South Florida Annuals

Planting South Florida annuals is a nearly year-round tradition to brighten up the landscape...the trick is knowing which ones to plant when.

winter Florida annuals pansies and snapdragons

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.

Sometimes 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 perennials 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 annual seasons.

When is summer (winter, spring) in South Florida?

If you're new to South Florida, you may not realize that seasons here are mercurial.

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.

blue salvia

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)
celosia flowers in red, purple and yellow

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

Winter Annuals

red petunias and silvery-white dusty miller
  • 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

Summer Annuals

moss rose portulaca
  • 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)

What exactly is part sun or part shade? See Plant Light Requirements in the Gardening How-To Section.

  1. Home
  2. Annuals

Take a break!

cover Lazy Gardener's Guide

The ultimate guide to low-maintenance plants
and landscaping!

An ebook by
Chase Landre

author of

Learn more!

Get a greener thumb!

Want to learn more about South Florida planting, watering, fertilizing and dealing with weeds and pests?

See our Gardening How-To section for answers!

Get instant curb appeal!

cover Landscape in a Hurry

An ebook by
Chase Landre

author of

Learn how to get instant curb appeal with fast growing plants and landscaping techniques!

Learn more...