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Trees and Shrubs to Enhance Your Tampa Bay Landscape

Brent Wastney Brent Wastney

Florida falls victim to the woes of any place with gorgeous (and highly publicized) coastlines. There is a pervading misconception that the entire state is limited to white sand beaches and swaying palm trees.

While we wouldn’t complain much if that were the case, the reality is Florida is home to far more diverse fauna and flora than those that thrive beside the ocean.

While it’s true that Florida can be tough on certain plants, especially close to the gulf where Tampa Bay is located, there are opportunities galore to populate your property with a variety of trees and shrubs. Despite the humidity, salt, and occasional drought, there are many plants that thrive in the Sunshine State—you might just need a little guidance to determine which ones will excel in your Tampa Bay landscape.

This is great news for residential and commercial properties alike, as trees and shrubs can have a tremendous impact on a landscape. From old oak trees creating magical canopies over established neighborhoods to flowery shrubs giving HOA communities a bit of privacy and an undeniable curb appeal, these elements are essential to elevating any Tampa Bay property.

Landcrafters has over two decades of practice honing its landscaping experience and tree and shrub knowledge. If you want to enhance your Tampa Bay landscape with Florida-friendly trees and shrubs, we’ve got exactly what you need.

To kickstart your cultivation of carefully crafted tree life and shrubbery, we’ve compiled a collection of our favorite Florida trees and shrubs you should consider for your Tampa Bay area landscape.

Trees to Make Your Tampa Bay Landscape Impress

Florida is unique in that some landscapes are treeless, while others are dotted with a variety of towering oaks, pines, and palms. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those treeless properties—some are quite beautiful—but there’s something about trees that elevates a landscape to new heights (figuratively and literally).

Whether it’s the shade they provide, the beauty they contribute, or the character they seem to have, it’s fair to say that we could write a love ballad to Florida’s trees. We’ll spare you that (for now) and leave you with a handful of our favorite Tampa Bay trees instead.

Simpson’s Stopper

Aside from the funny and admittedly charming name, this native Florida plant has a lot to offer. With a maximum height of 20 feet, it can act as a lovely mid-size tree on any Tampa Bay landscape. With strategic pruning, however, it can also function as a shrub, making Simpson’s stopper a versatile option that can adapt to a variety of landscaping visions.

If the flexibility of this tree is appealing, the characteristics it boasts will seal the deal. It’s an attractive plant, offering white springtime blooms and colorful berries in the summer. Even when not blossoming, Simpson’s stopper is a great visual addition to your property. It has evergreen leaves that come in a number of shades that can border on yellow to deep wine color.

While it is slow to grow, Simpson’s stopper is low maintenance. It can flourish in full or partial sun, is tolerant of drought once established, and requires minimal irrigation—sometimes, none at all.

Flatwoods Plum

If magical floral displays are your thing, Flatwoods plum is the tree for you. Another plant that straddles the line between shrub and tree, these flowering and fruiting natives range from 12 to 20 feet in height. As winter comes to a close and spring begins to rejuvenate the earth, Flatwoods plum trees erupt in white blossoms that draw the eye and attract pollinators (like bees).

Those flowers also signal something to come—in the summer and fall, these trees produce fruit that wildlife loves. When you include this tree in your Tampa Bay landscaping strategy, you’re not only getting a beautiful, showy plant—you’re also giving back to Florida’s amazing ecosystem.

Oh, and Flatwoods plums are exceptionally easy to care for. Once established, they require hardly any maintenance!

Bald Cypress

Texture plays an important role in creating a diverse, visually-interesting landscape, and the bald cypress is the perfect example of why. With feathery branches laden with soft needles, this tree is stunning. Reaching heights of 40 or more feet, the bald cypress is a true tree that thrives in areas with high water levels.

Another unique trait of this Tampa Bay tree is its propensity to grow “knees” when planted near the water. These knobby roots that protrude from the ground are striking and add an unmistakable element of Florida wonder to any property.

Like other conifers, the bald cypress produces cones. Not to worry, though—these cones are small and do not add to the minimal maintenance the tree demands. Plus, they’re very desirable among squirrels and birds, giving your landscape an extra touch of wildlife activity.

Superb Shrubs that Flourish in Florida

Trees tower above the landscape, creating shade and spectacular scenery. Shrubs play an equally as important role when crafting a Tampa Bay landscape. They accent the property, can be used to make privacy barriers, and lend a visual intrigue of their own. If trees are the lofty ideals of a Florida landscape, shrubs are the up-close-and-personal underpinnings.

Sea Grape

Tolerant of drought and salt, sea grape is practically made for Tampa Bay. As a native plant, its ability to thrive in coastal areas makes sense. It is a hardy plant, capable of sustaining full sun exposure. Once established, sea grapes can even endure the occasional Florida freeze (to around 22 degrees Fahrenheit).

If you want to imbue your Tampa Bay property with coastal energy, implementing sea grapes is a great way to accomplish it. With distinctive green and red leaves that grow up to 12 inches wide and clusters of white flowers, this native shrub is undeniably pleasing to the eye. The grapes also tend to grow in clusters, and range in color from white to purple.

It takes a bit of work to establish sea grapes, but once done, this plant requires minimal care and maintenance. They function well as hedges, windbreaks, and privacy screens.

Seaside Goldenrod

Sticking with our sea theme, we have seaside goldenrod. It is a native flowering plant that can be grown commercially and thrives in sandy soil. It is popular in Tampa Bay thanks to its ability to grow in sandy, marshy areas and its tendency to attract butterflies and birds.

The vibrant flowers of the seaside goldenrod explode in shades of bright yellow. With a mature height of up to eight feet, this Florida flower is suitable as a shrub. When not in bloom, its elongated leaves and long stalks still offer plenty of visual appeal.

Give Your Tampa Bay Property the Landcrafters Treatment

At Landcrafters, we’re passionate about Florida’s landscapes and the plants that populate them. We hope the trees and shrubs above inspire you as you envision your property. If you would like to learn more about the plants mentioned here, as well as a host of others we love, feel free to contact us. One of our experienced landscaping experts will gladly discuss your property and plans with you.

If landscaping interests you, we also encourage you to visit our blog. It’s a passion project of ours where we share the knowledge we’ve accumulated over two decades of experience in the Tampa Bay landscaping industry. Best of all, it’s available to you absolutely free!

Brent Wastney

Brent Wastney