While Florida may not be a tourist attraction for fall colors like New England is, we can still satisfy our longing for stunning "fall color" in our landscapes through a strategic use of tropical foliage plants. You can capture all of Autumn's reds, oranges, yellows and browns by knowing what to plant. With proper planning, you can then carry over and transform your fall display through Christmas and even Valentine's day.
To begin in the fall, consider the always popular crotons or coleus. Typically, Crotons grow up to 4-6 feet high and provide a lasting burst of color to your landscape. Use coleus to add a beautiful kaleidoscope of classic fall hues. These will vary in height from 12-36 inches.
A herbaceous perennial that comes in a stunning array of reds and greens reminiscent of northern climates are Cordylines. Paired with Heliconia oranges and yellows, the combination works perfectly for a fall display. Incorporate Dracaena marginal for a backdrop of colorful, long leaves. At full maturity, these specimens can reach 10-12 feet tall, but they're easily maintained at 6-8 feet with proper pruning. Dracaena prefers well-drained soils and adapts to light conditions ranging from shade to full sun.
For midlevel color with spiky foliage ranging from orange to brown, you'll want to add bromeliads. Reaching a maximum height of only 2-3 feet, these plants thrive in our tropical climate. Most varieties of bromeliads grow beautifully within a beautiful shady spot within the landscape. One type of bromeliad is called Guzmania. It provides brilliant splashes of "autumn-rescue" reds, oranges and yellows. Combined with the touches of reds and greens found in the bromeliad called Neoregelia your landscape can quickly be taken from Autumn right over into the holiday season with months of striking color and natural care.
One of the greatest things about all of these tropicals is that they can either be added straight into your garden or placed in containers to decorate patios, porches, and entranceways. To transform from Autumn to Christmas and even Valentine's day, all you need to do is swap out your orange and yellow selections with plants bursting with hues of reds and whites.
So whether you put your plants in the ground or into pots - for gorgeous bursts of fall color, now is the time to do it! Enjoy discovering the beauty of autumn with the colors these tropical foliage and flowers provide. Add a fun, decorative scarecrow, a couple of pumpkins and voilà – instant fall, right here in Florida!