I absolutely love landscaping—especially here in Florida where we have longer seasons and a rich variety of amazing plants to choose from.
While every landscape design I create is unique and is based on the property owner’s desires, style and the environment surrounding the area, I often re-use four shrubbery-type plants in my designs.
Because they work so well in so many situations—and they pull your design together with fullness, variety and color!
Hold On To Your Seatbelt: My Top Four Go-to Florida Landscaping Plants
Loropetalum is great choice for those areas needing a little kick, like a border or a drab area that needs a bit of color. These plants are full and lush; their leaves pop against the greens of other plants. In the spring, they bloom with usually bright pink flowers, although you might see the occasional white one.
What makes Loropetalum so versatile is they can be used in sunny areas as an accent or in shaded areas. If that weren’t perfect enough, they are also easy to grow and require little maintenance, although occasionally you may want to prune them a bit. For those who love to garden, they make the perfect backdrop for shade-loving perennials. And finally, to top it all off, they are resistant to pest and disease problems, making them a 5-star choice in my book!
Arboricola, or more specifically Green Arboricola, are great for accents, hedges or borders. Their unique leaves provide a lush tropical look and add a great texture to your landscape design. They also leaf all the way to the ground, making them perfect to plant around walkways, patios or pool decks.
*Tip to Keep in Mind: To really add more color and dimension to your design, you can also use the variegated version, although the variegated variety doesn’t typically grow as fast.
Arboricola are hardy and easy to maintain and will grow in shade as well as sun. One of the things I love about them is that if you want to trim or shape them, their wide-spanned leaves generally cover up any cut points you make when trimming, so they always look great!
3. Variegated Flax Lily
The Variegated Flax Lily is one of my favorite plants because they always add the finishing touch to my designs and offer the perfect complement to bring out the color of plants behind them. I frequently use them as the first row choice in a variety of beds. Sometimes I’ll use a small grouping of them for accents, like around a tree or mailbox.
They also make great ground cover, if you’re looking to cut down on your post-plant work time. Actually, the Variegated Flax Lily is almost a “plant-and-forget-it” type of plant, but it does help to fertilize them from time to time (who doesn’t benefit from a little feeding, now and then?).
Lastly, they will also give you a little color, as they bloom with tiny blue flowers from spring through summer. They work well in sunny areas and in partial shade and stay green all year round here in Florida.
*Tip to Keep in Mind: The sunnier the area, the more the variegation will show.
4. Gold Mound
The Gold Mound is the perfect name for these plants. The reason is unsurprising: The Gold Mound is a bright gold-like color shaped kind of like a mound. This plant really is a standout that complements other landscape colors.
In a design sense, the advantage to this attention-getting color is that it will quickly draw attention to and highlight areas of your landscape. Another way to look at it: It will also draw attention away from areas you don’t want to stand out. I use Gold Mound frequently to draw attention to walkways or entrances. Placed on either side of the front or back steps of a front porch adds a welcoming touch, too.
Gold Mound does prefer more sun then the other plants I mention here, but they tend to still do well in partial sun locations. Although they grow to be anywhere between 2 and 4 feet tall and tend to be bushy, they’re easy to manicure and trim into a nice shape.
Well there you have it: The four plants I keep in my Florida landscape design bag of tricks.
As an additional parting gift, here’s another thought to keep in mind when you’re out plant-browsing or thinking about improving, redoing, or designing a new landscape: Consider layering the size, texture and color of your foliage. I know through experience that these four plants will really help pull it all together and give your landscape that professional edge that your neighbors will compliment you on.
If you’re going to tackle designing or upgrading your landscape yourself (or even if you’re going to hire a professional landscape company), I suggest you download our free Landscape Assessment Guide.