18 Native Flowers to Plant in Florida 2023 [Top Species]

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Native Flowers & Wildflowers for Florida

Florida garden
Using native plants and flowers in your Florida backyard can help to preserve the natural environments that support so much life in the state. Ebyabe, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Florida is at once one of the most biodiverse states in the country and one of the most at risk for species extinction and habitat destruction. The Sunshine State also ranks among the top 5 for endemic species, or flora and fauna found nowhere else in the world. Once these endangered plants and animals (including the snail kite, the West Indian manatee, the Florida panther, and others) are gone, they’ll be gone forever– lost the way of the ivory-billed woodpecker. The real Florida is an Eden unlike any other, and it is worth protecting.

Landscaping with native plants in your own garden can help preserve some of the sensitive plant species and natural environments that support so much life in Florida. Growing native plants also reduces both the ecological and economic costs of lawns, chemical fertilizers, pesticides, and irrigation.

Native plants are often healthier and more successful than exotic ornamentals since they have coevolved with the land and local fauna over millennia. They provide food and shelter for charismatic wildlife like birds, butterflies, and other pollinators, and are essential to the health of the ecosystems on which we depend. Many native plants are also edible to humans and may be used for medicinal purposes. Here are some of the best and most beautiful wildflowers for your Florida backyard.

1) Beach sunflower (Helianthus debilis)

Bee on beach sunflower
The beach sunflower is a fast-growing perennial and a great choice for containers. Bob Peterson from North Palm Beach, Florida, Planet Earth!, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Beach or dune sunflower is a fast-growing perennial native to the east coast of Florida. Two subspecies exist: H. debilis cucumerifolius, found in the panhandle; and H. debilis vestitus, endemic to Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, and Lee counties. Gardeners should avoid planting the two together to prevent hybridization and protect the unique genetic composition of each subspecies. Choosing the variant local to your site is best; local ecotypes will be better suited to the environment, healthier, and will more readily serve the pollinators and wildlife that they have co-evolved with (and that depend on them for food and shelter).

Helianthus is a keystone genus in Florida, hosting 66 species of moths and butterflies, and supporting at least 50 pollen-specialist bees (and their generalist cousins) in the eastern temperate forest ecoregion. Beach sunflower is a plant with extremely high value for wildlife. It flowers on and off year-round, attracting a variety of pollinators, and its seeds and dense foliage provide food and shelter for birds and other animals. Sometimes called the beach daisy, its blooms are purplish-brown discs surrounded by cheerful yellow rays. Its leaves are semi-evergreen, and it forms lush mounds that spread quickly by runners, making it an excellent groundcover.

The beach sunflower reaches a height of 1 – 2 ft and prefers sandy, dry, well-drained soils and lots of sun. It is easily propagated by seed or from cuttings and is tolerant of drought and salt spray. Beautiful around a lamp post, palm, or under bird feeders– best where it may be allowed to freely (and sometimes aggressively) self-seed and fill a space. A lovely choice for containers, and great for stabilizing dunes. Consider also the narrowleaf sunflower (Helianthus angustifolius).

2) Slender blazing star (Liatris gracilis)

Slender blazing star flowers
The slender blazing star grows best in nutrient-poor soils and is very drought-tolerant. evangrimes / CC BY 4.0

Slender or graceful blazing star is an upright, clump-forming perennial native to a variety of well-drained upland habitats in the southeastern Coastal Plain. Widespread in Florida, this species is a pollinator magnet; it is especially irresistible to butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Showy, dense wands of vibrant purple blossoms appear in late summer and persist through fall, reaching 2 – 5 ft tall. Flower spikes may be erect or nod slightly; star-shaped florets on peduncles whorl around the stalk.

Pair this plant with ornamental native grasses or mound-forming perennials to provide structure and support (black-eyed Susans are a fine companion). Slender blazing star is exceptionally drought-tolerant and grows best in nutrient-poor soils (especially limestone or sand) with full sun. Avoid planting in rich humus or in areas that are prone to flooding.

Slender blazing star is short-lived but readily self-seeds. Salt spray may burn the leaves. Leave seed heads up for foraging birds, and stems as nesting sites for native bees. Consider also dense blazing star (Liatris spicata) and pinkscale blazing star (Liatris elegans).

3) Scarlet hibiscus (Hibiscus coccineus)

Scarlet hibiscus flower
The scarlet hibiscus has a preference for plenty of sun and moist soil. Michael Wolf, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Scarlet hibiscus or swamp mallow is a tall, upright herbaceous perennial found in wetlands on the panhandle and on the north and central peninsula. Reaching heights of 4 – 8 ft tall, this Florida native produces spectacular crimson blooms over 6 inches wide (sometimes up to 8 inches), composed of 5 deep red petals and a 5-lobed green calyx.

Scarlet hibiscus is a profuse bloomer, producing many flowers throughout the summer– though each unfolds for just a single day. Foliage is palmately cut and glossy. It prefers moist soil (but is drought-tolerant once established) and lots of sun.

Hummingbirds and insect pollinators are drawn to its vivid, prominent blooms, and it is the host plant for several species of Lepidoptera, including the painted lady butterfly, the Io moth, and the delightful bird-dropping moth. Use as a specimen plant, in and around water features, and in rain gardens. It may be propagated by seed or division.

4) Florida tickseed (Coreopsis floridana)

Florida tickseed flower
Florida tickseed is a great choice in rain gardens, wetland edges, and seeps. brycelee / CC BY 4.0

Florida tickseed is a short-lived perennial found in mesic pine flatwoods, wet prairies, cypress swamps, and roadside ditches throughout Florida. The moniker ‘tickseed’ refers to the ability of the hooked seeds to cling to passersby, aiding distribution; this plant does not attract ticks! Coreopsis is the state wildflower; all 12 native species are included in the designation. C. floridana is a species that is endemic to the state, and found nowhere else in the world.

Its flowers are chocolate brown disc florets ringed by bright yellow petals with notched tips. Florida tickseed is nearly indistinguishable from coastalplain tickseed, except for the latter’s longer and more lanceolate bracts (each has two layers supporting the flower heads). The showy blooms appear in late summer and may persist through the winter. C. floridana requires full sun and moist, sandy soil that stays wet or is occasionally flooded. It is highly attractive to insect pollinators.

Use Florida tickseed in rain gardens, seeps, or wetland edges– also great for containers with little to no drainage. Grows 2 – 4 ft tall and is easily propagated by seed. Consider also lanceleaf tickseed (C. lanceolata) and Leavenworth’s tickseed (C. leavenworthii).

5) Swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Butterfly on swamp milkweed flower
There are a number of butterflies that choose the swamp milkweed as their host plant. wackybadger, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Swamp or rose milkweed is an upright herbaceous perennial native to wetland habitats in most of the peninsular counties. It is a pollinator powerhouse, attracting a variety of butterflies and other insects. Monarch, queen, and soldier butterflies all host on the foliage. When planting for caterpillars, swamp milkweed is an excellent choice– other Asclepias species, specifically butterfly milkweed or A. tuberosa, have tougher leaves that are too coarse for early instars to feed on (the flowers are eaten instead if they are available).

A. incarnata grows 2 – 4 ft tall, providing plenty of leaf matter (leaves can reach 6 inches long), and boasts a profusion of rose pink flower clusters. Massing plants together (they can be planted as close as 18 – 24 inches apart) will ensure that your caterpillars won’t run out of food, and increases the likelihood that your garden will be found by foraging butterflies. Planting multiple Asclepias species will also boost the appeal of your pollinator patch, but be sure to choose only native varieties.

Exotic species like tropical milkweed (A. curassavica) are widely sold at big box stores and uninformed nurseries, but these have been shown to be harmful to monarchs. Tropical milkweed is becoming invasive in natural areas and disrupting migration patterns (it blooms through the winter). It is also associated with the protozoan parasite OE (Ophryocystis elektroscirrha) which is often deadly to monarchs– native milkweeds go dormant and lose their foliage in the winter, which eliminates the parasite. Natives like A. incarnata are just as beautiful, if not more so, and are essential to the survival of our Florida monarchs.

If you have an area with full sun and adequate moisture (medium to wet) in your garden, swamp milkweed is a lovely choice. For drier areas, consider whorled milkweed (A. verticillata), or pinewoods milkweed (A. humistrata).

6) Seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)

Seaside goldenrod flowers
The seaside goldenrod is capable of flowering all year, but it usually peaks from late summer to fall. Sam Fraser-Smith from Brisbane, Australia, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Seaside goldenrod is a showy, long-lived perennial native to dunes, marshes, and open coastal areas throughout most of the state (excluding the Keys). It grows to be about 1 – 2 ft tall, or 4 – 6 ft when in flower. It is tolerant of salt spray and some inundation by brackish water. It prefers full sun and moist, poorly drained soils, but can be resistant to drought once established.

Seaside goldenrod may flower all year, but peaks in late summer through fall. It is an important nectar source for migrating monarchs and native bees; its blooms are tubular and golden-yellow, densely covering erect flower spikes. Leaves are fleshy and strap-shaped, gradually reducing as they climb the stems. Spreads by rhizomes, and may be propagated by seed or division. Planting in sandy, well-drained soils (though contrary to its natural habitat) will help keep it from growing too tall and flopping over, but it may also be pruned in midsummer before flower buds begin to form.

Plant seaside goldenrod together with ornamental native grasses or mound-forming perennials to provide support. Solidago is a top keystone genus in Florida, acting as a host plant for 104 species of Lepidoptera in the eastern temperate forest ecoregion (82 in tropical wet forests), and providing food for 42 species of pollen-specialist bees. Seaside goldenrod was used to treat wounds by Seminole peoples, and tea may be made from its leaves. It is often erroneously blamed for allergies caused by ragweed. Other Florida-native Solidago species to consider include wand goldenrod (S. stricta) and pine barren goldenrod (S. fistulosa).

7) Powderpuff mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa)

Powderpuff mimosa in bloom
The powderpuff mimosa is a low-growing plant, only reaching a maximum height of about 9 inches when in flower. Jim Evans, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Powderpuff or sunshine mimosa is a low-growing, long-lived perennial native to open disturbed sites throughout peninsular Florida. It has a prostrate growth habit, meaning that it grows flat on the soil surface (up to 2 inches, or 9 inches when in flower). It spreads freely by runners, setting down roots as it goes, but won’t climb over structures or other plants. It makes an excellent groundcover or turf replacement, as it is easily contained by border edging and can take mowing and some foot traffic.

Powderpuff mimosa is a tough plant and is drought-tolerant once established, but earned the nickname ‘sensitive plant’ for the tendency of its foliage to furl up when touched (to the delight of children and the young at heart). The leaves themselves are fernlike, dainty, and bipinnately compound (characteristic of the Mimosoideae subfamily).

It may become sparse or die back completely in winter in some parts of Florida but will fill out again in early spring. Flowers are tiny rose-pink fireworks that bloom profusely and consistently from spring through fall; in mild winters, they may bloom all year. Powderpuff mimosa is highly adaptable but prefers full sun to partial shade and dry-to-moist, sandy well-drained soils. It is the host plant for the little yellow or little sulfur butterfly (Eurema lisa) and is pollinated by bees.

8) Elliott’s aster (Symphyotrichum elliottii)

Elliott's aster flowers
Elliott’s aster should be planted at the back of a wildflower garden as it can grow to be up to 4 ft tall. Douglas Goldman, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Elliott’s aster is an upright, multibranched herbaceous perennial native to wet flatwoods, swamps, freshwater marshes, and roadside ditches throughout most of the state (with the exception of the western Panhandle). It is one of 26 native Symphyotrichum species. All are keystone plants in Florida, supporting 100 species of Lepidoptera and 33 pollen-specialist bees in the eastern temperate forest ecoregion.

This plant is a first-rate option for pollinator or butterfly gardens, rain gardens, restorations, and containers. Plant at the back of a wildflower garden (it grows to 4 ft tall) and give it plenty of room– it may sucker aggressively. Elliott’s aster requires moist, sandy, or loamy soil and full sun– it may flop over in the shade.

An important late-season nectar source for monarchs, Elliott’s aster blooms profusely in lavender clouds in the fall. Flowers look like yellow discs surrounded by violet rays, covering the finely serrated foliage in purple tufts. Must be frequently maintained in formal settings. Consider also rice button aster (S. dumosum), Georgia aster (S. georgianum), and eastern silver aster (S. concolor).

9) Scarlet salvia (Salvia coccinea)

Scarlet salvia flowers
In the southern part of Florida, scarlet salvia blooms may last through the winter. Carl E Lewis, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Scarlet salvia or blood sage is a short-lived perennial native to open disturbed sites, chalky bluffs, and shell mounds throughout Florida. It may act as an annual in part of its range but self-seeds vigorously. It should be cut back nearly to the ground in early spring where winters are mild to promote healthy growth and flowering– it may also be pruned during peak season to encourage new blooms.

Triangular, toothed leaves grow 2 – 4 inches in length and are silver-green and pubescent; they are aromatic when crushed, and have a slightly sour minty taste. They are sometimes used as a garnish in salads, but their palatability is debatable– consume at your own risk. Scarlet salvia reaches 2 – 4 ft tall, with tubular, deep crimson blooms about 1 inch long whorling about the square stem. Flowers are appealing to hummingbirds and large butterflies, particularly swallowtails– it is also pollinated by bees. Nut hatches, warblers, and finches visit this plant for seeds, nectar, and insect forage.

Blooms appear in summer and fall and may persist through winter in the southern part of the state. Cultivated varieties with white, pink, or two-toned flowers are sometimes available in nurseries– be aware though that these phenotypes are the result of recessive genes and will most likely disappear over time in the garden if planted together with the dominant red type. Use in wildflower gardens, meadows, and as a specimen plant; may be mixed in with other flowers or massed together. Prefers open, sunny sites and well-drained soil, but is versatile and will adapt to a variety of conditions. Consider also the winter-blooming lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata).

10) Rain lily (Zephyranthes atamasca)

Rain lilies
Although rain lily’s blooms only last a few days, new flowers appear every time after rainfall in the summer. KATHERINE WAGNER-REISS, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rain lily or zephyr lily is a small, long-lived perennial native to forests, flatwoods, swamps, and floodplains in the Panhandle and on the north and central peninsula. It is inconspicuous when not in bloom, with grassy, evergreen foliage, Rain lilies are show-stoppers after rainfall. Pale, pink-tinged (sometimes cream or yellow), star-shaped trumpets burst open in late winter or early spring. Flowers last only a few days, but new blooms appear continuously in a deluge after a good shower. It will bloom again and again through summer, triggered by rain.

Plant the bulbs in loamy or sandy soils in sun or shade–rain lily is a low-maintenance, easy-to-grow wildflower. It prefers some moisture, but is drought-tolerant. Mass together or mix in with a groundcover– it may be grown in lawns as it readily withstands mowing. Also beautiful on borders, along walkways, or naturalized under trees. Bulbs contain toxic alkaloids and all parts of this plant are poisonous if consumed. Attractive to insect pollinators.

11) Florida golden aster (Chrysopsis floridana)

Florida golden aster
Florida golden aster is the most compact Chrysopsis species, only reaching a height of about 1 – 2 ft. Stan Shebs / CC BY-SA 4.0

Florida golden aster is a naturally rare perennial herb endemic to sand pine and oak scrub in west central Florida; it is recorded in only four counties, but its full range is not known. C. floridana is often available in native plant nurseries and easily grown from seed– though it is federally listed as endangered, it has been recommended for delisting due to species recovery. Conservation efforts have occurred on both public and private lands, and individual landowners have contributed significantly to this species’ resiliency.

Florida golden aster is one of 11 Chrysopsis species in the world, all of which are found in the Sunshine State. C. floridana is the most compact of the bunch (reaching 1 – 2 ft), and unique in that it is most attractive when not in flower; in late spring and summer, its foliage is a shimmering silvery-white, similar to lupine blooms. Bright yellow daisy-like flowers cover it in late summer, persisting through fall. Plants die back to the ground in winter, returning in soft, downy rosettes the following spring.

Florida golden aster does best in full sun and white, scrub-like sand– it will reseed itself happily in the right site conditions and requires little to no maintenance. It is highly attractive to native bees. Only two other Chrysopsis species are typically commercially available: Maryland golden aster (C. mariana) is most common, and Coastalplain golden aster (C. scabrella) is retailed only rarely.

12) Beach verbena (Glandularia maritima)

Beach verbena flowers
Beach verbena does well in dry, low-nutrient soils, unlike other plant species. Katja Schulz / CC BY 4.0

Beach verbena or coastal mock vervain is a short-lived perennial endemic to dunes, swales, and sandy open areas on the east coast of Florida. It is state-listed as endangered, and plants should be purchased from reputable native plant nurseries; transplanting or harvesting from the wild requires landowner permission and may require a permit. Beach verbena’s flowers are rich pink or lavender and borne in flat-topped clusters– it blooms year-round with peaks in spring and summer. Foliage is glossy and dark, evergreen, and deeply lobed.

This plant hugs the ground, reaching only 1 ft tall, and spreads to form mats. As it creeps along, it sets down roots that bind the sand and help to prevent wind erosion. It is an excellent dune stabilizer. Though it is native to beaches, it is highly adaptable and will do well planted in dry, low-nutrient soils where other plants may struggle. It prefers full sun and requires little to no irrigation. It has an extremely high tolerance for salt wind and spray.

Beach verbena is the host plant for many species of Lepidoptera, including the Gulf fritillary (Agraulis vanillae), sphinx moths, and the long-tailed skipper (Urbanus proteus). Use it as groundcover, in sunny beds and borders, woodland edges, walkways, and containers. It makes a stunning massed planting. Beach verbena does best with minimal human interference or a ‘hands-off’ approach.

It may be propagated by seed, cuttings, and division. Remember to choose local ecotypes and species native to your area when shopping for verbenas (there are many exotic varieties available in nurseries); this is especially important for endangered species like G. maritima, whose genetic identities and ecological roles may be compromised by hybridization with other closely related plants.

13) Florida greeneyes (Berlandiera subacaulis)

Florida greeneyes in bloom
Florida greeneyes has a large taproot that makes it resistant to drought and fire. Karen Guin / CC BY 4.0

Florida greeneyes is an herbaceous perennial endemic to sandy oak and pine flatwoods, sandhills, and disturbed sites on the peninsula. Sometimes called the Florida dandelion, its leaves are ovate, with scalloped edges and prominent veins (resembling the common dandelion).

Though the foliage may be unremarkable, the flower is showy and fragrant, emitting a subtle chocolatey aroma. The ‘chocolate flower’ blooms on singular stems up to 2 ft tall, beginning with a saucer of green bracts and followed by lemon yellow rays emerging from the verdant central disc. Tiny gold florets with maroon anthers develop in the interior of the corolla, attracting a variety of pollinators– especially butterflies and bumblebees.

Greeneyes has a sizable taproot (usually at least an inch thick and about 12 inches long at maturity), making it exceptionally drought-tolerant, fire-resistant, and easy to transplant. Division can be difficult, but this plant freely self-seeds from spring to late fall. Give it lots of sun, and plant it as a specimen or as groundcover in well-drained, sandy soil. A lovely, low-maintenance native for Florida gardens.

14) Florida paintbrush (Carphephorus corymbosus)

Florida paintbrush flower
The Florida paintbrush is a great flower for attracting butterflies and is an important source of nectar for monarchs. Carol VanHook, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Florida paintbrush or coastal plain chaffhead is an herbaceous perennial native to sandhills, flatwoods, and pine barrens throughout the peninsula and in Bay County. The Latin name comes from the shape of the flowerhead; the Florida paintbrush has large, showy flat-topped corymbs composed of a multitude of vivid pink and purple disc florets.

Stems are upright, unbranched, and rise 3 to 4 ft from a rosette of succulent basal leaves. It is long-lived and well-behaved, a fine choice for both formal and natural landscapes. Florida paintbrush requires full sun and well-drained, sandy soils. It is easy to propagate from seed (it can be deadheaded after flowering to prevent spreading) and mature specimens will produce ‘pups’ which disperse from the base of the parent plant.

One of Florida’s best wildflowers for attracting butterflies, it produces dazzling blooms from August through October and is an important nectar source for migrating monarchs. Another member of the genus Carphephorus is less often available at nurseries, but lovely if you can find it; vanillaleaf (C. odoratissimus) has foliage that emits a vanilla-like fragrance when crushed, and was once harvested from the wild to flavor tobacco (it was later found to be carcinogenic when smoked).

15) Oblongleaf twinflower (Dyschoriste oblongifolia)

Oblongleaf twinflower in bloom
Oblongleaf twinflower’s blooms appear at the top of its 6 – 10 inch stems. Geoff Gallice from Gainesville, FL, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Oblongleaf twinflower or snakeherb is a low-growing perennial native to sandhills, flatwoods, and upland mixed forest in the eastern Panhandle and peninsular Florida. Its common name refers to light blue or lavender flowers borne in pairs at the top of its 6 – 10 inch stems. Blooms are trumpet-shaped with four stamens and are attractive to bees and butterflies. It is the host plant for the common buckeye (Junonia coenia). Malachites, white peacocks, and other brush-footed butterflies are especially fond of its nectar.

Its leaves are small, oval-shaped, and fine-textured. Twinflower spreads rapidly by underground runners and self-sown seed, making it excellent groundcover. It is also a charming bunching wildflower, suitable for borders, butterfly gardens, or underneath specimen trees. It adapts to a variety of sites, but prefers full sun, well-drained sandy soils, and occasional watering during extended dry periods to keep it looking healthy. It may be less dense if planted in the shade; for areas with lower light, consider swamp twinflower (D. humistrata).

16) Silver-leaved aster (Pityopsis graminifolia)

Silver-leaved aster flowers
Silver-leaved aster can be found in all 67 counties of Florida. Photo by David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Silver-leaved aster or narrowleaf silkgrass is a robust perennial found in scrub, sandhills, and flatwoods throughout Florida. A familiar sight in the Sunshine State, it has been recorded in all 67 counties. This species has 5 documented varieties, each with a slightly different growth habit. The most commonly available in nurseries are Tracy’s silver-leaved aster (P. graminifolia var. tracyi), a low-growing groundcover, and sandhill silver-leaved aster (P. graminifolia var. aequifolia), which forms a tidy clump and prefers drier soils. The different varieties are still not well-known, even by experienced native growers, so be sure to ask about growth characteristics when acquiring plants.

Silkgrass gets its name from its long, thin leaves, which are softly pubescent. The fine, satiny hairs give it a silvery-gray appearance. Foliage reaches about 1 ft tall depending on the variety, but flower stalks can rise to 3 ft. Cheerful yellow aster-like blooms appear in spring and last through fall– in the southern part of the state they may persist through the winter (including in January and February).

Pityopsis is a keystone genus in Florida; it is the larval host for at least 6 species of Lepidoptera, and 11 species of pollen-specialist bees. One study at the Archbold Biological Station in Venus, Florida recorded over 30 species of bees visiting P. graminifolia. Silkgrass spreads by underground rhizomes, but won’t climb over other plants. It is easy to establish and low-maintenance; it can even withstand mowing (but make sure your blades are sharp– this plant is tough)!

It adapts to a variety of sites (including nutrient-poor and dry soils) but prefers full sun. This plant is best left to its own devices– rich loams and too much water may shorten its lifespan. Creek, Seminole, and Choctaw peoples have used this plant to treat various ailments from coughs, fevers, and colds to mouth sores and pain brought on by childbirth.

17) Spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata)

Bee on spotted beebalm flower
Spotted beebalm’s interesting-looking flowers are attractive to both animals and humans. Photo by David J. Stang, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spotted beebalm or dotted horsemint is an herbaceous perennial or biennial found nearly throughout Florida in coastal dunes, pinelands, meadows, and open disturbed sites. Popular with both pollinators and people, spotted beebalm is attractive, fragrant, and edible. Hairy, cream-colored flowers with purplish spots appear in spring and bloom through fall– they are often eclipsed by larger pink or lavender bracts that retain their color for months at a time.

Its foliage is high in thymol (the same oil as thyme and oregano) and has antifungal, antiseptic, and antimicrobial properties. It has been used medicinally by many Indigenous peoples to treat a variety of ailments, including fevers, headaches, skin lesions, colds, menstrual cramps, and digestive problems. Its leaves can also be brewed to make a tea that may promote relaxation, or substituted for Mediterranean herbs when cooking.

Plant it in full sun to partial shade, in sandy, well-drained soil. It may become leggy in shade, but can be cut back in early summer to promote a bushier shape. Prune it to the ground or mow just before spring to promote healthier growth and flowering. This plant may outcompete less vigorous wildflowers; plant it with other assertive Florida natives to help keep it in check. Perfect for herb and pollinator gardens– bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds adore it.

18) Forked bluecurls (Trichostema dichotomum)

Forked bluecurls flower
Forked bluecurls is an important nectar plant for native bees. Jomegat, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Forked bluecurls (or simply bluecurls) are a low-growing annual found throughout the state in sandhills, pine flatwoods, and disturbed sites. Famous for its dainty, light blue-violet blooms and whimsical curved stamens, bluecurls is a lovely addition to any Florida garden. Flowers are two-lipped; the lower lip is white or cream-colored with purple spots.

Flowers are short-lived, remaining open only through the morning, but a single plant may produce thousands in just one blooming season (typically late summer through fall). It grows 1 – 3 ft tall and prefers full sun and sandy, well-drained soils. This plant self-seeds enthusiastically (perhaps aggressively). Use it in wildflower, butterfly, and rock gardens. Forked bluecurls has special value for native bees as a nectar plant.

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