Florida’s hot, humid climate means that many types of trees will flourish here. The Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean add moisture to the air that, with the high temperatures, creates a nearly perfect tropical climate.
Coastal areas of Florida have salt in the soil, and southern regions are hotter and drier than the north. However, regardless of where you are in Florida, there are plenty of trees that will thrive under this state’s unique conditions.
The Sunshine State isn’t all orange trees and palm trees! There are several trees that flourish throughout the entire state.
- 1 Trees for Florida Landscapes
- 1.1 Bald Cypress
- 1.2 Banana
- 1.3 Black Olive
- 1.4 Buttonbush
- 1.5 Citrus
- 1.6 Crabapple
- 1.7 Crape Myrtle
- 1.8 Dogwood
- 1.9 Ficus
- 1.10 Fig
- 1.11 Gumbo Limbo
- 1.12 Hornbeam
- 1.13 Hydrangea
- 1.14 Jackfruit
- 1.15 Japanese Fern Tree
- 1.16 Live Oak
- 1.17 Loblolly Bay
- 1.18 Lombardy Poplar
- 1.19 Loquat
- 1.20 Magnolia
- 1.21 Mahogany
- 1.22 Maple
- 1.23 Mulberry
- 1.24 Plumeria
- 1.25 Red Maple
- 1.26 Royal Poinciana
- 1.27 Rusty Blackhaw
- 1.28 Silver Maple
- 1.29 Slash Pine
- 1.30 Sycamore
- 1.31 Weeping Willow
- 2 How to Choose the Right Tree
- 3 Final Thoughts
Trees for Florida Landscapes
There are plenty of trees that grow favorably in Florida’s hot weather. They can add to your landscape and provide shade and even, in some cases, food. Learn about the different options and see what tree suits your yard.
The bald cypress is a tree that can live for as long as 600 years. Native to Florida, It can grow over 100 feet tall and as much as 30 feet wide, so you need to ensure that you have the space for it. This tree flourishes in both wet and dry conditions, so you don’t have to worry about over or under-watering it.
The bald cypress is a deciduous conifer. It loses its needles every fall and regrows them in spring. This makes the tree unique because most conifers are evergreen. Another interesting aspect of this tree is its tendency to change coloring depending on the season. Its needles are green in spring and summer, then orange and red in fall, like leaves on other trees.
Banana trees thrive in the full sun of Florida’s subtropical climate. You need to water them regularly and provide drainage so that the roots won’t rot.
There are different banana trees, so you can choose a large one that grows 30 feet tall or a dwarf that maxes out at 5 feet tall. The varieties produce different bananas as well, ranging in size and taste.
Banana trees grow straight and tall, with long leaves bursting from the top. Each spring, bright stalks of flowers will grow. In late summer, these flowers blossom into fruit.
Black olive trees grow best in Southern Florida and are native to the Keys. It’s an evergreen tree that stands up to 40 feet tall. The trunk and branches are thick and sturdy, often used for boat lumber.
It grows well in salty soil, and the roots grow straight down, so you can plant it near other trees and structures. Because the roots grow down, they are well-anchored and can withstand high winds and storms without damage.
Don’t let the name of this tree fool you—it doesn’t grow olives you can eat. The tree grows yellow-green flowers during spring and summer, which leads to black fruits, but you can’t eat them.
Buttonbush is a small deciduous tree. It grows best in well-drained areas that get partial sun and partial shade. This tree doesn’t do well in salty environments, so it’s not ideal for coastal regions.
The tree sprouts rich green leaves in early spring before flowering a few weeks later. These flowers are white globes with pistils extending out from the blossom itself. Animals typically eat the blooms by fall, but the leaves don’t change color before they fall off for winter.
As its name might suggest, a buttonbush can also be grown as a shrub. You can trim it to keep it low and bushy, to let it stretch tall and develop a twisted trunk. This versatility makes it ideal for various garden spaces.
Citrus trees grow best in Central and South Florida. They include mandarins, tangerines, oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes. Each tree has a different maximum height, but the average range is between 15 to 30 feet tall. They are great in home gardens, and can even be used for composting.
These trees have dark green, glossy leaves that look nice even when no blossoms or fruit grow. The gorgeous white blossoms bloom throughout winter and spring and smell wonderful. The fruit comes not long after the flowers disappear.
You need to have a well-drained area for citrus trees and keep them watered. They prefer full sun. It will take about five years for a new tree to begin producing fruit.
Crabapple trees grow in North Florida and love the sun. The tree grows up to 25 feet tall, and the branches spread wide. Green leaves cover the branches until spring blossoms take over the view in your yard. Crabapple blossoms vary in colors like white, pink, and red.
Different varieties of crabapple trees produce fruits that are can be yellow, orange, red, or green. The fruits are small, but you can eat them like standard apples. Because they’re tart, you might prefer to use them in a recipe rather than eating them straight off the tree.
These trees grow well throughout all Florida climates. Crape myrtles are small, deciduous trees with branches covered in green leaves. In spring, it blooms with white, pink, purple, or red flowers. These blossoms are soft and ruffled, giving the tree a unique look.
After the flowers fall to the ground in late summer, the leaves change to yellow, orange, and red. With a crape myrtle, you’ll get beautiful colors year-round.
This tree grows up to 30 feet tall, but you can prune it to stay about 10 feet tall. You can also let the branches grow all over to make it look more like a shrub than a tree. The ability to transform this tree to best fit your space means it’s a must-have for any Florida yard.
Dogwood trees grow in cooler temperatures, so you’re more likely to see them in North and Central Florida. These are average-sized trees that grow to a maximum of 30 feet. The thin branches spread out, so you’ll have a beautiful flowering tree in spring.
The flowers are white, pink, or red, depending on the variety of dogwood you plant. As fall comes, the leaves turn red, and red berries sprout among them.
Despite preferring cooler climates, dogwoods can grow in full sun. However, it’s best to put them in an area with at least partial shade. Make sure you have fertile soil that is well-drained so the roots won’t rot.
You might know of the ficus as an indoor tree; it’s grown in small pots as a decoration. But they can also grow outside and expand to be a great shade tree. They thrive in Central and South Florida.
Different varieties of ficus trees reach different heights. For example, the Indian rubber tree grows 30 feet tall, while the lyrata bambino is a dwarf version of the ficus. You can prune them to keep them to your ideal height.
Many ficus species are evergreen, though they may still lose leaves in winter due to a lack of sunlight. They also have weak trunks and branches, so you should place them where they’re protected from strong winds.
Growing up to 25 feet tall and 25 feet wide, you need to give fig trees plenty of space to spread out. Going along with their large size are their massive lobed leaves. Fig trees are actually a species of ficus that can grow in any Florida soil.
In spring, the fig tree blossoms with what turns into fruit. They don’t grow flowers, and then fruit—the fruit matures from an inverted flower. Some fig trees yield two crops every year, so having one means you can occasionally enjoy a nice treat.
The gumbo limbo is a tree native to South Florida. It needs warm temperatures, so you shouldn’t plant one if you live in an area that gets frost during the winter. It can handle salty soil, so it’s ideal for planting in southern coastal regions.
The gnarled branches of this tree extend up to 50 feet to provide plenty of shade. Green leaves cover the branches until white flowers bloom in the spring. These sweet flowers attract butterflies, so you’ll love the resulting activity in your yard.
The tree has a unique aesthetic – it has peeling bark that’s more of a copper color than the standard brown bark. If you want a tree that offers shade and sturdy climbing branches, you can’t go wrong with a Gumbo Limbo.
The hornbeam is a deciduous tree that grows well in North and Central Florida. It loves the sunshine and produces more leaves with more direct light. It also yields bright yellow or orange flowers in spring.
This tree can grow 30 feet tall, so it’s an ideal shade tree. It can grow in wet soil, so drainage isn’t as crucial as with other trees. The hornbeam is compact enough that you can plant it near your patio for shade without worrying about root disruption.
Hydrangeas are a tree that can grow up to 25 feet tall if you don’t prune them. Otherwise, you can keep them short to look more like a bush. If you don’t prune a hydrangea, you’ll find that they can spread out close to 25 feet wide as well!
This deciduous tree has dark green leaves that turn yellow in fall before dying off during winter. The tree will bloom with clusters of small flowers that start white and mature to other colors during the summer. Their flowers come in shades of blue, green, pink, orange, yellow, and purple.
Hydrangeas love both full sun and partial shade as long as you water them regularly. You can even grow this tree in containers. This is great if you want the option of moving it around your yard instead of picking a permanent spot.
Jackfruit is an evergreen tree that grows anywhere without frost in Florida. Because it grows up to 40 feet tall, it makes an excellent shade tree. It has big glossy leaves that make a nice canopy for additional sun protection.
The fruit is also a nice benefit to planting this tree. The flavor is light and sweet, and you can boil or roast the seeds to eat them too. The fruits will grow throughout the summer and are ready to pick in early fall.
Jackfruit trees prefer full sun, and they’re strong enough to withstand wind and weather. This makes it an ideal tree to plant in an empty part of your yard that needs some decoration.
Japanese Fern Tree
The Japanese fern tree grows best in Southern Florida, where it’s quite a bit warmer year-round. This is a low-maintenance shade tree that won’t take over your yard. It’s great to use near your patio for extra shielding from the sun.
The leaves on the Japanese fern tree look like traditional fern plants, so it adds interest to your yard compared to standard leaves. The tree loves full sun and needs well-drained soil, so place it accordingly.
Live oaks grow anywhere in Florida and love full sun conditions. It can grow in salty soil, so people in coastal regions can enjoy all this tree has to offer. It grows up to 60 feet tall and has a wide trunk, so make sure you give it plenty of space to expand.
Though the live oak’s branches spread out, it might not provide enough shade for your yard. Spanish moss often grows on the branches, so the leaves aren’t spread out enough to provide ample shade.
The branches are great for climbing, though, and the wood is durable and resistant to wind and weather damage.
Loblolly bay is a tree native to Florida. Though it’s an evergreen, the long leaves change color in the fall, making it a beautiful addition to your yard. During the summer, beautiful white flowers grow along the branches.
These trees are found in North and Central Florida because they don’t grow well in salty soil. It also needs consistent watering and can die in drought-like conditions.
These fast-growing trees work well as the center of attention in your yard or as a nice border. They can grow up to 50 feet tall and 15 feet wide, so you can space them to create a natural privacy wall in your yard.
Because the branches start low and grow parallel to the trunk, they don’t provide a lot of shade. Lombardy poplars are deciduous trees, and the leaves turn yellow in the fall. They grow red catkins in spring.
Loquat trees grow throughout Florida. They stay small, maxing out at about 20 feet tall. They spread a bit wider, though, reaching an average of 25 feet wide. Though they’re small, they can provide nice shade due to their large leaves.
Loquat leaves are about 12 inches long. White flowers blossom in the leaf clusters each fall. By spring, the small loquat fruits grow where the flowers had bloomed. You can eat the fruits raw after peeling the skin, which has small spikes all over it.
These trees are evergreen and love the full sun. You need to plant them in well-drained soil and water them regularly. They can handle salty soil but don’t thrive in it, so plant them accordingly.
Magnolias are evergreen trees that grow up to 80 feet tall. They have dense canopies that make them almost as wide as they are tall. If you prune them, they can provide shade. Otherwise, the branches start growing low to the ground, which can make a stunning statement in your yard.
Magnolia leaves are thick and waxy. They remain a brilliant green year-round, but the tree hits its peak in the summer. That’s when huge, beautiful white flowers bloom. These flowers are so fragrant that you can smell them from far away.
These trees prefer partial shade and well-drained soil. Water them regularly so that the soil stays slightly moist.
Mahogany trees are native to Florida but prefer areas that never get frost. Therefore, if you live in Southern Florida, consider planting these stately trees in your yard. They can handle salty soil, so those on the coast should try this tree.
The branches of mahogany trees have green leaves that produce green flowers in spring. A few weeks after the flowers bloom, brown fruits grow. Arborists call these sky fruits because it looks like they’re growing up into the sky instead of hanging down.
Maple trees flourish in full sun and are drought-tolerant, so they grow well throughout Florida. They also grow quickly, reaching 60 feet tall in a couple of years. The canopy expands to about 25 feet wide, making it a lovely shade tree.
The leaves of a maple tree turn beautiful colors in the fall. If you plant this tree, you’ll enjoy watching the small green leaves turn yellow, orange, and red. In the spring, red fruits blossom, so you’ll constantly see a bright show with this tree.
Mulberry trees provide shade but also grow sweet berries you can eat. Black and red mulberry produce the best fruit and thrive in North and Central Florida. Beautiful flowers bloom in spring and alert you that the fruit is soon to follow.
These trees grow up to 30 feet tall, and the canopy can stretch about that wide as well. When considering planting mulberry trees, keep their size in mind, as their fruit will drop everywhere and make a mess. You’ll want to keep them away from your roof, gutters, and any concrete areas.
Mulberry trees are deciduous and will produce fruit within two or three years. They can withstand strong winds and weather and will flower and fruit for many years.
A plumeria tree is small and can grow in close quarters to other trees and plants. It thrives in Central and South Florida because it can’t handle frost. It can, however, handle salty soil, making plumeria a great addition to your yard if you live on the coast,
The tree has thick branches that resemble sausages. The beautiful blossoms make up for the strange branches, though. The vibrant pink, orange, yellow, or white blooms take over the branches in late spring.
The deciduous tree will lose its green leaves in the winter, but otherwise, the plumeria offers a bright pop of color throughout most of the year.
The red maple is native to Florida and can be found in the wetter areas of Central Florida. If your land is susceptible to drought, make sure you’re able to water this tree adequately.
True to its name, this tree has beautiful red leaves. There are several varieties of red maple. The Florida flame has vibrant red leaves in fall, while the summer red has red leaves in spring that turn yellow and orange in the fall.
During the spring, red flowers bloom and lead the way for samaras to grow. These are tiny red fruits that grow in clusters on branch stalks. The fruits aren’t poisonous for humans, but they aren’t necessarily tasty, either, so you can leave them for the birds.
The royal poinciana has flowers so vibrant that it is often called the flame tree. Clusters of vivid orange flowers bloom during the spring and summer months.
During the rest of the year, the royal poinciana has feathery green leaves that provide decent shade. The branches spread wide to cover a lot of the area in your yard. Its adult shape looks like an umbrella, with a broad canopy balanced on a smooth trunk.
This tree grows best in areas of Florida that never get frost. It’s deciduous, meaning it will lose its leaves in winter. It also isn’t too sturdy when put up against harsh weather or strong winds, but if you keep it pruned, it can survive and continue blooming.
The rusty blackhaw is a deciduous tree with dark green leaves in spring and summer. When the leaves change color in the fall, they turn bright red and vivid purple. Though the leaves are striking, the tree also blooms. White flowers grow in clusters all over the tree’s branches.
This tree can be grown in a container so you can move it around your yard. Since it flourishes even in a small area, it’s ideal to plant next to your patio so you can sit outside and enjoy its beauty.
Rusty blackhaws need well-drained soil and partial shade. They grow best in North and Central Florida. Though it’s a tree, you can prune it to keep it short and allow it to expand outward, more like a shrub.
The silver maple is related to the red maple, though it looks different enough to be unique. It can grow in various climates but thrives in the wetlands around swamps and lakes. It grows quickly and can provide some much-needed shade in the yard.
Though this tree likes wet soil, it’s not very hardy. Bad weather and rough winds can break the brittle branches. Keep this in mind when you’re planting the tree so branches won’t cause damage to any structures on your property.
Slash pines are native to Florida and grow quickly in this climate. They can reach up to 100 feet high, with branches spreading 50 feet out. You can prune it to keep it more compact or allow it to grow and provide shade for your yard.
This evergreen tree has unstable branches, so you don’t want to plant it too close to your house or other structures. It also drops its needles and pine cones in fall and winter, which can cause a mess. They’re best planted in a part of the yard where these droppings won’t harm anything in your yard.
The Sycamore is another tree native to the state, though it thrives best in the cooler temperatures of North and Central Florida.
A fully-grown tree will provide amazing shade for your yard. Keep in mind that it’s a large tree and can grow 90 feet tall. The branches spread almost as wide, so you need to plant them in a space where they can expand without hindrance.
While you can prune the sycamore to keep its height down, you might want to let it tower over your yard. However, along with the shade it provides comes some mess. They drop leaves in fall since they’re deciduous, but small twigs and branches also easily break off.
Because of these droppings, it’s not a good idea to plant any flowers or shrubs around a sycamore tree. They will get covered in leaves each fall and struggle to flourish in the shadow of this giant.
Weeping willows grow best in North and Central Florida. It grows quickly to a height of about 45 feet tall, so you need to make sure you have enough space for it to grow up as well as spread as the canopy droops down.
Because the roots spread searching for water, the weeping willow is an ideal tree to plant beside a lake or stream. The way the branches of this tree hang down makes it a great tree for giving privacy. It’s nearly impossible to see through the weeping willow’s canopy.
After learning about the best trees for Florida, you probably have several you’d like for your yard. Before you plant it, check out these tips on how to choose the right tree for your needs.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) lists Florida’s plant hardiness zones as 8a through 11a. This map helps you understand the minimum extreme temperature for your area. You can narrow down what type of trees and plants can withstand these temperatures.
The USDA doesn’t note the extreme maximum temperatures vegetation can withstand, so consider climate change as you choose a tree. Temperatures will increase, and storms will become more severe, especially in Florida.
When you choose a tree, find one that can handle the temperature estimated for 30 to 50 years from now. Look for trees that can take high heat and go for long periods without water in case of drought. You can get an idea of the types of trees by looking at what can grow in a more southern location than Florida.
The University of Florida recommends starting with native trees. Because these trees are native to Florida, you know they can handle the temperatures and still flourish. You’ll still have to follow the proper soil and light requirements, as well as water it regularly.
To ensure your trees will flourish, analyze your land before you plant them. Test the soil conditions to make sure it’s hardy enough to handle the tree’s roots. Track the sun exposure in your chosen spot throughout the day, so you’ll see how much sunlight and shade the tree will get.
You’ll also want to consider the space you have available for a tree. Think of how tall it will grow and how far the branches will extend—also, factor in the root system and what it might run into underground.
Analyze the drainage in your yard. You don’t want to plant the tree in a low area where the water will pool. This could cause the tree’s roots to rot. You also want to consider what insects and pests might attack your tree as well as your tree’s different parts.
Consider consulting with an arborist to analyze your land and receive advice on the tree type that will thrive there. You can also consult the Florida Climate Center for information about agricultural forecasting.
Deciding what type of tree you should plant depends on what you intend to use it for. For citrus and fruit trees, you want to be able to enjoy the food the tree produces. You’ll need to make sure that you can plant the tree in a location where it will flourish.
With a shade tree, you’ll want to plant it in the area you want to be covered. Watch out for power lines and things that might obstruct the branches, like walls or other structures. You don’t want to plant a tree with branches that scratch the roof of your home or can’t grow properly due to its surroundings.
With Florida’s nearly tropical climate, you have plenty of trees to choose from. The best trees to plant in Florida will add shade, beauty, and potentially even fruit to your life. You’ll love the various options that having a tree in your yard can provide.