Florida has a very unique climate that is hard to replicate anywhere in the world. The levels of heat and humidity can give gardeners challenges when they’re looking for plants and flowers for their gardens, unless they get Florida perennials.
No matter if you’re someone who lives in Florida and grows all year-round or you live there several months out of the year to avoid the cold, the Florida perennials are salt and drought-tolerant while attracting beneficial pollinators. Also, these flowers add a nice pop of color to hardscapes, sunny or shaded gardens, and more. No matter why you want to grow them, Florida perennials won’t disappoint.
Read on to find out 23 perfect Florida perennials that you can add to your garden this year, and we’ll fill you in on how to keep them thriving.
1. Anise Hyssop (Agastache foeniculum)
If you’re someone who likes having mint in the garden, consider this Florida perennial. It’s in the Lamiaceae family, and you can use it in a broad range of dishes while allowing it to look nice in the garden. The blossoms are a lavender color, and the foliage has an upward growth habit to make it a very noticeable addition to your space.
You can grow this Florida perennial in zones three through eight from seed or stem cuttings. If you choose the seed route for this North American native plant, make sure you moisten the soil before you plant it. They’ll offer you longer bloom times, and they’re one of the few flowers that blooms year-round. It can get between two and four feet high when you plant it in full sun or partial shade.
2. Black and Blue Salvia (Salvia guaranitica)
When you think of eye-catching Florida perennials, blue and black salvia is usually right on the top of the list. Originating in Brazil, this plant offers black stems during the summer with a bright shade of blue on the blooms. It also has very deep deen foliage to create a striking contrast that makes the blue booms stand out more. It can spread up to two feet wide per plant and grow between 30 and 40 inches tall.
You want to regularly deadhead this Florida perennial to encourage new flower development. It will bloom in early to late summer when you plant it outdoors in zones 7 to 10 in partial to full sun.
3. Blanket Flower (Gaillardia)
This Florida perennial guarantees that you’ll get a bright color blast no matter if you plant it in containers or right in the garden in zones 9 through 11. The blanket flower is a hardy heat and salt-tolerant plant that is very short-lived, and it fills in with two or three-inch daisy-like petals that are very frilly and offer larger centers in red, orange, rose-purple, or scarlet-copper to make them stand out.
This is another Brazil native that has a mounding growth habit that can easily get up to three feet wide and between 9 and 18 inches tall. These flowers are a huge attraction for butterflies. This plant is a very nice addition to your native, wildflower, pollinator, and seaside garden designs. They are best planted in well-drained soil in a sunny location with moderate water.
4. Blue Daze (Evolvulus glomeratus)
Originating in Brazil, this Florida perennial is also called the Dwarf Morning Glory. It’s a blue flowering shrub that people use as a groundcover, and many gardeners like the blue flowers combined with the foliage’s green is-silver tint. It has a nice ability to tolerate a high amount of drought without any damage, and you won’t have to water it very often if you’re getting rainfall regularly.
If you have this Florida perennial in the garden, the best time to enjoy it is in the morning hours as this is when the flowers bloom. They will close up later in the day. To plant it and keep it healthy, put it in well-drained soil with a little fertilizer in a space with full sun in zones 9 to 11.
5. Bougainvillea (Bougainvillea glabra)
If you live in Florida’s northeastern region, this Florida perennial will thrive. They can survive in zones 9 through 11 as a perennial as long as you plant them in a full sun location. This is a very tropical and colorful plant that offers bright white flowers with bright pink on the edges. The flowers can even be a very bright hot pink, and this lends a touch of the tropics to your space.
This plant is native to Brazil, and it loves hot or dry and warm weather with plenty of sunlight. There are several Bougainvillea varieties available, including a tree, vine, and a flowering bush. It offers several blooming cycles throughout the season, and it will grow to be between 20 and 30 feet high.
6. Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens)
In 2006, the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Associated named this Southern African Florida perennial Plant of the Year. It does require a well-drained soil to grow well, and you want to plant it in a space that gets full, bright sunlight for six to eight hours every day. So, as long as your plant gets direct sunlight for the majority of the day, it should grow and thrive.
If you have soil with a lower nutrient level, don’t worry. This plant is hardy enough that it can survive in poor soils. One of the best features of Bulbine is the yellow flowers it produces, and they grow on top of the plant’s grass-like foliage. It can easily grow between 1 and 1.5 feet tall when it’s fully mature, and it is best planted in zones 9 through 11.
7. Buttercup (Ranunculus repens)
This is a bush-type of Florida perennial that grows tiny yellow flowers. Each flower comes with five petals, and you may hear this plant referred to as the Cuban buttercup or the yellow alder. It works well planted in zones 8 through 11 as a small shrub or a groundcover plant.
It’s very resilient and it isn’t extremely picky, and this makes it great for new gardeners. They like to grow on beaches after heavy storms, and it thrives in Europe, northwestern Africa, and Asia. It needs full to partial sun, and it can survive in rich or poor soil. One downside of this Florida perennial is that it attracts whiteflies and aphids, and some parts of the world consider this a weed. It tops out at 1 to 1.5 feet high.
8. Cuban Gold Duranta (Duranta repens)
Sometimes referred to as Gold Mound, this Florida perennial is another shrub plant that hails from Mexico, South America, and the Caribbean. The foliage this plant produces is more colorful than you may expect at first glance as it offers hints of green and yellow. In many instances, the yellow is very bright and cheerful. It can get between 18 and 24 inches tall at full maturity when you grow it in zones 9 through 11.
You don’t want to plant this Florida perennial as a hedge though. Instead, it works well as an accent plant in other areas in your yard or garden. You should put this plant in well-drained soil, and it needs as much sun as you can give it. This will help bring out the bright yellow tones of the foliage.
9. Dianella Var Flax Lily (Dianella tasmanica Variegata)
Native to Australia, this Florida perennial adds stunning foliage to your garden. The leaves are green and glossy, and you can use it as a border plant. In some cases, it can work as a deep green accent plant in your flower beds. It grows well in zones 7 through 11, and it has a clumping growth pattern to it. So, you’ll have to keep this in mind to ensure it doesn’t take over smaller plants.
It can get between one and three feet tall and wide at full maturity, and this Florida perennial loves full shade to partial shade. It likes well-drained soil, and you can keep the soil moist but not saturated. If you want to spread this plant throughout your garden, you can divide it in the early spring months so it has a chance to set down a deep root system before it blooms.
10. Echinacea Purpurea
Native to North America, this Florida perennial is also known as the Eastern Purple Coneflower. It’s a very popular plant that gets between three and four feet high at full maturity. You want to pick a spot with at least partial sun, but it does better with full sun. It requires well-drained soil, and you have to ensure that you don’t accidentally expose it to a lot of salt because it has a very low tolerance. Other than this point, it’s a Florida perennial that is flexible in terms of soil, and it will grow well in clay, loam, and sand. This colorful perennial grows well in zones four to nine.
11. Hibiscus (Hibiscus)
There isn’t a Florida perennial that looks as tropical as the Hibiscus plant. It offers stunning, large flowers that bloom all year-round in this climate, and it grows extremely well in zones seven and up. You’ll get very showy, bell-shaped, and flared flowers that come in single, double, and scalloped or smooth forms, and the colors vary just as much as the shape. No matter if you want orange, red, purple, yellow, pink, white, or multi-colored blooms, hibiscus plants are something to consider.
This evergreen perennial offers big shiny green foliage to offset the bright flower colors. It’s typically grown as a shrub, but you can get some that get up to 15 feet tall that you can trim to tree form. It loves full to partial sun in a well-draining soil, and it makes a stunning specimen that works well as a privacy screen, hedge, or mixed in containers or gardens. It can get between 8 and 36 inches high at full maturity, and it’s native to a host of tropical regions.
12. Lantana (Lantana camara)
Lantana will produce dozens of small red flowers with medium-green to light-green foliage. This is a groundcover or a shrub-like Florida perennial that is native to tropical regions. To maintain this plant, you have to moderately cut it back while it grows. However, once the active growing season passes, you want to cut it back nearly to the ground. It does best in zones seven and higher, and it can easily get between 8 and 36 inches high.
One of the biggest tips for growing this Florida perennial is to make sure you plant it in well-drained soil, and you want to give it some fertilizer very lightly. It’s a good idea to only use a slow or controlled-release formula for your fertilizer to avoid damaging the plant. This plant can tolerate drought, but it’ll grow stronger with routine watering. It’s a very popular plant to grow in full sun in Florida gardens due to the numerous flowers it produces.
13. Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)
Originating in the Middle East, India, and the Mediterranean, this Florida perennial loves dry and sandy soil. It’s a stunning addition to any garden, but you do want to ensure that you pick out the correct type of lavender for your space. Certain lavender types don’t grow well in Florida’s heat and humidity during the summer months. There are several varieties you can choose, and they range from 12 inches tall to three feet tall.
The best types of lavender to grow in Florida include Phenomenal Lavender and Lavandula canariensis. You’ll need well-drained soil for this plant to do well, and it works very well when you plant it in raised beds or containers. It requires partial to full sun in zones five through eight, and it offers a very heady fragrance all season long when you brush by it.
14. Mexican Heather (Cuphea hyssopifolia)
Better known as elfin heather or false heather, this Florida perennial will grow as a very thick shrublet with dozens of tiny flowers all over the plant throughout the active growing season. The flowers can be purple, white, or pink. This plant is originally from Mexico and Guatemala, so it makes sense that it grows best in zones 9 to 11.
This Florida perennial is flexible when it comes to the type of soil. It can grow in loam, clay, and sandy soils without a problem, and it can do well in alkaline or acidic soils. It does well in drought too, but it has a very low salt tolerance. Grow it in partial to full sun and watch it get between 12 and 24 inches high and wide.
15. Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex)
As the name suggests, this Florida perennial originated in Mexico and the Southwestern portion of the United States. It’s a sunshine-loving plant that needs to be in a place that gets at least partial if not full sun to thrive. While it can survive in shade, it’ll struggle and not produce nearly as many flowers. When you put it in a full sun location, it’ll develop deep purple stems with large flowers and glossy foliage. Plant them in a fertilized, well-draining, and nutritious soil. When it’s concerning the pH levels, you want something between acidic and neutral.
The soil should stay moist around the Mexican petunia as it matures. However, you only want to water when the top inch or two of soil dries out to avoid waterlogging the root system. It can withstand more challenging conditions without damage, including droughts and floods. It’ll get between one and four feet high and between one and three feet wide and long at full maturity.
16. Ox-Eye Sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides)
If you’re looking for a very brightly colored Florida perennial that doubles as a cheerful shrub, the Ox-Eye Sunflower fits the bill. It produces big orange and yellow flowers, and they stretch between two and three inches across. Even though it’s a perennial, it does have shorter growing and blooming seasons.
During the active growing season, this Florida perennial will get between two and four feet wide and high. It also tolerates drought very well, and it does best planted in a very sunny location in zones three through nine.
17. Pentas (Pentas lanceolata)
Originating in Africa and Yemen, Pentas makes a fantastic container flower. You should plant this Florida perennial late in the spring months in a well-drained soil. Also, the location you pick out should be partial or full sun. If you’re planting more than one of these plants at the same time, you want to keep a decent amount of space between them because they grow to be very wide and tall at full maturity.
When you want this Florida perennial to be as bushy as they can, you’ll have to pinch back the plant during the early growth stages. It grows red, white, and pink flowers when you plant it in zones 9 through 11, and it’ll start to bloom during warmer weather. They attract hummingbirds and butterflies to the space, and they can get between two and three feet high and wide.
18. Persian Shield (Strobilanthes dyerianus)
Persian Shield is one of the best plants you can pick out for your Florida perennial selection when it comes to the humid and hot summer months. It’s a perennial, so it’ll come back next year. If you want to add this plant to your garden, your soil should be well-fertilized and well-drained. It originates in Myanmar, and it grows best when you plant it in zones 8 through 11.
The flowers start to appear during the winter months, but this isn’t the main selling point of this plant. Instead, the foliage is as it’s very colorful with shades of red and vibrant green. You want to cover it to keep it alive when the temperature drops, and it’ll act as a deer-resistant annual if you don’t do this. This plant loves full to partial shade, and it can easily reach between two and three feet high and three to four feet wide.
19. Purple Queen (Tradescantia pallida)
Native to the Canary Islands, this Florida perennial has a groundcover growth pattern. One of the unique features with this plant is that it produces purple stems, and all of the other components of the flower are also purple, including the foliage. The foliage has a velvety texture with a purple hue, and the flowers are a pale lavender. When you’re deciding whether or not you want to plant this Florida perennial in your yard, look for a spot that has full to partial sun. If it’s in full sun, it’s much more likely to develop a deep, rich, purple hue.
When you trim this plant, you want to do so on the bed edge. Also, when you plant it, you’ll add some peat moss or an organic topsoil to the area, and this is especially important if you plan to grow it in a drier area of your yard in zones 9B and 10. You won’t water this plant excessively, but it requires regular watering sessions. They’re vulnerable to drought when they’re growing, but it can mature to a hardy plant that is between 1 and 1.5 feet high.
20. Purslane (Portulaca oleracea)
Some people refer to this Florida perennial as little hogweed, and it’s very common to see it growing in Florida or in the native North Africa, India, and Middle East. It’s very popular to put this plant around your vegetable plants in the garden, and it’s a great companion plant for tomatoes. It’s a succulent, and this means that it has thicker leaves and stems, and it produces tiny yellow flowers when you plant it in zones 2 to 12 in full sun. The flowers will only last 24 hours before dying back, but it offers reddish-hued stems too. Purslane tops out at 4 to 8 inches high and 15 inches wide.
21. Sedum (Sedum)
Sedum is from North America, and it can be a fantastic choice for hardy Florida perennials if you have soil that is low in nutrition and sandy. It also doesn’t need a lot of water to do well. One of the reasons Sedum is so popular throughout the state is that it loves the sun, and it thrives in a full sun area in your yard or garden. If you live in southern Florida, switch this to partial shade in the afternoon to prevent scorching. There are different varieties of Sedum available, so match one to your planting zone. Most of them do well in zones 3 to 11, and they can get between 6 and 24 inches high.
22. Shooting Star (Pseuderanthemum laxiflorum)
Originally from Fiji, this Florida perennial is a shrub-type plant. Once it establishes itself, this is a very fast-growing plant that will require regular pruning to keep it in check. If you don’t, it can quickly get unruly. This plant does well in partial shade to full sun, and you should make a point to water it each week. They also require fertilizer once a month to keep it healthy and growing, and they like the soil to drain well. When it comes to cold weather, this is a much more fragile plant as it usually thrives in zones four to eight. They can get up to four feet tall and wide if you avoid frost damage.
23. Shrimp Plant (Pachystachys lutea)
The final Florida perennial on the list comes from Central America and the West Indies. If you’re after a striking plant, this one works well. The flowers are a very unique configuration and shape, and they have a pretty gold hue. It thrives in partial shade or sun in zones 9 to 11.
One feature of this plant is that it blooms all year-round as long as you have it in a warm place like Florida. They’ll need high-quality organic soil for them to grow between two and six feet high. If frost ever appears in your area, you can expect this plant to quickly die back. It should pop up again during the spring months.
Shrimp Plant by Geoff McKay / CC BY 2.0
These 23 perfect Florida perennials can all bring a welcome splash of color and texture to your yard or garden. You can easily mix and match plants to create a one-of-a-kind garden that people can’t wait to visit.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.