Essentials of Florida Gardening: Four Must-Have Ornamental Shrubs

Shrubs are an essential foundation plant. They will add color, appeal, and structure to your landscape, plus value and equity to your home.

Florida homeowners have a large variety of plants to choose from, including trees and shrubs to enhance their landscapes. Shrubs are the backbone of your home’s landscape. Shrubs can provide foliage, flowers, and privacy.

Four essential shrubs for the southern gardener, particularly Floridians, are Pittosporum, Loropetalum, Camellia, and Gardenia. These easy to care for and fast-growing shrubs provide year-round foliage and seasonal flowers.

Pittosporum – An Evergreen Shrub that Will Keep on Giving

Pittosporum tobira or Japanese pittosporum shrub is drought, heat and salt spray tolerant and I speak from personal experience, Pittosporum will bounce back beautifully from severe pruning and is very forgiving.

This shrub will grow from 8-10 ft and will produce a small white flower in the spring. It will grow taller in the shade, while a sunny spot will keep the shrub compact.

Image by way2chirper

There is a dwarf variety that grows only about 2 ft. The variegated version has grey-green leaves with cream-colored irregular markings and will provide a pop of color in a shaded area.

This popular shrub is a great choice for screens, informal hedges or topiary. It is hardy in USDA Zones 8-10.

Loropetalum is Pretty in Pink or White, Matures Quickly, and Great for Beginners

Loropetalum or the Chinese Fringe Bush is one of my favorite Florida shrubs. Its leaves are finely textured and evergreen. It can grow up to 12 ft high and 6-8 ft wide.

Image by alanashley

The delicate flower can be either white or reddish-pink and will bloom from spring throughout the summer months. The red flowering Loropetalum has darker green foliage and can have burgundy or red tints to the leaves, which makes this shrub a show stopper in full bloom.

It is drought tolerant and USDA Zones 7-10. They prefer partial shade but will tolerate the sun.

Camellia is the Shrub that Will Provide You with a Beautiful Flower

Camellia japonica can produce a wide variety of colorful flowers, with over 3,000 varieties, cultivars, and hybrids, this shrub will provide evergreen foliage and brighten your landscape throughout the winter.

Image by Gray_Rhee

USDA hardiness zones 6-9, Camellias prefer rich moist soil, but are adaptable and should be pruned in the spring in Florida after flowering. They are tolerant of shade and low light conditions and will add a splash of color under your trees.

Gardenia Will Provide Beauty and Fragrance to Your Garden

Gardenia augusta is a shrub that will provide your southern garden with a bit of class and a fragrance to welcome to your northern visitors.

Image by JPShen

This beauty blooms in mid-spring to early summer, with gorgeous white creamy flowers. The leaves of this shrub are glossy and leathery, and the plant can grow up to 6-8 ft.

They prefer partial shade to sun, and are hardy in USDA Zones 8-10. They should be monitored for pests, primarily sucking insects which can be controlled with environmentally safe soap and oil sprays.