Florida is Unique!
Florida is a very unique state to garden in. The state has four growing zones:
- North Florida
- Central Florida
- South Florida
- Tropical Florida
North Florida often experiences frosts and freezes during the winter while the summers can be as hot or hotter than those experienced by zones further south. But seasonal changes tend to be very noticeable here. In the fall, leaves will change color and drop just like those “up north”. While the climate can be too cold during the winter for growing tropical plants, apples, blueberries, grapes, peaches, pears, pecans and plums tend to do well in this area (if varieties are chosen based on how many hours of winter temperatures below 40° they require to flower and set fruit) as do temperate-zone vegetables. Like most of the rest of Florida, the soils of North Florida tend to be sandy, but there is also some clay-based soil in this area.
Central Florida’s climate is a bit more mild than that of North Florida. Frosts and freezes during the winter are not as common as further north and the seasons tend to be a bit more sub-tropical (hot summers, warm falls and springs and mild winters). Seasonal changes tend to be less noticeable here. In the middle and southern areas of Central Florida, citrus grows extremely well and produces abundant harvests. Throughout the area avocados, carambolas, lemons, limes, pineapples, surinam cherries, papayas and tropical vegetables can be grown here if protected from occasional freezes. Apples, peaches, pears and temperate-zone vegetables can still be grown in most of this area if varieties designed to thrive here are planted.
Like most of the rest of Florida, the soils of Central Florida tend to be sandy, but there is also some peat and clay-based soil in this area.
South Florida is a sub-tropical zone. Frosts and freezes during the winter are very rare. Citrus does very well here as do many tropical plant varieties. Temperate-zone vegetables can be grown here provided it is during the cooler fall and winter seasons. Northern plant varieties have a tough time surviving through our hot and humid summers while those that need successive cold spells to flower or fruit will probably do neither. South Florida soils are mostly sand with some peat and limestone aggregates.
Tropical Florida is a fairly small zone composed of basically just Key West. Frosts and freezes rarely ever occur in this area and plants which appreciate hot, humid weather do particularly well. Tropical Florida soils tend to be composed of sand and limestone aggregates.
A summary of the growing conditions in Florida:
- The soil is composed mostly of sand and amendments are required.
- The heat and humidity is relatively high during most of the year.
- Watering is essential during Florida’s dry season.
- Plants should be chosen based on their zonal requirements.
- The plants you choose should be planted during the time of the season that they are the most comfortable with.
Sources ( “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”): Florida Fruit; Florida Gardeners: Wisdom Shared over the Fence; Florida Home Grown, by Tom MacCubbin