As northerners prepare their gardens for shorter days and winter cold, here, where the tropics begin, it’s flower season. Nurseries on the Treasure Coast grow flowers that are ready in mid-October for end-of-year planting. This season, make the commitment to add flowers in several beds or in decorative containers to bring vibrant colors to your garden.
Flowers in Florida are susceptible to heat and the intense rays of the sun. The most common annual varieties have been grown for these conditions, and with proper care and typical weather, will remain healthy through March. Some of the more common options include geraniums, New Guinea impatiens, SunPatiens, wax begonias and dragon wing begonias. Most are available in a variety of colors and your chosen location will dictate some of your choices. For example, geraniums love sun while New Guinea impatiens prefer shade. When you plant in flower beds, you should use only one species and only one or two colors. However, with containers, you can have one type of flower or combine several.
When planting in beds, prepare the bed by cleaning debris, tilling the soil and amending it. You should plant the flowers spaced 4 to 6 inches apart, on center, to allow space for them to grow. After planting, fertilize with a slow release fertilizer formulated for blooming. Do not mulch, but rather top dress with an organic, lightweight topsoil. Finally, check your flowers’ watering needs, set your irrigation, and enjoy.
For container creations, consider three or four varieties of flowers. The first should be a showpiece planted in the center. Then, add another variety or two to fill in. Finally, add flowers that can spill over the sides of the container. A great combination to try is Regina iris, SunPatiens, blue my mind and alyssum.
Take your garden to the next level of elegance by planting flowers this winter season. If you already grow flowers, consider trying something new. Perhaps your garden would like Gaillardia—a flower that uses less water and no fertilizer. Whatever you choose, you’ll add color to your home and have more reason to spend time in the garden—honing your gardening skills or relaxing. Don’t forget to make your friends up north jealous by sending some pictures to show what you grow while they shovel snow!