Side note: All photographs in this post were taken this week unless otherwise documented.
Agapanthus africanus, lily-of-the-Nile, African lily, African blue lily
It's important to me to open with an undeniably pretty plant. I'll start with what I probably (because "probably" leaves me a way out if I change my mind) consider to be my all-time favorite perennial plant growing at Hoe and Shovel. Although not a native, it is considered to be a Florida friendly plant. As a matter of fact all six of my choices are either native or Florida friendly.
More live oaks in the back garden.
Serenoa repens, saw palmettos
A closer look at the understory of the oak trees reveals the dramatic fans of the native palmettos at the base. Along with the well-established trees the palmettos were here long before the house was built. The decidedly green leaves are 2-3 ft across. The cluster of leaves gets about 4-6 ft high with a similar spread. The leaf stems are about 2 ft long and sharply saw-toothed. It sends out a black round fruit about an inch in diameter when ripe. Many animals feed from those fruits.
As is the case with this clump in my back garden it can develop an erect or arching trunk that may lift the whorl of leaves 2-8 ft above ground. This one is sporting the beginnings of its spring bloom. You can read more about these plants at Floridata here.
Philodendron x ‘Xanadu
Also considered Florida friendly, this moderately large-leaved, easily-grown philodendron makes a dramatic, tropical statement wherever it is used in the landscape. I've dug these plants up, split them into two or three at the roots and transplanted them to many locations in the understory of my garden. Over time they also self multiply by growing more trunks and leaves from the base of the plant. Most of the time you'll see them jammed right up next to holly fern, variegated schefflera, variegated shell ginger and/or agapanthus.
The above photo is from the front garden. This clump was pretty hard hit by the two winter freezes we just had. Until then you couldn't see the trunks for the mass of lush greenery. Thankfully, these are coming back pretty quickly.
Liriope muscari ‘Variegata’, liriope, border grass, lily-turf
Caladium x hortulanum
The fancy-leaved caladium, Caladium x hortulanum, is the most commonly grown species of caladium and is a species of hybrid origin. Florida's own Lake Placid claims to be the caladium growing capital of the world.