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Buying Trees and Shrubs in Florida

Florida is aptly nicknamed The Sunshine State, and for good reason. Bordered by the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic Ocean, Alabama and Georgia, Florida sits in the southeastern most portion of the United States. As is fitting of this southern state, the Cabbage Palm resides as the state tree. Growing upwards of 60 feet in height, this fan palm is distinct with its 5 to 7 foot leaves that extend out, often surrounding its yellow-white flowers. Floridians are not bound to the Cabbage Palm, though; with frequent sunshine and rain, the Floridian tree planter has many options from which to choose.

Due to its low elevation, moderate temperatures, and severe tropical storms and thunderstorms, the smart Floridian grower will absolutely need to think about the following items; climate, soil condition and type, the average precipitation as well as irrigation needs, growing zones and weather damage.

Best Trees for Florida

Read about the specifics for your state in the following sections. If you’re looking for some quick ideas on what to plant, consider the following trees as expert-tested and The Tree Center approved:

  1. Rainbow Eucalyptus Tree – Ideal for providing stunning beauty and shade.
  2. Royal Empress Trees – Ideal for providing fast-growing shade, year-round beauty, and drought resistance.
  3. Dwarf Cavendish Banana Tree – Ideal for bearing fruit, providing character, and moving between inside or outside.
  4. Arapaho Crape Myrtle – Ideal for spectacular colors, ornamental beauty, and easy maintenance.

Fast Growing Privacy Trees in Florida

As property in Florida continues to be developed, land owners are searching for trees that will provide privacy from prying neighborly eyes and loud, unwanted noise. There are many fast growing privacy trees in Florida, which will quickly grow after initial planting to offer your property and family long sought-after privacy.

The Thuja Green Giant, a staple of privacy trees throughout the United States, is a fast-growing pine that will quickly provide a barrier between you and your neighbors. Growing between 3-5 feet a year, the Thuja Green Giant will offer your yard classic French design with minimal hassle. Alternatively, the Emerald Green Cyprus and Juniper ‘Wichita Blue’ will also add color and privacy to your yard’s perimeter.

  • Climate

Florida has a reputation as The Sunshine State, but it often experiences storms, tropical or thunder, which travel in from its nearby water bodies. Surprisingly moderate temperatures affect the region since every location is close to the ocean, with temperatures in summer rarely reaching over 100°F. The record high is only 109°F. Winter brings cooler temperatures that occasionally fall below freezing into the 10s. Typically, winter temperatures remain in the mid-30s. Frost is frequent; snow, less so. Florida covers two climate zones, with the northern areas in the humid subtropical climate and southern areas in the tropical climate.

  • Soil Type

Most trees require well-drained soil rich with minerals to grow. Florida is unique due to its many swamps, and the most extensive ground-covering soil is called Myakka, meaning ‘Big Waters’. It is a wet, sandy soil surprisingly rich with organic matter and good for agriculture. Regardless of the property’s location in The Sunshine State, a soon-to-be tree planter can perform a simple test to determine his/her soil type.

In order to determine the type of soil in your yard, try this test to give you a basis for finding the best matched trees. For this test, you will need a healthy handful of soil from the layer beneath the topmost piece of soil. The soil should be a little damp, but not recently watered or wet. Simply squeeze the soil sample and one of the following events will occur:

  1. The soil will hold its shape. If you touch the soil, it will maintain its original shape. You have CLAY.
  2. The soil will hold its shape. If you touch the soil, it will collapse. You have LOAM.
  3. The soil will fall apart as you open your hands. You have SAND.

Once you know what soil type you have, you can find trees best suited to the dirt’s properties. Loam is the best soil to have, as its unique qualities make it ideal for holding and transferring water to trees.

  • Average Precipitation

Rain is the most common form of precipitation to visit The Sunshine State, often leaving upwards of 50 inches annually. Ocean currents and winds affect the specific averages on varying coastal regions, with areas on the tip of Florida along the Florida Straits receiving the least amount of rain. Snowfall is rare, but it does occur when cold moisture from northern winds meets freezing temperatures. Severe storms from the Bahamas and Caribbean are common, causing significant downpours and damage.

  • Irrigation

Irrigation systems are enormously beneficial in a state such as Florida, where hot sunshine is tempered with strong rains. Using an irrigation system that will efficiently transfer water from heavily hit areas to the trees and shrubs that need it most is important. Additionally, by using an irrigation system you ensure your newly planted trees will be well-cared for. Once trees are planted, their roots must adjust to a variety of factors in the soil: acidity, water access, and minerals. By providing your young tree with controlled and consistent access to water, you are investing in the tree’s eventual success.

  • Growing Zones

Despite Florida’s proximity to a variety of variable water and land resources, it only contains six unique growing zones. A growing zone simply refers to the USDA’s determination of areas where certain plants are most likely to thrive, preferring to focus on minimal temperature ranges in which a plant can survive.  In the northern panhandle of Florida, bordering Alabama, planters must choose trees that can withstand temperatures as low as 10°F. In the southeastern corner of the state, between Miami and West Palm Beach, Floridians do not have to worry about temperatures lower than 35°F.

  • Weather Damage

Florida has experienced some of the worst damage due to severe weather in the U.S. Hurricanes, tropical storms, thunderstorms, and even tornadoes frequently invade the area. The most expensive weather damage in U.S. history, standing at $25 billion, occurred in Florida in 1992, only recently overtaken by Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana. August to October is the most common time hurricanes hit the state, and 85% of the tropical storms that affect the nation pass through Florida first. When planting trees, be sure to choose those that have strong roots and shorter statures. Remember trees act as erosion barriers, clinging to the soil. If flooding is frequent in your area, a tree can help.