Plant choices to help deal with Florida’s Droughts or How to conserve water and still have a beautifully lush-looking landscape

The term Xeriscape (pronounced “zeer’-ih-scape”) comes from a combination of the Greek word “Xeros” meaning dry and “scape” as in “landscape”. Some people mistakenly call it “zeroscape”, because “xeriscape” is pronounced as if it begins with the letter “Z”.

Xeriscaped landscaping in Florida does not mean tearing out the lawn and putting in rocks and desert plants such as cacti, euphorbia and agaves. Rather, properly approached, a xeriscaped landscape will allow you to use a wide variety of plants, but insists on common-sense measures that will help to conserve water, such as grouping plants with similar water requirements together, reducing the use of lawn grass, (lawn grass is one of the largest users of water in the landscape and one of the largest foes in the battle to conserve water) and using indigenous plants (plants which are adapted to the local climate and require less water than exotics usually do). Plants most suited to xeriscaped landscaping are sometimes referred to as “xeric” plants.

The following is a list of “Florida Favorites” that can be used for xeriscaped landscapes. Consult a nursery professional for information on which of these plants are appropriate for your region and landscape design.


Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum)

Dahoon holly (Ilex cassine)

Geiger tree (Cordia sebestena)

Gumbo Limbo (Bursera simaruba)

Ironwood (Krugiodendron ferreum)

Live oak (Quercus virginiana)

Magnolia, southern (Magnolia grandiflora)

Magnolia, sweet bay (Magnolia virginiana)

Myrsine (Rapanea guianensis)

Paradise tree (Simarouba glauca)

Pigeon plum (Coccoloba diversifolia)

Red bay (Persea borbonia)

Red maple (Acer rubrum)

Sea grape (Coccoloba uvifera)

Silver buttonwood (Conocarpus erectus var. sericeus)

Simpson’s stopper (Myricanthes fragrans)

Slash pine (Pinus elliottii)

Southern red cedar (Juniperus silicicola)

Trumpet tree (Tabebuiaspp.)


Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana )

Cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco)

Coral bean (Erythrina herbacea)

Crinum lily (Crinum asiaticum)

Firebush (Hamelia patens)

Florida privet (Forestiera segregata)

Holly, Stokes dwarf (Ilex vomitoria)

Jamaica caper (Capparis cyanophallophora)

Marlberry (Ardisia escallonioides)

Necklace pod (Sophora tomentosa)

Walter’s viburnum (Viburnum obovatum)

Wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera)

White indigo berry (Randia aculeata)

White stopper (Eugenia axillaris)

Wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa)

Wild coffee, dwarf (Psychotria ligustrifolia)

Palms and Cycads

Buccaneer or Sargent’s palm (Pseudophoenix sargentii)

Cabbage palm (Sabal palmetto)

Coontie (Zamia pumila)

Paurotis/Everglades palm (Acoelorrhaphe wrightii)

Queen sago (Cycas circinalis)

Royal palm (Roystonea elata)

Saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)

Thatch palm (Thrinax spp.)


Boston fern (Nephrolepis exaltata)

Leather fern (Acrostichum danaeifolium)

Swamp fern (Blechnum serrulatum)

Accent Grasses, Vines and Groundcovers

Bougainvillea (Bouganvillea spectabilis)

Coral honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

Cordgrass (Spartina bakeri)

Corky-stemmed passion-flower (Passiflora suberosa)

Fakahatchee grass (Tripsacum dactyloides)

Florida gama grass (Tripsacum floridanum)

Lantana, trailing (Lantana montevidensis)

Liriope (Liriope muscari)

Mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus)

Purple love grass (Eragrostis spectabilis)

Railroad vine (Ipomoea pes-caprae)

Sea oats (Uniola paniculata)


Beach sunflower (Helianthus debilis)

Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)

Blanket flower (Gaillardia pulchella)

Lantana, pineland (Lantana depressa)

Lantana, wild (Lantana involucrata)

Pentas (Pentas lanceolata)

Porter weed (Stachytarpheta jamaicensis)

Sea oxeye daisy (Borrichia frutescens)

Spider lily (Hymenocallis latifolia)

Tickseed (Coreopsis leavenworthii)

Cacti and Agaves

Prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa) and Coastal prickly pear (Opuntia stricta)

Spanish bayonet (Yucca aloifolia), Adam’s needle (Yucca filamentosa), Bear-grass (Yucca flaccida)