Florida foliage still wows when fall leaves are gone everywhere else

Florida: Come for the warmth, stay for the beautiful flowers

ORLANDO, Fla. – Beautiful fall colors have typically disappeared from northern states that experience all four seasons by the end of November. This is when it's time for Florida's colorful foliage to shine.

While the Sunshine State isn't known for its fall leaves, it is home to many trees that provide some of those yellows, oranges and reds typically found to the north. Those trees are in addition to the vibrant flowering plants that bloom nearly year-round thanks to Florida's warm climate.

"People don't really think of Fall foliage in Florida, but whenever everyone else is getting their snow, we're in peak color," FOX 35 Orlando Meteorologist Brooks Garner said.

Native Florida trees such as the red maple and cypress add a splash of fall-like color.

Pond cypress leaves turn from green to light yellow or copper before falling, according to the University of Florida IFAS. The feathery foliage of a bald cypress tree will change to a copper color before falling off. 

By early December, Red Maple trees in Florida are in full Fall glory.

"The red maple is native to Florida, and it grows from the Panhandle down to Monroe County," Garner said.

Garner said that red maples are less temperature-driven with color changes but more influenced by the shorter winter days.

"The trees gain warm hues as the sun angle changes and the nocturnal portion of the diurnal cycle extends for longer, cooler nights, sending cues to the tree to turn on the color," Garner said.

LEARN: Temperature, moisture influence the brilliance of fall colors

Florida's many wetlands and waterways are suitable for trees that produce brassy fall shades. Red maple and cypress trees can typically be found around water.

"The trees that produce the fall color like to keep their feet wet," Garner explained. "It's very beautiful; they grow right along the lakes."

If the fall leaves aren't enough, Florida's flowering shrubs and other plants put on a more tropical show in the winter months.

There are about 35 species of hibiscus found in the U.S. In Florida, the blooms keep coming in the winter.

"It looks like something you'd see in Hawaii," Garner said of hibiscus hybrids blooming.

Hibiscus flowers only bloom for a day but can produce many flowers all year in southern Florida.

Fall and winter are peak bougainvillea seasons in Florida. Garner said the tropical vining shrubs need cooler nights to bloom the bright pink flowers.

With Winters in Florida this lovely, it's no wonder so many choose Florida as their seasonal home.