One of the many delights of living in southwest Florida is that you can easily grow spectacular plants that can’t be grown in most of the rest of the country. This is due to the state’s climate, which is warm and gets plenty of rainfall most of the year. Indeed, according to the USDA, the region has a hardiness zone of 9b to 10a, just right for the most fragrant and exotically beautiful plants. Here are 10 of them:
This beautiful flower has been prized for centuries for its beautiful scent. Gardenias combine their snowy white flowers with glossy, dark green foliage to make for an irresistible plant for southwestern Florida. Gardenias do best in full to partial sunshine and well-drained soil. The lush flowers appear from summer into fall.
Hindu Rope Plant
This unusual plant will be the focal point of any Florida garden. It combines a weeping habit and interesting, spiral leaves that give the plant its name. The fragrance comes from tight balls of pink flowers that bloom in the summer. The plant, which can grow to 12 to 24 inches long, is also good for a hanging basket. Despite its unusual looks, the Hindu rope plant is easy to grow.
The camellia comes in shades of white and pink, red, and sometimes a combination of colors. There are even blue camellias. The flower, which can grow 4 inches across, is more delicate looking and ruffled than the gardenia and is also treasured for its smell. The camellia grows from 2 to 3 feet in height and does best in partial sunlight. It is one of the earliest blooming plants, with flowers appearing in the earliest spring or even during the winter.
This plant is grown as much for its looks as for its fragrant flowers. It has tight, corkscrew leaves on short stems that sprout from a bulb. In spring, yellow flowers that smell of vanilla blossom on flower spikes. This plant, which grows 7 to 12 inches tall, likes full to partial sun and very well-drained soil. If possible, the soil should be allowed to dry out completely before the plant is watered again. It’s an easy plant to grow and has no problems with diseases or pests.
This shrub has clusters of flowers that remind you of lilacs, which are a bit too fragile for south Florida’s summers. Fortunately, the sweet olive is just as sweet-smelling. It likes full sun to partial shade and well-drained soil and blooms in winter, spring, and fall. Smaller versions can be grown indoors as a house plant.
Even among fragrant plants, few beat the jasmine for its intoxicating smell. Jasmines are vines, and they would be just the thing growing up a trellis on the sunny side of the house. Some types of jasmine blossom from spring till the fall and some are ever-bearing, with pure white or golden star-shaped flowers. Popular varieties for Southwest Florida include confederate, star, Asiatic, primrose, and shining jasmine.
Australian Red Lime
This bush not only puts forth sweet-smelling flowers but delicious red fruit even when it’s grown indoors. You can eat the fruit out of hand or toss it with salads. The bush has small, oval leaves and flowers that appear during the spring. When they’re fertilized, they ripen into fruit that’s ready to eat by winter.
The flowers of the angel’s trumpet look just like their name. They can be 8 inches long, hang attractively downward and come in a range of colors from yellow to white to scarlet and gold. What’s really striking about them is that they bloom in the evening and fill your nighttime garden with their scent. Some can be kept indoors as hanging plants, and many varieties are easy to grow. Many blossom in spring, summer, and fall while other cultivars blossom intermittently.
People are pleasantly startled by the intense perfume of this exotic looking plant. It’s a climber with flowers that begin pure white then uncoil into purplish blooms that resemble snail shells. Corkscrew flowers do best in full sun and blossoms from late summer to early fall. It’s just the plant to flourish in the hottest part of the Florida garden.
Given the name because its reproductive organs resemble a cross, this climber produces showy 4 to 6 inches flowers that delight with their rich perfume. They appear in spring and fall and ripen into the delicious passion fruit. The leaves are big and grow on thick, square stems that require a strong trellis, pergola, or arbor. Grow it in full sun or partial shade.