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Florida Guide to Growing Trees

It’s a jungle out there. And you’re going to need some trees! Florida is one of the best places in the world for growing trees, it doesn’t matter if you are an expert or just starting, these guides will help you learn more about gardening in Florida!

Trees in florida along the bay

The Best Flowering Trees to Grow in Florida

Royal Poinciana Tree

The Royal Poinciana tree is best known for its yearly appearance when it changes color from sky blue to red flowers. The Flame Tree is an excellent choice of ornamental landscaping with dependable shade and glorious blooms, which also often attracts more attention due to dramatic coloring. The Poinciana tree’s lush leaves and crimson blooms provide a tropical look. Plus, the tree is semi-evergreen so it will be green all year long in warmer climates.

These trees grow up to five feet a year and provide shade quickly. The beauty is not only immediate but also long-lasting because these trees make your house more comfortable in the summer and save you money by providing insulation during colder months.

Planting & Care

Find a location with well-drained soil and sufficient sunlight (6 to 8 hours per day). Dig a hole that’s three times as wide and at least four times deep as the root ball. Remove your plant from its original container, position it into the hole ensuring it is standing upright, and the top of the root ball is even with the ground. Begin backfilling the hole, tamping down lightly as you go.

Poinciana trees in Florida thrive best when watered once or twice a week. When you check the top 2 inches of soil for dryness, if it is dry here it is time to water. Apply a slow-release fertilizer in early spring before new growth emerges and water the surrounding soil so that the fertilizer can penetrate roots. A minimal amount of pruning is usually required but any broken branches should be pruned during spring before new growth emerging.

Pink Velour Crape Myrtle

The Pink Velour Crape Myrtle blooms brilliant pink flowers with a deep wine-red leaf canopy that changes to purplish green in the summertime, providing a perfect backdrop for its magenta flowers. But what’s better about the Pink Velour is its drought tolerance and resistance to powdery mildew – two common ailments that affect Crape varieties. The pest tolerances make it perfect for planting as an accent shrub or border plant, but this shrub can bloom from July through October when planted in a less-than-ideal climate condition. 

Planting & Care

You’ll need to plant a pink velour crape myrtle tree in an area with full sun (6-8 hours of sunlight) and dig a hole that is as wide as the root ball. Backfill the soil, mulch around it before backfilling, and water it sparingly. Only water your Pink Velour Crape Myrtle when the soil is dry about 2 or 3 inches down. Crape Myrtles are drought-tolerant, so fertilize with a slow-release fertilizer high in nitrogen only during spring months.

The Best Shade Trees in Florida

Live Oak Tree

Taft Oaks are easily grown, reaching up to 80 feet tall and 100 feet wide. They can be seen in rich coastal soil around the world. It likes to grow near streams or rivers with moss draping over it like a shawl of soft green silk. Live oak is a tree that thrives in coastal climates, and it’s capable of enduring long periods braced against winds, storms, and sweltering summers. Evergreen foliage provides year-round color to the tree.

Planting & Care

To plant a tree, select an area that has well-drained soil and enough sunlight per day. Plant trees at least 12 feet from buildings, roads, and sidewalks. Dig your hole and make it twice as wide as the diameter of the root ball plus another 2 inches on either side. Keep the tree straight while backfilling until you completely buried the root ball. Water thoroughly when done planting, letting the water soak into the ground, then spread mulch around the tree.

Over-watering is a common tree care mistake that can lead to problems with your garden. You should remember to keep your soil moist but not too wet. In the cooler seasons, you only need to water twice weekly at most. Stop watering in winter if possible, and resume as normal when spring arrives. Known for their quick growth spurts, oak trees can be fertilized in early spring before their primary spurt. The best fertilizers are those with a 12-6-6 ratio or a 12-4-8 ratio. Live oak trees don’t require fertilization but occasional feeds help them to grow and produce acorns. To care for your tree during the winter season, trim any dead or broken branches. Additionally, prune new trees two to three years after planting them, shape them, and prevent overgrowth as they age.

American Red Maple Tree

The American Red Maple is one of the most populous trees in the Eastern U.S. because it adapts well to many different environments. It can grow in dry areas as well as wet swampy locations, such as Southern regions of its range. Red maples are synonymous with beautiful colors. These trees exhibit vibrant reds in the spring, a show of bright red twigs in early summer, and brightly colored leaves come fall. The fall play is even more spectacular when other oranges or golden shades appear during some weather conditions. In addition to being ultra-strong, this type of Maple tree can grow in nearly any type of soil. And what’s even better is that it does not appear to be negatively affected by pollutants and an urban environment. 

Planting & Care

It’s tolerant of wet soil, but well-drained soil is preferable for your American Red. When you’re ready to plant, select a spot where the tree is in full to partial sun exposure (4 to 8 hours of sunlight per day). Then dig a hole that’s 2 times as wide and deep as the root ball. To plant your tree, place it in the planting hole with about two inches of soil below the root ball. Fill any remaining space with additional soil, being sure to keep an equal amount both around and beneath the root ball. Pack firmly and water well before you mulch.

Maple is a delicate tree, and during its earliest stage will need to be watered every week. Even as it matures, your Maple will still require adequate water in the summer months. Be sure to place enough care into watering – drooping leaves are a sign of both over-watering and under-watering. Use slow-release fertilizer tablets, 10-10-10, on your new maple tree during the first growing season. Fertilize once a month when it is coming out of dormancy and twice a month in the summer. Stop before the tree becomes dormant again.

The best time to prune a maple tree is when its leaves have fully matured. At this time, there will be less sap. The dead or dying branches should be removed first and the live branches need to be cut next. Look for large branches growing at narrow angles to the main trunk, those rubbing against each other, or those which are going inwards towards the center of the tree; remove these larger branches before cutting any others.

The Best Fruit Trees in Florida

Star Cherry Tree

The Star Cherry is a unique, 2-inch-wide cherry that has deep ribbed indentions in a star shape. Cherries that grow in Florida are very distinctive because of their amazing flavor. This unusual tree fruit has a distinct, tart taste that is similar to apricots like passionfruit or plums. So not only does it make fruit production quick and easy, but its attractive appearance makes for eye candy too!

The Star Cherry Tree is a perfect fit for almost any setting due to its versatility. The tree grows in either a pot or the ground, and it blooms white flowers that attract pollinators for nearly five months throughout winter and drought seasons. It also has large cherry-like fruit that lasts well after being harvested, even surviving periods of freezing temperatures. 

Planting & Care

To plant a Star, choose a sunny location and well-drained soil. When you’re ready to plant, dig the hole three times as wide as the root ball and just as deep. Place your tree in the hole, backfill with dirt, tamp it down lightly to anchor it securely in place, and water thoroughly once or twice per week. Use mulch to preserve moisture around the roots; plant at least 4 feet away from other trees for plenty of space.

If you live outside of a warmer zone, plant your tree in a pot to bring indoors during the winter. The pot should be at least 18″ in diameter and have sides that measure at least 20″. Drilling holes in the bottom of the container will let water flow out freely from the roots.

The tree thrives with weekly watering but can manage in areas where water is less frequent too. The Star should be pruned as soon as it has finished flowering, to avoid over-pruning. Dead or diseased limbs need to be removed immediately; fertilize during the growing season with a water-soluble fertilizer, following the instructions on the label.

Cold Hardy Avocado Tree

Homegrown avocados may seem impossible if you live in a warm climate like the ones found in Florida, but this Cold Hardy Avocado Tree can flourish even at frigid temperatures as low as 20 degrees. Simply plant your Avocado Tree in a container and bring it inside during the winter months – this variety of avocado will continue to grow year after year. In addition, you’ll enjoy an abundant yield of fruit, even faster than seed-grown varieties which may take 10 years or more to produce fruit. 

Planting & Care

The Cold Hardy Avocado prefers full sun if possible but can also withstand partial shade. Their thick skin, rich in oil and hardy to temperatures of up to 20 degrees once established, makes them a great tree for colder climates. Begin by removing the tree from its pot. Separate the roots, and handle them with care to prevent breakage. Water the tree thoroughly, allowing water to soak down into new soil and come up through old soil so that it will not leave any dry areas of dirt behind. Cover newly added mulch with a layer of mulch.

Cold Hardy Avocado Trees may not need to be watered in the winter season but watch for extended periods without rain. Make sure that soil has dried out by the end of a watering season. If you see any leaves fall off after changing temperatures, it’s natural and they’ll grow back when the seasons change again. Cold Hardy avocados grow without training. You may wish to trim the tree’s skirts to deter small critters, but other than that it is never pruned.

Avocado trees are self-pollinating, so you don’t have to grow a bunch of them for it to produce fruit. However, they’ll bear more when there are two around (just as with all fruit). If grown indoors and you want it to have some pollenation the shaking technique can be applied.

When is The Best Time to Plant Trees in Florida

The best time to plant trees in Florida depends on several factors. The two most important are the soil type and climate.  It is best to avoid planting trees in Florida during hurricane season because of the danger of flooding and wind damage. A good time for planting would be right after a dry winter or hot summer when there is less chance of frost: this will ensure that your new tree has a better chance at survival.

Can You Plant All Season Long?

The answer to this question is a resounding yes! The state of Florida has a diverse range of climates and microclimates. With the right plants, you can enjoy flowers all year long in your yard or garden. 

What are The Best Trees to Plant Each Season in Florida

Springtime

In springtime, it’s best to plant flowering bushes such as azaleas and camellias because they can help people with allergies by producing pollen at this time of year. 

Summertime

Summertime calls for shade-giving evergreens like hickories and oaks while fall brings out the colors from leafy maples and ashes!

Fall time

Planting an American Elm or Beech in the fall is advised.

Wintertime

In the winter, you will need to plant deciduous trees like magnolias and dogwoods. These are flowers that provide color in the winter when many other plants are dormant due to cold weather.

What Trees Have The Least Invasive Roots in Florida

Florida is home to over 350 different types of trees, many of which have invasive roots that can cause damage to structures and infrastructure. Palmettos, Bald Cypress, Red Cedar and Live Oak are trees that have a minimal environmental impact.