Even though Central Florida is spared harsh winters that cause foliage to drop leaves or turn brown, some plants still aren’t at their beautiful best during this season. Fortunately, there are many shrubs that provide abundant greenery – and even colorful blooms – to cheer and brighten your yard even without holiday decorations! The best part is they’ll keep their good looks throughout the year. Here are some of our favorites that can be an asset to any landscape!
Seven Shrubs That Will Look Terrific All Year Long
There are so many Florida-friendly evergreen shrubs that can complement your property, it’s a challenge to narrow them down to a specific number. But we tried. The following recommendations are provided courtesy of University of Florida IFAS Gardening Solutions and Warner Tree Service. If you’d like to explore more possibilities, our blog post – “Great Perennials for Your Central Florida Landscape” – provides additional suggestions.
Azalea – Although azalea shrubs attract the most attention in spring – when they burst into bloom with showy red, pink or white flowers – they remain thick, green and leafy all 12 months of the year. The versatile azalea makes an ideal backdrop for seasonal flower beds, as well as used for borders, hedges and around trees. There are several azalea cultivars, so find the one – or ones – that will look the best and be the most compatible with soil and sunlight conditions on your property. Be advised that its pollen can trigger allergies, so consider this if you’re thinking about adding an azalea or two – or more – to your landscape!
Camellia – When this lovely shrub isn’t producing elegant blooms during fall and winter (depending upon the cultivar), its evergreen foliage, interesting shapes and textures, and relatively slow growth make camellias excellent landscape plants. Camellias can serve several functions in the landscape – including foundation plantings, screens, accent plants, background groupings and hedges. Maximum benefit can be achieved by mass plantings or groupings. Plant in a sheltered location with partial shade to help them achieve optimum growth and blooms. Prune before late summer.
Crepe Jasmine – This intriguing evergreen shrub is moderately dense and rounded, blooming in spiraling white flowers that are particularly prominent in the warmer months – although they stand out against the dark green, glossy leaves in any season. Crepe jasmine grows in full sun to shade, but looks best when grown in filtered shade. This plant is ideal for creating a shrubbery border. It also looks good as a specimen plant, and its rounded form makes it an excellent foundation planting against a windowless wall.
Croton – Known for their bold, tropical foliage, crotons are perennial evergreen shrubs and a favorite in Central Florida yards. They’re available in a wide variety of leaf shapes and colors that include reds, oranges, yellows, pinks, purple, greens, and white. Most cultivars grow best in full sun, while others prefer light/partial shade. Crotons thrive in warm, humid weather and should be watered frequently, but not excessively. Plants should be located two to three feet apart.
Dwarf Holly – You may associate hollies with the holidays, but the dwarf holly shrub can be a terrific addition to your landscape that proves its worth all year long! Dwarf hollies are found throughout Florida and they are dioecious – meaning the female and male plants are separate. If you want berries, opt for female shrubs. With red berries and glossy green foliage, Burfordii Nana grows well in Central Florida. This dense, compact shrub grows up to a spread and height of 5–8 feet. ‘Carissa’ and ‘Rotunda’ are two holly cultivars that will take up limited space in your yard. These shrubs can tolerate an extensive range of soil and light conditions. They need minimal pruning and occasional shaping. Another advantage: they’re wind-resistant and can stand up to a hurricane!
Ixora – This low-maintenance evergreen shrub truly delivers the biggest bang for your gardening buck! A compact, densely-branching shrub, ixora is ideal for planting as a hedge, border, screen, or featured specimen – depending on which variety you choose. It blooms year-‘round, producing clusters of four-petaled flowers in such colors as orange, bright red, pink, yellow and white. While full sun is necessary for maximum flower production, this plant – especially large-leaved varieties – can be grown in partial shade. Ixora can be pruned any time and will handle shearing, but be aware that pruning will reduce your plant’s flowering.
Thryallis – If you’re looking for a low-maintenance, reliable shrub with a superb floral display, thryallis is the plant for you! Also commonly known as “rain-of-gold” due to its yellow flower clusters, berry-like fruits continue to add texture through the fall and winter after the blooms fade. It reaches a mature size of 4-6 feet wide and 5-9 feet high. You can allow it to maintain its mounding shape, train it into a small, multi-trunked tree or prune it into a loose hedge. Thryallis grows best in full sun, and looks particularly impressive combined with other flowering shrubs.
Think Before You Plant
The location, planting technique and initial care for a shrub will affect its growth and long-term health. University of Florida IFAS Gardening Solutions provides the following advice.
Choose the right shrub for your site – The young shrub that caught your eye at the home improvement center or plant nursery could wind up being more than you bargained for! Consider its mature size. Many of the plants that are labeled “large shrubs” are also considered “small trees.” Research the mature size of your species before you plant it, and give it space to grow.
Also check the ideal soil type, soil pH, water and light needs of your shrub species. If the intended spot in your yard doesn’t match your shrub’s needs, don’t plant! Instead, choose a species that can thrive in existing site conditions, or choose another part of your landscape.
Placement matters – Depending on their mature size, shrubs placed in the right spot can naturally cool or insulate your home. Don’t plant shrubs too close to the house, though. Planting too close will reduce airflow and leave your shrubs vulnerable to fungal diseases. It makes it difficult to perform maintenance on the home, as well – especially when it’s time to paint the exterior. Keep the center of the plant more than 2.5 feet from the foundation.
Plant in groups – Groups of multiple shrubs will give your landscape design a unified and cohesive feel. Denser plantings are the preferred shelter of most wildlife species, as well. Individual plants in a group should touch when they reach their mature size. Adjacent groups of different shrubs should overlap and connect with one another.
Plan ahead to establish – It will take about 5-7 months for a plant to become established in the new site. This is true of both native and non-native species. Until the shrub expands its root system and adjusts to the new site, it will need regular irrigation. The worst time to plant is when the weather is both hot and dry. Moreover, some Florida counties implement watering restrictions during summer. Most Florida county websites have information about the days of the week and hours of the day when watering is permitted. If possible, plant just before Florida’s rainy season, which is mid- to late May through mid-October.
The Take-Home Message
Thanks to the abundance of attractive, low-maintenance evergreen shrub varities available, your slice of Central Florida paradise can avoid the winter blahs and be lush, vibrant and inviting every season! We hope we’ve provided some inspiration and information for incorporating at least one of these great shrubs into your landscape.
However, if you’re not the green thumb type but still want your property to be a source of pride and the neighborhood jewel, call Daniel’s Lawn Care & Pressure Washing to design, plant and even maintain the yard of your dreams!
Our full-service company provides landscape design, tree installation, tree trimming, yard maintenance, bush hogging, pressure washing and so much more. Contact us today so we can do the work, and you can do the enjoying! We proudly serve all of Central Florida – including Orlando, Sanford, Longwood and Lake Mary! We look forward to helping you achieve your goals and bring your vision to life!