Gardening: The flowering trees of Florida

Eileen Ward
The royal poinciana trees are beginning to bloom from now through July. Submitted

In sub-tropical Florida we have shrubs and trees which provide us with flowers all year. Some flower year round while others have a short flowering season. They come in all shapes, sizes and colors.

Among the large trees of 30' to 60' tall are the jacaranda with bluish-purple flowers in the spring, the royal poinciana with orange flowers in early summer and the Hong Kong orchid with fragrant rose-purple flowers from fall to spring. These are all very large trees and will not only grow tall but also up to 50' wide and so must be given most of the yard to mature fully.

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There are several smaller trees from 15' to 25' tall which flower. One of the most outstanding is the yellow tabebuia. These butter yellow trees will shed all their leaves and burst forth in a magnificent display of yellow for about a month in early spring.

There is also a pink tabebuia, but this tree is more like 50' tall and does not have the showy display of the yellow.

Marge Drury took this photo of a yellow tabebuia at Wedgewood Commons Shopping Center in Stuart.

Another small yellow tree is the cassia. It is smaller at 15' tall but will flower twice a year in spring and fall. The Geiger is a lovely, salt tolerant, tree with orange flowers in spring and summer.

Frangipani is the fragrant flower used in Hawaii to make leis. This tree will lose all its leaves in colder months and look like a stick tree. The branching can be quite attractive and the fragrance of the flowers as the tree grows large make this a favorite for many. The flowers come in white, yellow or pink in the spring and summer. This tree can be easily propagated by cutting off a branch and sticking it in the ground. Water regularly and you will soon have your own frangipani.

There is also a dwarf poinciana tree. While not a true poinciana it is a member of the same family and will produce red flowers with yellow margins throughout the year. The dwarf poinciana has thorns on the branches to help you distinguish from the much larger royal poinciana.

In the large shrub category, the hibiscus and Ixora both flower most profusely in the summer, although they will produce some all year. Hibiscus come in a rainbow of hybrid colors including red, pink, yellow, white, orange, lavender and on and on. Ixora come in red, orange, yellow and coral. Oleander in shades of pink or white will give the most color from fall through spring. And two of the spring favorites are the gardenia with its fragrant white flowers and the startling colors of the bougainvillea. These are all large shrubs and if they are planted in an area where they require constant pruning the flowering will be substantially reduced.

Smaller flowering shrubs are also available. The azalea which is pink or white in the spring likes a shady location. The dwarf bougainvillea only comes in one or two colors but is much more manageable in size. The crown of thorns is a prickly shrub in pink or red and will flower all year. The Indian hawthorn has nice foliage and flowers in pink and white on occasion. Blue plumbago is a beautiful sky blue color all year.

There are also many flowering vines. Be careful when planting vines in this sub-tropical climate as they can quickly get out of control. The coral vine has lovely coral pink flowers. There is the orange trumpet vine, yellow allamanda vine, and Mandeville vine in yellow, pink or white. Fragrant vines include the confederate jasmine and the passion flower. And one of the more unusual is the night blooming cereus. It has huge, white flowers which put on their display after dark. It is a sight to be seen.

There are even ground covers which flower including beach sunflower or wedelia in yellow, mimosa with pink flowers or weeping lantana in yellow and purple.

Whatever color-scape you choose for your home there are trees and shrubs to match here in southwest Florida.

And finally, a note on your lawn care provider and the corona virus. They do consider us essential service workers and so we continue our weekly visits to your yards to keep them tidy and beautiful. Something nice for everyone to look at while stuck at home. Please do not come out and give them drinks or talk to them. Your generous offer of a drink could be contaminated with the virus. We are trying to social distance as we continue to work. If you have a request perhaps call them or their boss before their visit so your requests can be handled without interaction in the yard. Thank you all for your consideration of these workers and their safety. And I wish you all good luck through this very difficult time in all our lives. And please do not hesitate to call with any questions or concerns.

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Eileen and Peter Ward have owned a landscape and lawn maintenance company for 35 years. Eileen can be reached at Gswdmarco@comcast.net or 239-394-1413.