The climate of the north and central Florida is humid and subtropical. The climate zone here is warm and sunny, with long summers and short winters. There is a defined rainy season from May through October. So do tropical plants naturally thrive in Florida?
Selecting not only the right tropical plant species but also the correct location will help your garden to need less maintenance and be more successful.
It is important to realize sun and shade in the landscape can change throughout the year and will differ each day. To determine the type of shade and where you will need to select shade-loving plants. Consider the shifting angles of the sun’s rays since parts of your lawn may receive much more sun during the summer months when the sun is at its most intense. Plants grown in shade will do best avoiding mid-day sun from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., but will grow well with early morning or late daylight.
As in nature, for your home and business gardens, water is a crucial factor for plant growth. The absence of adequate rainfall or irrigation for a period of time can lead to drought stress, which can reduce plant growth. Drought stress happens when water loss from the plant far exceeds the ability of the plant’s roots to absorb water and when the water content drops low enough to hamper normal plant processes. Even though Florida gets an annual average of over 50 inches of rain, plants in the sunshine state may encounter drought-stress between rains year-round.
When tropical plants do not get enough water, they stop growing. Tropical plants react by cutting down on photosynthesis and other plant processes so as to reduce water usage. With progressive water loss, leaves of some plant species also can turn pale or brown. Foliage often withers away and, if the plant is not irrigated, the plant does eventually die.
Moreover, with water restrictions in place many home gardeners prefer to use drought-tolerant plants in their landscape to reduce the likelihood of plant injury during dry weather.
Even if we have warm wet natural weather, most of us still have to consider soil conditions. Only found in Florida, Myakka(My-yakah) covers the majority of the more than 1½ million acres of Florida and is actually our official state soil. This soil is a fine white to gray sand. For this reason when you plant a new tropical plant in your garden you should add top soil or organic peat humus to the hole. You might also add in composted cow manure to enrich the soil around the plant’s rootball.
Some of the suggested tropical plants for you to use in Florida are the white bird of paradise. Queen Emma crinum lily. Angel’s trumpet. Croton. Coontie. Selloum philodendron. Foxtail fern. Hibiscus. Adonidia palm. You can find tropicals as well as other species of plants at Crazy Critters Inc. located at 22921 County Road 44a in Eustis, Florida 32736. 352-589-5999. Crazy Critters Inc. is a Private Non-profit, 501(c)3 located in Eustis, Florida. The organization was established to provide non-domestic, non-releasable animals with a safe and permanent home. You can find plant and animal education on their website https://www.crazycrittersinc.com
A Special thanks to the contributors:
- Photos thanks to Theresa Stone
- Article by Cherrice Purvee