In Florida, flowering bushes, shrubs, trailing vines, and evergreen plants all come together to add beauty to landscapes and gardens. A lot of shrubs that thrive in shade or sun are perfectly suited to grow in Florida’s humid and hot climate. Florida shrubs can be challenging to grow if you’re new to the area as the Sunshine State has a very diverse climate.
The northern portion of the state has colder winters and coastal breezes while Central and Southern Florida, on the other hand, have constant humidity and sunshine that can make growing Florida shrubs challenging. However, there are several native Florida shrubs and non-native options that thrive in these conditions.
In this article, we’re going to give you the rundown of 25 of the prettiest Florida shrubs and bushes you can grow. The pictures and quick descriptions will give you a good idea on whether a particular Florida shrub is a good choice for your landscape or if there is one better suited.
Florida Planting Zones
Florida sprawls out over a big area in the southeastern portion of the United States, and you can divide it into three main growing zones that include North Florida, Central Florida, and South Florida.
Northern Florida falls into planting zones eight and nine. This area covers the Panhandle region of the state. It has a climate that is very similar to southern states like Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Cities in these zones include Pensacola, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville. The climate is very subtropical, and it offers mild, short winters with warm, long summers.
Central Florida is in USDA growing zones 9a to 10a. This region of the state includes Daytona Beach, Orlando, and Tampa Bay. It also has a subtropical climate, but it stretches all year round. In May and June, this is the wet season where you get a lot of rain each year.
Southern Florida is in planting zones 10 and 11. It’s a very tropical climate that includes Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and the Florida Keys and areas around the Gulf Coat. Since it’s a tropical climate, the temperatures average 80-degrees Fahrenheit.
25 Popular Florida Shrubs
Despite the fact that you have a whole host of conditions that you have to meet to get your Florida shrubs to thrive, you can easily find native shrubs to help make the process easier. The following are great for beginners and can add welcome pops of color to the landscape.
1. Allamanda Bush (Allamanda schottii)
This Florida shrub is an evergreen tropical with a very vigorous growth habit, and it offers big clusters of funnel-shaped, golden yellow flowers. This is a very long-blooming shrub that starts in late spring and goes until fall. The bright yellow flowers create a very nice contrast with the dark green, lance-shaped leaves. It’s technically an ornamental shrub that gets between four and five feet tall when you plant it in zones 10 and 11 in light shade to full sun.
The pretty features of this Florida shrub are the leathery green leaves that come to a sharp point and are between two and four inches long. They also have an abundance of yellow flowers while offering all-season color. It grows very well as a privacy hedge, anchor for your garden bed, corner accent, or as a specimen plant.
2. Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia)
Angel’s Trumpet is a very large Florida shrub that has trumpet-like reddish-orange or yellow flowers that dangle on very long stems. You can identify this shrub by the long leaves that are between 4 and 12-inches each, and they have aromatic, long, and large flowers that are up to 20-inches long. The shrub will grow between 10 and 36-feet when you plant it in zones 9 to 11 in partial shade to full sun.
This is a member of the nightshade family, so this means that every part of this plant is highly poisonous. It’s a humidity-tolerant and heat-loving Florida shrub that does very well in Southern Florida. It works wonderfully as a large-leafed specimen plant in your yard, but you want to be careful where you plant it if you have pets or kids.
Most Azalea varieties do very well when you plant them in North or Central Florida to help fill in gardens with stunning floral shows in the early spring months. They bloom in very big, showy trumpet-shaped flowers in colors that range from white to pink or red. The flowers can be as small as a quarter of an inch to five-inches across. You plant this Florida shrub in zones eight and nine in partial sun to partial shade.
Native Azaleas are originally from Asia, and the best native option you have for a Florida shrub is bush honeysuckle with the fragrant, small flowers with lance-shaped, pointed leaves. They get between 8 and 10 feet tall. Another native species to consider is Chapman’s Azalea. It’ll get between three and six feet tall, and it offers pink spring flowers that are between half of an inch to an inch across with smaller leaves.
4. Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)
Also known as sweet bay laurel, this is a medium or large Florida shrub that has evergreen, dense foliage with oval-shaped aromatic leathery leaves and big clusters of white, small flowers. This shrub is capable of reaching 25 feet high in the wild, but regular pruning will keep it between two and eight feet in your yard. It likes zones 8 to 10 and full to partial sun, and you don’t want to confuse it with the cherry laurel plant.
Bay laurel shrubs thrive in the higher humidity levels that Florida offers. It’s an ornamental plant that does well in oceanic climates, and you can grow it as an evergreen hedge, use it in a topiary, or planted in a container. You can also harvest the dry bay laurel leaves to use in soups and stews.
5. Bolivian Sunset (Gloxinia sylvatica)
This is a small, attractive, low-growing Florida shrub that does well in frost-free regions of the state. You can identify this flowering shrub by the darker green, glossy foliage with sprays or tubular, orangish-red flowers. This smaller plant tops out at three feet tall when you grow it in zones 9 to 11 in partial shade to sun. It’s an ideal container plant in colder areas. In subtropical parts of the state, this Florida shrub does well in shaded or sunny borders or beds. You can also use it as a ground cover as it tends to have a spreading habit.
This gorgeous tropical, flowering shrub works well in garden landscapes in the southern portion of Florida. It’s an ornamental shrub that has a reputation for growing hot pink, orange, purple, or stunning red flowers that cover the shrub. In Florida, it’s popular to use Bougainvillea as a creeping vine to help cover fences or walls, as a foundation bed, or draped over an arbor. It grows best in zones 10 to 12 in full sun.
Bougainvillea will get between 3 and 40 feet tall, and the spread is very similar. With routine pruning, this shrub will turn into a well-kept, flowering evergreen. You can leave it as a vining shrub to spread out too. The tolerance for high humidity and full sun makes it fantastic in Florida landscapes.
7. Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii)
You can identify the butterfly bush but the conical clusters of purple, fragrant flowers with semi-evergreen foliage. The biggest identifying feature on this Florida shrub is the arching stems with big flower clusters. The cone-like blooms will measure eight-inches long, and the leaves will measure between three to five-inches long. It grows well in zones five to eight in full sun.
As the name implies, this Florida shrub is ideal for helping to draw pollinators to your yard or garden. Other names for this plant include the orange eye and summer lilac. Although this flowering shrub grows well in Florida, the higher humidity levels can make it more prone to issues with foliar diseases. It works well when you plant it along the fence, as an informal hedge, or lining a sidewalk or driveway.
Camellia is a larger group of evergreen shrubs that have leathery, glossy leaves with huge double flowers and a bushy growth habit. Camellia shrubs are known for the colorful winter flowers and the lush foliage. They’re tougher shrubs that grow between 6 and 10 feet tall when you plant them in partial shade, and this is why they’re popular in shade gardens.
These flowering shrubs are fantastic to add to North Florida landscapes as an accent plant, evergreen hedgerow, screen, or foundation plant. These long-lived Florida shrubs are popular due to the evergreen foliage and the interesting shapes. They also require very little care, so they’re great for beginners.
9. Cape Honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis)
Cape honeysuckle is an evergreen shrub that thrives in Florida’s climate. This is a scrambling shrub that produces reddish-orange or orange tubular flowers that are three inches long. It also has pinnately compound, dark green leaves that top out at six inches long with serrated edges. Cape honeysuckle gets between 7 and 10 feet tall when you plant them in zones 9 to 11 in partial shade to full sun.
Although this Florida shrub isn’t a vining plant, it can spread to an impressive 25 feet wide. The scrambling habit means that it can climb arbors, trellises, walls, pergolas, and fences. You can also grow this drought-tolerant plant as a privacy screen or a flowering evergreen hedge.
10. Cape Jasmine (Gardenia jasminoides)
Better known as Gardenia, this Florida shrub has dense foliage that consists of green, leathery leaves with pure white waxy flowers. The leaves on this plant are lanceolate to oblong, and they can measure between 1.2 and 10-inches long. The brilliant white funnel flowers are big, and they measure up to four inches in bloom in the fall and summer months.
In subtropical warm climates, Cape Jasmine will thrive when you plant it in dappled sunlight or full sun. It’s a mounding shrub that needs moist, fertile soil. It grows best in zones 7 to 11, and you can grow it as a border plant, evergreen hedge, or a privacy screen.
11. Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)
This native vine is one that you can also grow as a shrub in Florida. You may hear it referred to as trumpet honeysuckle or scarlet honeysuckle, and it offers attractive features of a shrubbery vine with tubular, red flowers that grow in whorls. It also has pointed, evergreen leaves with red berries that grow from fall to summer when you plant it in zones four to nine in full sun.
Deciduous twining coral honeysuckle vine is great to grow over fences, trellises, or arbors. You can also allow the vines to spread without any support to grow as a full sun plant or ground cover. The flowers on this vining Florida shrub measure two inches long, and it has lanceolate leaves that are two inches long. The bushy vine will grow up to 20 feet or more.
12. Jamaica Caper (Capparis cynophallophora)
Jamaica Caper is a native Florida shrub or you can grow it as a small tree. You can identify it by the oval, glossy green leaves and beautiful pink, purple, or white flowers with spindly, long white stamens and cylindrical, long pods with edible capers. It’s an eye-catching shrub that is between 6 and 15 feet high and 8 to 12 feet wide. They grow well in zones 10 and 11 in partial shade to partial sun.
The biggest identifying features on this plant are the oval leaves as they have notched tips and the small showy flowers with two-inch long stamens. The bean-like, long pods are three to eight inches long.
13. Croton (Codiaeum variegatum)
The croton plant is a very striking flowering Florida shrub that has leathery red, pink, green, yellow, or purple leaves. These shrubs are ideal for adding pops of color to your subtropical Central or Southern Florida landscapes. They’re sun loving shrubs that get up to 10 feet tall, but you can also find and plant dwarf cultivars in containers in zones 10 and 11 in partial shade to full sun.
The croton shrubs have eye-catching features like the colorful patterns all over the leaves. The leathery leaves are a huge range of colors with contrasting bright veins. Other cultivars offer lance-shaped leaves with yellow splotches.
14. Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis)
Elderberry is a very large suckering bush or shrub that is native to Florida or the eastern coast in the United States. It has a reputation for developing clusters of stunning white blooms and flowers in the mid to late summer months. Once the flowers start to fade, black and purple berries appear on the tree. In Southern Florida, the elderberry will stay evergreen all year round. It grows well in zones 4 to 10 in partial shade to full sun.
These shrubs can easily reach 10 feet tall and have stunning ornamental value in your garden landscape. It’s an evergreen or deciduous shrub that tolerates different soil conditions and varieties. You can grow it as a hedge plant, small flowering tree, or a bush for naturalized spaces.
15. Firebush (Hamelia patens)
Firebush is a very big Florida shrub that flowers and can easily reach 10 feet wide by 15 feet tall. This shrub is native to South and Central Florida, and it’s an attractive ornamental shrub that has reddish-orange tubular flowers that grow in small forking bunches at the ends of the stems. The foliage on this plant consists of evergreen leaves in an oval shape with pink-hued veins. This plant thieves in zones 9 to 11 in partial sun to full sun.
The individual flowers on this Florida shrub measure 1 to 1.5-inches long, and they have lance-shaped leaves that are six inches long. It’s a sun-loving and fast-growing perennial that does well in warm winter climates. If you live in Florida, you can plan this shrub as a border plant, evergreen hedge, or in a container garden.
16. Firespike (Odontonema cuspidatum)
This Florida shrub blooms throughout the year when you plant it in Southern Florida gardens as a perennial in North or Central Florida. It produces bright crimson red flowers as spikes with tubular flowers. The flower spikes are up to a foot tall, and the shrub will get up to six feet tall when you plant it in zones 9 to 11 in partial shade to full sun.
This plant does best when you plant it in full sun, but it will grow in partial shade. It’s a clumping growth habit that works very well as an anchor shrub at the back of your garden. It’s also semi resistant to drought, and it does well in all Florida climates.
Hibiscus is native to Florida, and it’s also called a rosemallow. This flowering evergreen shrub produces famous pastel-colored flowers, and some can be as large as 10-inches across. Hibiscus flowers can be pretty double flowers with ruffled petals or trumpet-shaped. The hardy Florida shrubs with big, funnel flowers are great for growing in Northern Florida. The lush, beautiful shrubs do well as perennials, and they grow in mounding, compact habits. They do best in zones five to nine in full sun.
However, the Hibiscus will grow best in South or Central Florida because it’s a tropical plant. It’s a sun-loving mound plant that will get between four and six feet tall and three feet wide. The tropical cultivars do well in zones 8 to 10.
18. Ixora (Ixora coccinea)
This is a year-round, tropical flowering shrub that produces big cymes of star-shaped, colorful flowers. The blooms on this shrub can be pink, white, red, orange, or yellow. The shrubs offer lance-shaped leaves, flowers that can get up to five-inches wide, and the shrub can grow between 10 and 15 feet tall and 10 feet wide. They grow well in zones 10 and 11 in partial shade to full sun.
This plant is ideal for having in Florida gardens as an evergreen screen, border, specimen shrub, or a hedge. The star-shaped, long-blooming flowers show up on the ends of woody stems. The shrub tolerates salt and drought, and it does well in South or Central Florida. You can grow them in containers in the Panhandle and in North Florida.
19. Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)
This is a multi-stemmed, bushy Florida shrub that will produce flowers in the late spring months with pale pink blooms. The bell-shaped, showy blooms are lighter pink with dark rose spots. It’s a flowering deciduous shrub that has glossy green, leathery leaves. It grows between 5 and 15 feet tall in zones four to nine in partial sun.
Mountain Laurel is actually native to the eastern portion of the United States. It’s a winter-hardy flowering bush that works well in every region in Florida north of Orlando. You can grow it as a shrub border, specimen plant, and in a cottage garden.
20. Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia)
The Oakleaf Hydrangea is a deciduous flowering Florida shrub in the northern part of the state. The best feature on this plant is the pyramidal clusters of white flowers that measure between 4 and 12-inches long. The dark green, large lobed leaves are another draw for this plant, and they look very close to oak leaves. This shrub grows in zones five to nine in partial sun to full sun.
As a Florida native, this plant will bloom from the late spring month to midsummer, and it’s a perennial. This multi-stemmed shrub has a rounded, dense habit with lush green foliage. You can plant them as a foundation planting, hedge, accent bush, or backdrop.
21. Oleander (Nerium oleander)
Oleanders are flowering Florida shrubs that offer several flower colors that you can grow in each zone in the state. They’re particularly popular and prized in Southern and Central Florida gardens. They produce pretty red, pink, yellow, or white flowers. Also, the multi-stemmed, fast-growing shrub creates a pretty spreading, upward shape. The flowering shrub can grow between 10 and 18 feet tall and 10 feet wide when you plant them in zones 7 to 12 in full sun.
You can identify this shrub as a five-petalled, trumpet-shaped blooms that are around all summer. The evergreen foliage has lanceolate, slender, leathery leaves that have an upward growth habit on erect stems. You do have to keep in mind when you plant this Florida shrub that all parts of it are toxic. So, it’s a good idea to keep it away from areas where your kids or pets could get at it.
22. Pinwheel Jasmine (Tabernaemontana divaricata)
This heat-loving flowering plant has lush green foliage that contrasts nicely with the white, star-shaped flowers. This white-bloomed Florida shrub grows in sun to partial shade, and it can get up to five feet tall and wide with attractive, glossy green leaves. It’s easy to identify due to the white flowers with the pinwheel shape. Also, a few ornamental shrub cultivars have double flowers that grow in smaller clusters.
This spring-blooming shrub will keep producing flowers all year-round in South and Central Florida. The pinwheel jasmine shrub also goes by Nero’s crown, crepe jasmine, and Easy Indian rosebay. However, it’s not related to the jasmine plants in the Jasminum genus. It grows well in partial shade to full sun in zones 9 to 11.
Tagar Mini by Sajin Raj K / CC BY 2.0
23. Texas Sage (Leucophyllum frutescens)
Texas Sage is an evergreen, compact, ornamental, Florida shrub that has small purple flowers with silvery-gray, fuzzy leaves. It’s a rounded mounding shrub with small bell or funnel-shaped flowers that bloom at different times throughout the years, especially after it rains. It’s a great shrub for growing in Central or Northern Florida in zones 8 to 10 in full sun.
This sage plant will get between five and eight feet tall and four to six feet will at full maturity, and the best place to grow this Florida shrub is in a well-drained soil with low humidity. It has fantastic drought and heat tolerance, and you may hear it referred to as Wild Lilac, Texas Silverleaf, Texas Barometer Bush, and Texas Rain Sage.
Texas Sage by Steven Miller / CC BY 2.0
This is a group of flowering Florida shrubs that grow very vigorously in tropical and subtropical climates. The leafy shrubs will produce showy, large flowers in pastel hues of blue, purple, white, pink, and orange. The funnel-shaped flowers measure three-inches across and grow amongst the bright green, heart-shaped leaves on drooping, long branches. It grows best in zones 10 and 11 in dappled shade to full sun.
When you grow it as a shrub, this plant can get 6 to 26 feet tall, and there are some pretty vining plants for the subtropical regions you can try in this genus. If you’re looking to add interest to your garden, add the Susann Vine.
Thunbergia by Archman8 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
The final Florida shrub on the list is a big specimen or a small tree, and it works wonderfully to attract birds, pollinators, and wildlife. It’s a drought-resistant, low-maintenance plant that offers clusters of five-petalled, small, white flowers with dark green, glossy leaves in a lanceolate shape. It can get up to 20 feet tall when you plant them in zones seven to nine in partial shade to full sun.
These shrubs are great for growing as winter flowers in subtropical gardens, and their large clusters of blooms can be domed, spherical, or cone shapes. Their colors range from rose and pink to green and white. Dwarf shrubs are great for growing in a compact space as they only get between one and five feet high and have attractive fall foliage, showy blooms, and berry-like fruits.
Viburnum by Vladimir Kud / CC BY-NC 2.0
These 25 Florida shrubs excel in landscapes or gardens all over the state. You do want to double-check your planting zones and make sure they match your area to ensure that your shrub adapts well and thrives once you establish it.
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.