7 Quick Growing Plants to Jumpstart Your Garden

Kate Mitchell

April 11, 2024

When it comes to gardening in Florida, one of the biggest challenges gardeners face is finding plants that can thrive in the hot and humid climate while also growing quickly. Fortunately, there are several quick-growing plants that are well-suited to Florida's unique conditions. Whether you're looking to fill in empty spaces in your garden or seeking to establish a lush landscape quickly, these plants are sure to make a noticeable difference in no time.


Dark green foliage with water droplets

If you're looking for additional privacy or wind shelter, you may be interested in Arborvitae, or platyclatus orientalis. This evergreen shrub will grow happily even in South Florida's warm climate. Arborvitae naturally grows as a shrub, but can be pruned into a tall tree.

Although this plant is not native to Florida, it is not considered a problem species. Its evergreen foliage is not showy, but arborvitae provides a fast-growing privacy hedge or background shrub. It grows 15-20 feet tall, with a spread of 10-15 feet.

Arborvitae is well-suited to Florida's climate. It has high drought tolerance and grows best in full sun to partial shade. It does well in a range of soil types, including sandy soil.

Butterfly Bush

A butterfly perches on a stem of tiny purple flowers

Butterfly bush, also known as buddleia, is a good option for gardeners who want to attract wildlife. As the name suggests, butterflies love this plant and flock to it as a food source. Butterfly bush grows long spikes of beautiful flowers. These are often a lovely dark purple color, but different cultivars are available in a range of colors from white to pink to almost red.

Butterfly bush prefers full sun to light shade. As well as plenty of sunlight, this perennial plant needs well-drained soil. It can grow in a variety of soil types. Be aware that butterfly bush is not native to Florida. It's an excellent pollinator food source, but is not a host plant for caterpillars.

Crepe Myrtle

A tree with dark green leaves and bright pink flowers

If you're looking for a beautiful tree to add a pop of color to your Florida backyard, the crepe myrtle is an excellent choice. This striking tree grows bright flowers in a variety of colors ranging from purple to pink to white and will bloom from spring through fall. Even when not in bloom, this majestic tree works as an accent plant with its beautiful, cinnamon-colored bark.

Dwarf varieties of crepe myrtle can be very small, reaching only around four feet in height. However, other cultivars can grow as tall as 40 feet, so be sure to choose a suitable variety!  Whether you need a shade tree or an ornamental shrub, there should be one to suit. Crepe myrtles need at least six hours of direct sunlight per day, but do best if they also have some shelter from the wind. They do best in well-draining soil.

Swamp Sunflower

A cluster of flowers with bright yellow petals

Swamp sunflower is a native plant that is well known for its profusion of golden yellow flowers which bloom from summer through fall. As the name suggests, it grows very well in wet areas, so it's an excellent choice to add a pop of color to any low-lying, damper spots in your landscape. However, it can also grow on dry sites as long as it is watered sufficiently in dry weather.

Swamp sunflower has long, narrow, dark green leaves. It can grow up to six feet tall. It does best in moist soil conditions and likes sandy soil and plenty of sun - making it perfect for Central Florida. Swamp sunflower works well as a border plant; it also attracts bees and butterflies and is therefore a good option for a pollinator garden.

Muhly Grass

Ornamental grass with fluffy stems of purple flowers

Muhly grass is an ornamental plant that puts on a beautiful display of fluffy purple flower stalks during the fall season. This native plant is easy to grow and its slender, dark green foliage looks beautiful even after the flowers fade.

Muhly grass grows well in direct sunlight. It needs plenty of water when first planted but, once established, is drought tolerant. This ornamental grass grows up to three feet tall. As well as pink or purple blooms, some varieties with white flowers are also available.

Swamp Lily

Striking white flowers with long thin petals

Swamp lily is a native perennial that grows well from North Florida through to Central and South Florida. It is found growing beside streams and in wetlands throughout the state. Swamp lily's beautiful white flowers can bloom at any time of year; in Central Florida they are usually seen in fall and winter.

Swamp lily does very well in wet soil, and is somewhat tolerant of salt water. Although it is naturally an aquatic plant, it can grow in a garden setting as long as it is kept moist. Swamp lily can thrive in a wide range of soil types and prefers full sun to partial shade.

Blanket Flower

Bright, sun-like flowers with petals fading from red to orange to yellow

Blanket flower, or gaillardia pulchella, is a perennial with beautiful yellow and orange flowers that bloom during summer and through to fall. Blanket flower used to be considered a native plant but recent research suggests that it was introduced from southwestern states in the US. It is still considered Florida-friendly and makes great groundcover or a beautiful accent plant.

Blanket flower is a good source of nectar and pollen, so it's a good choice for your butterfly garden. Depending on the variety, this low-maintenance plant can grow anything from eight to 36 inches tall. It can cope with extreme heat and thrives in sandy soil with plenty of sunlight, so it's perfect for Florida's growing conditions! This hardy perennial can even tolerate some salt so, like swamp lily, will grow well in a coastal setting.

Check out our article on native wildflowers for more backyard inspiration - and don't hesitate to get in touch if you'd like help planning and implementing the garden of your dreams!

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