South Florida Landscape Ideas: Plants for Shade & Sun

South Florida Landscape Ideas: Plants for Shade & Sun

South Florida is known notoriously for sandy soil and blazing hot summers, making landscaping a challenge across the state. 

If you’re a newbie to South Florida or just figuring out the landscaping, you know how complicated it can be to find plants, trees, and shrubs that survive in the sun and are fit for shade.

That’s why our master landscapers and designers are here to help. Check out the best options for sun and shade plants from the expert arborists at Landscaping by Steve Blaum. 

Shade Plants

In ecology, shade tolerance is a plant’s ability to tolerate low light levels. This is, of course, more difficult to do in Florida, thanks to that constant sunshine. In landscaping terms, shade plants prefer to grow in less than six hours of direct sunlight per day. 

Check out our favorite picks for shade plants in your South Florida landscaping design!

  1. Areca Palm Tree
    1. Otherwise known as the Butterfly Palm or Cane Palm, it is one of the more popular palms in tropical and subtropical areas because of its gorgeous appearance and ease of care. This palm tree can be grown indoors or outdoors, but be careful it can grow up to 20 feet tall! Make sure when you buy it that it is grown in either shade or sun, depending on your needs—an excellent palm for providing privacy and shade to your South Florida backyard. 
  2. Croton
    1. The Croton is a perennial evergreen shrub native to India and Malaysia that fits perfectly in our Florida climate. This tropical plant has thick, leathery leaves of varying colors, shapes, and sizes. There are more than a dozen different varieties of Croton. Great for shade and even indoors, the Croton will usually stay below three feet fully grown. 
  3. Indian Hawthorne
    1. Mostly low-growing, evergreen, flowering shrubs, the Indian Hawthorn can be seen almost everywhere in Florida. With a dense mounded growth habit, they are ideal low-maintenance plants for small shade gardens. Most plants will typically only grow to 3-6 feet in height. In springtime, they’ll spurt pink or white flowers, but the rest of the year, they feature bluish berries. 
  4. Pinwheel Jasmine
    1. The classic pinwheel jasmine is an attractive-looking shrub that will bloom almost anywhere in the shade. Unlike its Jasmine sister plants, the Pinwheel has no fragrance whatsoever. This could be a great plant if you have severe family allergies. Nonetheless, it’s a beautiful shrub with bright white blooms sitting atop dark green leaves. 

Full Sun Plants

The more important of the two plants in the discussion, full-sun, is a norm in South Florida. With temperatures reaching over 90 degrees for most of the year, featuring full-sun plants is necessary for your landscaping designs. 

  1. Lantana
    1. Filling in your landscape beds and gardens can be tricky, but Lantana is perfect for those spots. This sun-loving plant comes in various colors and will brighten your landscape. Lantana is an annual that grows to two feet. It has deep green leaves and is slightly prickly.
  2. Marigold
    1. In our specialist opinion, Marigolds should always be a staple of Florida florals. Blooming gorgeous carnation-like flowers that are bright red, orange, and yellow, you’ll have a beautiful garden at hand. Perfect for full sun and that sandy soil, marigolds will be as easy to grow as any other plant. 
  3. Viburnum
    1. Just saying Viburnum is sort of unfair to this highly diverse shrub. Viburnum foliage is usually green, but some varieties have white or yellow variegation. Although there are more than 150 species, all featuring different foliage, heights, and blooms, we recommend either the Burkwood or the Arrowwood.
  4. Hibiscus
    1. If you’ve driven anywhere in Florida, you’ve probably seen the hibiscus plant. Hardy hibiscus plants are surprisingly easy to grow if you provide them with well-drained soil and a spot in full sunlight. Perennial hibiscus will add a bold, tropical effect to your South Florida landscape.

Plants That Flourish in Sun & Shade

Of course, a few plants are tough as nails that can handle both sun and shade, the ideal situation for your South Florida landscape. Check out these hard-nosed plants!

  1. Aloe Vera
    1. Aloe comes in all shapes and sizes. But Aloe Vera is ideal for growing anywhere. This plant is insanely hardy and seldom dies on even the most lackadaisical plant owners. The plant is stemless with thick, greenish, fleshy leaves that fan out from the plant’s central stem. So whether you’d like a new house plant or want to feature the Aloe Vera on your front walkway, you’ll never have to worry about it. Be careful, though; left untrimmed, this puppy won’t stop growing!
  2. Hydrangea
    1. The Hydrangea genus has more than 75 different species. The native Oakleaf Hydrangea would be the most commonly seen version in South Florida. Featuring deeply lobed leaves resembling oak leaves, it’s an excellent shrub for partly shady areas, with cone-shaped white flowers that aren’t quite as showy and dense as other species.
  3. New Guinea Impatiens
    1. If you love the look of impatiens, but your flower beds get strong sunshine for part of the day, New Guinea impatiens will fill your yard with bright and beautiful colors. Often seen in pink and purple, New Guinea impatiens tolerate up to half a day of sun, so this should be perfect for your Florida backyard, which will see the early morning sun and not that hot afternoon sun. 

Why Choose Blaum Landscaping?

Landscaping is an art that is only mastered by individuals who demonstrate knowledge and experience in the field. When you choose Landscaping by Steve Blaum, you can be sure that you’ll be working with some of the most dedicated professionals in the area.

We strive to provide the best customer service every time. Our team comprises professionals who will stop at nothing to make our client’s visions come to life. When you partner with us, you know you’ll be working with some of the most committed experts in South Florida.