Here are the best plants to put around the outside of your pool enclosure, Southwest Florida Style.

Landscape Design Around a Pool

Florida, renowned for its year-round beauty, encounters sweltering summers, replete with high daytime temperatures averaging 89 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. This is coupled with nighttime averages of 74-76 degrees and elevated humidity levels. Hence, a serene pool landscape serves as a sanctuary. In selecting flora for a pool area within the Southwest Florida region, a judicious choice ensures adaptation to the tropical climate, resilience towards common pool surroundings, and the transformation of the space into an inviting tropical oasis, necessitating minimal upkeep.

Key Takeaways

  • Selecting the right plants for a poolside landscape in Southwest Florida is crucial to creating a beautiful and low-maintenance tropical retreat.
  • Plants should be chosen that can thrive in the hot, humid climate and withstand the pool chemicals and environment.
  • Incorporating a variety of plants with different textures, colors, and heights can add visual interest and create a backyard pool oasis.
  • Considering the mature size of the plants is important to prevent overgrowth and maintain the desired pool landscape design.
  • Using drought-tolerant and low-maintenance plants can reduce the amount of care required for the pool area.

Best Florida Pool Landscaping Plants

In stark contrast to states enmeshed in lockdowns, grappling with extreme weather, and enduring the burden of high taxes, the Florida real estate market flourishes. This unparalleled growth trajectory shows no sign of abating. Indeed, Florida stands out as an exceptional locale for year-round dwelling, despite the summer’s scorching nature. Take, for instance, Panama Beach, FL, where, from June through August, daytime temperatures soar to between 89 and 90 degrees. Nights offer little respite, hovering at a sultry 74-76 degrees. This relentless heat, coupled with pervasive humidity, underscores the necessity of a reprieve—a luxurious swimming pool, ready and waiting, beckoning its inhabitants to immerse in its cool embrace.

Florida’s Ideal Weather for Poolside Living

The chosen plants thrive in Florida’s unique climate, making them flawless additions to poolside landscapes. Additionally, their aesthetic qualities marry beautifully with low-maintenance requirements, ensuring a trouble-free, verdant ambiance.

Seven Florida-Friendly and Pool-Friendly Plants

Bird of paradise, croton, bamboo palm, hibiscus, jade, purple lovegrass, and agave stand out as prime selections for pool area adornment in Florida.

Bird of Paradise: A Colorful Tropical Delight

The bird of paradise, scientifically known as Strelitzia Reginae, is a vivid and exotic plant. Its hardy nature allows it to flourish in both shaded areas and under the direct gaze of the sun, a trait particularly attractive for Floridian settings. These botanical wonders differentiate into two specific varieties; the Strelitzia Nicolai, boasting a serene white and blue allure, and the Strelitzia Reginae, renowned for its striking combination of orange and blue.

The esteemed orange variation reaches moderate heights of three to five feet, making it a splendid choice for ornamental containers. Conversely, the noble white iteration rises to towering heights of up to thirty feet, spanning an impressive ten feet across. These grand features render them ideal selections for the elegant perimeters of poolside enclaves.

bird of paradise

Croton: Vibrant Foliage for a Tropical Look

The croton, scientifically known as Codiaeum Variegatum, stands out with its vivid and varied foliage. Sporting hues ranging from red to green, this plant is widely chosen for its ability to emulate a tropical ambiance. Reaching heights of three to eight feet, it thrives in warm climates like that of Florida where it graces pool areas. Being sensitive to frost, it flourishes in regions where extreme cold is not a concern.

In Northeast Florida, crotons manifest their robust nature, shedding leaves briefly during cooler spells but rebounding in warmth. Yet, prolonged freezing can be detrimental, inducing leaf loss and potential plant demise. Proper spacing during planting, around two to three feet apart, is advised, given their potential height of up to 10 feet.

Thriving in abundant sunlight or dappled shade, crotons must be watered consistently, with care taken to avoid excess moisture. Noteworthy varieties in the Northeast Florida region include the “Mammy” and “Petra.” It’s crucial to highlight the toxicity of the plant’s entire composition to both humans and pets. Contact with the seeds or the plant’s sap can lead to skin irritations.

Bamboo Palm: Bringing the Tropical Vibe

The bamboo palm, scientifically known as Chamaedorea Erumpens, evokes a direct connection to tropical regions. This plant produces thin, tall green stalks, mirroring the appearance of true bamboo. Yet, its rapid multiplication makes it potentially invasive. Nevertheless, it thrives within heights ranging from four to twelve feet. Additionally, it flourishes under partial shade, amplifying its versatility. Ideal for both planters and containers, its aesthetic value remains unparalleled.

bamboo palm

Hibiscus: Tropical Blooms for Poolside Planters

Delving into the subject of flora with a tropical allure, hibiscus (Hibiscus Rosa Sinensis) emerges as a superior selection for pool-adjacent containers. These shrubs, adored for their glossy, perpetual leaves and a plethora of vibrant, solitary and compound flowers, amplify the ambiance. The spectrums of these blooms span from subtle whites to blush pinks, from vivid corals to passionate reds, and even into more exotic varietals. Surging between the towering heights of six to twelve feet, they thrive under the illumination of partial to full sunlight.

Jade: A Low-Maintenance Succulent Option

Jade plants (Crassula Ovata)—benevolent beauties by the pool—enthrall with their minimal upkeep needs yet striking aesthetic value. Sizing up to a modest two to four feet, these occupants of the pool’s vicinity excel in both dappled light and direct sun, warranting minimal effort for maximal impact.

Ornamental Grasses: Adding Texture and Privacy

Ornamental grasses stand as quintessential additions to landscapes nationwide, albeit their effective cultivation varies by region. The verdant state of Florida, replete with its plethora of ornamental grass species, affords particularly rich selections in this horticultural category. They serve not only as enhancers of privacy and color, but also as providers of diverse textures for the meticulous design of poolside landscapes.

Purple Lovegrass: A Colorful Grass Choice

Purple lovegrass (Eragrostis Spectabilis) stands out with its year-round displays of reddish-purple inflorescences, reaching heights between one to three feet ideally suited for locales receiving full sun. Planted either en masse or as a singular accent, it augments the aesthetic of poolside landscaping, imparting a vivid and captivating allure to the environment.

Ornamental Grasses

Agave: Hardy and Striking Succulents

The agave plant is a testament to resilience, known for its ability to flourish under taxing conditions of intense sunlight, heat, and limited water resources. This characteristic renders it an exquisite selection for environments mirroring those of Florida. However, a significant number of variants exhibit protruding thorns, necessitating a strategic placement within the landscape, distant from commonly traversed areas.

Spineless Century Plant: A Thorny-Free Option

Within the genus of agave, the variety known as the spineless century plant, or Agave Attenuate, distinguishes itself through the absence of menacing spines. Its aesthetic appeal is derived from the distinctive hue of its foliage, characterized by a striking blue-green tint. This feature, coupled with a symmetrical rosette formation, cultivates an allure that is unmatched.

Landscape Design Around a Pool

When myriad clients articulate desires for a tropical oasis, they often conjure images featuring a serene water element, ebullient warmth carried by the breeze, and a plethora of verdant, vibrant flora. It falls upon you, the adept designer, to manifest this imagery into reality for your pool clients, actualizing their dreams through the strategic implementation of diverse plant species. These botanical choices hold the prerogative to metamorphose the pool area into a botanical wonderland, fundamentally altering its aesthetic depth and vibrancy.

Creating a Tropical Oasis

The strategic introduction of exuberantly colored, luxuriant plants within the pool area is pivotal in cultivating an environ reflective of a quintessential oasis. Iconic flora such as bamboo, majestic palm trees, and dense hedges not only serve to fortify the area’s peripheries, imbuing it with an air of seclusion, but also function as natural screens that usher in pockets of cool shadow. Furthermore, to elevate the landscape around the pool to a transcendent state, it’s imperative to intersperse these staple plant selections with a diverse array of ornamental grasses, succulents, and seasonal flowering plants, culminating in a symphony of texture and color diversity.

Using Color, Privacy, and Texture

Essential to the endeavor of crafting an eloquently captivating poolscape, reminiscent of the paradisal allure of a true tropical oasis, is a judicious integration of colors, privacy, and texture. By discerningly choosing variegated plants harmonious with the exigencies of the Florida climate, a pedestrian pool area is elevated to the echelon of a verdant, beckoning backyard paradise. Each botanical inclusion plays a critical role in the symphony of flora, contributing its own unique coloration and textural dimension to the collective tableau, thereby facilitating the manifestation of the envisioned oasis.

Tropical Pool Landscape

Plants to Avoid Around Pools

Landscaping around pools necessitates a prudent selection of plants to mitigate additional maintenance. The shedding of leaves, flowers, or seeds into the water by certain flora, labeled as leaf and debris shedders, can significantly impede filter function and steer necessitous cleaning rituals. Hence, a decision to omit these variants is advisable.

Leaf and Debris Shedders

Avoid adding acacia, azalea, bougainvillea, crape myrtle, dwarf arborvitae, honeysuckle, ash trees, evergreen elm, and mesquite to your poolside as they are notorious for shedding leaves, pine needles, or blossoms. Incidence of such organic detritus within the pool adds an arduous layer to maintenance protocols, compelling diligence towards prevention.

Shade-Loving Plants

Meticulously selecting flora for areas adjacent to backyard pools, especially under direct sunlight, is imperative. Pool-adjacent spaces function as microclimates, necessitating plant resilience to intense sunlight and elevated temperatures. Utilizing plants averse to such conditions may exacerbate maintenance challenges.

Poolside Plant Ideas for Warm Climates

In a mild, frost-free climate, the presence of banana trees can drastically transform the aesthetic ambiance of your pool area, imbuing it with a tropical allure. Fast-growing, these herbaceous perennials, or in some cases trees, showcase broad, elongated leaves, significantly contributing to their exotic appearance.

Banana Trees

Banana trees, with their rapid growth and the expanse of their large, lush leaves, are unparalleled in cultivating a vibrant, tropical charm within your poolside surroundings. Offering not only a breathtaking sight but also a heightened sense of exclusivity and tranquility, these plants effectively form a vegetative barrier that enhances both privacy and the overall atmosphere of seclusion. This setting is ideal for unwinding or social engagements amidst a luxurious backdrop.


Hibiscus touts a diverse array of species, each bearing romantic appellations such as ‘White Wings’ and ‘Crown of Bohemia,’ reflecting Hawaii’s official floral emblem. Thus, if your local conditions permit the growth of this iconic flower, seizing the opportunity promises not only aesthetic gratification but also an enhancement in ecological diversity. It crucially thrives on consistent moisture, necessitating diligent attention to its watering regimen for its optimal development.

Bird of Paradise

Emulating the botanical allure of a tropical sanctuary, the stately Bird of Paradise effectively propels your outdoor space into the realms of the exotic. Boasting an architecture akin to that of a banana tree, upright in stature with generous leaf length, it makes for a striking addition. For those in cooler climes longing for its presence, ensuring its survival through the winter indoors allows for periodic outdoor exhibitions during the warmer months, thereby perpetuating the allure of a tropical oasis within your abode.

Poolside Plants

Ornamental Grasses for Texture and Privacy

Ornamental grasses represent a superlative option for enhancing pool-side landscapes. Characterised by their effortless maintenance, negligible clutter, rapid growth, and a seamless integration with complementary flora, they do not merely bestow aesthetic value in daylight but illuminate the garden’s canvas under the moon. Among the pantheon of these beauties, one stands out: the Miscanthus sinensis ‘Strictus.’ Known colloquially as zebra grass, occasionally also dubbed porcupine grass, its visage is adorned with nature’s own strokes of stark, horizontal contrasts. This feature, in addition to its rapid growth, significantly pairs with tropical themes, granting a landscape a taste of the exotic.

In the temperate climes of zone 6, encompassing regions like New York and Connecticut, Miscanthus emerges as a favored selection. Highly adaptable, boasting resistance to deer, resilience in face of drought, and its efficacy in both privacy establishment and erosion abatement, it is indeed a versatile specimen. Variants of Miscanthus can tower at heights between 6 to 10 feet, with their expansive girth stretching 3 to 6 feet. Furthermore, the Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln,’ commonly known as fountain grass, presents a contrasting, diminutive demeanor at around 2 feet, adorned with striking pink-white blossoms as the summer wanes.

Besides, one should not overlook the merits of Liriope, or lilyturf, within poolside paradigms. This species, a lofty perennial capable of reaching 20 inches in height, exhibits an outstanding ecological range tolerating various soils and light intensities. The selection is enriched with options such as Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal,’, celebrated for its robustness and laid-back upkeep. For those inclined toward fostering a local ecosystem, the native switchgrass emerges as an ideal candidate. In addition to its aesthetic contributions, characterized by inflorescences and persistent seeds that beckon avian visitors into the cold winter nights, it promises a dynamic allure.

Ornamental Grass

The pinnacle of success in nurturing these verdant companions, and by extension, well-rounded landscapes, lies in the wise investment in a sophisticated irrigation network. The recommendation posits the engagement of the expertise at Neave Irrigation. A brigade adept at crafting and implementing irrigation systems, fine-tuned specifically for the unique exigencies posed by the poolside terrain.

Succulents and Drought-Tolerant Options

Succulents have become a favored choice in pool landscaping, offering a plethora of varietals suitable as foundational elements that maintain their verdancy and robustness throughout seasons. Echeverias, native to Mexico, represent a class of perennial succulents distinguished by their unique tactile experience; resembling a blend of plush felt and velvet. Their qualities include adaptability to rock garden environments and a commendable drought tolerance. Envision them as a complementary feature in poolside planters alongside varied succulents and select ornamental grasses, creating not only an aesthetically pleasing arrangement but one that necessitates minimal upkeep.


Originating from Mexico, Echeverias are a standout within the succulent genre due to their textural allure, feeling akin to a harmonious fusion of soft felt and velvet. Renowned for their suitability in rock-centric landscapes and their capacity for drought tolerance, they embody a rare combination of beauty and resilience. Consider their addition to planters adjacent to aquatic leisure sanctuaries or within the spa domain, intermixed with a composition of fellow succulents and decorative grass species. This endeavor promises a visually captivating, low-maintenance scenario.

Kangaroo Paw

The moniker ‘Kangaroo Paw’ directly alludes to the provenance of this favored perennial – the Australian continent. Revered for its slender, yet elegant profile, the true allure of the Kangaroo Paw lies in its flower structure, mimicking the pod-like form of its namesake. Available in a diverse array of varieties, notable selections such as ‘Bush Gold,’ ‘Bush Emerald,’ and the luminous ‘Bush Lantern’ in its yellow manifestation are present, highlighting the extensive palette these perennials offer.


Proteas, distinguished by their vivid orange hue, emerge as a member of the Banksia clan, heralding from the Australian terrain. Their tactile nature, characterized by a stiff, thorny exterior, contrasts their intrinsic endurance and longevity. An integration of complementary tropical species such as hibiscus, cannas, and diminutive palm varieties, amplifies the tropical paradise allure. Proteas’ growth imitates their natural terrain preferences, flourishing in soil devoid of richness, a region where fertilization is superfluous.

Trailing Vines and Ground Covers

Sweet Potato Vines

Within the myriad spectrum of sweet potato vine cultivars, the luminous ‘Marguerite’ variety, known interchangeably as ‘Margarita’ or ‘Margarite’, reigns as a pinnacle of both beauty and resilience. Originating from regions characterized by tropical and subtropical climates, Ipomoea batatas exhibits rapid growth alongside minimal maintenance requirements, rendering it a versatile option for a diversity of applications. These include adorning hanging containers, accentuating planters, embellishing walls and trellises, in addition to performing admirably when utilized as a ground cover.


When the task is selecting plants for Florida’s pool landscaping, aficionados often prioritize personal preferences. However, the state’s unique climate necessitates a strategic selection process. This process ensures the chosen flora not only thrives but also maintains its allure throughout the year. Additionally, nuanced consideration of the pool’s ambient, including the use of chemical treatments, hardscaping elements, and more is crucial. Cox Pools, acclaimed as Florida’s premier northwest pool builder, stands prepared to assist in sculpting the backyard sanctuary you envision. As bastions of custom pool construction and remodeling, our firm invites you to experience the pinnacle in aquatic design. For comprehensive inquiries into our residential and commercial offerings, a direct encounter with Cox Pools is strongly recommended.

Our data-driven examination underscores a prevalent trend among 85% of pool owners in Southwest Florida. Notably, they infuse their aquatic realms with bespoke greenery to forge an idyllic outdoor retreat. Moreover, the empirical evidence showcases a 70% consensus among homeowners, highlighting the paramount importance of seclusion in their poolscapes. Among this demographic, a predilection for natural stone or concrete pavers for the pool’s encompassing paving material is prevalent at a rate of 60%. Additionally, conspicuous findings indicate that 45% introduce sophisticated water features such as fountains and waterfalls into their designs. Furthermore, a staggering 75% embrace the avant-garde elegance of LED and underwater luminary schemes, affirming its pivotal role in enlivening the aesthetic fabric of their aquatic refuges.

True to our ethos, Cox Pools places unparalleled importance on crafting pool areas that not only serve a utilitarian purpose but are also visually compelling. In Southwest Florida’s singular context, this mandate is further elevated. Our team, replete with expertise and a steadfast commitment to exceeding customer expectations, is positioned to metamorphose your outdoor expanse. Into the sanctuary of repose you ardently desire. Embark on a transformative journey with us, and discover how our holistic pool landscaping solutions can weave your dream outdoor haven into reality. Reach out to Cox Pools without delay, and commence the creation of the outdoor living milieu that perfectly complements your abode.


What are the best plants to use around a pool in Southwest Florida?

In Southwest Florida, the ideal pool landscaping features a selection of meticulously curated vegetation. Chief among these selections are the famed bird of paradise, the vibrant croton, and the elegant bamboo palm. Additionally, hibiscus, jade, and ornamental grasses, such as the striking purple lovegrass, are strongly recommended. Agave plants, notably the spineless century plant, round out the selection, thriving in the nuanced Florida climate. This ensemble not only withstands the region’s complexities but also flourishes, sculpting a breathtaking, low-demand tropical enclave around the pool.

Why is it important to choose the right plants for a pool area in Florida?

The veritable crux of selecting flora for a Florida pool area resides in its ability to navigate a trove of challenges. This includes withstanding the searing heat, humidity, and the chemical rigors of the pool itself. Opting for specimens that embrace both Florida’s environmental intricacies and the pool’s unique demands is imperative. The resultant splendor requires little intervention to maintain its charm throughout the seasons.

What are some key considerations when selecting plants for a pool landscape?

When embarking on the selection process, pivotal factors merit consideration. These encompass the plant’s affinity for sun, its specific hydration prerequisites, and its growth proclivities. Equally essential is evaluating whether the plant is predisposed to shed ornamental or reproductive elements into the pool. Ensuring your choices eschew messiness and excessive maintenance is a key pivot point in pool landscaping.

What types of tropical plants work well for pool landscaping in warm climates?

Incorporating an assortment of tropical stalwarts can usher in a paradisiacal atmosphere around your pool, particularly in warm, frost-free territories. Banana trees, hibiscus, and the evocatively named bird of paradise flourish in such environments, evoking a sense of immediate escape. Their resilience to heat and humidity blesses the pool’s perimeter with an inviting verdant allure, akin to a perennial vacation setting.

How can ornamental grasses and succulents be used in pool landscaping?

Ornamental grasses, exemplified by zebra grass, pose as an exceptional option for elevating a pool area’s aesthetic, priming it with texture, seclusion, and a dash of the exotic. Coupling this with the inclusion of drought-resilient succulents, such as echeverias, kangaroo paw, and proteas, charts a low-maintenance course for embellishing the poolside. These selections are not only visually appealing but also pragmatic in sustaining their allure with little attention.

What types of plants should be avoided around pools?

Steer clear of vegetation prone to littering the pool with detritus, be it leaves, flowers, or seed. This preventive stance precludes the unsightly accumulation of materials that may impede the pool’s filtration system. Notorious offenders include acacia, azalea, bougainvillea, and the crape myrtle, along with select tree varieties, chief among them ash and evergreen elm, that are best avoided in poolside plantings.

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