Great Wildflowers for
Dry Landscapes

Landscaping with Florida’s native wildflowers and plants provides refuge for birds, bees and butterflies while creating “habitat highways” through urban settings.

Many Florida landscapes have sandy soils that are naturally dry and well-drained, even after heavy rain. Instead of mulching or amending these soils, embrace them and create a unique landscape by planting native wildflowers and grasses suited to dry conditions.

Plan for success

Your palette of native plants should be made up of species naturally found in your Florida locale. Look for small- to medium-size shrubs, perennial wildflowers and grasses found in sandhills, flatwoods, dune systems and other xeric ecosystems. Consider bloom season and mature plant size when choosing and placing plants. Plan to use wildflowers in groups of five to seven for visual impact and pollinator attraction. 

Pityopsis graminifolia
Narrowleaf silkgrass (Pityopsis graminifolia) by Mary Keim

Planting and establishment

Many of Florida’s native plants and wildflowers do well in dry conditions. However, they must be established properly to get off to a good start. Dig a hole twice the circumference as the pot. Loosen the plant’s roots and install it even with the ground. Water liberally and keep soil moist for two to three weeks. Gradually taper off watering to weekly for four to six weeks if there is no substantial rainfall.  A light mulching with pine straw can help reduce evapotranspiration and wilting.

Although full sun is preferred by many species, most can adapt to two to three hours of shifting shade. It can be challenging to establish wildflowers in sandy, shady areas where plant coverage may be less dense. It helps to go for a natural look in shade rather than a formal, evenly spaced planting. 

For more about shade, download our Great Wildflowers for Shade handout.

Buttonsage flower
Buttonsage (Lantana involucrata) by Bob Peterson (CC BY 2.0)

Care

Prune ground-covering plants such as vines or low-branching wildflowers as needed to keep them contained to the bed. After a season of growth, vines can become thin, bearing only sparse leaves and flowers. Trim stems to 2 to 3 feet to encourage new growth.

Some perennials go dormant in winter as part of their natural cycle. Dead stems can be trimmed to ground level or left as habitat for wildlife. Leaves will emerge at the plant’s base when conditions are right.

Many wildflowers spread from seed, so time pruning until after seeds mature and scatter. 

Gulf fritillary on Butterfly milkweed, Asclepias tuberosa
Gulf fritillary on Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) by Mary Keim

Great wildflowers for dry landscapes

The following native wildflowers and plants are suitable for dry soils.

Wiregrass, Aristida stricta

Wiregrass

Wiregrass (Aristida stricta) is a perennial bunchgrass found in scrub, pinelands and coastal uplands throughout much of Florida. It is is a primary food source for gopher tortoises.
Read more… Wiregrass

Butterflyweed

Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a perennial that produces large, showy clusters of bright orange to reddish flowers from spring through fall. It occurs naturally in sandhills, pine flatwoods, and…
Read more… Butterflyweed

Greeneyes

Florida greeneyes (Berlandiera subacaulis) is an endemic wildflower found in Florida’s sandhills, pine flatwoods, mixed upland forests, and along dry roadsides. Their bright yellow flowers bloom in spring, attracting a…
Read more… Greeneyes
Scarlet calamint red flowers

Scarlet calamint

The brilliant red flowers of Scarlet calamint (Calamintha coccinea) offer a dramatic contrast against the backdrop of scrub, sandhill and coastal dunes where the plant naturally occurs. The long, nectar-rich…
Read more… Scarlet calamint

Florida paintbrush

Florida paintbrush (Carphephorus corymbosus) blooms from mid-summer into fall, attracting butterflies and other pollinators. It occurs naturally in sandhills, pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods, mesic flatwoods and ruderal areas.
Read more… Florida paintbrush

Partridge pea

Partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata) is a larval host for several butterflies, including the Gray hairstreak and Cloudless sulphur. The plant is also used by bees, ants, flies, wasps, birds and…
Read more… Partridge pea
Purple thistle flower

Purple thistle

Purple thistle (Cirsium horridulum) is a larval host for the Little metalmark and Painted lady butterflies. The seeds are an important food source for seed-eating birds.
Read more… Purple thistle
False rosemary

False rosemary

False rosemary (Conradina canescens) occurs naturally in sand pine scrub and sandhills. Many pollinator species are attracted to false rosemary, but bees are the most prominent visitor.
Read more… False rosemary
Lanceleaf tickseed flower

Lanceleaf tickseed

Lanceleaf tickseed (Coreopsis lanceolata) has conspicuously sunny flowers that typically bloom in spring. It attracts butterflies and other pollinators, and its seeds are eaten by birds and small wildlife.
Read more… Lanceleaf tickseed
Beach creeper, Ernodea littoralis

Beach creeper

Beach creeper (Ernodea littoralis) is an evergreen low-growing, mat-forming shrub found on dunes, beaches and coastal hammock edges throughout Central and South Florida.
Read more… Beach creeper

Coralbean

Coralbean (Erythrina herbacea ) is a deciduous to evergreen woody shrub. It produces red tubular flowers that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.
Read more… Coralbean

Pineland heliotrope

Don’t forget Pineland heliotrope (Euploca polyphylla) if you’re looking for year-round blooms! This member of the forget-me-not family is a Florida endemic and is adaptable to a variety of conditions…
Read more… Pineland heliotrope
Garberia flowers

Garberia

Garberia (Garberia heterophylla) is endemic to Florida’s north and central peninsula and is a state-listed threatened species. It is an excellent nectar source for many butterflies and bees.
Read more… Garberia
Carolina cranesbill flowers

Carolina cranesbill

Carolina cranesbill (Geranium carolinianum) is an annual native wildflower that occurs in lawns, urban gardens and disturbed areas throughout Florida. It is often considered a weed, but its winter- and…
Read more… Carolina cranesbill
Dune sunflower bloom

Dune sunflower

Dune (or beach) sunflower (Helianthus debilis) typically flowers in summer, but may bloom year-round. Its bright yellow flowers attract a variety of pollinators, including butterflies, moths and bees.
Read more… Dune sunflower
Scorpionstail, Heliotropium angiospernum

Scorpionstail

Scorpionstail (Heliotropium angiospermum) is a shrub-like plant with unique white flowers that bloom year-round. Its nectar attracts a variety of butterflies including the Miami blue and Schaus’ swallowtail.
Read more… Scorpionstail
Standing cypress flower

Standing cypress

Standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra) blooms summer through fall and occurs naturally in sandhills, coastal strands, dunes and ruderal areas. It is very attractive to butterflies as well as other pollinators.
Read more… Standing cypress

Buttonsage

Buttonsage (Lantana involucrata) occurs naturally along coastal strands, dunes, hammocks, and pinelands in coastal counties from Pinellas and Brevard south to Monroe and into the Keys.
Read more… Buttonsage
Gopher apple flowers and leaves

Gopher apple

Gopher apple (Licania michauxii) is a hardy, low-growing, woody perennial shrub that occurs naturally in sandhills, pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods and scrub. It can bloom year-round.
Read more… Gopher apple
Coral honeysuckle flowers

Coral honeysuckle

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) flowers are attractive to many butterflies, and hummingbirds find them irresistible. Birds such as Northern cardinals enjoy the bright red berries.
Read more… Coral honeysuckle

Snow squarestem

Also known as Cat’s tongue, Salt and pepper and Nonpareil, Snow squarestem (Melanthera nivea) typically blooms summer through early winter, but can bloom year-round, attracting bees, butterflies and other pollinators…
Read more… Snow squarestem
Mimosa strigillosa

Sunshine mimosa

Sunshine mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa) has showy “powderpuff” flowers that bloom spring through summer, attracting mostly bees. The plant is a larval host for the Little sulphur butterfly.
Read more… Sunshine mimosa
Two fuzzy white Partridgeberry flowers

Partridgeberry

Partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) is a dainty mat-forming vine with fuzzy white flowers that a variety of insects, especially bumble bees. Its fruits are enjoyed by birds, small mammals and humans!…
Read more… Partridgeberry

Spotted beebalm

Also known as Dotted horsemint, Spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata) is a robust, aromatic wildflower known to attract a huge variety of pollinating insects, including bees, wasps and butterflies. It blooms…
Read more… Spotted beebalm
Hairyawn muhlygrass

Muhlygrass

Nothing says fall in Florida like the purple haze of Hairyawn muhly (Muhlenbergia capillaris) in bloom. When planted en masse, this perennial bunchgrass puts on a spectacular fall display.
Read more… Muhlygrass
Purple passionflower bloom

Passionflower

Purple passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) has extraordinarily intricate purple-and-white-fringed flowers. The plant is the larval host plant of several butterflies including the Gulf fritillary and Zebra longwing.
Read more… Passionflower

Wild pennyroyal

Wild pennyroyal (Piloblephis rigida) typically flowers in late winter through spring, but can bloom year-round, and occurs naturally in scrub, scrubby and pine flatwoods, sandhills, dry prairies and ruderal areas…
Read more… Wild pennyroyal
Sandhill wireweed flower

Sandhill wireweed

Also known as Largeflower jointweed, Sandhill wireweed (Polygonum nesomii) is a deciduous woody shrub that produces an abundance of spike-like flowering clusters. It is mostly a summer and fall bloomer,…
Read more… Sandhill wireweed
Wild petunia

Wild petunia

Wild petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis) typically blooms late spring through late summer/early fall, attracting a variety of pollinators. It is the host plant for the White peacock and Common buckeye butterflies.
Read more… Wild petunia
Azure blue sage, Salvia azurea

Azure blue sage

Azure blue sage (Salvia azurea) occurs naturally in flatwoods and sandhills. Its striking cerulean flowers bloom August through November, attracting a variety of bees, butterflies and even hummingbirds.
Read more… Azure blue sage
Starry rosinweed flower

Starry rosinweed

Starry rosinweed (Silphium asteriscus) is a robust perennial with showy yellow blooms. It is typically found in pine flatwoods, sandhills, open woodlands, mixed upland forests and disturbed or ruderal areas.
Read more… Starry rosinweed
Seaside goldenrod flower stalk with bees

Seaside goldenrod

The conspicuous golden blooms of Seaside goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens) are found on dunes, in tidal marshes, bogs and sandy flatwoods, along roadsides and in disturbed areas in Florida’s coastal counties…
Read more… Seaside goldenrod

Blue porterweed

Blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis) is an excellent addition to a butterfly garden: It is a host plant for the Tropical buckeye and a nectar source for many other butterfly species.
Read more… Blue porterweed
Spiderwort flower

Spiderwort

Spiderwort (Tradescantia spp.) flowers attract many pollinators, especially bees. Like all species in the dayflower family, the flowers are ephemeral, meaning they stay open only one day.
Read more… Spiderwort

Forked bluecurls

Forked bluecurls (Trichostema dichotomum) has dainty yet distinctive bluish-purple flowers. They are short-lived, opening only in the morning, but individual plants may produce thousands of flowers throughout a season.
Read more… Forked bluecurls

Sea oats

There is nothing more iconic to the Florida summer coastal scene than Sea oats (Uniola paniculata) swaying to the sea breeze in the dunes. The flowers of this tall and…
Read more… Sea oats
Frostweed flowers

Frostweed

Frostweed (Verbesina virginica) typically flowers late summer through fall along moist forest and hammock edges throughout the state. It is attractive to many bees, butterflies and other pollinators.
Read more… Frostweed
Great Southern white on Tall ironweed, Vernonia gigantea

Giant ironweed

Giant ironweed (Vernonia gigantea) is a robust perennial wildflower that blooms in summer and fall, with peak blooming in July. It attracts many pollinators, particularly butterflies.
Read more… Giant ironweed

Adam’s needle

Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa) is a low-growing evergreen shrub found in scrub, sandhills, flatwoods and coastal dunes throughout much of Florida. As a landscape plant, it provides interest with its…
Read more… Adam’s needle