Bountiful Plants has compiled a list of our favorite Top 20 Florida friendly drought tolerant plants. Drought tolerant plants like dry soil conditions and require little water other than rain once they are established. If you are located in an area with frequent droughts, or just have a few areas on your property that are difficult to water, this list will help you choose plants that are just right for your property. You can design your garden by reducing grassy areas and increasing your planting beds, using plants from our Top 20 list. With these drought tolerant plants, you will enjoy a very colorful and low maintenance landscape. And great news! Bountiful Plants has all of these plants available to order in our online store!
Allamanda neriifolia or Dwarf (compact) Allamanda grows only 2-3′ high and 2′-3′ wide, blooms best in full sun and will bloom in partial shade. It blooms most of the year in South Florida, and they are so colorful and durable in the full sun of summer that they are often used as summer annuals in North Florida. Allamanda is not intended for human or animal consumption.
Asclepias curassavica (Tropical Milkweed) is a tropical native that is widely found in Florida. The flowers are attractive to all butterflies and the Monarch and Queen larvae depend on the leaves of these plants to feed their voracious appetites. Milkweed will grow in sandy soils and will reseed readily in your garden.
Black-Eyed Susan (rudbeckia hirta var angustifolia) This version of the black-eyed susan thrives in the Southeastern United States—from South Carolina to Texas—and is a relatively common wildflower that reseeds itself after the first season. Its bright yellow petals and dark purplish brown centers bloom from June to August and require full sun and sandy soil.
Bulbine (Burn Jelly Plant) The Bulbine makes a great ground cover since each plant will grow to form a clump that can reach up to four feet wide. The succulent, grass-like foliage grows to about 12 to 18 inches tall with flower spikes reaching two feet. The leaves of the Bulbine produce a jelly-like juice (similar to Aloe) that is wonderful natural treatment for burns, rashes and insect bites.
Duranta erecta (Cuban Gold) is the golden boxwood of the tropics, and can be shaped into a small edging plant or grown to a tall hedge. Large plants will bloom light Lavender blue flowers and attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
Euphorbia ‘Hip Hop’ is a popular accent plant in Florida and thrives with little water and care for years if it is not frozen to the ground. This plant can be pruned and shaped, and the flowers will remind you of baby’s breath.
Gaillardia or Blanketflower, is a Florida native with bright gold and red flowers. The flower’s nectar attracts butterflies and the plant is drought and salt tolerant. They bloom year-round in South Florida.
Helianthus debilis (Beach Sunflower) grows low to the ground and spreads to form a dense ground cover in hot sunny locations even without irrigation. It is very attractive to butterflies and often reseeds. They are the perfect border for any butterfly garden. If it becomes unsightly from frost or winter weather, mow and wait for new seedlings or sprouts from the base of the plant to emerge with warm weather.
Heliotrope is a small, flowering shrub-like plant that grows from 1 to 4 feet high. Their leaves are long ovals of dark green. Heliotrope plants grow in one-sided clusters that follow the sun. They are long bloomers that begin flowering in summer and are fragrant through the first frost. Heliotrope is not intended for human or animal consumption.
Ipomoea (Morning Glory): There are many varieties of Ipomoea, with some being trailing or twining climbers. They can be grown for their funnel-shaped or tubular flowers, or for their foliage, such as the popular ‘Blackie’ sweet potato vine ( Ipomoea batatas ). Morning Glories need moderately fertile, well-drained soil in full sun.
Lantana is an easy groundcover to grow. It blooms heavily and continuously and requires little care after it is properly established. Lantana can get bushy and loves being cut back to promote new growth. Butterflies and hummingbirds are both attracted to Lantana nectar.
Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) are long-lived perennials growing 2-3 feet tall and 1-3.5 feet wide. Plant grass in full sun to part-shade. Muhly Grass is highly drought tolerant and known for its showy flowers and fruits and interesting foliage. It forms a canopy that small animals can use for shelter and refuge, and small birds eat the seeds.
Plumbago is a very thick bush that produces light blue flowers that fill the shrub. It can be left to grow wild or trimmed into the landscape. It grows 4 to 6 feet tall and sprawls 5 to 6 feet wide if unsupported. You will see a lot of Plumbago growing along the highways of Florida.
Purslane (Portulaca oleracea) is a favorite warm season tender perennial that is very popular throughout Florida. The Pazazz series have especially vibrant colored flowers. The flowers stay open all day and close up at night. Purslane makes a great spiller in planters located in hot sunny spots.
Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is a popular cooking herb. It forms a small bush and thrives year after year. The leaves of the Rosemary plant emit a strong, fragrant oil.
Ruellia brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’ is one of the toughest, showiest and most widely used Florida friendly perennials. This cultivar does not produce seed. This is important because the non-sterile wild Mexican type has exploded in Florida wetlands over the last century and they are impossible to eradicate. Purple Showers is a wonderful sterile Florida Friendly Plant. Your garden will have no impact on the wetlands and Purple Showers is an excellent choice as it grows well just about anywhere with little or no extra water or fertilizer.
Setcreasea pallida (Purple Queen) is a tough as nails Florida friendly ground cover for hot sunny dry sites. It does even better if it gets some irrigation in dry times. It will grow vigorously in the warm wet season. Often Purple Queen is used in medians and low water use settings.
Trandescantia spathacea (Oyster Plant or Moses-in-the-cradle) is an exceptionally easy-to-grow plant that’s popular indoors and out. A nice, slow-spreading plant, Oyster prefers a part sun to part shade location to look its best. There is a showy variegated form called ‘Tricolor’ with leaves of pink-fuschia, green and white. The Oyster plant is considered drought tolerant and grows best in well-drained soil.
Turneria ulmifolia (Cuban Buttercup) is as small shrub that typically blooms March through November and is tender to frost. These tropical buttercups are very pretty, durable and heat loving.
Vinca or Periwinkle (Catheranthus roseus) is makes a colorful groundcover or filler for containers. Nirvana Vinca was especially bred to be blight resistant and has been known to last for years.