Some plants that do well during the spring in Florida include beautyberry (pictured), sweet almond bush and beach sunflower. (Photo credit to Larry Williams.)

How can you balance a dry spring with your desire for landscape plants? Utilize drought- tolerant plants in your landscape. As always, consider the first principle of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ program which is right plant, right place. This means you should consider your site conditions: soil type and pH, sun or shade, whether the plant prefers wet or dry soil moisture and mature plant size.

Drought-tolerant plants still need water to become established, which means shoot and root growth. The plants in this article are suited for North, Central, West Central and South Florida.

Large Shrubs:

Aloysia virgata – Sweet almond bush can reach a height and spread of 6 to 12 feet, tolerates any soil pH from 4.5 to 8.0 and any soil texture. This shrub prefers medium-drained soil moisture and tolerates drought well. It performs best in full sun, attracts butterflies and produces white, fragrant flowers from summer through fall.

Callicarpa americana – Beautyberry, a deciduous plant, can reach a height and spread of 6 to 8 feet, prefers soil pH that is acidic to slightly alkaline of 4.5-7.2 and any soil texture. This native performs best in well-drained soil and partial sun/shade to full shade. Beautyberry tolerates drought well, but not salt. It produces purple/light purple flowers from spring through fall, attracts wildlife and provides food for wildlife in late winter.


Helianthus debilis – Beach sunflower can reach a height of 1 to 4 feet and a spread of 2 to 4 feet. It prefers soil pH that is acidic to slightly alkaline of 4.5-7.2 and sandy loam soil texture. Beach sunflower needs well-drained soil moisture, full sun and tolerates drought and salt. This fast-growing native produces year-round flowers and attracts butterflies and birds.

Gaillardia pulchella – Blanket Flower, a native, can reach a height of 1 to 2 feet and spread of 2 to 3 feet. This beauty prefers soil pH that is slightly acidic to slightly alkaline of 6.0-7.2, sandy loam soil texture and well-drained soil moisture. Blanket flower needs full sun and tolerates drought. It also tolerates medium salt amounts. It produces yellow/orange/red summer flowers and attracts butterflies.

All are worthwhile additions to your landscape. For information about our upcoming horticultural programs at UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County, visit our website at and check out our calendar of events at Remember to reduce, reuse, recycle and repeat. Contact Lynn Barber at

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