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Best tropical plants for landscape design in Coral Gables

Coral Gables, with its warm climate and lush scenery, is the perfect place to incorporate tropical plants into your landscape design. The year round weather allows us to choose from countless tropical plants, including bold foliage and vibrant flowers. In this article, we cover three of our favorite tropical plants for landscape designs in Coral Gables: Croton Petra, Gardenia, and Smooth Agave.

Croton Petra

Croton Petra adds a pop of vibrant color and large leaves to any Coral Gables landscape design.

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Planting: Can be planted in full sun or partial shade. Prefers well-draining soil and is moderately drought tolerant once established.

Care: Crotons benefit from fertilization 3 times a year - once in springs, summer, and autumn. Pruning is only recommended to maintain their size.

Use: Croton Petra's colorful foliage makes it a great choice for adding texture and contrast to a landscape design in Coral Gables. They can be used as an accent plant or planted in mass for a bold statement. They pair well with other tropical plants such as hibiscus, bougainvillea, and ixora.


The gardenia, also known as Gardenia jasminoides, is a fragrant evergreen shrub that is native to China and Japan. Its white, waxy flowers and glossy green leaves make it a popular choice for tropical landscape designs in Coral Gables. The gardenia is a slow-growing plant that can reach up to six feet tall and three feet wide.

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Planting: Gardenia prefers acidic soils and will not grow well in alkaline soils. A pH test will ensure your chosen location is in the preferred range: 5 – 6.5 pH. You can have your soil tested at your county Extension office. Gardenias are salt sensitive and will die if planted near the beach. Plant in full sun to partial shade in an area with good air circulation.

Care: Gardenia should be watered regularly while still allowing for the soil to dry. Fertilize two or three times a year. Prune once it has stopped flowering. Gardenias suffer from pests, so use insecticidal soaps or horticultural oils at the first sign of infection.

Use: Gardenia is ideal for areas that people frequent, such as entryways, as their sweet scent will have people coming back for more. It can also be used as a backdrop for smaller plants such as dwarf tibouchina or Aztec grass. If your property’s soil conditions are too alkaline for gardenia, you can try growing it in a container, though you will have to be extra cautious about over or under watering it.

Smooth Agave

Agave desmettiana, also known as the Smooth Agave, is a stunning succulent that's native to tropical eastern Mexico. It's a popular choice for tropical landscape designs because of its dramatic, architectural form and striking blue-green foliage.

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Planting: Agave desmettiana prefers well-draining soil and full sun exposure. Plant it in a location with good air circulation to prevent disease.

Care: Agave desmettiana is a low-maintenance plant that requires little water once established. Be careful not to overwater, as this can cause the roots to rot. Remove any dead leaves from the base of the plant to keep it looking neat.

Use: Our Coral Gables landscape designer uses Agave desmettiana to create a dramatic focal point. Its blue-green foliage pairs well with bright flowering plants, such as hibiscus or bougainvillea, or with contrasting foliage colors, such as red croton petra.


Incorporating tropical plants into your Coral Gables landscape design can add a touch of paradise to your outdoor space. The croton petra, gardenia, and smooth agave are great choices due to their ease of care, vibrant colors, and ability to thrive in the warm, humid climate of Coral Gables Whether you're looking to create a bold statement or add subtle accents, these plants are sure to enhance the beauty of your tropical garden.


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