Plant the Look - Florida
Have you always dreamt of a Florida-style garden? Do you wish you could be dunkin' a donut in Disneyworld right now?
We show you how to create the look of a Floridian garden in your own back yard.

Florida Garden Style - antebellum shade

Spanish moss in the trees There are two notable - and very different - styles of gardening which come to mind when thinking about Florida.

The first style is the old Florida - all shady limpid ponds, gnarly ancient cypress, and broad shady live oaks draped in curtains of silvery Spanish moss (Tillandsia, a kind of air plant).

This is the Florida of the Everglades, humid and swampy, in endless shades of green. Remember to pack your bug spray!

This style of garden can be found all over the south-eastern states, from the tip of Florida west into Louisiana and north to South Carolina.

Anywhere the the humidity is high, the rainfall abundant, the temperatures warm all year round.


shady swamp

Overhead, wide spreading trees form long shadowy avenues and block out the relentless sun.

Luxuriant tree-dwelling epiphytes - tropical ferns, bromeliads, orchids - trail from the mossy forks of branches above.

Underfoot, heat-tolerant grasses cool down bare toes going for a stroll, and bring down the soaring summer temperatures.

Water is ever-present - falling from the sky, seeping through marshy swamp, in ponds and creeks and lakes. Making space for water is an essential element of this look.


Florida Garden Style - resort sun

Florida's pleasure garden planting The second style is the new Florida, all bold brash shapes and big lush leaves - and of course, palm trees. No Florida-style garden would be complete without at least one!

Brightly-hued cordylines and crotons add intense blocks of glossy colour, perfect for urban resort living.

Juicy-leaved evergreen shrubs that stand up to coastal sea breezes and salt splash from swimming pools are wise choices - like carissa, peperomia, ficus. In this balmy climate a small houseplant can grow into a giant tree.

Nothing is left to nature - teams of landscapers work round the seasons clipping and chopping and shredding, to keep these fast-growing plants looking neat and manicured.


Venetian balconies

Florida's climate has much in common with a lot of eastern Australia. Some of our native plants are very popular for landscaping there too - like fanflower (Scaevola), lillypilly (Syzgium) - so this is an easy look for many Aussie gardeners to reproduce.


Florida Style Gardens - get the look

plants for the Florida look For the Florida Everglades look, plant wide shade trees like poinciana and Ficus hillii, and cover them in bromeliads, staghorn ferns, and of course Spanish moss.

Underplant with big-leaf philodendrons, ferns, evergreen magnolia, passionflower.

Dig out a pond alongside and plant water-loving plants like rushes, hymenocallis, crinum, and swamp fountain grass.

Essential plants to get that new-Florida look are tall and short palms, broadleaf and narrowleaf cordylines, coprosma, and crotons, for full-on glossy colour all year round.

Fill tubs and flowerbeds with bright compact flowering shrubs like ixora and hibiscus. Stick to one colour per tub for maximum authentic Miami style.