11 Evergreen Trees in Florida for Green Year Round

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Written By Kenique Ivery

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Most of the trees in Florida are evergreen. This is especially true from Orlando and Tampa southwards. 

Florida’s classic and common evergreen trees are oakspalmspines, etc. And, of course, there are scores of tropical evergreen trees, making Florida feel more like the tropics. 

This list is for you if you are looking for something new, interesting, or unique. 

I’ll show you some beautiful evergreen trees that are not common in Florida landscapes but readily available online and in local nurseries. Most of these unique trees are fast-growing and don’t require much maintenance. 

11 Special Evergreen Trees to Consider Planting in Florida

1. Osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrans)

Oh, Osmanthus, I love this tree! One of the primary reasons I include Osmanthus on this list is because it is currently in bloom (October) here in Shenzhen, China. In China, this sweet-smelling tree with its delicate yellow flowers symbolizes the arrival of fall.

I can smell its powdery, sweet, and jasmine-like fragrance everywhere here. Smelling this tree will put a smile on your face, and you will never forget it.

Osmanthus is a slow but steady grower. But it is worth the wait. It has glossy green leaves, which you can use as a small tree specimen or hedge. Some trees feature white flowers and others orange-colored flowers.

When in bloom, Osmanthus, the potent smell, keeps mosquitos away. This is probably why they are so prevalent in mosquito-heavy subtropical China.

Growing Osmanthus is easy. It does well in full to partial sun and is not fussy about soil type.

Other Names: Fragrant Tea Olive

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 10

Average Size at Maturity: 10 feet tall with a spread of 6 – 8 feet

Flowering Season: It depends on variety – ‘Thunbergii’ and ‘Latifolius bloom in September and October, while ‘Semperflorens bloom year-round.

Available at: Nature Hills, My Perfect Plants & Fast-Growing-Trees

2. Little Gem Magnolia Tree (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’)

Little gem magnolia is an excellent substitute for the quintessential Southern magnolia because it fits better in small spaces

This smaller magnolia still boasts impressive large white flowers. The flowers are cream-colored with a powerful yet welcoming sweet smell. Also, the flowers linger on the tree much longer than other varieties. 

Little gem magnolia bloom earlier than others, so you can expect to see flowers from spring. 

You will want to give little gem magnolia full sun – at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day. 

For best results, the soil should be slightly acidic and well-draining—also, the tree benefits from a well-balanced fertilizer. 

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 feet tall with a spread of 8 – 10 feet

Flowering Season: Late spring through fall

Available at: Nature Hills, My Perfect Plants & Fast-Growing-Trees

3. Fernleaf Bamboo (Bambusa multiplex ‘Fernleaf’)

Bamboo trees are great for filling up space. Within a couple of years, they get to a mature height.

Fernleaf bamboo is unique because of its ornamental foliage. The leaves are long, slender, and fern-like. This bamboo variety grows in clumps of long slender stems and has less risk of invading your landscape.

This is probably one of the most accessible evergreen trees you can plant. They do well in almost any soil or environmental conditions. Fernleaf bamboo is hardy and drought tolerant.

Young Fernleaf bamboo trees need a lot of moisture when young. You will need to water it every other day in the first few months.

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 10

Average Size at Maturity:  6 – 10 feet tall and 4 – 6 feet wide

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

4. Curry leaf (Murraya koenigii)

curry leaf plant
Image via Nature Hills

As the name suggests, you can cook with the leaves of this tree. The leaves are pungently aromatic and a common ingredient in Indian cuisine. 

In addition, the tree features large clusters of fragrant white flowers. They bloom most of the year and attract lots of pollinators. After blooming, the tree produces clusters of small black fruit. 

The bushy curry leaf tree makes a great patio or specimen tree. This remarkable small tree is an exciting choice for a landscaper who wants to grow something uncommon and interesting.  

Curry leaf does best in sandy or loam soil. Providing this should be easy in Florida. It is better if the soil is moist but well-draining. The tree does fine in either partial shade or full sun. 

Other Names: Black Neem, Sweet Neem

USDA Growing Zones: 10 – 12

Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 15 feet tall with a spread of 4 -12 feet

Harvest Season: Summer through fall

Available at: Nature Hills

5. Australian Fern Tree (Cyanthea cooperi ‘Brentwood’)

Australian Tree Fern, Scaly Tree Fern, Coin Spot Tree Fern (Cyanthea cooperi) - Tree, Leaves and Rizome
Images by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Australian tree fern is an evergreen tree that will give your landscape a rainforest or lush tropical feel. But it is surprisingly hardy! You can grow it easily even in the coldest regions of the Florida panhandle. 

You can plant the fast-growing Australian tree fern in a shaded garden or a cool shady spot in your landscape. Consider planting large-leaved plants such as bananas and cannas for an even more tropical effect. I recommend planting Australian tree fern if you want an exotic or rare tree in your landscape. 

In Australia’s native habitat, this tree can grow up to 50 feet, but it will probably only get half as tall in Florida. 

Australian tree fern does well in partial sun or partial shade. It will lose its lush and lacy appearance if you give it too much sunlight.

For best results, moist and well-drained soil is best. Also, the soil should be neutral to acidic.

Other Names: Scaly tree fern, Lacy tree fern, Cooper’s tree fern

USDA Growing Zones:  8 – 11 (May need occasional winter protection in zone 8)

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 25 feet tall with a spread of 10 – 12 feet

Available at: Nature Hills

6. Marina Strawberry Tree (Arbutus x ‘Marina’)

marina strawberry tree
Image via Nature Hills

For many gardeners and landscape designers, Marina strawberry tree is one of the most elegant trees you can add. You will find them in upscale and modern developments in the United States.

Marina strawberry tree boasts rich dark green leaves and works as a lovely accent. During the cooler months of the year, it features a large show of enchanting rosy-pink flowers. Flowers continue throughout the year but on a smaller scale.

Ornamental red fruit follows the flowers. The edible fruits’ unique texture is reminiscent of lychee fruits.

Marina strawberry tree does well in full sun or partial shade if you can provide it with more sun, the better.

These trees need regular watering in the first few years, but once they get established, they will do fine on their own without much attention.

USDA Growing Zones: 7 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 30 feet tall with an equal spread

Flowering Season: Year-round with a peak in fall and winter

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

7. Baby Blue Eucalyptus (Eucalyptus pulverulenta ‘Baby Blue’)

Baby Blue Eucalyptus
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

Baby Blue eucalyptus has a powerful aroma. It has one of the most potent aromas of the eucalyptus trees.

But not only that, the blue-green evergreen leaves are stunning. You can use them in floral arrangements providing a refreshing aroma indoors. The smell remains even when dried.

This fast-growing eucalyptus tree grows at least six feet each year. The potent odor deters many pests, deer, and fleas.

Baby blue eucalyptus does well in full sun. Though it needs regular watering in the first couple of years, it is drought-tolerant once established.

Be careful with growing eucalyptus trees. They are toxic to humans, cats, and dogs when consumed.

Fun fact – Eucalyptus trees are some of the highest oxygen producing trees in the world.

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity:  6 – 8 feet tall with a spread of 8 – 10 feet

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

8. Drake Chinese Elm (Ulmus parvifolia ‘Drake’)

Chinese elm is a tough tree for the Florida landscape with many great aesthetic qualities. It has a graceful canopy and sweeping branches. The leaves are shiny, leathery, and dark green. Chinese elm is evergreen in most of Florida, mainly from Orlando southwards.  

In addition, it has a showy cinnamon-colored exfoliating bark that reveals shades of red, purple, or yellow. 

The most widely available cultivar of the Chinese elm is ‘Drake.’ It has an upright growth pattern and thrives in the warm Florida climate. You can use it as a specimen tree or along the sidewalk.

Interestingly, this type of elm has some resistance to Dutch elm disease, which wiped out many of the native American elm (Ulmus americana) population.  

Chinese elm is flexible with light – full sun, partial sun, or partial shade is acceptable. It also tolerates a wide range of soils, even occasionally wet ones. 

Other Names: Lacebark elm

USDA Growing Zones: 7B – 10B

Average Size at Maturity: 35 – 45 feet tall with a spread of 35 – 50 feet

Available at: Nature Hills, My Perfect Plants & Fast-Growing-Trees

9. Bay Laurel (Laurus nobilis)

Like curry leaf tree, bay laurel is a culinary gem. The fragrant leaves provide rich flavor for many dishes throughout the world. 

Bay laurel is a slender conical tree that is slow growing. It responds well to pruning, so you can shade it as you wish. Being a small tree, it works well in small gardens, patios, large containers, and courtyards. You will not want to miss out on planting this tree if your house has Mediterranean architecture or a Mediterranean-themed garden. 

Bay laurel is resistant to pests thanks to its strongly scented oils. Also, it has excellent disease resistance. 

Bay laurel works do not require much care. It does well in full sun or partial shade. In addition, it is not fussy about soil type. Once it establishes itself, it develops remarkable drought resistance.  

Other Common Names: Bay tree, Sweet bay, True laurel, Grecian laurel, Laurel

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 15 feet tall with a similar spread

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

10. Kay Parris Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Kay Parris’)

Kay Parris magnolia is more compact than the other southern magnolias, making it a great evergreen tree for tight spaces. 

Kay Parris magnolia produces lots of lemony-sweet large white flowers. They bloom throughout the summer until early fall. In addition, the flowers attract pollinators such as bees and hummingbirds.  

This tree boasts thick glossy green leaves with a velvety texture underneath. The tree is good at retaining moisture thanks to these heavy leaves, so it is drought-tolerant. 

Provide Kay Parris magnolia with full sun – at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. The trees will do best in slightly acidic and well-drained soils

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 20 – 30 feet tall with a spread of 10 – 15 feet

Flowering Season: June – September

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

11. Cedar of Lebanon (Cedrus libani)

Cedar of Lebanon
Image by denisbin via Flickr

Cedar of Lebanon is an enormous tree native to the Eastern Mediterranean region. It sometimes reaches towering heights of 130 feet and is best for a large landscape.

These trees have broad monopodial and columnar trunks. A monopodial trunk is one whose stem grows in a straight direction from the ground up. With age, this tree’s trunks fork into many vertical branches.

The needles have a rich green to gray-green color and boast a pleasant fragrance.

Cedar of Lebanon’s bark is rough and scaly. Some bark is dark grey, while others are brown. As it ages, the tree develops deep bark fissures. The crown has a cone shape while the tree is still young and takes on a large tubular form as it matures.

Cedar of Lebanon is great in parks and large gardens. The trees thrive in moist and well-drained soil types.

Other Common Names: Lebanese Cedar

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 9 

Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 100 feet tall with a spread of 40 – 80 feet

How to Choose the Right Evergreen Tree in Florida

This is a trick question! There is no perfect evergreen tree. To start, you can consider the amount of space you have and if there are any special features, you want the tree to have. 

If you have a small landscape, consider a Kay Parris magnolia, a miniature take on the glorious native Southern magnolia. 

If you love cooking, then consider planting curry leaf tree or bay laurel. The leaves of these trees have been culinary staples for thousands of years. 

Or suppose you love beautiful fragrances as I do. Then you should not hesitate to plant my beloved Osmanthus or a Baby Blue Eucalyptus

No matter which tree you select, it is always helpful to know your hardiness zone in Florida. Such is especially true for North Florida as winters there can kill some of the beauties.   

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Kenique Ivery

Global Green Thumb

Kenique grew up in Florida and currently lives in southern China. Before China, he spent many years in Portugal and the Caribbean. He studied economics and is a teacher, entrepreneur, and writer. Since he was knee-high, he has been gardening and was an active member of FFA (Future Farmers of America). He is his best self in a densely wooded forest or park. Depending on the day, you can find him reading, hiking, traveling, exercising, sipping lots of tea, or eating everything in sight.

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