Introduction to South Florida Gardening, Tips, Ideas, and Techniques: Gardening is a wonderful way to spend our time, and it connects us to nature while we make the world more beautiful. Generally, South Florida is considered a sub-tropical zone, and the heat will be welcome to many plant species. The soil is mostly sandy and will need some additives to be ready to support new growth. South Florida has abundant summer moisture and a year-round growing season for planting several crops. Watering will be necessary when the weather is dry.
A guide to south florida gardening for vegetables, herbs, flowers , tips, ideas, secrets and techniques
South Florida is a tropical environment and the hottest days of South Florida are during September. The best way to achieve ideal crop yields is to grow what we love. Whether we hope to pick herbs and vegetable plants that will enable us to cook the freshest versions of our favorite dishes or we hope to attract our favorite butterflies to our backyards, nurturing our favorite plants becomes even enjoyable and restorative when we keep an end goal in mind. Be realistic when planning a garden. While a large garden allows for a greater variety of plants and more greenery, flowers, fruits, and vegetable plants to enjoy, it also needs a good deal of upkeep. All the same health benefits that can be derived from large-scale gardening occur when the garden plot is smaller. Container gardening and keeping houseplants had shown to promote substantial health benefits from interacting with nature. The principles for successful gardening are;
- Right Plant, Right Place
- Water Efficiently
- Fertilize Appropriately
- Attract Wildlife
- Manage Yard Pests Responsibly
Multiple principles surround the ideas of selecting the right plants and appropriately caring for growing plants. The plant database can help generate a list of plants that are appropriate for the region, light range, soil, and water in the area you are looking to plant. Choosing the right plant for the right place is not just about allowing the plant to thrive, but also about maximizing your natural conditions. Increasingly, butterflies and wildlife rely on gardeners to replace natural habitat lost to development.
Choose your plants wisely for South Florida gardening
Not only will you need to consider which plants are likely to thrive in Southern Florida, but also how many places they will take up when fully grown, and how much effort will be able to dedicate to their care. If you regularly travel, then fussy plants that need year-round maintenance are not for you. Local nurseries, garden centers, growers, or gardening clubs are eager to share their knowledge and will be happy to make specific recommendations on plants that will best suit your needs and lifestyle.
South Florida gardening tips
Here is South Florida gardening tips for;
- Buying plants – the best place to buy, what to look for, pot sizes, and how big to buy
- Light requirements – understanding part sun and part shade
- Planting – amending the soil, plant spacing, and staking
- Trimming – It is known about when to trim and when to prune, how much to take off, and plant growth rates
- Watering – how often and how long to water, types of irrigation are important for plant growth
- Fertilizing – What and how much fertilizer to use, when and how to apply it, and types of fertilizers
- Weed control – Different ways to prevent and remove pesky weeds
- Cold protection – how to protect plants from winter damage and what to do if they get damaged
- Plant problems – Florida bugs and other plant problems and what to do about them
South Florida soil and weather conditions for gardening
South Florida consists of different soils like rock, sand, marl, and muck. The rock is called Miami limestone, which is alkaline calcium carbonate. Miami limestone is high in pH level 7.8-8.1, does not retain water or nutrients well, and makes growing several plants a challenge.
South Florida boasts tropical climate conditions. This means we experience warm summers with abundant rainfall and humidity levels. Then enjoy cooler, drier weather in the fall and winter seasons. Typically, the dry season starts in October and runs through April or so. It is called the dry season because the average rainfall can be only an inch or two each month. Temperature levels, humidity levels, and average rainfall rise in the rainy season.
These fertilizing tricks help to get our plants what they need despite the high pH level. Fine sand, sand, fine sandy loam, sandy loam, sandy clay loam, loamy fine sand, loamy sand, and sandy clay soil are the most common soil textures in South Florida. The textures clay, clay loam, and loam soil are encountered. For helping prevent plants from drowning, the high sand content allows quick drainage in the summer season after heavy rains. But in the dry season, the ground doesn’t hold moisture well. Then, this makes it necessary to water some plants to keep them going through the winter. Also, sandy soils don’t tend to hold nutrients well, making fertilization helpful.
If you can struggle with sandy soil that dries out fast, the best thing you can do is add organic matter. Compost also improves sandy soil by acting like a sponge. It mainly helps hold moisture and slowly releases it as plants need it. Compost gives the soil a better place to store nutrients, making them more available to your plants. Compost encourages beneficial microorganisms in the soil that give plants an important boost. Another great thing you can do is spread several inches of mulch over the soil. Mulch helps keep soil cooler and then prevents water loss to evaporation.
When to plant vegetables in South Florida
It is difficult to know when to plant vegetables in South Florida because every vegetable is different.
Vegetables Planting in South Florida – autumn through spring
Many vegetable plants tend to have some preferences not too hot, and not too cold. If you want to protect your plants from a heatwave, plant them in the more temperate seasons for optimal performance, and cover them with shade cloth.
Broccoli – This is a cold-hardy vegetable plant. It prefers milder temperatures and is planted between September and January. It takes between 75 to 90 days to mature and produce harvestable food. Since it takes so long, you probably won’t want to plant any later than January or else the temperature levels will get too warm and the broccoli will bolt.
In case if you miss this: Vegetable Gardening Tips For Beginners.
Arugula – These are easy to grow. It will be ready to harvest fairly quickly, within 35 to 60 days.
Cucumbers – September and February is the ideal time to plant cucumbers, and they are good to go in about 45 to 60 days.
Beans – Some bean varieties like bush beans, pole beans, and lima beans all have about the same growing season in Fort Lauderdale between September and April. They mature fast, so if you get antsy waiting for vegetables to develop. Some popular bush bean varieties are Bush Blue Lake, Contender, Pinto, Red Kidney, Black Bean, Navy, Roma II, Cherokee wax, and Garbanzo. Some pole bean varieties are McCaslan, Kentucky Wonder, and Blue Lake.
Spinach – Spinach is only strong in South Florida if seeded between October and February. It prefers milder, cooler temperature levels, it matures quickly (between 45-60 days), and so you’ll still get plenty of food out of it.
How About This: How To Start Raised Bed Vegetable Garden.
Beets – These vegetables don’t like too much heat, so seeding between October and January is best. They take between 50 to 70 days to mature and you can notice seedlings sprouting a couple of extra “baby beets.” Recommend thinning out the beet seedlings after planted to ensure that the stronger beets get adequate nutrition, and then prevent from being left with a bunch of smaller beets. Though, plant a few each week for a month or two and have a nice consistent harvest throughout the winter and spring season.
Cauliflower – This vegetable is everywhere. If seeded between September and January, you’ll have a fresh crop within 75 to 90 days.
Kale – This can be seeded between September and January. Kale matures in 50 to 70 days.
Tomatoes – You should aim to plant tomato seeds sometime between August and February. So you’ll be looking at anywhere from 70 to 110 days to reach maturity.
Radish – For one half of the year, you can get away with seeding and radishes planting from October to March. They are usually ready for harvest in one month and make fantastic container plants.
Summer Squash – Begin seeding sometime between August and March, and they will be ripe and ready in 40 to 50 days.
List of vegetables to grow in South Florida in summers
These heat-loving vegetable plants can handle our Florida sun like total champs. If you want to plant vegetables year-round so enjoy fresh garden produce, adding these vegetables to the garden will help fill in the gaps during the hotter months.
Peppers – These vegetables can pack a ton of flavorful heat. The time for ready sweeter peppers is between 2 to 3 months, whereas hot peppers can take as long as 4 months.
Sweet Potato – The ultimate comfort food vegetable, the sweet potato is a classic staple in winter dishes. It prefers to grow during warmer months, so planting from February to the end of June will yield the best results. Sweet potatoes must be started from “slips,” which are tiny starter plants, as starting them from seeds can make them more disease-prone. Water them frequently and avoid splitting and the soil is loose so they don’t get stunted growth.
Cherry and Grape Tomatoes – For such tiny, delicate cherry and grape tomatoes can withstand pretty intense temperature levels. Then, their small size and quicker maturation time make them less susceptible to damage or stunted growth from our hot sun. Plant these tomato varieties at any time, but if you’re worried that the weather conditions are a bit too extreme conditions, you can plant them in containers.
Okra – You can begin to seed okra any time from January to September, and you will be delighted at how quickly they germinate. And, adding some mulch around the base of the plant will help to conserve moisture so you don’t have to water quite as frequently.
Vegetables planting calendar for South Florida (Zone 10) gardens
|Plant type||When to grow||Space between plants ( in inches)||Seed depth (inches)||Days to harvest||Varieties|
|Beans (bush, Pole)||August- April||4 – 5 (bush) 6 – 8 (pole)||1 – 1 ½||50-60||Pole – Kentucky Wonder, Blue Lake & others. Bush – Contender, Bush Blue Lake, & other types|
|Broccoli||October – January||12 – 18||½ – 1||75-90 (seeds) 55 – 70 (transplants)||Calabrese, Purple Early Sprouting & De Ciccio|
|Carrot||October – February||2 – 3||¼ -½||65 – 80||Chantenay, Danver’s & Scarlet Nantes|
|Kale||November – January||8 – 16||¼ – ½||50-70||Blue Curled & Lacinato|
|Lettuce||October – January||8 – 12||½||50-90||Little Gem, May Queen, Tom Thumb & Simpson|
|Onion||October-March||1 – 2||½ – ¾||30-40||Red Burgundy (bulbing), Japanese Bunching & Bulgarian Leeks|
|Pepper||August- March||12 – 24||½||80-100 (seeds) 60- 80 (transplants)||Hot Peppers – Black Hungarian, Cayenne, Habanero & Jalapeno Sweet Peppers-Cal Wonder, Golden Marconi & Pimiento|
|Radish||October – March||1 – 2||½ – ¾||20-30||Diakon & German Giant|
|Sweet potato||Year-round||12 – 24||–||120 – 140||Beauregard, Hernandez, Picodito|
|Spinach||October- January||3 – 5||¾||45-60||Sissoo, Malabar, and New Zealand spinach|
|Tomato||October-March (cherry-types) October – February (for other types)||18 – 24||½||90 – 110 (seeds) 75-90 (transplants)||Juliet, Roma, and Sweet 100|
Vegetable gardening in South Florida
July is a good time in a South Florida vegetable garden. When growing vegetables in South Florida the best time to plant is during the fall or winter season. Some easy-to-grow vegetable plants are Beans, Collards, Peppers, Sweet Potatoes, and Tomatoes.
Some easy and fairly easy to grow vegetables for the fall, winter, spring season are Beans, Beets, Broccoli, Cabbage, Carrots, Chinese cabbage, Chives, Collards, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Gourds, Green peppers, Okra, Onions, Kale, Leaf lettuce, Peas Peppers, Radish, Spinach, Squash, Tomatoes, and Turnips.
Challenging to Grow Vegetables for fall, winter, spring in South Florida are Brussels sprouts, Cauliflower, Celery, Corn, Garlic, Lettuce (head types), Potatoes, and Tomatoes (heirloom varieties).
Irrigation requirement for South Florida gardening
In our dry months, it will be necessary to provide irrigation to your vegetable garden. Hand watering or drip irrigation system is two of the usual methods used to provide water to the garden plot. Though, making a small depression in the soil at the base of the plant will allow water to soak in where it is most needed. Using mulch and adding organic matter will help conserve water. Usually watering 2 to 3 times weekly will be sufficient and be sure to follow the water restrictions.
Watering can be challenging for South Florida homeowners and need regular drinks from time to time. However, water can cost money and there may be local restrictions depending on your community. Consider using xeriscaping, which uses native plants and flowers that are built to thrive in the weather and offer drought-tolerant roots. Good air occasion is always key and consistency is very important. Short and frequent watering encourages shallow root systems, which is bad for about any plant or grasses. During the hottest time of year run the irrigation 2 times a week or even three times it is been extremely dry. In the winter season, one week on average should be sufficient. Morning is best as the water has a chance to soak into the earth without it creating and growing fungus by watering at night.
Common South Florida vegetable garden pests
Common South Florida vegetable garden pests are Aphids, Stinkbugs, Hornworm, Cabbage Beetle, Armyworm, Leaf miners, Whitefly, and Thrips.
Each one of these bugs is harmful to your vegetable garden. Some bugs have pointy mouths that they use to suck plant’s juices out. Some lay eggs on the undersides of the plant’s leaves so that their babies can feast on your plant.
Some plant issues like bugs, critters, diseases, and pests can be the main problems for South Florida gardeners. It is very important to monitor your plants constantly in case you find fungus, other issues, or problems that need to be addressed right away. Neglecting your plants for days or weeks will cause the problem to spread. Stress, insects, and disease are all problems for many plants. Garden plants can experience stress under cold winter snaps, sitting in wet soil for too long, or lack of irrigation.
You want to treat any fungicides by using a spray or drench but again, ask your garden professional about the type of issue your plant is having and take pictures when you go in so they know exactly what they are looking at. Chewing and sucking insects can be a nightmare like caterpillars, cutworms, aphids, and more and by the time you see these, they have probably been there a while wreaking havoc on your plants and leaves. Keeping your plants well fed and watered frequently is the best defense against insects. But, there can use some natural insecticides like Neem oil or a similar product, and stay on top of it until the problem is completely eradicated. Now is a great time to start prepping your garden and landscape for flowers, vegetation, and any other plantings you plan to do this spring and summer season. There are different home remedies for planting and gardening that you may not even have to leave your home.
South Florida monthly gardening tips
Annuals/Bedding plants – It can be grown well in the coolest season include Lobelia, Dianthus, Begonia, Browallia, and Nicotiana.
Plant annuals – This is the time of year we get to enjoy annual plants that like it a little cooler. Some of the annual plants are Fragrant Dianthus, Colorful Petunia, Stately Snapdragon, and Zinnia.
Herbs – Herb plants will thrive now that temperatures are cooler, that includes tarragon, thyme, dill, fennel, and mints.
Vegetables – Several vegetables can be planted this time of year. This is the last month to plant some vegetables like Irish Potatoes, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Collards, Kale, Mustard, and Turnips.
Bulbs – Winter is a great time to plant bulbs that will bloom in the spring season. Some major examples are Clivia lily, Crinum, and Agapanthus.
Water When Necessary – This is the dry season, keep an eye on moisture levels. Water is necessary for plants this month. Save money on water by using a soaker hose and then covering it with mulch. It delivers moisture directly to the zone where plants’ roots are and you don’t lose water to evaporation. Water plants if temperature levels remain higher than normal and rainfall is scarce.
Pests – Carefully apply horticultural oil to citrus, shrubs, and deciduous fruit trees while plants are dormant to control scale.
Enjoy Winter Bloomers – Winter-blooming plants like Bolivian Sunset gloxinia; hibiscus; provide rich color to South Florida garden beds and borders, as well as landscapes.
Annuals/Bedding plants – Annual plants that grow well in this month include Impatiens, Verbena, Dianthus, Strawflower, and Lobelia.
Bulbs – Many bulbs can be planted now. Divide large, crowded clumps. Provide adequate water for establishment. Some of the examples are Amazon Lily, Crinum, and Agapanthus.
Grow Your Food – It is a great time to plant Cucumbers, Peppers, Sweet Corn, and Sweet Potatoes.
Vegetables – Vegetables to plant Cantaloupes, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Lettuce, Peppers, Spinach, and Tomatoes for a late spring harvest.
Grow Heat-Tolerant Annual plants – As temperatures rise and winter annuals fade, give your garden beds and borders a fresh look with more heat-tolerant varieties. Heat-tolerant annual plants are Crossandra, Gerbera Daisy, Globe Amaranth, and New Guinea impatiens.
Annuals/Bedding Plants –Crossandra, Gazania, Melampodium, and Zinnia are the annuals that will last into the fall season.
Herbs – Many herbs are ornamental and attract butterflies to the garden.
Vegetables – Arugula, Beans, Cantaloupe, Carrots, Celery, Sweet Corn, Endive, Okra, Radish, Squashes, and Swiss chard are growing well in this month.
Pests – Monitor landscape plants for insects for the presence of aphids on tender new growth. Insects become more active during warm weather conditions.
Prune Trees and Shrubs – Toward the end of the month, you can prune dormant trees and shrubs, some winter-flowering varieties.
Annuals/Bedding plants – Plant heat-tolerant annual plants such as Coleus, Vinca, and Portulaca.
Continue Replacing Annuals – Usually, South Florida temperatures start to rise this month. Evolvulus, Mexican Heather, and Pentas are the replace struggling annuals.
Bulbs – Cannas grow well in the heat of summer. Some new varieties have colorful leaves as well as flowers.
Herbs – Some herbs that start to grow well include Basil, Coriander, Cumin, and Mint.
Vegetables – Beans, Chinese cabbage, Southern peas, and sweet potatoes can be growing well.
Plant Trees and Shrubs – In this month, you can continue to get new trees and shrubs. Fire bush and golden dewdrops provide privacy and attract butterflies when grown as a tall hedge.
Annuals or Bedding plants – Some of the annual plants that grow well this month include Coleus, Salvia, Wax Begonia, and Ornamental Pepper.
Herbs – Plant heat-loving herbs like Basil, Mexican Tarragon, Ginger, Cumin, Summer Savory, and Rosemary.
Vegetables – Sweet Potatoes, Boniato, Hot Peppers are growing well this month.
Add Flavor to Your Yard: Though you don’t want to plant several vegetables this time of year, it’s a great time to bring in herbs that don’t mind the heat. Top picks to plant include Basil, Lemongrass, and Rosemary.
Keep an eye out for Pests – Check regularly for pests or diseases when they first appear can prevent them from becoming big problems. Pruning diseased growth (dipping pruning tools in rubbing alcohol between cuts) can stop the problem from spreading throughout the garden. Watch for thrips, scales, and mites on ornamental plants because they become more active in warm weather conditions.
Make your Soil Better – Your garden and landscape plants will appreciate it if you top-dress with soil with an inch or two inches of compost now. As compost breaks down, it improves soil’s ability to hold nutrients.
Annuals/Bedding Plants – Some flowering plants that can take full sun include Celosia, Portulaca, Vinca, Pentas, and Some Coleus.
Palms – Summer’s warm, rainy months are the best time to plant palms.
Herbs – Heat-loving herb plants grow well that include Basil, Ginger, Summer Savory, Cumin, Mexican Tarragon, and Rosemary.
Vegetables – Plant tropical vegetables like Boniato, Calabaza, and Chayote this month.
Pests – Carefully monitor the garden weekly for harmful insects. By knowing which insects attack a plant can aid in identification and treatment.
Irrigation/water requirement – Watch for drought stress and water as required if rainfall has been spotty. Focus on new plantings and then follow watering restrictions.
Bulbs – Butterfly lily and gladiolus are bulbs that can be grown well during the middle of summer.
Herbs – Summer is too hot to start herbs from seeds such as oregano and mint, does well if started from small plants.
Vegetables – Plant tropical vegetables like Boniato, Calabaza, and Chayote this month.
Irrigation – Summer rains provide ample water for plants. Install an inexpensive rain shutoff device that conserves water by overriding irrigation when it rains. If one is already installed, and then check that it is operating properly.
Annuals/Bedding plants – Annuals that can grow well in this month include Vinca, Coleus, Pentus, Salvia, and Celosia.
Herbs – Ginger, Bay Laurel, Mexican Tarragon, and Rosemary are the herbs that can be planted from plants (not seeds).
Vegetables – Start planting Eggplant, Okra, Peppers, Pumpkin, Squashes, and Tomatoes for the fall season.
Annuals/Bedding plants – Scarlet Sage, Nasturtium, Celosia, and Wax Begonia are trying to grow well.
Bulbs – Plant gladiolus every 2 weeks to stagger blooming and stake each plant.
Herbs – Plant herbs this month like Mexican Tarragon, Mint, Rosemary, and Basil.
Vegetables – September is the best time to grow more vegetables.
Shrubs – Marlberry, Beautyberry, and Dahoon Holly are grown well in this time.
Grow Your Food – It’s still perfect planting time for most of your favorite vegetables like Carrot, Eggplant, Pepper, Potato, Summer Squash, Tomato, and Watermelon.
Grow Herbs – This month is ideal for planting just about every herb includes Basil, Cilantro, Mint, Rosemary, and Sage.
Plant Cool-Season Vegetables – As temperatures drop, plant vegetables that don’t like heat that includes Beets, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, and Spinach.
Annuals/Bedding plants – Some annual plants like Impatiens, Alyssum, and Dianthus are good plants for the fall/winter garden.
Bulbs – Agapanthus, Rain Lily, and Clivia Lily are blooms next spring or summer season. For best results, add organic matter to the planting bed.
Herbs – Different types of herbs can be planted from seeds or transplants this month. Some of the herbs to grow well include Dill, Fennel, Parsley, and Cilantro.
Vegetables – Easy vegetable crops that can be grown this month include Beans, Broccoli, Carrots, Collards, Lettuce, Green Onions, Peppers, Radishes, Spinach, and Tomatoes.
Bulbs – Many bulbs like to get their start in cool weather conditions. Bulbs to plant in this month include Amaryllis, Crinum, and elephant’s ear.
Herbs – Herbs grow well in this time include Cilantro, Dill, Fennel, Parsley, Sage, and Thyme.
Vegetables – Vegetables that grow well this month include Beans, Broccoli, Kale, Snow/English Peas, and Strawberries.
Bulbs – Amaryllis plant is a popular plant for the holiday season.
Herbs – Plant herbs that thrive in cool weather conditions. Herbs grow well in this time includes Parsley, Thyme, Sage, Dill, Fennel, and Cilantro.
Vegetables – Broccoli, Carrots, Kale, Green Onions, and Others are the reliable cool-season vegetables to plant in this month.
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