Caring for Native North Florida Trees in Your Backyard

With over 50 native tree types in Florida, it’s entirely possible you have more than a couple of species in your backyard. Although not all the trees you see are native to the area, the native North Florida trees are easy to identify once you know what to look for.  

Tallahassee is within Zone 8 on the USDA Hardiness Zone map, a system used to categorize regions based on their average annual minimum winter temperatures. This information helps gardeners and horticulturists determine which plants, including trees, are likely to thrive in a particular area. Trees that are native to North Florida tend to thrive in the ever-changing Zone 8 conditions that include mild winters and warm summers. 

Wondering what hidden tree treasures you have in your own backyard? Here are just a few of the most popular native North Florida trees and how to best care for them. 

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

The native Live Oak is one of the most popular native North Florida trees, especially in Tallahassee. Characterized by a massive trunk and large limbs, they tend to be draped in Spanish moss and produce a lot of shade.  

With the average size being 60 feet tall and 80 feet wide, they need a LOT of room to grow. If planted in the perfect area, they can develop for centuries. However, if you plan to add this tree to your landscape, you must be sure to do plenty of pruning when it is growing in its early years. When the tree is older, the wood is immensely strong and durable, even to hurricane winds. Live Oaks are some of the safest and most stress-resistant trees in the area, handling the impacts from construction, stress and disease as well as, or better than most trees in the South. They have extremely shallow root systems, however, and are prone to tip after a hurricane. 

Caring for your Live Oak 

  • Water deeply and regularly during the first year to help establish the root system. Once established, Live Oaks are relatively drought-tolerant but benefit from occasional deep watering during dry periods. 
  • Prune only as needed after the early growing years to remove dead or diseased branches. Live Oaks have a natural, sprawling growth habit. 
  • Keep an eye out for pests like oak wilt and scale insects. Regular inspection and early intervention are key to maintaining tree health. 

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Although not as common as the Live Oak, you may have a Southern Magnolia tree in your front yard. They love the light, so at their tallest point, they can grow to be around 75 feet tall. During the spring and summer months, a Southern Magnolia is known for its beautiful cream-colored flowers that can grow up to 12 inches in diameter! However, even when the blooms are not in season, the tree manages to keep most of its leathery green leaves. When the large leaves do fall once a year, they tend to leave a mess behind. 

Southern Magnolia flower with the text "Southern Magnolia"

Caring for Your Southern Magnolia 

  • Water regularly during the first year to establish the root system. Once established, water during dry periods to maintain soil moisture. 
  • Prune to shape the tree when young. Minimal pruning is recommended once the tree is mature, as excessive pruning can affect flowering. 
  • Watch for pests like scales and aphids. Magnolias are generally resistant to major diseases but monitor issues and treat them promptly if needed.  

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

As far as flowering trees go, this one takes the cake! Although its size isn’t large – only about 25 feet at maturity – the blooms that this tree puts out in spring sure are. Along the bare branches, clusters of pink or white flowers appear to beautify your landscape.  However, they don’t last forever. In the summer, the flowers will fall and be replaced with dark green leaves – perfect for any Florida front yard. 

Eastern Redbud flowers with the text "Eastern Redbud"

Caring for Your Eastern Redbud 

  • Water regularly during the first year to establish roots. Once established, water during dry periods, but avoid over-watering. 
  • Prune for shape when the tree is young. Minimal pruning is usually required for mature trees. 
  • Keep an eye out for issues like cankers and leaf spots. Proper care and maintenance can help prevent most problems. 

Trust the Tree Experts

North Florida is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including these and many more beautiful native North Florida trees. To maintain the health of your trees year-round, it is essential to observe them and provide responsive care as needed.  

Need a little help? Miller’s Tree Service is your local tree expert providing inspection, mitigation, trimming, pruning and removal as needed. We provide a free consultation with a certified arborist to evaluate the overall health of your North Florida trees, identify any structural problems as well as diagnosis any pests and/or diseased trees. 

Contact us today to get started.