Winter is not far off. This is the time of year when many trees start losing their leaves, which results in landscapes that look stark and barren. If your backyard is looking a bit drab, you may want to consider planting a few evergreen trees. Plenty of evergreen species are well-suited to the climate in Florida and will add year-round color to your landscape. The following are five top choices.
1. Slash Pine
If you like the look of a traditional pine tree, the slash pine is a good species to choose for Florida. It is found extensively through the state’s natural forests, so it has adapted well to the warmer climate over the years.
The slash pine is taller than it is broad and can reach heights up to 64 feet, although most trees are a bit smaller. It grows quickly, so you’ll have a good-sized evergreen in your yard within a few years. The needles of the slash pine are long, shiny, and deep green in color, and the tree’s bark is furrowed with plenty of character.
Slash pines prefer well-drained soil, but they’ll do okay in a spot that floods seasonally. They’ll grow in nutrient-poor soils where other trees may struggle, but they do not fare well near saltwater. Their cones, which open in the fall to release seeds, attract plenty of wildlife.
2. Cabbage Palm
Most palm trees remain green year-round, and numerous palm species grow well in Florida. However, the cabbage palm is perhaps one of the most stunning options, and it’s also very easy to grow. This large palm species will thrive anywhere from a swamp to a hardwood forest. You can grow cabbage palms alone or in groves. Just make sure you leave them plenty of space, as they can be up to 80 feet tall when mature.
The individual fronds of the cabbage palm can be up to five feet long. You can actually eat portions of the central bud; they are said to taste like cabbage, hence the name. Cabbage palms produce a lot of fruit, which will attract everything from raccoons to squirrels to your land.
3. Geiger Tree
If you only have space for a smaller ornamental tree, the geiger tree is a worthy choice. It is known for its lovely orange and yellow blossoms. These blossoms disappear in the winter, but the tree retains its deep green leaves, which makes it quite the spectacle in your garden bed or front yard. Hummingbirds love the nectar of geiger trees.
Geiger trees are salt-tolerant, which makes them a good choice for beachfront properties. They do need some shielding from cold winds in the winter, so consider planting them near other, taller trees. A geiger tree should mature to about 20 feet tall. It will require springtime pruning to maintain its shape and regular fertilization to ensure colorful, vibrant blooms.
4. Hong Kong Orchid Tree
The Hong Kong orchid tree is another flowering tree that stays green year-round in Florida. Its flowers are reddish-purple in color with a stunning orchid shape. The flowers appear in winter, and they make your whole yard look vibrant. The tree’s foliage is also attractive; the leaves are gray-green and a bit droopy.
Hong Kong orchid trees can grow to a sizable 40 feet tall, so make sure you plant yours in a wide-open area. Trim the branch ends in the early spring, once the tree has finished blooming, to encourage the tree to develop a more rounded shape. These trees do require frequent watering when they are younger, but they can tolerate a dry spell once they develop better roots.
5. Sweetbay Magnolia
You might also see this tree sold as a swampbay tree or a swamp magnolia. Either way, it is a gorgeous tree that is native to Florida and found all along the east coast. It grows very well in wet, swampy land that may be too moist for other trees. The sweetbay magnolia stays green year-round in Florida and can be up to 90 feet tall, which makes for a bold statement in the winter.
One of this tree’s best features are its flowers. White and showy, they appear in spring and summer, filling the air with their fragrance. When autumn comes, the tree develops small fruits, which attract small rodents, squirrels, and songbirds. The tree’s 6-inch-long leaves also make quite the statement when they blow in the wind.
You don’t have to go on suffering with a bland, boring landscape. So many evergreen trees grow well in Florida. Whether you’re looking for a palm, a traditional pine, or something flowery, adding some year-round greenery to your landscape is easy.