Our Favorite Central Florida Flowering Trees

Kate Mitchell

October 4, 2023

The warm environment, mild winters and humid climate of Central Florida make it an excellent region for many trees and shrubs to thrive. Flowering trees are a popular addition to outdoor spaces as they provide welcome shade in the summer as well as bringing charm and beauty to your yard or patio. 

Crepe Myrtle

Tree branches with tiny bright pink flowers and green leaves

Crepe Myrtle is an extremely popular choice for landscaping in Central Florida. Once you know what it looks like, you'll spot it in parks, beside highways and probably in half of your neighbors' yards! It's so popular that we have a blog post specifically dedicated to the Crepe Myrtle.

Overview of Crepe Myrtle

The main reason Crepe Myrtle is so popular as an ornamental tree is its beautiful flowers, which come in a range of shades, from purple to bright pink to light pink to white.

Not only do Crepe Myrtle's dense clusters of tiny blossoms create a stunning display from late spring through fall, but this tree's gorgeous cinnamon-brown bark is also beautiful to look at as it peels away, revealing the copper color beneath. Even the foliage creates a stunning display in the fall, as crape myrtle's green leaves change to a sunset blaze of orange and red.

Varieties of Crape Myrtle Available in Central Florida

green leaves and tiny pink flowers on a tree

Choosing the right Crepe Myrtle tree for your situation is key. Some of the larger varieties can reach up to 40 feet in height; they may have extensive root systems which could cause problems for nearby structures. On the other hand, there are dwarf varieties that grow only around four feet tall; these are an ideal choice if you're looking for a small ornamental tree. Check out this guide from Southern Living to help you choose the perfect cultivar of this fast-growing tree for your own landscape.

Placement and Care for Crepe Myrtles

Crepe Myrtles need moist, well-drained soil. They can tolerate sandy soil, which is one reason they do well in Florida. Although they are not a native plant, Florida's subtropical climate provides excellent conditions for Crepe Myrtle trees to thrive. They need full sun - even partial shade can reduce the number of blossoms, and complete shade can prevent blooming entirely.

Make sure to give your Crepe Myrtle plenty of water during its first year. Fall can be a good time to plant this beautiful tree, once the weather has cooled down and the roots are less likely to dry out. If you choose to plant in the summer, you'll need to make sure to water every day. Once it is established, your Crepe Myrtle should no longer need so much water.

Evergreen Trees

Evergreen trees are those with leaves that look green all year round. This is because their leaves are able to retain enough moisture to keep them alive, continuing the process of photosynthesis into the next growing season.

Typically, evergreen foliage is still shed, but this happens gradually, all year round. This means that evergreen trees will have green leaves all year round, adding color to your landscape and providing food and habitat for native animals and bugs even during the winter months.

Varieties of Evergreen Trees Available in Central Florida

Many of the evergreen trees we first think of, such as pine trees with their tall, straight trunks, are excellent choices for providing shade all year round. However, they don't all have showy blooms. If you're looking for an evergreen tree with a gorgeous floral display, here are our suggestions.

Southern Magnolia

a large, waxy, creamy white flower against dark green leaves

Southern Magnolia is a common sight in Central Florida's parks and backyards. This evergreen magnolia blooms in late spring in a stunning display of creamy white flowers. This breathtaking tree adds visual appeal all year round. Even when not in bloom, you'll notice Southern Magnolia's glossy leaves, dark green on one side and orange-brown on the other. Its smooth gray bark and woody, cone-shaped fruit are also interesting to look at.

Be aware that the Southern Magnolia is a very tall tree, growing up to 90 feet in height! Think carefully about where you want to plant one. A southern magnolia can cope with sun or shade and needs moist, well-drained, acidic soil. You may not want to plant in a lawn as the Southern Magnolia will drop leaves and seed pods.

Loblolly Bay

A white flower with yellow stamens poking out from among bright green leaves

Loblolly Bay is a small to medium tree or shrub. Its attractive evergreen foliage is glossy and dark green with a pale silvery color on the back. Loblolly Bay produces beautiful, waxy white blossoms throughout the crown of the tree. This native tree produces its fragrant, camellia-like flowers from spring to summer.

Finding a good spot for your Loblolly Bay is important. This tree is not drought-tolerant and will need regular watering during dry seasons, especially if planted in full sun. It prefers moist soil and ample shade and is an excellent choice for boggy ground or other damp or waterlogged areas, for example beside ponds.

Other Evergreen Trees

Other evergreen trees you might want to consider include Sasanqua Camellia, Walter's Viburnum and Japanese Blueberry Tree.

Deciduous Trees

Overview of Deciduous Trees

Unlike evergreen trees, deciduous trees lose their leaves in the fall, are bare during the winter and grow fresh leaves in spring. These are the trees that may put on a glorious display of yellow, red and orange leaves at the right time of year.

The leaves of a deciduous tree change color because the chlorophyll - which is actually what makes leaves green - is broken down before the leaves are lost. This enables the existing pigments, often orange or yellow in color, to show through.

Deciduous varieties make particularly good shade trees as they give maximum shade during the summer without blocking too much light in the winter months.

Varieties of Deciduous Trees Available in Central Florida

Eastern Redbud

Criss-crossing branches and twigs covered in pink blossoms

Eastern Redbud is a fast-growing native tree that blooms in late February or March through April, covering the crown in beautiful deep pink flowers. This small to medium tree grows up to 25 feet in height. Its clusters of small blossoms usually appear in early spring, before the tree gets its leaves. Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers. As the blooming period ends, Eastern Redbud's large, heart-shaped leaves will appear, keeping your outdoor space looking attractive.

Eastern Redbuds prefer full sun. They can tolerate some shade but will produce more flowers in a sunny spot. They like well-drained soil and need plenty of water, especially when they are first planted.

Chickasaw Plum

Tree branches with white flowers and small green leaves

Chickasaw Plum is a native tree or shrub whose entire canopy is covered in beautiful white blooms before the tree gets its green foliage in spring. This gorgeous flowering tree even produces edible fruit in the fall - although it does have a tart flavor and is perhaps best enjoyed as jelly. Pollinators are attracted to Chickasaw Plum's fragrant flowers in spring, and birds may come and enjoy the fruit later in the year.

This medium-sized tree grows up to 12-20 feet tall and 10-20 feet wide. It likes dry or moist sandy soil and prefers full sun but can also tolerate some shade. Chickasaw Plum is hardy in Zones 5-9, so it grows happily in North and Central Florida. The climate in South Florida is usually too warm for this plum tree to get the winter chill it needs to produce fruit.

Other Deciduous Trees

Other deciduous trees that do well in a Central Florida environment include Chaste Tree, Wax Myrtle and Sugar Maple. If you'd like help in choosing trees for shade and beauty, get in touch with LawnMore Gainesville's landscaping experts!

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