Know Your Medium
Having grown up in Kentucky, with its rich soil and clearly defined seasons, I’ve discovered gardening in Florida is a completely different beast. Steamy hot tropical climate, nothing but sand and extreme seasons ranging from long, dry spells to flooding afternoon rains present a completely different for a gardener’s pallet. As a home owner for the past seven years, through trial and error with creating my Florida gardens, I have discovered some plant ideas that work well for a full sun garden in Florida.
Cool season vegetables like radishes, onions, kale, lettuce, spinach and beets work well if planted from seed December through January. It is best to start from seed in December through January when planting warm weather vegetables like peppers and tomatoes. Attempting to grow them in a typical summer month proves futile, due to the extreme heat in Florida.
Painting A Colorful Palette
Plant lots of tropical milkweed to aid Monarch Butterfly survival, while adding texture and bright red, yellow and orange to your yard! Don’t buy tropical milkweed at a store that doesn’t a sure organic plants. Instead, get one from the Florida Native Plant Society or a local friend.
Milkweed is easy to propagate! Once milkweed stems gets tall, clip the stems at the base and plop right back into the soil! Clip the stem a few more times so that you have about 4-5 inches of newly planted stems. This will keep your tropical milkweed blooming fresh with minimal pests, while providing a clean source for budding monarch butterflies!
More Colorful Plants
Marigolds planted near milkweed and tomatoes are an organic solution to keep pests under control. Hibiscus, crown of thorns, Honeysuckle bush, vincas, sweet potato vines and chrysanthemum add splashes of much-needed color in the winter season. Coral honeysuckle vines produce beautiful, red berries in the winter season! Philodendron, bleeding heart, and passion-vines add privacy and green liveliness during the dry winter, and burst with vibrant color during warm seasons. Pineapples, bird of paradise, sea grapes and fountain grass add interesting textures with unique height and shape.
These are some of the ideas that have proven successful in my full-sun backyard in Florida. These have filled my yard with gorgeous color, texture, attract monarch and gulf fritillary butterflies, hummingbirds, bluebirds and cardinals. I hope these suggestions are of use to you toward growing organically with success in Florida!