If you’ve recently moved to Florida or are feeling inspired to experiment with your green thumb, you might find it’s more challenging than you planned. With the combination of intense sunlight, blazing heat, humidity and rainstorms that can last for days, Florida’s climate and tropical environment is unique to other climates making landscaping tough to navigate without doing the proper research first. That’s why I’ve put together a list of things to think about when brainstorming your dream garden, as well as a few of my favorite plants to consider.
Things to consider when “sprucing” up your home’s garden:
- How big does the plant grow?
- How fast does it grow?
- Does it like direct sunlight or shade?
- Does it require an intense routine for basic care, such as watering, trimming and fertilizing?
- How far apart should I plant it from other species?
- Is it drought-tolerant, salt-tolerant and/or cold-hardy?
- Is it a good “Snowbird” plant?
- What should I plant with or around it?
Palm Trees – Ol’ reliable, a Floridian favorite and an homage to paradise.
These tropical beauties come in large and small sizes, but understand that the “small” trees can still get up to 20 feet tall. As long as you’re aware of the ultimate height a plant can grow, you can make the right choices for your landscaping. The great thing about palms is that, if you allow them some room to grow, you can plant them just about anywhere, e.g., near your house, in your yard, etc.
Pro tip: Palms with visible trunks and a bit of height go well with mid-size or small flowering shrubs surrounding them.
Perennials – AKA pretty flowers!
Did you know perennial plants last more than three years? Some of my favorite perennial plants are Crown of Thorns, Spider Plants, Chinese Fringe Flowers and Mexican Petunias. Each of these plants are hardy, unique and beautifully colored.
Pro tip: Buy your flowers from a plant nursery rather than a box store. Nurseries store their plants in light conditions similar to your yard, so the plants are ready to flourish when you take them home.
Groundcover plants – More bang for your buck.
Groundcover plants can help choke out weeds as they blanket the earth. I like to use plants like fern, as they tend to spread out naturally and nicely, and they make perfect fillers for shady areas. Garden ferns can be used as foundation plants, as a filler for garden beds that need a soft touch or in a naturalized area of the yard that gets more shade than most plants need. Wide-spreading, low-growing plants like junipers also work as groundcovers.
Pro tip: Using the same groundcover in separate areas of the garden is a good way to pull together the design of your landscape.
Ready to use your green thumb in your new garden? Feel free to share photos with me on social media or in the comments below!