to 5 inches (3.8 – 12.7 cm) are alternately placed on the 8 to 20 feet (2.4 – 6 m) high stem. The plant will spread 10 to 40 feet (3 – 12 m) depending on the type you grow in your garden.
Philibert Commercon gave the first descriptions of this exotic plant during his voyage of circumnavigation of the Earth with L.A. de Bougainville, French Navy admiral. Since then, this beautiful flower has attracted birds in many gardens in Florida.
6. Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus)
Periwinkle (creeping vinca, Madagascar periwinkle, bright eyes, graveyard plant, old maid, rose periwinkle, pink periwinkle) is a creeping vine. You can find 13 different types of this plant with lovely blue flowers that run-down hillsides, including the following:
- Bowle Variety
- Blue and Gold
- Double Purple
- Miss Jekyll
- Ralph Shugert
- Sterling Silver
Other color combinations
- Lavender petals
- Lavender petals surrounding a white center
- Rose petals surrounding a white center
- Rose petals surrounding a dark-pink center
- Violet petals surrounding a dark-purple center
Since it grows 4 inches (10 cm) in height and spread about 8 feet (2.4 m) wide, periwinkle is a useful and attractive groundcover. So, gardeners often use it to suppress weeds and control erosion.
7. Pentas (Pentas lanceolata)
Pentas (Egyptian star cluster, Egyptian starflower) is a slow-growing perennial native to Africa. Planting this flower will provide all-year-round blooming in your garden and transform it into an attractive place for hummingbirds and butterflies.
Like most tropical plants, pentas come in numerous colors of flowers that contain five pointy petals. You can enjoy the rhapsody of white, pink, lavender, or red blooms that flourish on the top of 6 feet (1.8 m) high stems.
If you prefer dwarf varieties, you can find flowers that reach 12 to 14 inches (30.5 – 35.5 cm) in height. Keep in mind that you always need to leave ample space for this plant since it can spread about 15 inches (38 cm) wide.
8. Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens)
Bulbine (the cat’s tail, snake flower, burn jelly plant) is quite a unique flower with star-shaped blooms. You can see it most of the year throughout Florida. Many of the 76 species originated in Australia and southern Africa.
This perennial evergreen is an excellent groundcover that forms an attractive, 4 feet (1.2 m) wide clump. Clusters formed of 10 to 12 flower stalks are surrounded by grass-like, 1 foot (30.5 cm) long leaves.
You can grow this drought-tolerant plant in your garden or a container and enjoy beautiful yellow or orange flowers. In 2006, Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association named Bulbine a ‘plant of the year’ in this state.
9. Black and Blue Salvia (Salvia guaranitica)
Black and blue salvia (Hummingbird sage, anise-scented sage) are fragrant, 2 to 5 feet (61 cm – 1.5 m) high semi-evergreen plants originated in South America. You can enjoy gorgeous scarlet, blue, or purple spikes of flowers that start blooming in early summer between rich green leaves.
This eye-catching plant will spread approximately 2 to 5 inches (5 – 12.7 cm) wide and attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden. It won’t be a problem to find the variety you like among hundreds of annual and perennial species available.
10. Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus)
Persian shield (Bermuda conehead) is a royal purple, 3 to 4 feet (0.9 cm – 1.2 m) high evergreen perennial, which can spread up to 2 to 3 feet (61 – 91 cm) wide. This hardy plant originated in Myanmar is actually a tropical shrub that enchants the gardeners with its deep purple, 6 inches (15 cm) long foliage veined with green.
Its exotic flowers in all the shades of white or pink flourish in fall, but you can see it blooming all year round in Florida. This plant will thrive in full sun or shade equally, but keep in mind that the color will be less impressive under too much light.
11. Ox-eye Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)
Ox-eye sunflower (rough oxeye, ox-eye daisy, false sunflower, smooth oxeye) is an elegant Florida native compact 2 to 6 feet (61 cm – 1.8 m) high shrub that blooms in spring and summer. Flowers, which are 2 to 3 inches (5 – 7.6 cm) in diameter, are delicate with brown center disks surrounded by orange-yellow rays.
These easy-to-grow, short-lived perennials with the impressive, sunny-yellow, daisy-like blooms are tough and tolerant of drought. It will spread 2 to 4 feet (61 cm – 1.2 m) wide when grown in full to part sun and attract butterflies to your garden.
12. Buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus)
Buttercup (water crowfoot, spearwort) came to Florida from Northern Europe. Even though this flower grows as wild, no one considers it weeds, probably because of its superior beauty. Plus, there are many legends connected with this flower as a symbol of neatness, humility, and charm.
There are more than 400 species of this, 4 to 12 inches (10 – 30.5 cm) high perennial herb with shiny, golden-bright, five-petalled yellow flowers. Thanks to the waxy coating, its petals reflect light, making this plant so unique.
The most desirable varieties of buttercups include:
- Anemone Buttercup (Ranunculus anemoneus)
- Bulbous Buttercup (Ranunculus bulbosus)
- Creeping Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
- Early Buttercup (Ranunculus fascicularis)
- Fall Buttercup (Ranunculus aestivalis)
- Winter Buttercup (Eranthis cilicica)
- Persian Buttercup (Ranunculus asiaticus)
- Swamp buttercup (Ranunculus septentrionalis)
- Spinyfruit Buttercup (Ranunculus muricatus)
- Littleleaf Buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus L.)
- Frogbit Buttercup (Ranunculus hydrocharoides)
- Birdfoot Buttercup (Ranunculus pedatifidus)
- Yellow Water Buttercup (Ranunculus flabellaris)
- Sagebrush Buttercup (Ranunculus glaberrimus)
Approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) wide petals create sweet nectar that attracts bees and other insects for pollination. The flowering time is from May to June. The foliage includes alternate two to five long-stalked, roundish–triangular, hairy basal leaves.
13. Echinacea purpurea
Echinacea purpurea (purple coneflower) is a Florida native clump-forming perennial herb. It grows approximately 3 feet (0.9 m) in height and forms tall spikes of long-lasting, daisy-like, purple blooms with central orange cones. They actually contain several small flowers rich in nectar with the sterile petals.
These flowers are highly attractive for pollinating insects and butterflies in gardens, but also typical prairie plants. They are drought-tolerant and blooms in a long period during the year. Nowadays, you can find varieties in a wide range of colors, which can spread approximately 1.5 to 1.9 feet (45.7 – 58 cm) wide.
14. Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia)
Mexican heather (false heather, elfin herb, Hawaiian heather) is a small annual or perennial shrubby Florida garden plant. It has shiny, dark green foliage and elegant white, lavender-pink, or purple flowers that bloom all year long.
Most gardeners use this beautiful, 12 to 18 inches (30.5 – 46 cm) high plant to attract butterflies and bees in their gardens. Since it can spread 24 to 30 inches (61 – 76 cm) wide, it is an excellent groundcover, but you can grow it in containers, as well.
15. Anise hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
Anise Hyssop (giant blue hyssop, giant lavender hyssop, fragrant giant hyssop) is not a Florida native. Still, many gardeners in this state include this short-lived flower in their gardens and yards. You can plant it along the borders or near the house.
The four-angled, light green stems of this perennial are from 2 to 3.5 feet (61 cm – 1 m) height, but the plant itself can reach 3 to 5 feet (0.9 – 1.5 m).
The stems end in 3 to 6 inches (7.6 – 15 cm) long spikes of blue-violet flowers arranged in dense whorls. They bloom for about two months during the summer. In fall, you will see oval-shaped, smooth nutlets instead of delicate flowers.
The scent of 4 inches (10 cm) long, broadly lanceolate leaves reminds me to anise. You can use its edible flowers to make a salad. When you leave them in the garden, they attract hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees. Since this plant originated in prairies and can stand high temperatures and drought, you won’t have much trouble with it.