The air conditioner is an essential part of your home in Southwest Florida, but the condensing unit that is located outside of your house isn’t the most appealing equipment to have sitting around. To help you disguise that unit, we have put together a list of the best plants to have around your AC unit. There’s more to this than simply covering up the unit. It’s important that you follow some guidelines so you don’t end up damaging your outdoor HVAC unit or decreasing the efficiency of your air conditioning altogether.

How Close Can You Plant to Air Conditioner Unit?

This is the most important question to ask. Your HVAC system needs proper airflow, which requires enough space around the entire outdoor AC unit. Planting near the unit is fine, but you should keep as least two to three feet of space between your plants and the unit for constant airflow. If you restrict the airflow to your outside unit, the system will have to work harder to cool your home. This also increases the temperature of the unit, especially when outdoor temperatures are high. Those things mean higher energy bills and a shorter lifespan for your air conditioner.

On the other hand, having nothing surrounding your AC unit may have the same effect. Don’t be afraid to add some landscaping around your outdoor unit with the proper spacing because the direct sunlight will also cause your unit to work harder. A shade tree may be the best way to approach keeping your AC out of direct sunlight. Just make sure not to plant anything that will hover over the unit closer than 5 feet, and further away than that would be better.

You’ll also want to keep in mind when choosing the best plants for around your AC unit that you need to leave plenty of room for an HVAC tech to easily work on your unit. Let’s get into some plant suggestions.

Best Plants Around AC Unit

There are lots of options for planting around your AC unit, but the best option will be different for everyone.

Evergreen shrubs

Planting evergreen shrubs is a great way to disguise your unit without creating a mess around it. Shrubs that don’t shed a lot of leaves like boxwood are a great option. You want to keep debris down around your outdoor unit, otherwise you’ll need to clean up around it regularly or it will cause issues.

Plants that grow up

Choose plants that grow up, rather than out. Plants that grow out may be a good distance from your unit when they’re planted, but over time they will get closer and closer. That means more regular maintenance or possibly the need to replace them later. Another up side to plants that grow up is that they provide an easy way to create a shady area, or at least partial shade, for your AC unit. The less direct sunlight it has to endure, the more efficiently it will be able to cool your home for lower energy costs.

Drought tolerant plants

Your outdoor condensing unit lets off a lot of hot air and, as part of its cooling process, pulls moisture from the air around it. Any plants nearby should be hot weather plants and either drought tolerant or given a lot of attention and frequent watering. Plants that require less work over time are probably a more attractive option for most people, but the important thing is that you find the right plants for your yard and lifestyle.

Low flowering plants

Flowering plants that shed their flowers can be an issue for your condensing unit. Even if you’ve left enough room between your outside AC unit and the plants, petals will easily blow in the wind and can end up inside your condensing unit. If you maintain it regularly and keep it clean, this isn’t such a big deal. But if you want an easy solution, just plant evergreen plants instead.

Plants to Avoid

Avoid these types of plants to prevent various issues from popping up from your landscaping.


Flowers and other pollinating plants are great plants, but there are better options for the area around your condensing unit. Pollinators attract bees and wasps and both love to build their nests in and around condensing units. Avoid attracting them there in the first place with plants that they aren’t interested in.

Plants with thorns

For you and your AC technician, avoiding plants with thorns around your AC unit allows for easy access when you’re ready to work on it. It’s important to keep plants at a good distance so there is space for repair anyway, but keep it even more technician friendly by avoiding prickly plants.