This list of Florida native plants will be helpful if you live on the lakefront, a freshwater water body, or are doing a rain garden in a wet spot in your yard. These plants are water loving and live in different zones on the shoreline. While there are many more species that are Florida-Friendly and suitable for wet areas, this list includes the most common species that are commercially available. Check www.fann.org to find Florida native plant nurseries.
Upland plants grow just above the water line. They can tolerate wet feet and seasonal flooding. They include bunching grasses like cordgrass, shrubs such as wax myrtle, and trees such as cypress and maple.
Plants in the riparian zone grow right at the waters edge. They are less drought-tolerant than upland plants and prefer to to grow in moist soil. They can also tolerate seasonal flooding.
Emergent plants generally live in at least 2″ of water or right next to the water line. They are aquatic plants and need constant moisture for their fleshy stems. Popular emergent plants include the purple-flowered pickerelweed and the white-flowered duck potato. They are called emergent because their roots are in the water but their leaves and flowers emerge out of the water.
Plants in the littoral zone live in deep water. These are rooted at the bottom of the lake or water body and grow up to the surface. Water lilies, bulrush, and maidencane grass are some examples of plants that can grow in the deep water.
Plants that live completely under water are called submersed plants. There are native beneficial submersed plants such as Illinois pondweed, eelgrass, and coontail that help keep the lake clean. There are also nonnative nuisance plants such as hydrilla that can become problematic by clogging up water bodies. These plants are generally not commercially available but homeowners should learn to identify the common species in their ecosystem and know which ones are good or bad.
Learn more about benefits of plants, design and permitting in our Lakefront and Aquatic Landscaping blog.
Read our publication on Florida-Friendly Plants for Stormwater Ponds.
For a printable list of plants view our Native Lakefront Landscaping Plants for Central Florida Fact Sheet.
Want to learn more? Check out horticulture classes offered by UF/IFAS Extension Orange County at www.ocextension.eventbrite.com. Read about Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/. Follow us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/GardenFlorida/, Instagram https://www.instagram.com/oc_extension/ and visit our website https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/orange/home-lawns-landscapes-and-gardens/florida-friendly-landscaping/.