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11 Small & Dwarf Trees for Florida (for Tight Spaces)


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With the scorching weather in Florida, it’s never a bad idea to have some shade in certain spots around the yard, no matter how tight the space is.

Small or dwarf trees provide shade in small landscapes or beautify tight spaces like porches or patios. Also, you can pick miniature versions of some of your favorite large trees. Another plus of small or dwarf trees is that they are easier to manage than their larger counterparts.

The problem with tight spaces is that you cannot afford to waste space by planting trees that don’t thrive.

Here, we’ll look at some of the loveliest smaller trees you can successfully grow in Florida if you follow some simple and direct tips.

11 Best Small & Dwarf Trees to Plant in Florida

1. Dwarf Cavendish Banana Tree (Musa acuminata)

Dwarf Cavendish Banana Tree
Image by Erik Burton via Flickr

Dwarf Cavendish banana trees are an excellent option to grow on your Florida property. In addition to sprouting large, beautiful leaves, these trees will produce large bunches of tasty bananas. The leaves will be a lovely purple or red when the tree is young. But as they mature, they turn to a rich green.

These trees will look perfect in your home’s front or backyard, giving the space a lush tropical vibe. Consider planting several of them in rows to line a shady pathway or a tall fence.

It would help if you continuously watered your Dwarf Cavendish banana tree to keep it damp. However, you won’t want to go overboard to make the soil muddy or waterlogged. If you plant the tree in a pot, make sure it has drainage holes so that any extra moisture can escape.

To successfully grow a Dwarf Cavendish banana tree, you’ll want to plant it in a spot that will receive plenty of direct sunlight. These trees prefer well-drained loamy soil, ideally with a blend of sand, silt, and a bit of clay. The optimal pH level for these trees is slightly on the acidic side, somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5. 

Other Common Names: Chinese Banana Tree; Canary Banana Tree

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11 in the ground and 4 – 11 potted on a patio or indoors

Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 10 feet tall and 6 – 8 feet wide

Flowering Season: Flowers in spring

Harvest Season: Late Summer

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

2. Golden Dewdrop Tree (Duranta erecta)

Golden Dewdrop, Pigeon berry, Sky flower (Duranta repens, Duranta erecta) Tree, Flowers and Berries
Images by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Golden Dewdrop trees are tropical broadleaf evergreen trees that you can grow in the ground or containers. The tree produces round or oval leaves with a vibrant green color and gorgeous clusters of light-blue, white, or violet blossoms.

The Golden Dewdrop also grows drooping clusters of berries in bright orange or yellow hue. The berries are toxic to humans and pets, but the birds in your area will love them!

Golden Dewdrop trees are most successful in areas with plenty of direct sunlight. They thrive in warm weather, making them perfect for the hot Florida climate, and they prefer their soil moist but not soaked.

If you can plant these trees within their hardiness zone, they’ll do just fine within most soil types as long as there’s sufficient drainage.

These are very fast-growing trees, which makes them a perfect choice to quickly fill up a bare spot in your garden or courtyard. Golden Dewdrop trees also tend to work very well as privacy screens, especially in a climate like Florida, where they’ll be able to thrive year-round.

Other Common Names: Duranta; Pigeon berry; Sky flower

USDA Growing Zones: 10 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 10 – 20 feet tall and 5 – 10 feet wide

Flowering Season: Summer

3. Crape Myrtle Tree (Lagerstroemia indica)

Crepe Myrtle
Image by vhines200 via Flickr

The Crape Myrtle tree is a small deciduous tree known for its large clusters of colorful crepe-paper-looking flowers. The breathtaking flowers are generally bright pink, purple, white, or dark red and form in large, drooping clusters. They brighten up any area you plant them.

These trees can be either single or multi-trunk plants, and their sizes can vary quite a bit. There are dozens of miniature and dwarf varieties, including Baton Rouge, Creole, New Orleans, Purple Queen, Hope, etc. It won’t be hard sourcing a small or dwarf tree.

Crape Myrtle trees are relatively fast-growing and need lots of sunlight to thrive, making them a fantastic choice to grow in Florida. Ideally, you should plant these trees in fall or early spring and provide them with plenty of water. They generally will be okay with most types of soil but require plenty of drainage to thrive.

During the first growing season, you’ll want to fertilize your Crape Myrtle tree once per month lightly. Once the tree is established, you should apply slow-release fertilizer at the first sign of new growth in spring. Then, lightly feed the plant twice a month throughout spring and summer, constantly watering after every feeding.

Crape Myrtle trees are perfect for lining your driveway, walkway, or property border. You can also use a single specimen as a focal point for your yard or garden.

Other Common Names: Crepe Myrtle; Crepeflower

USDA Growing Zones: 6 – 10

Average Size at Maturity: Up to 3 – 25 feet tall and 2 – 15 feet wide depending on the variety

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

4. Dwarf Poinciana Tree (Caesalpinia pulcherrima)

Dwarf Poinciana
Image by Mauro Halpern via Flickr

Another small tree known for its stunning flowers is the Dwarf Poinciana Tree. The shrubby, ornamental tree features thick, fern-like foliage and multiple trunks. Its brilliantly colored flowers appear in red-orange, yellow, or dark pink shades. This tree is perfect for anyone who loves butterflies, as it will attract many of them to your property!

Dwarf Poinciana trees don’t necessarily need constant sunlight, but they do best if they receive a decent amount of it. This beautiful tree should remain evergreen in Florida with consistently warm temperatures. This tree prefers to be watered regularly with time to dry out between each watering.

You should plant the Dwarf Poinciana tree with a mixture of topsoil and composted cow manure and fertilize it three times per year: spring, summer, and fall. You should also trim about 18 inches off each branch during fall to remove seed pods and encourage growth before winter.

Dwarf Poinciana trees can be used as the anchor for a butterfly garden or to add interest to a blank wall or fence. These trees also work nicely near the entrance or corner of your house.

Other Common Names: Flamboyant tree, Peacock tree

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 10 feet tall with an equal spread

Flowering Season: Spring through summer

5. Geiger Tree (Cordia sebestena)

Flower on Geiger Tree
Image by Tatters via Flickr

The Geiger tree is believed to be a native of the Florida Keys and is recognizable for its frilly clusters of flowers. The vivid flowers are most commonly a bright orange color, but they can also be yellow or white. The bright tones of the flowers provide a gorgeous contrast to the deep green of the foliage.

The orange-blooming variety of the Geiger tree is a favorite of hummingbirds and will most certainly attract them to your property.

These trees are very low-maintenance and have a high tolerance for salt, making them perfect for beachside areas. Geiger trees prefer full or partial sun locations, but they can grow well in partial shade as well.

To care for your Geiger tree, you’ll want to water regularly and fertilize once each in spring, summer, and fall.

To keep the plant at your preferred size, trim it back during spring. These trees tend to work best as accent trees for the corner of your house. You can also plant one as a focal point near the entry to your property.

Other Common Names: Scarlet Cordia, Siricote

USDA Growing Zones: 10b – 12b

Average Size at Maturity: 10 – 20 feet tall and 10 – 15 feet wide

Flowering Season: Year-round, most abundant during summer

6. Oleander Tree (Nerium oleander)

Oleander (Nerium Oleander) Tree and Flowers - Pink, White, Deep Pink
Images by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Oleander trees are hardy, ornamental flowering trees perfect for the hot Florida climate. These unique plants start as shrubs before developing into multi-trunk trees.

The Oleander tree produces bright and showy flowers that can grow in shades of white, pink, and red, subtly contrasting with the vivid green hue of the leaves. Also, the flowers have a sweet, powdery fragrance.

These trees are relatively easy to care for, but one issue is that they can attract nasty caterpillars. However, if you plant them far enough from structures, the caterpillars will have nowhere to cocoon.

It would help if you planted Oleander trees in sunny areas with good drainage. You’ll want to add topsoil when you plant the tree, and you can give the tree a nice boost by adding composted cow manure.

You should water the plant regularly and fertilize it with a quality granular fertilizer during spring, summer, and fall. You can supplement these feedings with bone meal for a more substantial bloom.

Consider planting a pair of Oleander trees for landscaping to flank the open entrance to your path or driveway. You could also line your driveway with these lovely trees or plant one as an anchor for your garden.

Other Common Names: Kaner; Rosebay, Rose Laurel

USDA Growing Zones: 8b – 10

Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 12 feet tall and 6 – 10 feet wide

Flowering Season: Spring through fall

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

7. Powderpuff Tree (Calliandra haematocephala)

Powderpuff Tree and flower (Calliandra haematocephala)
Images by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Powderpuff trees are hardy, fast-growing plants that branch out wide with aesthetically pleasing foliage. These trees are known for their unique flowers, which look like little clusters of berries. Honeybees, butterflies, and hummingbirds love these distinct blooms.

The Powderpuff tree is drought-tolerant but do best with regular watering and prefer having time to dry out in between watering. When you plant these trees, you should introduce topsoil or organic peat moss, and it won’t hurt to add composted cow manure.

Because these attractive trees grow so quickly, you may need to regularly trim new shoots from the trunk and lower branches to preserve a neat shape.

Powderpuff trees can grow wide, so it’s wise to plant them at least six feet from your house. These plants have a wide variety of landscaping uses. You can use one as the focal point of your yard or place one in front of your window for privacy. Or you can plant a line of several of them along your driveway or the border of your property.

Other Common Names: Powder Puff Tree

USDA Growing Zones: 10 – 12

Average Size at Maturity: 10 – 15 feet tall, 8 – 10 feet wide

Flowering Season: Fall through winter

8. Parkinsonia Tree (Parkinsonia aculeata)

Parkinsonia Tree
Image by Bill Morrow via Flickr

The Parkinsonia tree is a beautiful weeping tree that prefers hot and sunny climates, making it an excellent choice to plant in Florida. These wide-crowned trees have an airy appearance and produce lovely yellow blossoms.

Parkinsonia trees are easy to care for and very salt-tolerant, which makes them a popular choice for properties on or near Florida beaches. These trees need plenty of sun and an area with good drainage to flourish.

No soil amendments are necessary for the Parkinsonia tree; if you give it some space to grow, you shouldn’t need to trim it. Early on, you’ll want to water the tree regularly, but once established, water only during dry spells.

Parkinsonia trees are great options for providing shade to your patio or adding interest to a blank wall. They also work well as anchors for garden beds.

Other Common Names: Jerusalem Thorn; Palo Verde; Jelly Bean Tree

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 feet tall, up to 15 feet wide

Flowering Season: Spring through summer

9. Weeping Bottlebrush Tree (Callistemon viminalis)

Weeping Bottle Brush (Callistemon viminalis) tree and flowers
Images by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

The weeping bottlebrush tree is one of the most popular trees in Florida. The breathtaking tree features vivid red flowers and a picturesque weeping appearance. Many compare the lovely tree to a miniature version of the weeping willow. The tree produces fuzzy blooms, which attract butterflies, honeybees, and hummingbirds.

Because of their broad and dense appearance, weeping bottlebrush trees work wonderfully to provide privacy or shade to your pool or patio. You can also grow several of them as a hedge around the border of your property.

Weeping bottlebrush trees don’t grow particularly tall but develop wide crowns that create a fountain-like effect.

You’ll want to plant your weeping bottlebrush in a partial or full sun location and apply organic peat moss or topsoil. These trees like to be watered regularly, and they’re even okay with thick soil that holds moisture. You should fertilize the plant three times yearly: spring, summer, and fall.

Other Common Names: Creek Bottlebrush Tree

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 feet tall and up to 15 feet wide

Flowering Season: Heavy flowering in spring, sporadic through the rest of the year

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

10. Tibouchina Tree (Tibouchina granulosa)

Tibouchina (Pleroma urvilleanum) Tree and Royal Purple Flowers
Images by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

A Tibouchina tree can add vibrant purple flowers to your Florida property. These trees can be challenging to grow, but their exceptional beauty is worth the effort. The Tibouchina tree gets much attention for its royal purple blossoms and vivid green foliage.

These trees don’t like too much sun, and they’re most successful in partially shaded locations. Ideally, you should provide them with a few hours of sunlight with filtered or bright shade throughout the rest of the day.

When planting your Tibouchina tree, add a mixture of topsoil and composted cow manure to the hole. You’ll want to water it regularly but be careful not to let it get overly wet. You should trim it occasionally for shaping and fertilize it regularly with a quality granular fertilizer.

You can use Tibouchina trees as the anchor for your garden or as a backdrop for smaller plants. You can also use them to accent the entry or corner of your home or line them along a blank wall to add height and rich color.

Other Common Names: Princess Flower; Purple Glory Tree

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 12

Average Size at Maturity: 10 – 15 feet tall, 6 – 10 feet wide

Flowering Season: Late spring – mid-summer

11. Bougainvillea Tree (Bougainvillea)

Bougainvillea Tree
Image by Maxpax via Flickr

If you want to add some remarkable beauty to your Florida property, you can’t go wrong with the Bougainvillea tree. These trees are covered from top to bottom in brightly colored flower bracts, which can be red, pink, purple, white, orange, or even gold.

These trees are fast-growing, compact, and relatively easy to maintain. Once established, all you need to do is occasionally trim it to maintain its tree-like form. Bougainvillea trees enjoy the sunlight, and you’ll want to plant yours in a spot where it can enjoy plenty of it.

They prefer to be watered regularly, but they’re also drought-tolerant. Keep in mind that these trees need well-drained soil to survive.

Bougainvillea trees are prone to leaning, so you may want to stake yours to keep it growing nice and straight. Regarding landscaping, one of the best ways to use the Bougainvillea tree is by increasing it in front of a pillar or another architectural focal point. It could also be an incredible anchor plant for your landscape.

Other Common Names: Bougenville

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 10

Average Size at Maturity: Up to 20 – 30 feet tall and wide but available in smaller varieties

Flowering Season: Sporadically throughout the year

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

Add Some Beauty to Your Tight Spot

As you can see, there are many beautiful small and dwarf trees for your Florida property. Whether you’re looking for something with dense foliage, like the Parkinsonia tree, or something with large, vibrant flowers, like the Bougainvillea tree, you have a variety of superb options.

Because of Florida’s hot climate, certain tree species will thrive, while others are better for cooler environments. But on the other hand, some trees that thrive in the hot climate of South Florida are sensitive to the North Florida frosts and freezes. To avoid selecting the wrong small tree, you should check Florida’s USDA hardiness zone to get the best tree suited to your location. 

Whichever small or dwarf trees you decide to plant, remember to care for them properly and provide them with the best possible growing conditions. I made sure to give you some care tips for each tree. You’ll be rewarded with a beautiful and reliable new addition to tight spaces. 

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