Winter Gardening: Florida Edition- Herbs, Veggies & Flowers

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Garden Blog

Florida Winter Annuals

Take advantage of the break Winter gives from the harsh heat of Florida Summer and plant a few Winter Annuals. These flowers thrive in the cooler temperatures as well as add color to your landscape. A few examples of ideal plants for your winter garden are listed below:

  • Alyssum- Primarily pink and purple, Sweet Alyssum will bring a fresh pop of color to your flower bed. Being a low growing plant, it will form a dense mat/carpet of delicate flowers, making it an ideal border to go around the edge of one’s garden. Recommended to plant during late fall, this flower prefers full sun exposure but can handle light shade.
  • Petunia- A popular Florida flower that will bloom vigorously in the right environment. These annuals require full sunlight for optimal blooms. Producing a wide range of colors, they will grow to be anywhere between 6 to 24 inches tall
  • Winter Jasmine- This fragrant flower will bloom in Florida for the entirety of the winter season. Maturing to a large shrub once the weather warms up, making this plant also very versatile. Growing between 3 and 8 feet tall, these plants prefer shady areas in your garden or in a pot on your porch. Planting in a container also makes it more manageable, limiting its growth and making it easy to move to where its needs are being met.

Herbs to plant in December

When planning your winter garden, herbs are easily forgotten about. Though, more useful than the average garden flower, people do not prefer them due to the lack of colorful bloom or flowery smell. However, an herb garden can help “spice up” your holiday meals and also provide many health benefits. Here are a few herbs that thrive in the chilly Florida winters:

  • Thyme- This hardy herb will be a fantastic addition to your garden or windowsill. It thrives in full sun and dry soil. Along with being useful in the kitchen, thyme is a prime bee attractant for those interested in bee keeping. (It also creates a delicious honey) As if this plant could get any better, it also sprouts small purple flowers when in the correct conditions.
  • Chives- Just like Thyme, Chives prefer full sunlight and well-drained soil. Though they grow well during winter, this herb can be harvested ANY time. They have a high growth rate and will have to be separated after time to allow more space for them to grow. Chives can add a subtle onion or garlic flavor to your favorite holiday dish.
  • Parsley- Parsley can be grown in garden beds or containers. It enjoys the shade so partial sun or a windowsill is ideal for this herb. Fun Fact: Parsley root holds more flavor than the leaves and works well in holiday recipes. Containing vitamins, A, C and K, as well as several B vitamins, calcium and iron, this is a must-have in your herb garden this winter.

Hardy Winter Veggies

Reliable cool-season vegetables include cabbages, collards, beets, and broccoli.

  • Cabbage- Not only does this vegetable thrive in frosty climates but it HATES the heat. Being one of the easiest plants to grow in Florida Winter, it completely stops producing when temperatures start rising. Taking 3 months to mature, be sure to space out planting to accomplish a continuous harvest. Residents of all parts of Florida can plant around September in full sun.
  • Broccoli- This vegetable can tolerate temperatures below freezing which means this is the perfect winter veggie and is also one of the easiest vegetables to start from a seed. Those located in North and Central Florida are recommended to plant in September. This is different for South Florida where residents are encouraged to plant in October and can be grown through until March. Be sure when harvesting to collect the broccoli heads before their flowers open, after that, the plant grows more “side shoots” that are also for harvest.
  • Beets- Starting beets from a seed is the hardest part of growing them. They are very versatile, being able to be grown in both warm and cool weather. They can also withstand hard freeze. Plant beets in North and Central Florida during the month of September and in South Florida, October, for best results.

Winterize Your Garden

Though Florida Winters are mild compared to northern parts of the US, not all gardens are tough enough to survive the cold season. Garden BlogFor those, it is important to winterize your garden. Pick up/rake all of the fallen leaves and other debris- leaving this can damage your lawn and the turf underneath by not allowing the grass to breath as well as supplying homes for unwanted insects who could potentially spread diseases that could kill your crop. Fertilize your lawn to allow it the beneficial nutrients that, in turn, will strengthen the root system as the plant goes dormant. Now is also the best time to pull weeds. Just like all other greenery, weeds are also “weaker” during cold months. So, take advantage of the cooler weather and ditch those weeds, if done so now- you won’t have to worry about them until the following season (or maybe longer).

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