– By Brian Conner
Florida is famous for its sun, sand, ocean breezes — and as a retirement mecca. The Sunshine State beckons with its warm climate, casual lifestyle, and promise of carefree days.
One way to keep those days carefree is to make yard work a pleasant hobby rather than a chore. The key is to choose landscaping elements that are easy to maintain. Fortunately, Florida has plenty of beautiful ornamental plants that fit the bill.
You’ll find a wide selection at reputable nurseries, but here are six of the best low-maintenance plants for easy gardening:
- Caladiums – These big-leafed plants come in a choice of subtle colors and are perfect for Florida’s warm, humid climate. They prefer a shady area that gets a few hours of sun, and they display their long leaves from spring through fall.
- Beach Sunflower – A favorite of Floridians, this native likes sunshine and will handle dry conditions. It blooms almost year-round and remains colorful when other plants shrink from heat and cold. You can have fun relaxing on the lanai and watching the blossoms follow the sun through the course of the day!
- Coral Honeysuckle – This shrub will grow anywhere in Florida and produces distinctive flowers that bloom from spring through summer. The flowers are an irresistible magnet for hummingbirds and butterflies. The plant’s berries also draw songbirds in late summer and fall.
- Black-Eyed Susan – This tough little favorite is drought- and salt-resistant, making it the state’s most popular for landscaping. Its yellow flowers will persist while others wilt in the summer sun. Butterflies love it.
- Passion Flower – This perennial is easy to grow and can tolerate dry weather. Its big lavender and purple flowers have quirky little fringes that appear to wave in the breeze.
- Bougainvillea – This Southern belle can handle the sun and dry soil, and blooms in an array of colors. Technically a vining shrub, it will grow on fences, trellises, and even in a pot. It should be covered during freezes and frosts.
Beds of ornamental plants can cut back on the area of your yard devoted to turf — and that means less ground to mow. Because Florida’s turfs are warm-weather varieties that don’t grow well in shade, shade-tolerant native plants can fill in the bare spots. You can also cut back on yard work with other non-turf elements, such as water features that recycle water, a cozy meditation nook, paths of pavers, and a pergola.
When it comes to choosing plants, think native when possible. Native plants, whether trees, shrubs, or flowers, are already adapted to the climate, meaning they’re hardwired to be low maintenance. They also attract beneficial wildlife and usually need less watering.
Florida has a climate ideal for gardening and a rich resource of ornamental plants to choose from. Putting them to use in your yard can make life a sea-breeze!
Brian Conner is a landscape designer and eco-conscious living expert. He prefers to use only native plants that will attract pollinators and other wildlife to backyards. He also specializes in using pest-repelling plants and flowers.