Florida’s hot, humid summers and short, mild winters can make home gardening a bit tricky, especially for those who have yet to develop their “green thumb.”
However, by paying special attention to the changing seasons and sticking to crops and plants that are known to thrive in Florida’s tropical climate, your backyard garden has the potential to flourish.
Whether you’re planning to grow vegetables and herbs for fresh garden-to-table meals, or just want some pretty flowers to admire in your yard, here are few tips to get you started.
Tips for gardening success in Florida
- Before you create your garden, draw out a plan. The plan should include the name and location of each plant going in your garden, as well as the best time of year to plant them, and how much sunlight and water they’ll need to thrive.
- Situate your garden on a well-drained site close to a source of water, where plants will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight a day.
- Note that most Florida soils are low in organic matter, so you will probably need to add fertilizers and/or compost to the soil before planting seeds. Add your organic matter of choice to the soil at least one month before seeding.
- Make sure your garden has proper drainage. Vegetables are especially finicky because they need moist soil to grow, but will also not tolerate standing water from excessive rainfall or irrigation.
- When watering, pay attention to each plant’s individual needs, as well as the type of soil in your garden. Young plants need frequent but light watering, while more mature plants need more water, less often. Florida’s sandy soil demands more frequent irrigation than other soil types.
Crops that thrive in Florida’s climate
Here are some recommended crops to try growing at different times throughout the year:
October: This is the month for veggies (and one fruit)! Try broccoli, cabbage, spinach, squash, corn, and tomatoes (did you know tomatoes are a fruit, not a vegetable?).
January: While January is too cold for most crops, juicy watermelon will thrive in central and south Florida gardens at this time.
April: Go for sunflowers!
July: It takes a special plant to withstand a Florida summer, but several tropical crops will thrive. Try hot peppers, basil, eggplant and pumpkins (the “Seminole” or “tropical” varieties will fare the best.)
Ready to put these tips to use? Many Lennar homes in the Tampa Bay area are built on spacious lots that provide plenty of room for a fruitful garden. View our available homes on Lennartampa.com.