7 Beautiful Florida Hedge Plants

The climate in Florida is perfect for growing a variety of hedge plants. From distinctive, flowering shrubs like the allamanda bush to hardy evergreens such as the bold but formal arborvitae.

There are an abundance of varieties to choose from with the best types being those that prove to be robust against any number of extreme weather scenarios. So whether the Sunshine State brings sun-drenched periods of persistent humidity or extenuated periods of otherwise debilitating drought, there is sure to be a species to suit you. 

Selecting A Shade Tree For Florida Conditions

Florida hedge plants can create structure, privacy and noise insulation for you, as well as provide important habitat, food supply and shelter for a diverse range of wildlife. In fact, as our woodlands are depleted, more and more species are adapting by finding homes in and around hedges. 

When considering which shade trees are the perfect match for your Florida home, you will want to look at the tree’s needs when it comes to the soil conditions, sun requirements and the amount of space available. Do you want your shade tree to offer some buffering against noise, including refracted noise from hard surfaces? In this case, you will find that evergreen shrubs are the best for all-year-round noise reduction as well as providing a dense sun shield from the surrounding environment. 

Florida has a unique climate which is perfect for humidity-loving shade trees but when selecting a shade tree for a natural environmental screen, consider your growing zones. Northern and Central Florida are mostly USDA Zone 9 whereas Southern Florida is in Zones 10-11. In addition, some hardy shade trees will thrive in sandy soil and so do well in coastal atmospheres. 

Evergreen Hedge Plants in Florida

The dense foliage and rapid growth of the evergreen hedges that I have selected in my list are a perfect choice for gardeners who want a little Edenic privacy without having to wait a long time for maximum growth to occur. 

The best evergreen shrubs are those that can withstand full sunlight, require only minimal maintenance and are able to flourish in less-than-optimal soil settings. 

Florida Flowering Hedge Plants

Like the evergreen, the flowering hedges on my list are also heat-tolerant – this makes them a perfect fit for the sultry climes of the aptly named Sunshine State. 

For those who enjoy observing the unfolding of a hustling and bustling ecosystem, it’s worth noting that my flowering hedge choices will attract butterflies and other equally colourful pollinators. And to round out the aesthetic delights, some emit aromatic fragrances delighting the nose in tandem with the eye. 

Fruiting Florida Hedge Plants 

If you’d like to expand the roster of Silvan inhabitants in your budding ecosystem, a fruit-bearing hedge plant will easily add more items to mother nature’s menu beyond pollen. 

In addition to eye-catching butterflies, nimble, fast-flying small birds are likely to dart their way in and out of many an intricate trestle just for a chance to snatch a ruddy-hued berry or two. 

Best Hedge Plants for Florida

You are somewhat spoiled for choice when it comes to choosing a hedge plant for your Florida home. From eye-catching shrubs with delicate blossoms to functional and hardy boxwoods, the Florida climate is conducive to a wide range of hedge plants, ideal for borders, landscaping and wildlife attraction. 

Many of the hedge plants on this list are low-maintenance and require very little pruning. Taller, skinnier plants may be grown close together to create privacy, whereas smaller ornamental hedges can add interest and colour. framing your pathways and flowerbeds. 

Whatever your requirements – cool, coastline-loving shrubs or hardy, hurricane-resistant privets – this article will help you to choose the perfect hedge plant for the subtropical temperatures of the Sunshine State!

1. Firebush (Hamelia patens)

Firebush (Hamelia patens)
Author: Don McCulley CC-BY- 1.0
  • Best in full sun
  • Low-maintenance and sturdy
  • Non-toxic to humans and animals

A dry summer is no impediment to this drought-tolerant, woody shrub. In fact, its adaptable versatility means they are also resistant to salt and wind which means that come the hurricane season, which Florida is infamous for, these stolid hedges can remain unmoved by even the most extreme gusts. So, these low-maintenance plants will most likely prosper with only minimal care, no matter what mother nature might send their way. 

Thriving in USDA Zones 8-11, the Firebush is a tropical and sub-tropical native with a range extending from the southernmost area of the United States to the Northernmost regions of North America. 

The fire bush can be as unimposing as a 1ft tall shrub or as intimidating as a 15 ft tree. Arrayed in tubular-shaped flowers of a fiery red hue, this particular hedge certainly lives up to its name. 

Those who choose to sow their Firebush seeds indoors will do well by establishing as a soil base, an evenly mixed combination of peat moss and perlite. While awaiting germination, keep the soil misted, avoiding any heavy drenching that can lead to the soil becoming soggy. 

Not only is the Firebush non-toxic, but in many of its native regions, berries stems and even leaves are often used by indigenous people to treat skin conditions like rashes and stings. 

2. Arborvitae (Thuja)

Arborvitae (Thuja)
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Easy to care for
  • Contains toxic compounds

Although the hallmark characteristic of the Arborvitae is its predisposition to thrive in the cold regions of USDA Zones 2-8, the species does have a foothold in the Florida panhandle.

Depending on which specific Arborvitae you would like to cultivate, growth rates can vary from slow to quick-growing. Generally speaking, Arborvitae are quite low-maintenance.

Often only light pruning is required and the plants need little to no supplemental water for their upkeep. That being said, certain varieties can provide you with a fast growing hedge for privacy in no time, whilst others may need intensive pruning if a small manicured hedge is what you desire.

With an ultimate height of 50-60 ft tall and a width of up to 12-20 ft wide, this hardy shrub remains impervious to deer and similar-sized interloping animals. Again, depending on what specific Arborvitae (Emerald Green, American, or Green Giant) some light requirements will vary. An Emerald Green, for example, requires full sunlight to stay healthy owing to its extremely dense growth. While on the other end of the spectrum, the Green Giant can grow in full sunlight, partial or even mostly shady environments. 

Experts confirm that Arborvitae has an overall low level of toxicity, though it is true that its oil is often used as a natural topical treatment for various conditions. Ingestion is advised against. 

3. American Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)

 American Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens)
  • Likes full sun or light shade
  • Easy to grow and drought tolerant
  • Can be toxic if ingested

This is a wonderful foundation shrub and is renowned for being extremely reliable and a fabulous choice for companion planting. Requiring well-drained soil, the American boxwood likes full or dappled sun. 

Hardy through USDA Zones 5-9, this multi-branched evergreen is cold-resistant and drought-tolerant. It can even cope with snow and ice without breaking. Rather slow growing, it averages 3-5 inches a year and can potentially reach 10-15 feet. 

Ingestion can cause gastrointestinal disorders, cramping and nausea. American boxwood is toxic to animals such as cats, dogs and horses. 

4. Chinese Snowball Bush (Viburnum macrocephalum)

Chinese Snowball Bush
  • Partial sun
  • Annual pruning and fertilisation are a must
  • No toxic effects reported

Although this showy, flowering hedge prefers temperate and mild conditions, they do have remarkably robust tolerance when it comes to heat and cold. Hardy in USDA Zones 6-9, the good news for Floridians is that humidity is rarely an issue for growth and development. 

When it comes to soil, gardeners would do well to opt for a loamy, well-drained foundation. Nevertheless, this semi-evergreen has a high tolerance for a wide range of acidic soil types including clay. 

Growing at a moderate rate and to a mature height and width of 12ft, the drought and heat-tolerant Chinese Snowball is easy to care for. 

In late spring, it produces lime-green blooms that eventually turn from cream to white over the course of several weeks. These long-lasting pom-pom-shaped flowers reach up to 8 inches wide on mature specimens and provide a spectacular display against the striking deep green foliage.

5. Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica)

 Indian Hawthorn (Rhaphiolepis indica)
  • Full sun 
  • Easy to care for
  • Not toxic

Despite its name, this Hawthorn isn’t solely native to India., but also to China as well as other parts of Australia and Southern Asia. It is a more than suitable choice for warmer climates and can equally prosper as a container plant. But in terms of its adaptability to hedge formations, it’s a relatively small shrub that naturally grows into a precise, rounded shape, anywhere from 3-6 ft tall and equally wide. 

For American gardeners, it is worth noting that the Indian Hawthorn thrives best in USDA Zones 8 through 10. 

Given the proper growing conditions (sunny positioning, well-drained soil, consistent airflow) the Indian Hawthorn is decidedly easy to care for.  

An important footnote on soil must be considered when it comes to watering the Indian Hawthorn. While the shrub prefers consistently moist soil, excessive watering could possibly lead to root rot. 

The Indian Hawthorn is not considered toxic to humans or animals. 

6. Florida Privet (Foresiera segregate)

Florida Privet (Foresiera segregate)
Author: scott.zona CC-BY-2.0
  • Full sun or partial shade
  • Low maintenance 
  • Can be toxic if ingested

This larger of the evergreen shrubs is a natural island dweller with species being native to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, and the Cayman Islands. However, as its name implies, it also maintains a strong native presence in the Sunshine State of Florida as well as elsewhere in the deep south of the United States.

Flourishing most vigorously in USDA Zones 8-11, once established, this tropical, low maintenance hedge plant is also conveniently drought tolerant.

With a maximum height of 10-15 ft and an average width of 5-10 ft, the Florida Privet is easily recognisable by its densely foliated crown of glossy green elliptical leaves, which despite being an evergreen are sometimes shed in the winter. 

Tracing its annual development can be a quite colourful experience. In the winter and early spring, tiny yellow flowers begin to appear and once pollinated by bees, it yields an abundance of dark-coloured berries. 

According to the University of Florida, this hardy Privet is extremely tolerant of clipping and pruning. Experts also recommend keeping the lower portion wider than the upper. 

A well-drained soil (sandy, loamy or calcareous) is preferred for easier growth. Fortunate for beach-dwelling residents, is the fact that the Florida Privet can tolerate moderate amounts of salt winds. However, long-term flooding by saltwater can lead to irreparable plant injury. 

The Florida Privet is toxic to humans and animals and can cause allergies if consumed. 

7. Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)

Wax Myrtle (Myrica cerifera)
  • Full sun or light shade
  • Easy to care for, highly resistant
  • Non-toxic

This low-maintenance hedge plant is particularly robust in the marshes and swamps of North Carolina and elsewhere in USDA Zones 7-10. Aside from its aesthetic capacity in a restoration garden setting, it can also serve a more utilitarian purpose to control erosion on water-logged riverbanks.

 In addition to its tolerance of excessively moist soil, it likewise proves vigorous against salt ocean spray, making it an understandable inhabitant of beachfront areas. 

Experts at Valdosta State University, say that the Wax Myrtle comes equipped with its own inbuilt defence mechanism: the sweet-smelling aromatic compounds, so pleasing to the nose, conveniently double as a natural insect repellent.  

The Wax Myrtle derives its name from what can best be described as its most interesting characteristic: its lightly-coloured blueberries coated in an aromatic wax with a recognisable candle fragrance. But that being said, this remarkable aesthetic feature does indeed contain flammable compounds, so protecting it from fire is a very real concern. Despite this potential hazard, however, this tenacious hedge plant always seems to regrow from its roots after death! 

The Wax Myrtle is not considered toxic to humans or animals. 

Florida Hedge Plants FAQ

What is the fastest-growing hedge plant in Florida? 

When it comes to fast-growing hedge plants for Florida, it’s difficult to imagine one more able to rapidly develop than the Clusia. It’s all a question of suitable habitation and given that the Clusia grows best in warm, sunny climates, you just can’t beat the Sunshine State. 

What hedge plants are native to the state of Florida? 

There are a number of hedge plants native to Florida, whether that be in the Northern panhandle of the state or the way down to the sub-tropical tip, including the Keys. Among these are the Clusia, the Arborvitae, and the aptly named Florida Privet. Of course, this is only a small sample of the hedge plants native to Florida but should provide a good starting point. 

Citations

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Ben's horticultural interest grew when graduating from Hertfordshire University in 1997. Having contributed to numerous publications including Better Homes & Gardens, Garden Design Magazine, and The English Garden. He is also the author of Propagating Houseplants Made Easy.