Landscape trees and shrubs
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Trees and shrubs common in Florida landscape
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Allamanda, Golden trumpet vine

Family - Apocynaceae

The genus consists of 15 species that grow as shrubs or vines. Florida's native form is Pentalinon luteum also a member of the dogbane family. Others are native to the tropics in Mexico, Central and South America.

Flower - Bright yellow trumpet shaped flowers up to 5 inches across are produced year round, peak blooming is in summer.

Alamanda flowers and budsAlamanda shrub in bloom

Available as vine (Allamanda hendersonii), shrub (Allamanda cathartica), or dwarf shrub (Allamanda schottii 'Compacta').

All forms of these plants are fast growers and are not particularly picky about soil conditions. Full sun is needed for best flowering and these do not like shade, Cherry, White, Peach, Chocolate, Cream, Golden-Orange are all hybrid colors available today.

These plants are all fairly hardy, vigorous growers that are suitable for a varitey of landscape applications. All parts of this plant are poisonous to ingest and produce a milky, stiky sap when broken or cut.


Also a member of the dogbane family with pink, or reddish colored flowers, sometimes incorrectly reffered to as a "Pink allamanda" has pretty much the same cultural requirements as the Alamanda.

Grows and flowers best in full sun & is fairly drought tolerant, requiring moderate amounts of moisture. May develop chlorosis (yellowing of the leaves) in alkaline soils, otherwise Mandavilla is not particularly fussy about soil requirements and has no major pests.

Culture - Zones 9-11, can be grown as an annual in colder areas where frost or freeze occurs.

Mandavilla flower

Weeping Bottlebrush
(Callistemon viminalis)

Lemon Bottlebrush
(Callistemon citrinus)

Family - Myrtaceae

The name Bottlebrush is often used to describe plants with various showy flowers resembling a bottle brush.

Two of the most frequently seen in the Florida landscape are C. citrinus, Lemon Bottlebrush (also referred to as Red Bottlebrush) & C. viminalis, the Weeping Bottlebrush. Both with red flowers.

Lage Bottlebrush tree in bloom. Bottlebrush flowers

Lemon Bottlebrush, so named because of the distinct citrus smell of the leaves when bruised, can be grown as as shrub or trained as a small tree up to about 15 feet tall. This plant is a bit hardier than its relatives and can be grown in U.S.D.A. zones 8b - 11. Flowers in spring and summer.

Weeping Bottlebrush, C. viminalis can grow up to 30 feet tall but this is rare, most landscape specimens are 15 - 20 feet with an equal spread.

U.S.D.A. zones 9b - 11. The basic cultural requirements for both of these popular landscape plants are the same. Full sun, tolerant of soil pH from slightly alkaline to acidic, with a clay, loamy or a sandy composition as long as it is well drained.

Bottlebrush trees like moisture but not continuously wet roots, tending to develop root rot if kept wet. High drought tolerance once established, has a medium tolerance of salt air. Leaves are 2-4 inches long a light bronze color when new, becoming light green as they mature with a narrow lanceolate to linear shape and entire margins.

Landscape uses - Can be used as a tall screen or shrub hedge, container plant, specimen tree. Can be used as a small tree near a patio or porch. Humming birds are attracted to the flowers.

Arborvite - Platycladus orientali

Family - Cupressaceae

The Arborvitae is a long time Florida landscape favorite that grows as a large shrub or a small tree up to 40 feet tall with a 12 to 15 foot spread.

When young Arborvitae grows in a dense cone shape, becoming more open and spreading as the tree gets older. Native to China, Japan and N. Korea, this evergreen conifer requires little to no pruning and is often used as a windbreak or screen when spaced 10 to 15 feet apart.

Arborvite Arborvite - Arborvite - Platycladus orientali

This tree will usually produce several trunks when young, these can removed early on to produce a single trunk. Leaves are needle-like, arranged in flat vertical sprays toward the ends of many branchlets, the bark is reddish-brown and very fibrous. Flowers are inconspicuous, cones are 1/2 to 3/4 inch long, bluish-green in color and produced near the branch tips.

Suitable for U.S.D.A. zones 8- 10. Full sun is best for a compact form, less light produces a more open, spindly growth. Arborvitae is tolerant of a wide variety of soil pH and compositions and is resistant to drought once established. New plantings should be watered when dry, but don't keep the roots constantly wet.

Bougainvillea Spp.

Family - Nyctaginaceae

Named after French explorer Louis de Bougainvillea
Bougainvillea is a perennial sprawling woody vine or shrub that has been (and still is) a Florida landscape favorite for many years. With an incredible display of vivid color put on throughout most of the year, Bougainvillea is native to S. America.

B. spectabilis grows larger than B. glabra which is more often chosen as a potted specimen plant. There are many hybrids available in colors ranging from white to purple, peach, pink, rose, crimson reds, salmon, there are now varieties with variegated foliage.

Bougainvillea are tropical plants that need full sun for best flowering, are somewhat tolerant of salt back from the dune, and although they prefer rich soils will tolerate a range of soil composition. Fairly drought resistant once established, Bougainvillea can be stimulated to bloom more by being allowed to occasionally dry out.

Zones 9-11, frost will kill Bougainvillea plants back to ground. In its natural form Bougainvillea produces long arching stems with a very open structure so pruning is require to maintain a more compact form.

Easily trained on a trellis or other supporting structure, used in a "standard" form with a single main trunk, as large spreading shrubs or for barriers and screens, Bougainvilleas are sure to continue to be a popular source of color and variety in Florida landscapes.

A large Bougainvillea tree in flowerWhite Bougainvillea flowers

Autograph Tree (Clusia rosea)

Family - Clusiaceae

Native to South Florida, also known as Pitch Apple, Scotch Attorney, Balsam Apple and Monkey Apple.

A medium sized landscape tree that matures with a short, stocky trunk, this tree is noted for its thick, seven to twelve inch long leathery leaves that can be autographed, preserving a name or message until the leaf is shed. The black material inside of the mature fruit was once used to seal and waterproof boats, hence the common name Pitch Apple.

Pitch apple white flower Autograph tree fruit Trunk of the Autograph tree, also known as Pitch apple

Although the Pitch apple can grow to over 50 feet tall in its natural habitat, in Florida landscapes 30 feet with an equal spread is average.
U.S.D.A. zones 10 - 11

Autograph tree is grown in South Florida and the Florida Keys, and is generally accepted to be of native origin. There is a variety available with yellow and green leaves. 3 inch pink and white flowers in the summer open at night and remain open through the early morning hours, longer on cloudy days.

C. rosea is used as screen planting, making good use of its low branching, spreading habit of growth. Can be used as a small to medium sized specimen tree, having good salt tolerance this is a good tree for seaside plantings, drought tolerant once established although best growth is achieved with moist soil. Full sun to partial or high shade, not fussy about soil pH or composition.

Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

Family - Rubiaceae

Native shrub. Occurs on the banks of streams & lakes, margins of swamps, marshes, in and around wetlands throughout Florida.

Typically growing with several stems, Buttonbush has a symmetrical, rounded crown 4 to 10 feet tall & produces fragrant white flowers in distinctive round clusters from late spring through summer.

Fruit is a hard round red berry, 1/2 to 1 inch in diameter. Leaves are arranged in whorls, sometimes pairs & are elliptic to ovate with entire margins which are often undulate ( wavy ), leaves commonly reflex upward from mid-vein to the margins in a V shape.

Landscape Use - U.S.D.A. Zones 5 - 10, A good native shrub for pond or lake margins, wet & seasonally flooded sites. Buttonbush may be grown on drier sites if irrigated to provide adequate moisture. Attractive to Butterflies. Propagation is by seed or cuttings, full sun to partial shade, soil may be acidic to slightly alkaline. Buttonbush is not drought or salt tolerant.

Buttonbush with white flowersButtonbush flower

Bald cypress
(Taxodium distichum)

Family - Cupressaceae

Native tree found in sloughs, freshwater swamps, floodplains and margins of rivers & lakes on perpetually wet or seasonally flooded soils that are rich in organic content.
U.S.D.A. Zones 5 - 10.

A long lived deciduous conifer, Bald Cypress can grow 100 to 120 feet tall and has stong buttressed trunks to 6 plus feet in diameter. Once heavily logged in Florida for the decay resistant properties of cypress lumber & more recently for the production of mulch, a practice now restricted by law.

Bald Cypress tree Cypress leaves

Bald cypress has a more or less cone shaped canopy when young, becoming flat topped and often "windswept" in older trees. Cypress bark is rough and scaly with a reddish brown to light grey coloration. Leaves are light green & fine textured with a feathery appearance, turning coppery brown in fall.

Noted for its "knees" or pneumatophores which project upward from the lateral roots - these are believed to aid the tree in getting oxygen to the roots in flooded or anaerobic soils and/or to help stabilize the tree.

Landscape Uses - Specimen, shade, or accent tree on wet soils, groups of trees with varied heights planted on pond, lake or stream banks. As a truly deciduous tree, Florida's Bald Cypress can be used for shade in summer while allowing warming sunlight to shine through in winter.

Propagated from seeds in moist soil, Bald Cypress needs full sun. Tolerates moderately alkaline to acidic soils. Can be grown in fairly dry soils if kept watered during periods of drought.

Buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus)

Family - Combretaceae

Native. Found on the shorelines of estuaries (brackish water is a mix of fresh and salt waters) & barrier island lagoons south of Cape Canaveral.

Buttonwood leaf and fruitsilverbuttonwood leaf and fruitSilver buttonwood shrub

Buttonwood, or Buttonwood Mangrove can be grown as a multiple stemmed shrub or small tree. Although capable of reaching a height of 40 feet as a tree, it more often takes the form of a medium to large shrub of 15 feet or less in the wild.

Flowers are white to purplish, produced year round, the fruit from which this plant gets its common name is a round, cone-like reddish brown berry.

Silver buttonwood ( Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus ) with its silvery grey leaves is widely used as a landscape shrub. Either form can be trained to grow as a single trunked specimen with pruning.

U.S.D.A. Zones - 10, 11. Specimen, border, hedge or screen - especially good for low lying, wet areas. Full sun to light shade, tolerant of salt, alkaline soils & drought. Buttonwood has strong wood and is wind resistant.

Bird of Paradise (Strelitzia reginae)

Family - Strelitziaceae

A.K.A. - Crane flower The 18 inch long and 6 inch wide leathery, paddle shaped leaves along with its clumping habit of growth help to lend a tropical feel to the landscape, the spectacular flowers have fiery orange sepals and a bright blue tongue set in a green spathe earns this plant the "Bird of Paradise" resemblance and title.

Flowers are produced throughout the year in South Florida on long stems slightly higher that of the 4-5 foot high, dark green foliage. These make good cut flowers being relatively long lasting.

Bird of Paridise plant Bird of Paridise flower

U.S.D.A. Zones 10, 11. Used as an accent plant or potted plant. Often used in landscape "islands" and/or planted around the base of taller palms. Full sun is needed for best flower production, but high shifting shade is acceptable.

Bird of Paradise will grow in shade and the leaves will be darker green, but at the expense of fewer flowers.

Slightly acidic, well drained soil is best, but this plant will tolerate a range of soils. Fertilize every month to six weeks for best growth and flowering. Bird of Paradise can be propagated from seed or by division of clumps of plants.

Red Cedar
(Juniperus virginiana)

Family - Cupressaceae
Native to Florida, Red Cedar is a fine textured evergreen tree to 40-50 feet tall with a dense canopy, bark is thin, reddish-brown, trees have a pyramidal or "Christmas tree" shape when young. Mature older trees are more often somewhat flat-topped with a definite windswept appearance.

The aromatic wood of Red Cedar has long been used for closet linings & chests to repel insects.
Red cedar wood is also resistant to rot & has been used for fence posts to plant stakes and structures where this attribute is required.

Use - As a screen or windbreak, plant 15' on centers, specimen or accent tree, street tree, Christmas tree. Suitable for seaside plantings. Red cedar likes sandy soil and is very fast growing once established.

Zones 2 - 9, Propagation is by seed, full sun to partial shade, tolerates a range of soil textures & pH as long as it is well drained, this tree does not like "wet feet". Highly drought and salt tolerant.

Red Cedar treeRed cedar screenRed cedar leaf close-up

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