Florida has such wonderful weather year-round that green thumbs can find themselves in a paradise. However, gardening in Florida has its own set of challenges that people from other areas of the country may not have to deal with. Let me tell you how you can optimize your gardening and landscaping experience so you can show off your beautiful yard!

HG-3042-Tips_copy1First off, the soil in Florida is different compared to the Northeast or the Midwest. Most soil that people are going to encounter in South Florida or Tampa Bay is more sand than dirt. Even in Central Florida, you may find that the soil has a higher alkaline content than average, and that’s due to the influence of sand and sea water. You should test your soil’s pH balance before you choose any plants. Knowing what you’re up against is key when finally planting your favorite flowers, vegetables, plants and trees. To ensure your plants thrive, feel free to import soil with a normal pH reading into your yard.

Afterwards, be sure to pick flowers and plants that will stand up to the elements year-round. Florida doesn’t particularly have “growing seasons” for most flowers or yard plants, so they can look their best most times of the year, even during the winter. One key thing to remember is that faster-growing plants die quicker, so if you’re looking for something that will be beneficial to your yard and will be with you for a long time, pick slower-growing species of plants. You can ask about HG-3042-Tips_copy2the different kinds of plants available for Florida yards by going to your local nursery. Hotspots also profiled a number of flowers that are optimal for Florida’s subtropical climate earlier this year.

Watering your plants regularly ensures that they get all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Regular watering also helps ward off attacks from insects and flies. In Florida, we tend to get less rain in the winter and spring months, so be mindful of watering as directed — contact your local nursery if you are unsure of how much water a plant needs. Many plants that are native to Florida are drought-resistant; this may also be a selling point when it comes time to pick your favorite plants for landscaping. Earlier I mentioned a lack of water could bring out predatory insects and flies, such as caterpillars and aphids. You can protect your plants from these menaces by spraying all-natural neev oil on your plants thoroughly once every week.

As we enter fall, we should keep in mind that winter will be fast approaching, and just because we live in Florida, it doesn’t mean we can get away with being unprepared for cold weather maintenance on our beloved plants. The climate of Florida varies between Central Florida and South Florida. While Tampa and Orlando can see a couple of freezes each year on average, South Florida tends not to get as cold. Some leaves may fall off plants, but otherwise they are good to go for the whole year. But what if there is a cold snap? You can help your plants survive a cold night by watering them early that afternoon. Cold temperatures are usually coupled with low humidity in Florida, meaning the soil will be dry unless you take care to water it. The water will warm the soil and help the plants survive the HG-3042-Tips_copy3night, since they cannot regulate their own temperatures themselves.

Finally, it doesn’t hurt to pick plants that will stand up to everything Florida can throw at it, and that includes the dreaded H-word. Florida has been lucky this past decade, having been spared the wrath of hurricanes, but there will be a time when the Sunshine State will not be so lucky. Many native plants and trees can obviously stand up to the weather already, but keep in mind that plants with strong roots, wide branches and smaller leaves tend to stay put in tropical storm-force winds or stronger. Don’t leave lots of space around newly-planted trees or plants; they’ll be obliterated in a storm.

Florida has quite a few interesting weather quirks, but armed with the knowledge you have now, you can make sure your yard is beautiful this fall, this winter, and for years to come.