Florida summers are really tough on flowering plants. Whether you are a devoted gardener with dedicated planting beds or simply enjoy clay pots full of blooms on your patio, you may have given up on outdoor flowers after the last of the winter’s geraniums have wilted. From May through September, Florida’s scorching sun, monsoon rains and sauna-like humidity limit exactly what you can plant and enjoy.
Don’t despair. There are some wonderful and familiar flowers that actually thrive throughout the Florida summer. Look for these flowering plants at your neighborhood Lowes, Home Depot or nursery.
1. Portulaca, a Brazilian native, has sprawling stems that grow 4 or 5 inches long. The stems have tube-like leaves and several large flowers growing from the ends. There are single and double-flower varieties in colors such as purple, scarlet, yellow and pink.
2. Marigolds are a favorite bedding flower that tolerates our summers while producing attractive blooms. They produce thick blooms in orange, bronze, yellow and rust. Their leaves give off a strong odor that repels harmful insects, including Japanese beetles and aphids.
3. Zinnias are popular plants for beds, pots, borders and gardens. They are suitable for summer planting in Florida, according to the University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service. When planted in the spring, zinnias provide long-lasting blooms through the summer. These easy plants grow 5 to 24 inches tall and feature single and double 1- to 3-inch-wide blooms in a range of pastel and bold shades. Zinnias are relatively pest-free.
4. Celosia, or cockscomb, is a popular summer bedding flower that enjoys Florida heat and humidity. This softly-textured annual grows 5 to 25 inches tall and between 5 and 12 inches wide, with handsome flowers in shades of purple, yellow, orange and pink, along with straight, 2- to 4-inch-long leaves.
5. Pentas, or star flowers, grow year round in parts of South and Central Florida. The small shrub or tall plant grows 2 to 3 feet and just as wide. It offers hairy, semi-evergreen foliage and bunches of star-shaped flowers in tones of white, lavender, red, white or pink. It’s equally at home in beds or pots. It attracts butterflies and hummingbirds. Each single plant produces 15 to 20 bunches of flowers at one time.
These are only a few of the flower varieties you can choose to make your new Centerline home’s yard and patio an oasis in Florida’s scorching heat. For other suggestions or to simply answer other gardening questions about our region, contact your County Agricultural Extension agent.