What To Plant & When in Central Florida
Adjust irrigation based on rainfall.
Monitor the garden for insects and disease.
Deadhead flowers to encourage new blooms.
Plant trees, shrubs, and perennials, and water as needed until established.
Mow lawns at recommended heights:
St. Augustine & Bahia: 3-4”
Dwarf St. Augustine: 2.5
Cover tender plants with blankets, quilts or a mattress pad. If you will be using a plastic tarp, you will need to construct a frame around the plant to keep the plastic away from the foliage. If the cold front is forecasted to be windy, you will want to secure the covering so that it can’t blow away.
Make sure that all of your tender, tropical plants have a thick layer of mulch, up to 4 inches deep, to protect the root system.
Move containerized plants into the garage or house. If they must stay outside, move them together and cover the entire group with blankets or quilts.
If a hard freeze, temperatures at 30 degrees or below, is forecast you can also place a light bulb or Christmas lights underneath the cover. LED bulbs will not work for this because they don’t produce any heat. Make sure that none of the hot bulbs will come into contact with the blanket, quilt, tarp, etc.
With the shorter days and cooler temperatures, you won’t need to do much for your turf. Just mow it every other week or so and water it, at most, once a week. Do not fertilize the turf in the winter because the grass isn’t actively growing and therefore won’t absorb the nutrients. Fertilizing in the winter can lead to nutrients leaching into the nearest body of water.
Deciduous trees and shrubs can be pruned after they have shed all of their leaves. Meanwhile, take advantage of the weather to enjoy your garden.
WHAT TO PLANT NOW
Annuals/Bedding plants: Plants that can be added to the garden during the coolest months include alyssum, begonia, browallia, lobelia, dianthus, dusty miller, pansy, petunia, viola, snapdragon, and nicotiana. See Annuals
Bulbs: Winter is a great time to plant bulbs that will bloom in the spring. Some examples include Clivia lily, crinum, gloriosa lily, and agapanthus. Provide a layer of mulch to protect bulbs from cold temperatures. See Bulbs for Florida
Herbs: Many herbs will thrive now that temperatures are cooler, including garlic chives, chives, lemongrass (plant this aggressive grower in a large pot), parsley, dill, rosemary, Mexican tarragon, fennel, any of the mints, thyme, lemon balm, Greek oregano, salad burnet, lavenders, chervil (a winter annual that has a licorice flavor) See Herbs
Vegetables: Many vegetables can be planted this time of year. Start with quality seeds purchased from an online catalog. This the last month to plant Irish potatoes, beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, kale, lettuce, mustard, and turnips. See Vegetable Gardening in Florida
WHAT TO DO
Landscape: It is a good time to plant woody shrubs. Water frequently to get new plantings off to a good start. See The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design and Shrubs:
Citrus Care (also good for most trees)
Spray both sides of leaves avoiding peak daily temperature:
1. Spray citrus trees with Epsoma Citrus Tone or Sunniland Citrus
2. Spray before trees blossom with a citrus nutritional spray, which has micronutrients.
3. Spray once a month or so with Maxicrop, the liquid seaweed emulsion available at most Ace hardware stores. 4. To avoid disease spray with Liquid Copper Fungicide
5. Shrubs – apply Epsoma plant tone or Holly Tone [for acidic plants]
Deciduous fruit: Plant deciduous fruit trees now to give their roots time to develop before the warm, dry spring months. Prune and fertilize existing trees. See Temperate Fruit for the Home Landscape
Irrigation: Water plants if temperatures remain higher than normal and rainfall is scarce. See Landscape Irrigation
Shrubs and trees: Prune non-spring flowering shrubs and trees this month to improve form. See Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs
Arbor Day: Celebrate Florida Arbor Day (the 3rd Friday of January) by planting a tree in your yard or community. See Arbor Day in Florida
Crapemyrtle: Remove seed pods, crossing branches, and small twiggy growth to improve the appearance and form of the plant, if desired. Hard pruning is not required. See Crapemyrtle
Cold protection: Be ready to cover tender plants to minimize damage and be sure covers extend all the way to the ground. Frost or freezes are likely this month and next. Bring sensitive plants like orchids inside if a frost or freeze is predicted. Thoroughly water and cover sensitive plants in the landscape 12–24 hours before a freeze. See Cold Protection and Chilling Damage of Landscape Plants
Pests: Apply horticultural oil to citrus, shrubs, and deciduous fruit trees while plants are dormant to control scale. Apply copper spray to mangos after bloom. See Landscape Pest Management
Last but not least: Don’t forget to spray a fine mist of liquid seaweed solution on both sides of the leaves on vegetable plants, citrus and avocado trees weekly. For other fruit-producing trees, shrubs and vines aim for every other week.
WHAT TO DO
Fight the urge to prune plants that have been damaged by cold. Limit pruning to removing damaged and unsightly foliage. Don’t cut back any woody stems or branches until spring comes and new growth is produced. If you have plumeria that has been hit by the cold, watch the growing tip. If it appears to be rotting cut it off low enough to cut through a sound part of the stem.
Something you can prune now is your fig tree if it needs it. Removing some of the older wood will increase new growth. Only choose three to five main trunks. Remove all small competing stems from the base and thin out any limbs that are rubbing or crisscrossing. Prune off up to one-third of last year’s growth during this pruning. After the pruning is complete, add new mulch to maintain a four-inch layer.
Other plants that could or should be pruned now are deciduous plants such as crape myrtles and grapevines. Only prune deciduous plants when they are dormant and bare. Pruning can be done any time before the vines begin to sprout new buds.
Mid-month is a good time to prune hybrid rose bushes. Choose 4-5 main canes to form the new shrub and prune off the others. Then, cut the main canes back a third of the way. Also, remove any dead, damaged or twiggy growth back to the main cane. New blooms should appear in about 45 days.
If your lawn has browned out from the cold just continue to water it once a week and celebrate the fact that you won’t need to mow again for quite a while. Don’t expect the grass to, or try to make it, green up again until we get longer days and warmer temperatures.
WHAT TO PLANT
Vegetables that can be planted in February include beans, beets, cantaloupes, carrots, celery, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, endive/escarole, English peas, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, onions-both bunching and multiplier, peppers, potatoes, pumpkin, squash, sweet corn, sweet potatoes, radishes, tomatoes, turnips, and watermelons.
Flowers to plant now include alyssum, dianthus, pansy, petunia, Johnny-jump-up, phlox, stock, flowering kale, and snapdragons.
Some herbs to plant now include basil, comfrey, chervil, chives, dill, fennel, parsley, sweet marjoram, mint, sage, and thyme.
Bulbs that can be planted this month include Agapanthus, Amazon lily (Eucharis Grandiflora), Aztec lily (Sprekelia formosissima), caladium, canna, dahlia, gladiolus, gloriosa lily, kaffir lily (Clivia minata), walking iris (Neomarica gracilis), rain lily (Zepheranthus spp.), lily, African iris (Moraea spp.), society garlic (Tulbaghia violacea), Tritonia (T. crocata), tuberose (Polianthes tuberose), Watsonia (W. spp.) and spider lily (Hymenocallis spp.)
Vegetable seeds that can be sown in February for planting in March include beans, beets, cantaloupes, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, English peas, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, okra, onions - bunching & multipliers, peppers, pumpkins, Southern peas, squash, sweet corn, tomatoes, turnips, watermelon.
Prune poinsettias back when blooms begin to fade. Cut the stems to about two feet from the ground and fertilize with ½ to 1 cup of 6-6-6. Also, apply one to two teaspoons of Epsom salts to supply magnesium.
If your landscaping has been affected by dips below 32 degrees:
- Wait to determine the extent of the cold damage before pruning; some plants need weeks to show damage.
- Keep the soil moist but do not overwater.
- Withhold fertilizer until the scheduled feeding in late February or March.
- Trim affected portions from container-grown foliage plants and move them to a warmer location.
- Mow lawns as needed to remove new growth and control weeds; do not encourage growth.
- Feeding time for lawns is March.
- Begin pruning all hardy and dormant plants as normal during winter.
- Continue to plant hardy trees, shrubs, ground covers, and perennials.
- Remove affected warm-season vegetables and replant them with cool-season crops.
- Keep the cold protection handy.
What to Plant
Trees and Shrubs: Most varieties. Consider planting a small tree to replace trees lost in the storms of the past several years; perhaps, a flowering accent tree. Sally Scalera suggests:
Annuals / Bedding Plants: Replace declining winter annuals with colorful heat-tolerant annuals, such as crossandra, gazania, salvia, melampodium, and zinnia that will last into fall. See Annuals.
Bulbs: Plant gladiola corms 6 inches apart and 4 inches deep; stake as they grow. Plant caladium for a showy tropical display all summer. See Bulbs for Florida
Herbs: In addition to their culinary value, many herbs are ornamental and attract butterflies to the garden. See Herbs:
Vegetables: This is the last month to plant arugula, beans, cantaloupe, carrots, celery sweet corn, endive, okra, radish, squashes, Swiss chard, and watermelon. See Vegetable Gardening in Florida
Keys to a Successful Vegetable Garden: varieties of plants selected for our conditions, good soil, adequate light, irrigation, fertilization, and attention. Restoring Soil Nutrients – from Mother Earth News
What to Do
Shrubs and trees: Prune when new growth begins after the end of the dormant season. To guard next season's blooms, begin pruning after the last flowers fade but before the new buds set. See Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs
Mulch: Add mulch to minimize weeds and conserve moisture during dry weather. See Landscape Mulches
Pests: Monitor landscape plants for insects, especially for the presence of aphids on tender new growth. Insects become more active during warm weather. See Landscape Pest Management
Insects should be presumed innocent until proven guilty of damage. Identify them before taking any action. Most are not damaging. Pesticides should be the final option.
Tropical and subtropical fruits: Enhance pollination of fruits during spring flowering by allowing a selection of nearby weeds to grow to provide a nectar source for bees, wasps, and flies.
It’s spring, time for blossoms and butterflies. This year’s capricious bounces from hot and humid conditions to crisp, cool air for days at a time has meant later blooms for fruit trees, notably mangoes and for orchids. It has also suppressed the plant pests and diseases that usually flourish at this time of year. Remember we are still in a drought
situation so pay close attention to the elements that make up your landscape. Above all revel in the wonderful weather and enjoy gardening!
WHAT TO PLANT
Flowers – Coleus, Celosia, calliopsis, Crossandra, dusty miller, Exacum, Gaillardia, Gazania, hollyhock, Impatiens, Lobelia, Marguerite daisy, marigold, Nicotiana, ornamental pepper, Pentas, periwinkle, Phlox, Portulaca, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Streptocarpus, sweet William, Thunbergia alata, Torenia, Verbena and Zinnia.
Perennials and Bulbs - Bulbs to plant in April: Achimenes, African iris, Amazon lily, Aztec lily, tuberous Begonia, blood lily, Caladium, Canna, Crinum, Gladiolus, gloriosa lily, kaffir lily, shell ginger, society garlic, spider lily, tiger flower, walking iris and Watsonia.
Vegetables - In April, plant beans, cantaloupe, collards, okra, sweet potatoes, southern peas, New Zealand Summer Spinach, and peanuts for summer harvest. Through June plant sweet potatoes, southern peas, peanuts, okra, and Swiss chard.
Fruits - Plant bananas and other tropical fruits such as guava, papaya and pineapple to take advantage of the frost-free growing season. Containerized fruit plants can be planted throughout the year. See BRFC’s April tree sale details below.
Trees - Delay planting balled and burlap palms until the summer rains begin. Keep the bud tied until it forces new growth. This keeps the young leaves from drying out until the new roots get established.
WHAT TO DO
April and May are the most stressful months for planting as rainfall is in short supply and the heat and wind increase. Bug populations increase with warmer weather and new growth.
Since chemical spraying kills the good guys as well as the bad be alert to early infestations and nip them in the bud with natural remedies.
If you did not fertilize garden beds and shrubs in March, do so now. Only apply about two-thirds of your normal amount due to the drought.
Clean out weeds before the hot summer temperatures return. Apply mulch to help conserve moisture. Keep all mulch 1 to 2 inches away from plant stems to minimize bark and leaf decay.
Prune water sprouts, suckers, deadwood, and crossing limbs from trees and shrubs to maintain a clean appearance.
Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs: There are four major reasons for pruning a plant: to affect flower or fruit production, to direct the growth and shape of the plant, to change the look of the plant, and to promote plant health.
Beneficials: Identify and conserve beneficial insects. Some insects should be encouraged in your yard! See Beneficial Insects
Flowering plants: Check for thrips if leaves and/or flowers of gardenias and roses are damaged. See Landscape Pest Management
Perennials and bulbs: Divide clumps of bulbs, ornamental grasses, or herbaceous perennials to expand or rejuvenate garden beds or to pass along to friends. See Bulbs for Florida and Perennial Landscape Plants
Lawn insects: Rule out cultural problems, such as lack of water, that resemble insect damage before applying a pesticide. See Turf Grass Pest Insects
Lawns: Apply fertilizer after new growth has started which is usually early April in north-central and central Florida. Choose a fertilizer (not a "weed and feed") with little or no phosphorus unless a soil test indicates the need for it. A fertilizer with controlled-release nitrogen yields longer-lasting results. See Lawn Fertilizer
Mulch: Add mulch to minimize weeds and conserve moisture during dry weather. Organic mulches add nutrients to the soil. See Landscape Mulches
The Oldest Known Butterflies Existed Before Flowers - Smithsonian
What to Plant
Annuals/Bedding plants: Plants that can take summer heat include coleus, salvia,
torenia, wax begonia, and ornamental pepper.
Bulbs: It’s a good time to plant bulbs, remembering that some lilies do best when their roots are crowded so try planting Amazon, Aztec, and Clivia lilies in containers to increase blooming. Plant Achimenes, Agapanthus, Blood Lilies, Caladiums, Canna, Crinums, Daylilies, Gladioli, Gloriosa Lilies and Spider Lilies, and Zephyranthes (Rain Lilies).
Herbs: Plant heat-loving herbs, including basil, Mexican tarragon, ginger, cumin, summer savory, and rosemary. I hear some local gardeners are having luck with black and white sesame seeds.
Vegetables: Sweet potatoes, okra, bonito, hot peppers, southern peas, butter or lima beans, eggplant, and tropical “spinach” such as Sisso, Malabar, and New Zealand.
What to Do
In April, May and June, Florida’s temperatures begin to increase while the state’s rainfall tends to decrease. As temperatures rise, so does outdoor water use:
• If it rains at least ½ inch on or just before your watering day,skip your day.
• Conduct a visual inspection of your irrigation system by turning each zone on for less than 5 minutes and looking for broken or misdirected heads.
Correct these problems and water your landscape only:
• If you are planning new plants, use Florida-friendly landscaping to put the right plant in the right place and save water.
• Hold off on installing new sod, trees or plants until the summer rainy season.
• Make sure your landscape beds have at least 3 inches of organic mulch around each plant but not touching the plant trunk. Mulch cools the plant roots and helps retain moisture. See below for more on mulch.
• Use a hose nozzle when hand watering or washing your car. It saves water by keeping the water from running constantly.
• Mow turf on the highest setting possible (3 to 4 inches) and never mow more than one-third of the grass height. This helps to increase plant root depth and make it more tolerant to dry conditions.
Monitor the landscape for signs of environmental stress and for chinch bugs, scale insects, spider mites, etc. It’s so much easier to nip problems in the bud (so to speak) than to deal with a full-blown invasion. Avoid chemical insecticides and use UF approved “home remedies for insect and disease control” Birds, butterflies, bees, lizards, frogs, and toads will thank you. Spray stressed plants with Maxicrop every week or so and healthy plants at least monthly for peak performance.
Trees: Prepare for hurricane season by checking trees for damaged or weak branches and pruning if needed. As a general rule, use the pruners for growth up to about three-quarters of an inch. If you're cutting green growth, use bypass pruners; for hardened wood, use anvil pruners. A pruning guide
For big jobs hire a knowledgeable arborist, who is bonded and insured. Discuss in detail what you want to be done. Ideally, your best bet is an ISA-certified arborist. See International Society of Arboriculture and Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs
Pruning Palms: You know to never, ever give palms the dreadful “pencil cut; but please spread the word to friends and neighbors. Palms are nourished daily through their fronds. When trimmers cut off the green fronds, they are removing the palms’ natural ability to feed the tree, taking away a necessary source of nutrition. The palm trunk will be thinner at the top and more likely to fall in high wind. It takes a palm 1 to 2 years to recover from the insult. Palms that are pencil trimmed annually will die. Several Florida counties outlaw this practice, which is promoted by tree trimming companies.
Pests: Watch for thrips, scale, and mites on ornamental plants because they become more active in warm weather. See Landscape Pest Management
Gardenias: Distinguish between the normal yellowing of older leaves and the yellowing of new growth, which usually indicates a micronutrient deficiency. See Gardenias at a Glance
Lawns: Watch for damage from chinch bugs in St. Augustinegrass and begin scouting for newly hatched mole crickets in bahiagrass lawns. See Turfgrass Pest Insects. May is usually a dry month; do not mistake irrigation problems with a pest infestation. See Lawns and Drought.
Prevent or minimize disease by following proper cultural practices. See Turf Diseases.
Tomatoes: Watch for pests, disease, and nutritional disorders on tomato plants. See Home Tomato Gardening.
Summer survivor varieties include most cherry tomatoes, wild Everglades, Sunmaster, solar fire, florilina, and homestead. Try to avoid placing plants in scorching sun.
Recognize that bird song? The spring air is filled with the music of mating and nesting birds.
Happy Summer! Gardening in our sandy soil is never easy and during sweltering summer days, it’s not even pleasant. But, in the morning’s dawning and in the long, lovely evenings there is usually a sea breeze to bless your labors. And the sultry season with its slower pace gives you time to spend indoors learning and dreaming of your ideal garden. Exploring books, magazines, and the internet you’ll find boundless riches of inspiration and know-how. The more you know the less work you’ll have to do, I promise. Garden knowledge helps you achieve a beautiful and satisfying garden with less effort and you’ll avoid a lot of disappointment.
So, when it’s just too hot, humid, and buggy to be outdoors, dive in and educate yourself about your soil, zone 10-A plants adapted to your landscape situation, and your available level of care. Use the dog days of summer to create a landscape plan. Keeping in mind the basic principles of garden design consider how you want your garden to look in a year, two years, even five years from now.
ELEMENTS OF LANDSCAPE DESIGN
Balance / Color / Contrast / Form / Light
Line / Pattern / Perspective / Rhythm
Scale / Texture / Unity / Variety
WHAT TO PLANT
Annuals: Annuals that can take full sun during the increasingly hot summer months include celosia, portulaca, vinca, and some coleus. See Annuals
Palms: Summer's warm, rainy months are the perfect time to plant palms. Make sure not to cover the trunk with soil. See Palms
Herbs: Plant heat-loving herbs, including basil, ginger, summer savory, cumin, Mexican tarragon, and rosemary. See Herbs
Vegetables: Plant okra, southern pea, calabaza, Malabar spinach, and sweet potato. It is too late to plant tomatoes except for seedling cherries and wild Everglades.
WHAT TO DO
Deadhead spent flowers to stimulate new blooms.
Pests: Monitor the landscape and garden weekly for harmful insects. Knowing which insects attack a plant can aid in identification and treatment. See Landscape Pest Management
Mow lawns at recommended heights: •
St. Augustine & Bahia: 3-4”,
Dwarf St. Augustine: 2.5”,
Irrigation: Watch for drought stress and water as needed if rainfall has been spotty. Focus on new plantings and follow watering restrictions. When rains begin, shut down the irrigation system. See Landscape Irrigation
Propagation: Produce more plants by air layering, grafting, division, or cuttings. See Seeds and Propagation (Land and Garden):
Palms and cycads: Watch for nutrient deficiencies or other problems and use an appropriate treatment. Keep lawn fertilizers away from the root zone. See Palm Care
Pruning: Lightly prune summer-flowering shrubs, like hibiscus, oleander, Ixora, and crape myrtle, during the warmer months because they bloom on new growth. See Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs
Summer is hot be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen!
WHAT TO DO:
Lawns: Determine the cause of any lawn problems before taking action. If an insect is the culprit, treat only the affected area. Rule out disease or sprinkler malfunction. See Your Florida Lawn.
Fertilizer Bans: Certain municipalities in Florida prohibit the application of fertilizer to lawns and/or landscape plants during the summer rainy season (June–September). See if such an ordinance exists in your area.
Vegetable garden: Use summer heat to solarize garden soil for fall planting. It takes 4–6 weeks to kill weeds, disease, and nematodes, so start now. See Soil Solarization.
Azaleas: Flower beds have formed. Prune no later than mid-July to protect next spring's bloom.
Irrigation: Install an inexpensive rain shutoff device to conserve water and save money. If one is already installed, check that it is operating properly. See Landscape Irrigation.
Trees: Prepare for hurricane season by checking trees for damaged or weak branches and pruning if needed. Hire an ISA-certified arborist. See International Society of Arboriculture and Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrub.
Pests on ornamental plants: Inspect for caterpillars on trees and shrubs. Large trees can normally withstand caterpillar feeding, but specimen shrubs may need treatment if the damage is extensive.
Peach and nectarine trees: Consider planting one of the many new peach and nectarine cultivars that grow well in Florida. Newly planted trees should be fertilized now. Apply 1/2 lb. per tree of 8-8-8 fertilizer.
WHAT TO PLANT
Florida gardens are unique in that many growers have their off-season in the summer. Florida’s summer sun takes a toll on traditional crops familiar in more northern gardens. Some of following crops, however, can withstand the heat and keep your vegetable garden productive.
For summer gardens to be successful, summer vegetables in Florida need a good start that enables them to stand up to disease and insect pressure in the humid, hot weather.
Some of these crops require earlier planting, but will keep producing in summer heat. Others can be planted and established right in the middle of hot weather. (The dates listed are outdoor planting dates.)
Recommended varieties: Fordhook 242, Henderson, Jackson Wonder, Dixie (Speckled) Butterpea, Early Thorogreen
North: plant through the summer until September; Central: plant until May; South: plant until May.
Recommended varieties: Black Beauty, Dusky, Long, Ichiban, Cloud Nine
North: plant until August; Central: plant until April; South: plant until March.
Recommended varieties: Clemson Spineless, Emerald, Annie Oakley II, Cajun Delight
North: plant until August; Central: plant through the summer until September; South: plant starting in August.
SOUTHERN PEAS (FIELD PEAS, COW PEAS)
Recommended varieties: California Blackeye No. 5, Pinkeye Purple Hull, Texas Cream
North: plant through the summer until September; Central: plant through the summer until October; South: plant starting in August.
Recommended varieties: Bell: California Wonder, Red Knight; Sweet: Sweet Banana, Mariachi, Cubanelle; Hot: Jalapeño M, Cherry Bomb, Hungarian Hot Wax, Long Cayenne, Habañero
North: plant until May, then again starting in July; Central: plant until April; South: plant starting in August.
Recommended varieties: Centennial, Beauregard, Vardaman
North: plant until July; Central: plant until July; South: plant until July.
Recommended varieties: Jubilee (Florida Giant), Crimson Sweet, Sugar Baby, Mickey Lee
North: plant until May, then again starting in July; Central: plant until April; South: plant until April.
Summer is hot be sure to stay hydrated!
WHAT TO DO:
Lawns: Determine the cause of any damage to the lawn so the proper remedy is used. Damage from insects, disease, or irrigation failure can produce similar symptoms. Use a sharp mower blade and only remove a third of the grass blade to reduce stress on the lawn. See Insect Management in Your Florida Lawn, The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design, and Ground Covers.
Fertilizer Bans: Certain municipalities in Florida prohibit the application of fertilizer to lawns and/or landscape plants during the summer rainy season (June–September). See if such an ordinance exists in your area.
Palms: Check older palm fronds for yellowing as it may indicate a magnesium or potassium deficiency. Apply an appropriate palm fertilizer. See Palm Nutrition and Fertilization.
Poinsettias: Pinch back poinsettias and mums before the end of the month to allow time for buds to form for winter bloom. See Poinsettias
Ornamental plants: Rapid growth and leaching rains may result in nutrient deficiencies in some plants. See Nutrient Deficiencies (Landscape Plants).
WHAT TO PLANT
Below are the vegetables and varieties that do well in Central Florida and when to plant them. In August you can plant a couple of vegetables outside, but you can also start growing seedlings indoors.
Warm Season: Eggplant, Peppers, Tomatoes, Beans, Carrots, Squash, and Green Onions.
Cool Season Indoors: Broccoli, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Celery, and Chinese Cabbage. Next month you can plant them outdoors but this month you can grow them indoors with a grow light. If you’re planting in August then you should definitely use a shade cloth in Florida. This helps keep the soil and your plants cooler than they would be otherwise.
What to Do
Remember the Brevard County ban on the application of fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorus ends October 1st
Bedding plants: Remove spent blooms, cut back, and fertilize flowering annuals and perennials to extend the bloom season into the fall months.
Roses: Spray and prune, removing old flowers, hips, and dead, damaged, or spindly growth. Fertilize container-grown roses to encourage fall blooming. See Growing Roses in Florida
Chrysanthemums: Pinch and spray for aphids, mites, mildew, and blackspot. Feed with 10-30-20 or similar high phosphate fertilizer until color shows in the buds.
Orchids: Feed hanging baskets and orchids every two weeks.
Poinsettias get their final pruning mid-month, pinch the tip of each shoot to encourage branching. Move pots to a sunny location. Poinsettia Pointers
Christmas Cactus (Schlumbergera bridgesii) get their last feeding this month. Move pots into partial sunlight and reduce watering until buds appear.
Ornamental plants: Fertilize plants that show signs of deficiencies. Rapid growth and leaching rains may result in nutrient deficiencies in some plants. See: Landscape Irrigation & Fertilization
Propagating Perennials and bulbs: Divide and replant perennials and bulbs that have grown too large or need a rejuvenation. The division makes for healthier plants and it’s fun to share plants with friends. Add organic matter to new planting areas and monitor water needs during establishment. See: Propagation of Landscape Plants and Divide & Conquer;10 Tips on Dividing Perennial Plants.
Citrus: Fertilize citrus with a balanced fertilizer either this month or in October. If the weather has been rainy, do not use soluble nitrogen as rains will leach it from the soil too quickly. See: Citrus Culture in the Home Landscape.
Lawn problems: Continue to monitor turf for signs of insect damage. Fall armyworms, chinch bugs, mole
crickets, and sod webworms are still active this month. Follow these best practices, which are easier and
cheaper than using fungicides, to mitigate turf disease in your lawn: Avoid high nitrogen rates on warm‐season grasses in mid‐ to late fall or in early spring. The disease‐causing fungus readily attacks the lush growth of grass that nitrogen promotes. Avoid fast‐release forms of nitrogen fertilizer.
Irrigate grass only when needed and to a depth of 4 to 6 inches — about 1 inch of irrigation water per week. Water early in the morning to reduce extended leaf wetness. Fungal disease spreads rapidly when moisture is present. Remove clippings to prevent spread to other areas during mowing. Keep lawns mowed on a regular basis to the proper height for the grass species. Lower or higher than optimum mowing heights can increase disease severity. Provide good drainage for both surface and subsurface areas. Correct soil compaction with core aeration. Test soil and apply lime and fertilizer according to test recommendations to promote turf health.
Irrigation: Check that irrigation systems are providing good coverage and operating properly before summer rains taper off. See: Operation of Residential Irrigation Controllers
WHAT TO DO
Conserve Water: The landscape irrigation system is one of the largest water-using appliances. This may account for up to 50% of a home’s water use. The efficiency of the home irrigation system is often overlooked. Consequentially, it has the potential to waste thousands of gallons per year. Here are three tips to help you improve your irrigation efficiency at home.
First, perform a check-up on your irrigation system. Identify and repair obvious issues with the system, such as water leaks caused by broken heads. Just monitor the sprinkler heads from time to time.
Second, install a rain sensor to keep the irrigation system off after adequate rainfall; this is required by Florida law (Florida Statute 373.62). Third, use high-efficiency rotary irrigation nozzles to deliver precision placement and uniform rate of water.
Third, consider upgrading your sprinkler nozzles. Retrofitting traditional pop-up sprinkler heads with high-efficiency rotator sprinkler heads is one of the easiest ways to conserve water. The rotator sprinkler heads deliver water in a rotating stream at a steady and slow application rate. This allows your turf and landscape to get irrigated uniformly at rates your soil can absorb, reducing runoff and erosion. It’s easy to adjust these with a tool or by hand as needed to spray the area you need to cover. There are several manufacturers that make these high-efficiency heads and they are easy to find in your local hardware or irrigation supply store. For many systems, upgrading is as simple as unscrewing the head and replacing it with a new, more efficient head.
Prune Perennials: Pruning helps perennials rebloom and stay healthy. For shrubby perennials like lantana and pentas, just prune the tips of each stalk down to the next set of leaves. This encourages branching, business, and more blooms. For perennials that form long stalks like scarlet milkweed, ruellia, vincas, and salvias, remove the lankiest stalks all the way to the last node. More stalks will fill in where you’ve pruned. Herbaceous perennials without branches, such as agapanthus, gingers, and clivia, don’t need pruning at this time.
Lawns: Control winter weeds in lawns before they appear. Preemergence herbicides must be applied at the right time to be effective. Apply when nighttime temperatures are 55°F–60°F for 4–5 days.
Fertilize lawns if needed. See Lawn Fertilizer.
Ornamental trees and shrubs: Fertilize only plants that are not performing as desired. This is the last month of the year to fertilize shrubs and trees. Controlled-release organic fertilizer provides superior nutrients over a longer period of time. See Palm Nutrition and Fertilization and Landscape Fertilization.
WHAT TO PLANT
Annuals/Bedding plants: Even though temperatures are still warm, begin planting for the cooler months ahead. Impatiens, alyssum, dianthus, calendula, petunia, snapdragon, pansy, nicotiana (flowering tobacco), stock and ornamental kale are good additions to the fall/winter garden. See Annuals: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_annual_landscape_plants
Calendula (Calendula officinalis) is one of the most reliable cool-season annuals. Not only do its bright flowers cheer up the fall garden, they are also edible and useful as a dye. Early American colonists used calendula to color butter and cheese. Calendula, sometimes called pot marigold, has a dense, rounded shape and grows to a height and spread of about 1 to 1.5 feet. It works well in mass plantings as an annual groundcover, either in an open bed or beneath a small tree. As its common implies, it also does well in containers. Calendula blossoms attract butterflies and keep well as cut flowers. The cheerful, daisy-like flowers are either single or double and can be yellow or orange. They are edible and can be used whole as a garnish, or dried and ground for use as a culinary dye.
Florida butterfly plants include Lantana, Penta, Buddleia, Firebush, Salvia, Porterweed, Sweet Almond Bush, Firespike (Odontonema cuspidatum), Jatropha, Milkweed host plant, Giant Milkweed host plant, White Balloon Plant Milkweed (Gomphocarpus physocarpus) host plant, Passion Flower host plant, Coontie host plant, Dill host plant, Parsley host plant, Common Rue/Ruda host plant, Dutchman’s Pipevine host plant, Cestrum, plant (night blooming jessamine and other varieties) host plant.
Florida hummingbird plants include Pagoda Flower aka Glory Bower (Clerodendum paniculatum), Fiddlewood, Firebush, Butterfly Bush (buddleia), Firespike, Rose Mallow, Aloe, Butterfly Milkweed, Swamp Milkweed, Firecracker Plant (Russelia equisetiformis), Blue Sage, Florida Azalea.
Bulbs: Plant agapanthus, rain lily, and Clivia lily now for blooms next spring or summer. Add organic matter to the planting bed for best results. See Bulbs for Florida.
Herbs: A wide range of herbs can be planted from seeds or transplants this month. Some to try to include dill, fennel, parsley, and cilantro. See Herbs.
Vegetables: Easy crops that can be grown now include beans, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, collards, kale, lettuce, green onions, mustard greens, onions, peppers, radishes, sorrel, spinach, and tomatoes and turnips. See Vegetable Gardening in Florida.
WHAT TO DO
Good news, now that the days are shorter, you’ll probably only need to mow every 10-14 days.
Change your irrigation timer to only run once a week when we turn our clocks back one hour to get off daylight savings time. Lawns don’t require as much.
Continue spraying your vegetable plants and fruit trees weekly with liquid trace elements (i.e., Maxicrop, Liquid Kelp, Nitrozime, etc.) to keep them healthy. Use a hand pump-up sprayer, and thoroughly spray both sides of the foliage.water through the winter.
Don’t prune temperate fruit trees, shrubs, and vines until they have shed all their leaves. Check out our Fruitscapes site trec.ifas.ufl.edu/fruitscapes (search for "temperate") for information on pruning the various deciduous fruit trees, shrubs and vines.
Help your fruit trees, especially citrus, avocado and mango trees since they have insect/disease pressure (and all trees for that matter) by inoculating the area below the branches (and further out if possible) with a variety of endo and ectomycorrhizae (i.e., Bushdoctors, Plant Success, Xtreme gardening, Mycoapply, etc.).
The mycorrhizae will establish a symbiotic relationship with tree roots, benefiting the tree in numerous ways. Feel free to also inoculate your lawn, shade trees and shrubs.
To guarantee your poinsettias and Christmas cacti bloom in December, make sure they receive total darkness throughout the night, starting now. If there is any light nearby, cover the plant with a box or blanket overnight, every night and remove in the morning, until you see evidence of colorful bracts or blooms.
WHAT TO PLANT
If you didn’t get finished with your October planting, you get a reprieve this month. What you can plant is exactly the same as last month.
Other planting things are going on this month too. It’s a good time for planting trees – they grow their root systems over the winter and are ready to leaf out come spring.
Many herbs like the cooler weather and are good to plant now. Some of those include: Cilantro, Dill, Parsley, Fennel, Garlic, Oregano, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme
Lots of harvesting is going on this month. There are obvious things like your warm weather veggies and many of your tropical fruits like papayas. But, don’t forget your citrus. Though it’s still green colored or mottled green and orange, and doesn’t look ready to eat, it is ripe. Citrus needs a certain amount of cold for the color of the peel to turn orange or yellow (the cold breaks down the green colored chlorophyll allowing the orange or yellow color to show). The only way to know for sure is to pick one and try it.
Days are getting noticeably cooler and many members are worried about how much cold their veggies can take. In general, none of your warm weather plants can tolerate freezing temperatures or even a touch of frost (frost can happen when temps are above freezing).All of your cool weather plants can take frost and some freezing… some more than others. It’s amazing to visit your garden in the morning after a frost/freeze and see everything stiff as a board. The plants will appear translucent and you may expect them to collapse into a pile of mush once they warm up. But they won’t. Just leave them alone and after they thaw they’ll be good as new… for the most part. Some of the leafy ones like lettuce may get the equivalent of ‘freezer burn’. Plan to protect your tropical plants soon. Get ready to move them or cover them at any hint of frost in the forecast. We don’t expect any until December, but you never know!
WHAT TO PLANT
Annuals/Bedding plants: To add color to the winter garden, plant masses of petunia, pansy, and snapdragon. See Annuals: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_annual_landscape_plants
Bulbs: Amaryllis is a popular plant for the holiday season. It can be forced to bloom now or planted outdoors for spring blooms. See Bulbs for Florida: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_bulbous_flowers
Herbs: Plant herbs that thrive in cool weather. Some examples include parsley, thyme, sage, dill, fennel, and cilantro. See Herbs: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_herbs
Vegetables: Reliable cool-season vegetables to plant this month include celery, cauliflower, lettuce, cabbage, and carrot. See Vegetable Gardening in Florida: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_vegetable_gardening
WHAT TO DO
Poinsettias: Enjoy one of the most popular indoor holiday plants. Protect it from cold until spring, and then plant it in the garden for next year. See Poinsettias: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_poinsettia
Cold protection: Prepare now to protect tender plants should cold weather threaten. See Cold Protection and Chilling Damage of Landscape Plants: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_landscapes_and_cold
Lawn disease: Continue to watch for brown patch and large patch, fungal diseases that cause areas of grass to turn brown. Since treatment is difficult, prevention with proper cultural practices is key. These diseases become active when the soil temperature, measured 2–4 in. deep, is between 65°F and 75°F and go dormant when the weather warms in May. See Turf Diseases: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_turf_diseases
Houseplants: Inspect regularly for pests on indoor plants. Keep in mind that plant-specific temperature, light, and humidity are key to ensuring that indoor plants thrive. See Houseplants: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_house_plants
Soil test: Consider performing a soil test if plants do not perform as desired or if new plantings are planned. See Soil Testing: http://solutionsforyourlife.ufl.edu/hot_topics/agriculture/soil_testing.html and Soil Testing (Home Lawn and Garden): https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_home_soil_testing
Compost/mulch: Use fallen leaves to provide the carbon ingredient needed for successful composting and also to make a good mulch. See Backyard Composting: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_home_composting and Landscape Mulches: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_mulch
Landscape and garden pests: Continue monitoring and treat as needed. While cooler weather generally means fewer pests, some populations actually increase at this time of year. See Garden Pest Insects: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_garden_pest_insects and Landscape Pest Management: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_landscape_pests