Planting South Florida annuals is a nearly year-round tradition to
brighten up the landscape...the trick is knowing which ones to plant
South Florida has 2 basic annual seasons - winter and summer
- with different plants for each one.
Although the annuals are the same
ones you may have planted for summers up North, certain ones do best
here in winter's cooler temperatures - a climate similar to a Northern
spring and early summer.
ANNUALS TIPS: Winter annual plants can usually
live through spring, but plant them too early in the fall when the
weather is still hot and they may not make it. If you buy during warm
autumn weather, place things like geraniums in partial
shade where they'll only get morning or dappled sunlight.
South Florida annuals will surprise you and live for several
years...especially if you plant them where they'll be protected from
summer's blazing sun.
To keep color in your landscape throughout
the year - especially in autumn when summer annuals have run their
course and it's too early for winter ones - have some
in the garden.
Buy from plant nurseries - they know their stuff
and carry annuals when it's time to plant them. Beware of box
stores...the information on the little plastic insert in each pot
doesn't necessarily apply to our subtropical climate or our actual
When is summer (winter, spring) in South Florida?
If you're new to South Florida, you may not realize that seasons here
For instance, some years we have a nice cool spring -
and other years it's winter one day and summer the next.
Consistently cooler (or warmer) temperatures indicate the seasons have actually changed.
In a typical year:
Spring - April through early May.
Summer - mid-May through early October.
Autumn - mid-October through early December.
Winter - mid-December through March.
Landscape uses for South Florida annuals
garden border plants
filler plants in newly-planted landscaping
in a windowbox, planter, containers or hanging baskets
lining a walkway
under trees for color in shade (some varieties)
What happened to impatiens?
Florida was hit several years ago with downy mildew, which devastated this beautiful annual. You can use Sunpatiens, a larger variety that takes lots of sun, but it doesn't have the same look or spreading habit.
Unfortunately, our beloved impatiens is gone from the marketplace, though growers are working hard to develop cultivars immune to downy mildew.
UPDATE! A new downy mildew resistant variety has just hit the market - Imara Impatiens. Ask for it at your local nursery.
Common South Florida Annuals
coleus - part sun (winter) to full shade (spring)
dianthus - full to part sun (winter OR summer annual)
dusty miller - full to part sun
geranium - part shade to full sun (more shade in warmer weather)
lobelia - full to part sun
marigold - full to part sun (winter OR summer annual)
pansy - full to part sun (plant during coldest part of winter only)
petunia - full sun to part shade
snapdragon - full to part sun
sunpatiens - full sun (winter) to part shade
sweet alyssum - full to part sun
viola - part to full sun
caladium - part or full shade (actually a perennial that comes up every year, click on the link to see the full page on this plant)
celosia ("cockscomb") - part shade to part sun (best in spring through early summer)
gaillardia ("Blanket Flower") - full to part sun, will re-seed
gazania daisy - full to part sun
gebera daisy (sometimes called gerber daisy) - part shade to part sun, usually best in spring through early summer
ornamental cabbage (a.k.a. flowering kale) - full to part sun (best in spring and early summer)
portulaca "Moss Rose" - full to part sun
purslane - full to part sun
salvia - part shade to part sun
wax begonia - full sun to full shade for bronze leaf, full shade for green leaf
zinnia - full to part sun ("Profusion" and "Dreamland" are pretty newer varieties)