To start of, landscaping is different in South Florida than the rest of the country. As the only continental sub tropical area in the US, we have the benefit of year round growth. So this end of summer, beginning of fall rainy season is actually the best time to plant something here. Anything you put in the ground will hardly need any manual watering and is likely to take roots before the season is over.
So what to plant? There are a few things that do not benefit from the above rain, such as vegetables, herbs and other flowering plants, as the excess rain will likely harm their growth. You can plant these types in pots and move them to the inside or covered patio.
Natives and plants that are adapt to this climate are the way to go. I personally like plants that have a benefit beyond aesthetics and some of best ones are Mango and Avocado trees. Another great growing mid size tree is star fruit, or Carambola as it is called here. You can also plant something smaller and go for limes or key limes. A great resource for Florida natives can be found here at the Florida Native Plant Society (http://www.fnps.org/pages/plants/landscape_plants.php). In Miami-Dade, DERM also has good resources (http://www.miamidade.gov/derm/adoptatree.asp) and they also feature the Adopt-a-Tree program to get some great native trees for free. The prohibited plant list can be found here: http://www.miamidade.gov/derm/library/prohibited_plants_eng.pdf
In the even smaller scale we have a huge variety of grasses and shrubs appropriate for this climate. I would recommend to install some citronella plants as they provide natural mosquito control. If you have the time and space plant a neem tree…(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neem). It has so many positive uses, it really is the “Tree of Life”. I got mine at the Neem Tree Farm (http://www.neemtreefarms.com/). This will grows into a large tree, so plan for it and beware of any setback encroachments or future neighbor disputes.
Plan for mature sizes when locating your plants. Figure 2-3 years for small plants and 5-6 years for trees and large bushes. If you need, help get professional advice. There are number of good licensed Landscape architects in town and most architects are hobby landscapers, like myself.
Learn more at www.SebastianEilert.com or the “Greenign of Chamber South” (www.ChamberSouth.com) partner Geomantic Designs (http://www.geomanticdesigns.com/html/home.htm)
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