Things that will grow in Florida

rleeqJanuary 10, 2008


Over the past 35 years I've tried on 3 or 4 occasions to have a vegetable garden which would provide vegetables for my table. I've had some success where I've had a yard to grow. 10 years ago I moved to Miami in South Florida but I had no place to garden in. Recently I moved to a place in zone 10 which has a small concrete patio about 20x25 feet but no open ground for growing. So I decided to try some containers.

I have a number of plastic milk crates which I've had for years and so decided to line them with plastic bags and see how they would work. I also have some 5 gallon plastic buckets which will be rotated into use as summer advances.

Well to make a long story short, I've been successful with getting plants to grow so far but those which have fruited haven't grown the fruit large enough to harvest. what I've planted are Yellow straight neck and zucchini squash andcucumbers. These were planted around the end of November. I also planted a few tomatoes and peppers, some peas and eggplant. None of these have fruited yet though the tomatoes have flowered. I also have basil which is doing fair and oregano which refuses to grow beyond very small sprouts. I have tried to sprout rosemary and sage with no luck what so ever. But recently I did get some mint to sprout and I am working very carefully with it.

In my general search for info on gardening I ran across this web and specifically this forum. Now I am new here so I don't want to step on anybodies toes, but as I said I was searching for things pertaining to gardening here in Southern Florida and I ran across this idea from "bruggril" post of "Things That WON"T Grow In Florida."

As I understand things, Florida has 3 primary growing zones with sub-zones for each. While there is some overlapping, generally speaking there are going to be thousands of plants which will not grow in the state. Far to many to get a competent list. Bruggirls post has had an admirable turn out.

It just seems to me that it would be much more efficient to list what plants WILL grow here in Zones 8, 9 and 10. I've done a search and there doesn't seem to be a thread dedicated specifically to this topic so I thought I'd start one.

For my part, I am particularly interested in what grows well in zone 10 in Southern Florida. Where I now live is north of Homestead on the border between Leisure City and Naranja.

Thanks for any input.


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I live in zone 10 (I think) and what I've grown successfully are tomatoes,sweet peppers, green beans pineapples and hot peppers. In the herb line I've had luck with parsley, cilantro, chives, rosemary, thyme, lemon grass, basil (sweet and thai).
Also harvested many key limes and 2 Persian limes.
I've grown lettuce but it's only really been successful in the depths of winter and cooler than it's been here in a LONG time.
I've gotten a few strawberries but not worth trying again.
I recommend Tom Maccubbins book on growing veggies in Fla. for what to grown and when.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 3:21PM
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msmarion(9aPort St Lucie)

Here is a link that has helped me. But I must say the best help has been this forum. There is nothing like personal experience.

Here is a link that might be useful: Check it out!

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 4:30PM
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captgene(SW FLA)

I am in zone 9 fort myers .been growing bananas with success . Cant wait for them to ripen

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 9:26PM
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nytrinigemini(10, Miami FL)

I'm in zone 10 ...I think...Miami in any case....I've had success with tomatoes, rosemary, my strawberry has sent out lots of babies but not too many fruits....had it about a year now. Oh also had success with broccoli. My onions also seem to be doing well so far...put them in a few weeks ago and they seem to be growing...first time though so we'll have to wait and see. Oh and the banana peppers did well. I also have a black sapote tree that is growing nice, and also a pumerac tree (fruit from trinidad) that is doing well. And A golden apple tree that was doing well but has lost its leaves recently....think it does that every winter though so not sure yet....Fairly new to gardening too so I am learning as I go....but this forum is a great place to learn and the people are very nice.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 10:03PM
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murahilin(10 fl)

Has your pomerac tree fruited yet? Is it a seedling or is it grafted?

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 10:15PM
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nytrinigemini(10, Miami FL)

Murahilin....I believe it is a has not fruited yet....still a baby....but it is doing very well. You are familiar with pomerac? I thought only Trinis knew about it. :-)

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 10:24PM
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murahilin(10 fl)

Oh i'm from Trinidad. Tunapuna to be exact. You? How old is your tree? I have a few seedlings growing ranging from about 1-3 years old but I don't know how long before it will fruit. I am thinking about buying a grafted one so I don't have to wait long for it to fruit.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 10:50PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Here's my two cents lol. When you think about it ALL plants grow between 40 to 80 degrees. The difference being the duration . Therefore in theory EVERYTHING will grow in Florida . So a list of what will NOT grow would be considerably shorter. Actually Florida consists of 4 zones
but again that's generally speaking varies a bunch from year to year. The only thing Florida lacks is a DIstinct cold period . Meaning periods when absolutely nothing will grow. Even that's divided into days not months and is strikingly different between the 4 zones.
So the real differences are not not what can or can't grow but how well and for how long.??
Generally speaking vegetables , fall into "temperate" types or have been adapted to tolerate much cooler temps for much shorter duration. Exactly opposite of the "normal" florida climate.
Therefore generally speaking with the "usual" types you will generally have greater success during what passes for "winter" here.
Let's not forget personal experience lol I find that there is somebody somewhere growing almost any plant you can name !! lol And what's really painful is they are doinhg it with ease.
On your post title I've had a lot of trouble with plants that others call "easy" lol gary

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 7:11AM
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Thanks everybody! Excellent response!

A question for naplesgardener and nytrinigemini. You both mention rosemary. I've planted seeds twice but nothing sprouted from either planting. Are there any special conditions necessary for them that you know of? I heard from another post over in herbs that they require light to sprout so I made sure to plant them very shallow and that they got as much as my little concrete patio can provide but no luck. The same with sage. These two are my favorite herbs and it would be just great if I could get them to grow.

Gary: You are absolutely right...most plants will do very well between 40 and 80 degrees. My only quibble is that where I've lived here in Southern Florida there are so many days over 90 degrees with the humidity being so high that many plants just can't take the heat.

Well I thought I'd take a break and check out my little patch of green before posting this. The straight neck yellow squash have only 3 fruit this morning and the zucchini have none. The cold snap really beat them up. I had to cut many leaves off because of cold damage. The Oregano is looks like something nibbled it off in the night, (and it was just starting to get some growth). The Cucumbers look real bad too, Yellow leaves with brown edges and some of the other leaves have brown spots. I might have to pull them out and start over.

Thanks again everybody.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 11:09AM
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nytrinigemini(10, Miami FL)

Murahilin.....I'm trini also....dying for some pomerac :-) Whenever I go back they are never in I finally decided to grow my own....I have no idea how long it will take to fruit either.....let me know if you find a grafted tree is maybe a year old....not exactly sure....I got it from another gardenwebber....

Rleeq....I bought my rosemary at HD....I have not had too much luck with seeds so I tend to buy smaller plants and then just watch them year I spent over 40 dollars on seeds that the birds ate...I do much better with plants...and look alot less crazy since Im not screaming at birds all day :-)

I've tried cucumbers several times already and they never do well for I've given up on them

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 12:37PM
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murahilin(10 fl)

Excalibur nursery in Lake Worth has the grafted pomerac. They have two varieties, a really dark one that is close to black that Richard(the owner) says is the sweetest he has tasted and a white one which is also supposed to be very good. I think I am going to buy the black one. It is known as malay apple here usually. Have you ever been to Excaliburs? They have almost every tree from Trinidad. They even have a doungs without thorns that is the size of a small apple.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 7:10PM
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nytrinigemini(10, Miami FL)

Have never been to excaliber....but it looks like I may have to make the drive one day....what is doungs?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 9:29PM
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murahilin(10 fl)

Well doungs(no idea of the correct spelling) is Ziziphus Mauritania. It is sometimes known as Jujube here. It's a very good fruit if you have never had it. Its crisp and somewhat sweet but they are better before they are ripe because then they tend to be mealy and not as great tasting.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 1:28AM
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Another Trini here.........Hi NYTG!
Murahilin, a pomerac should bear in about three years but I have found that our winter slows the tree down a lot. I have one 15 feet that took 4 years to get that size. (This includes it falling down and being erected in Wilma). It fruited after about 3 years of being planted. I am still awaiting for that large bumper crop but I think I need to fertilize it more.
I planted another seedling last summer. It is already about 4' tall. Grows super fast in the ground as compared to a pot.
The trini pomerac is Syzygium malaccense, the white one is called wax jambu.
I just planted a dongs and I hope that grows quickly.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 9:14PM
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nytrinigemini(10, Miami FL)

Ah Jujube....Ive heard of that :-) Hi trini1....haven't seen you on in awhile.

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 9:39PM
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murahilin(10 fl)

Your pomerac tree sounds impressive. I only wish mine would grow that fast. The white pomerac at Excalibur is indeed pomerac and not wax jambu. I've had the wax jambu and I did not like it. What do you think about it? Hopefully this summer I will get a chance to sample both the white and the black pomerac at Excalibur when they do fruit. I have been working on a webpage to be used as a reference for Trini's looking for the scientific name of fruits from Trinidad. When I now started searching for all the trees I found it hard to find the scientific names without doing some extensive googling. If you get a chance check out the page.

Here is a link that might be useful: trinidad fruits

    Bookmark   January 13, 2008 at 10:46PM
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nytrinigemini(10, Miami FL)

Murahilin.....I love your website.....I was always trying to find the american names for fruits from trinidad....this makes it so much easier....and the pics of the pomerac look just like I remember the fruits....

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 9:47AM
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Rleeq, I hope we didn't commandeer your thread. :)

You must reference this site for your list.

It is great because it helps us to realize that we have been mispronouncing and misspelling words for a long time. :) It also shows how much the Creole/French language has influenced the names we use for plants and fruits.

You can add these to your list:
Dipteryx odorata-Tonka bean
Caishumere is actually Cashiman-Annona sp?
Grou Grou Boeuf  Acrocomia sp maybe aculeata

Hope the site helps

    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 2:10PM
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One thing that I have liked figuring out is fruits, instead of veggies. I had a blackberry bush that did well last year and is perennial; also a mulberry dwarf tree/bush [8-10ft tall, expands from small stalks on out rather than 1 trunk]. I LOVE the fruits-- tiny little things that seem to have more juice than possible, and sweet if you pick them when ripe. If you can look at some dwarf varieties of fruit trees [there are several], you might enjoy the unique opportunity to grow fruits more so than veggies.

That said-- I have had lots of luck wit h cherry-size tomatoes, mustard greens, dill from seed, a rosemary plant, sugar snap peas, cowpeas [though aphids flock to them], asparagus beans, bush beans, and carrots [just a little-- tried them once so far]. Any cucurbit plants-- cukes, zukes, squash, watermelons-- seem to get invaded by stupid little green worms!


    Bookmark   January 14, 2008 at 3:12PM
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murahilin(10 fl)

I'm a bit late responding but thanks both of you for the comments about my page. I'm glad that you found the page helpful nytrinigemini. Trini1, that link you provided was great. Once I stop procrastinating I will update my page with the info you gave me.

I actually went out and bought one of the grafted pomerac trees from Excalibur. Here is a pic of it.

The one on the left is the one I bought and it is about 4ft tall in a 3 gallon container and the one on the right is a seedling pomerac in a 1 gallon that I planted into the same hole as the grafted one from Excalibur in order to try a multi-rootstock graft with. The grafted tree was more symmetrical when I bought it but one of the large side branches broke when I was transporting it.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2008 at 10:32PM
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Anybody had success with asparagus in north/central florida? I was thinking about putting in a bed.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 3:04PM
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I am in C.FL. I have asparagus for 2 years and it does FINE.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 6:04PM
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Good to know, thanks. I found a UFL page that says while florida is far from the best asparagus climate, decent crops can be produced. Plantings that produce for 20-30 years in the north generally are only good for 4-5 in florida. I'm going to try starting from seed as I don't want to invest in crowns.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 7:23AM
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Try the rosemary from a plant. Publix often sells them as cheaply as the fresh cut rosemary in a bag and it will grow as a perennial down here (I'm in Miami, so close to you.) My taragon, also picked up at Publix and planted in the hedge, simply won't die. I've never had much luck with pots in general, but you might try a roma, cherry or grape tomato. They're easier than the big ones, and my roma continued producing (in the ground) for a couple months after I gave up on killing the spider mites. The fruits got a little smaller, and I'm sure I would have had a better overall harvest if I had managed to wipe them out, but I'm trying not to use chemicals, so the spider mites and I called a truce after soap and a few other kitchen concoctions didn't do it.

I also had great luck with broccoli last year, but it's been too hot this year, at least so far. I've got plants, but no broccoli yet. This year, the only reliable farming I've done is arugula and peppers (jalopeno and a long yellow roasting pepper) plus some scattered herbs. Arugula will grow really well, for a long season, down here, once it gets started. And I suspect you could do it in pots. I just throw the seeds out over the mulch and they sprout.

And don't get discouraged. Based on my initial luck last year with a single tomato plant, some broccoli and arugula and even a few cantelopes planted from seeds from a fruit I ate, I put in a really big vegetable garden this year. Well, big considering the size of my little urban yard. Sadly, it's just been too hot for much of anything to produce. But I'm still trying.


    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 7:11PM
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babalu_aye(zone 9b - St Pete FL)

I grow rosemary in a pot. The original plant I bought from one of the big box stores. It lasted about 2 or 3 years then started to burn up and turn brown. Before it was totally shot, I rooted 3 cuttings have now been growing about 2 years and are still going strong. But based on my past experience I recently took some more cuttings and I'm currently rooting those.

I've never tried growing it from seed.

Right now I'm trying to grow Sweet Basil, Purple Basil and Italian Parsley from seed. I started the seeds a week and a half ago in peat pots. The two basils have sprouts that are an inch tall and the parsley seeds are just beginning to germinate.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 8:12PM
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smart2surf(10B, N. Miami)

As Thomas Jefferson once said, "look to your soil"! Our sandy soils need to have compost or other fertilizers worked in, and I suspect that even in pots, a good garden soil with compost might improve the overall yield.

I have an earthbox, and would recommend it for tomatos and roses. Kohlrabi and bulb Fennel are two things I have success with (in the ground) that I did not notice have been mentioned. Mint, parsley, onions and greens, such as collards, mustards and kales, and yellow or purple pole or bush beans. Broccoli and cabbage do well. But none of it did anything at all for me, till I fixed up my Soil First.

Also, I spray with liquid nutrients and organic pest controls, such as hot pepper wax, bt for worms, and pyola oil for general insects. Oh, and shield-all is a product that controls tomato diseases. It is not as hard as it sounds, since i mix it all up in a small spray bottle with plenty of water. I leave that in the garden, and whenever I am out there, it is easy to keep after the spraying.

Gardens Alive! sells all the above stuff, and also Gardener's supply is another reliable company I can recommend from experience.

The best advice was not to get discouraged! Each year seems to be different, and I never know what will grow and what will die. This never stops me from trying, and I always get Something from all my efforts here in North Miami, where it has been said that our Winter growing season is like a Northern Summer, so many Northern seeds do well here.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2008 at 8:55PM
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There are obviously some fallacies to comparing florida winter to the northern summer-season. Day-length and sun-angle being the biggie. Even in south florida shading is an issue for a lot of suburban gardens. Our WPB garden was badly shaded around the solstice.

And then there are the nemotodes. All of our florida gardens have eventually been over-taken by nemotodes. Apparently it's a problem of poor rotation - a problem for any garden with limited space. Boxes are especially helpful in that regard. Fortunately I've got the space now to keep opening new beds and so have room for sufficient rotation.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2008 at 8:09AM
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How about avocados? Any luck?

And do citrus trees grow ok in containers?

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 3:28PM
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Citrus does WAY better in the ground especially in Florida . You can buy Dwarf trees if you lack space or trim any citrus to stay the size you want .

    Bookmark   May 16, 2008 at 5:28PM
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I planted four Arugula plants, purchased at Home Depot, on Jan 20 and harvested my first crop (lower leaves) on Feb 13. There was enough to supplement a romain salad. The four plants continue to grow and I plan to harvest again when ready. This is my first attempt growing Arugula so I will see how long it lasts into the springs as temperatures rise.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2011 at 2:56PM
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I started a number of years ago and had great luck growing everything planted. (eggplant, squash, beans,peppers,tomatoes,
cabbage,onions etc..)The key is fertilizing. And don't really plant in direct 8 hour sun. I planted in area where the early sun is great and afternoon sun misses. It really is too hot for almost anything to survive that afternoon sun.Watch out for the snails, they come out in middle of night and will eat up everything fast!! Snail bait works .
Also my fig trees produce a lot of figs. It dies in colder weather but comes right back. Seriously, most things do grow here but it takes a lot of care. If you are just growing on porch then try the clay pots. plants don't like plastic. (I am speaking from a few years of trying and finally success!)
Good Luck to all!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2011 at 10:29AM
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i have had a lot of success here in growing things here in florida.... i have grown tomatoes, chili peppers, pineapples, bananas, papayas, mint, oregano, parsley, lemon, lime, key limes, cucumbers, eggplant, sugarcane, blueberries, spinach, coconut, mangos, and lemongrass.... been living here for the past 20 yrs ... my parents did it in the beginning.. then as the food prices started rising higher... i took the initiative in doing it myself.... i think its the best thing i ever did

    Bookmark   January 6, 2012 at 3:33PM
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I'm becoming familiar with SW Florida (Fort Myers). I grew some "Grape" tomatoes from seed. Two plants (in containers !) grew & PRODUCED for 1 1/2 years ! (Yes, I said YEARS !). Actually, they were so large that I called them "Dwarf Romas"! lol They were AWESOME ! I even took several cuttings (when I chopped them down - as I thought they were finished) & one survived & produced for a couple months! I grew up in the Detroit area & longed (still do!) for TASTY produce. I would sit & eat a bowl full of my 'maters!
I've grown loose leaf lettuces, but they were mostly bitter.

I'm limited to a 20' x 20' fenced yard (fence is composite material - solid 6' slats, that hinder sunlight!). I use containers, so that I'm able to move them about to utilize the changing sun.

I've recently started a Husky Cherry tomato plant. It seems to be doing rather well. The base of the plant is so husky that it doesn't seem to need the trellis that I'm using !!!!!! It has a couple dozen fruits that haven't ripened, yet - I can NOT wait ! lol

Last year I purchased a Rosemary seedling. It did ok. I had read that it likes to be "high & dry", so I kept the pot on a wire stand in the yard. I'm thinking that my partner didn't harvest as much as she should have. It eventually died. *(I noticed that weeds did NOT bother this plant !)

It's disheartening to have such limited sun "space" but I keep trying !

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 10:18AM
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I started last February growing romaine lettuce, grape tomatoes, Strawberries, red peppers, vidalia onions, and celery. I had the most luck with Romain lettuce and grape tomatoes. The red peppers never really turned red; but when it did it was rotten on the inside. The strawberries were tiny but delicious. Everything seemed to die after May. Oh, I also planted broccoli with some success and the broccoli is still alive. It is currently in the middle of August.
I really enjoy the fact that I had fresh lettuce to feed my family every other day. And it was very successful with my tomatoes and we really enjoyed them.
I really didn't do much prep for the dirt. All I did was buy organic dirt for fruits and vegetables from Home Depot. I'm excited to start again this October. As for last year was my first time.
I did have a huge problem with weeds. It seems like every day I spent pulling out weeds. My question is, is there any thing that I can do about the weed problem without having to put chemicals into the dirt. Is there a special prep that I should be doing?

    Bookmark   August 17, 2014 at 6:18PM
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I have lived in Florida for the past 25 years - 20 years in Jacksonville 5 in Tallahassee. Both of these cities are in North Florida. In 2011 I retired to Vero Beach - in Zone 10. In north Florida, I planted and enjoyed tea olive trees. I would like to do the same in Vero Beach - but cannot locate a reliable source that will inform me whether or not this tree will grow well in my new home. rarely freezes here...summer temperatures are in the high 80's low 90's. Please let me know if this plant will grow/thrive in this area. Thank you!

    Bookmark   August 19, 2014 at 2:15PM
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