Perfect Plants To Grow Around Your Florida Pool


by Francesca Singer


It's not tough to find native plants for your poolside paradise in Florida. We have plenty of plants to choose from. But not all plants are suited to the swimming pool environment.

Poolside plantings should offer shade, privacy, texture, color, and structure. They also should not drop leaves or seeds that make your pool look untidy or clog filters. The perfect ornamentals, shrubs, trees and succulents to grow around your Florida pool also attract hummingbirds and butterflies and bring a sense of wonder to the garden.

Ornamentals


Standing-cypress Source

Perennial flowering plants have exceptional visual qualities that add character and color to your poolside. Since perennials don’t die after they flower, you won’t have to worry about cleaning up after them. They’re also easy to find just about everywhere in Florida.

Standing-cypress Ipomopsis rubra

When it comes to attracting hummingbirds, there are few better natives than standing-cypress. Their long, tubular blooms sit on stems reaching between 3 and 6 feet high. This perennial puts on a show from May to July and prefers dry soil.

Butterflyweed Asclepias tuberosa

Queen Butterfly on Butterfly Milkweed at Green Isle Gardens © Florida Native Plant Society

This species of milkweed is renowned for its relationship to monarch butterflies. Its brilliant, waxy orange flowers are stunning and stay in full flush for almost half the year: from May to September! These butterfly magnets are happiest in full sun and can tolerate moist or dry soil. 

Southern Fogfruit Lippia stoechadifolia


Photo © Shirley Denton

A perfect groundcover, southern fogfruit presents with delicate lavender and white blooms year-round. A lover of sun, it's perfect for poolside since it prefers moist soil and fills in flower beds between larger plants.

Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis


This native wildflower is perfect for creating privacy around the pool. It can grow up to 6 feet high and thrives in moist soil in either sun or shade. The showy red blooms last from May to October and attract a flurry of swallowtail butterflies and hummingbirds.

Golden Canna Canna flaccida

Also called bandanna of the Everglades, golden canna is noteworthy for its long, spear-shaped leaves and canary yellow, iris-like blooms. Growing up to 4 feet tall, cannas enjoy full sun and thrive in wet, marshy soils.

Shrubs



Wonderful for providing structure and privacy, these shrubs are ideal for poolside landscapes:

Giant Leather Fern Acrostichum danaeifolium



Giant leather ferns grow from 3 to 12 feet tall. They offer beautiful tropical texture and an unusual color contrast due to the rusty undersides of their leaves. Best in moist soils, this stately plant is a standout.

Needle Palm Rhapidophyllum hystrix

While spiky branches make needle palms not the friendliest plant in the landscape, they are sculptural and compact. They also grow well in wet or dry soil. This unfussy palm grows well in containers or as an understory shrub and can reach 6 feet tall.

Orange azalea Rhododendron austrinum

This native Florida azalea requires acidic, well-drained soil and can grow to 10 feet. Preferring part shade, orange azalea is a perfect understory plant that will attract butterflies and hummingbirds in the spring.

Trees


Key Thatch Palm Source

Trees throw a little much-needed shade and offer structure to a landscape. While this is only a tiny sample of what Florida has to offer, there are many native tree species that will serve well around a pool:

Key Thatch Palm Leucothrinax morrisii

No pool is complete without a palm tree, and this particular species is a winner for Florida landscapes. Growing from 3 to 30 feet tall, this single-stemmed palm is a slow grower that can tolerate salt and high winds.

Cherry-laurel Prunus caroliniana

Classically used as a hedge, cherry laurels boast glossy, dark evergreen leaves and can grow in full sun or part shade. Pollinators are attracted in the spring with fragrant flowers and birds in the summer and fall by small, bluish fruit. Growing from 12 to 20 feet tall in well-drained, moist soil, it is necessary to prune regularly to maintain this native as a shrub.

Lignum-vitae Guaiacum sanctum

Commonly known as palo santo, this native tree has some of the hardest wood in the world. It's drought-tolerant and grows to around 20 feet tall, and without fertilization, grows very slowly. The waxy evergreen leaves are attractive, but the prolific purple blooms that grace this tree in spring and summer are reason enough to plant one near the pool.

Succulents

Succulents such as false sisal (Agave decipiens) and wild century plant (Agave neglecta) are also good poolside plants because they love the heat and need little maintenance. But whether you plant these or any other trees or shrubs, be sure to keep them 6 feet away from the pool. You don’t want the sharp edges hurting your guests, and you don’t want the roots threatening the pool foundation.

Relax in Your Pool Surrounded By Color and Shade

Planting a mix of ornamentals, shrubs, trees and succulents around your pool will ensure you’ll be doing laps or just floating amid a sea (or pool) of color, textures and even some shade.

One tree to avoid near your pool? Skip the crepe myrtles unless you want to be floating in a pool covered in a blanket of fallen flowers.

Francesca Singer holds both a degree in landscape architecture from Ball State University and a student award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. After running an Austin, Texas-based design-build firm focused on sustainable and edible landscapes, she transitioned to organic farming.












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