Things that won't grow in Florida

bruggirl(8b)July 16, 2005

I'm going to do a webpage with a list of things that won't grow here, or won't bloom here, or won't live at all through the summer, so we can refer people who just moved here to that page. What I'd like is for all of you ZDD sufferers to help me out. Give me a list of all the plants from up north that you tried to grow here, and what you found out. Be sure to put what zone you tried to grow them in, like 9a, 9b, 10, etc.

Here's my list:

ZONE 9B/10

Forsythia (yellow bells) - won't grow, won't bloom. Not enough cold weather.

Hostas - Will grow for short period, then finally dies out from the heat and humidity. Never bloomed.

Lilacs - fahgedaboudit! Don't bloom, eventually die.

Japanese Iris - Can be grown as a winter annual, but dies out in the summer.

Bearded Iris - won't bloom, not enough cold weather, rots in the ground in the summer usually.

Louisiana Iris - got it to bloom, but didn't multiply well, and just doesn't look healthy.

Spring flowering bulbs (daffodils, narcissus, tulips, hyacinths, etc.) - Can only be forced to bloom by refrigerating bulbs, redigging before summer, and going through the whole thing all over again the next year. Not worth it.

Purple Leaf plum - Never blooms or sets fruit, but the leaves are worth growing it. Doesn't actually lose all its leaves until it's about to set leaves again, so it looks kind of scraggly in the winter.


Rhubarb - won't grow. Buy it at the store.

Spinach - challenging at best. Bugs love it. Not worth the trouble.

Apples - There are a couple of heat tolerant varieties, but to me, they don't have the taste of the apples I'm used to. IMHO, waste of garden space.

Peaches & nectarines - See apples.

Pears, Asian pears - forget it.

Japanese plums, Santa Rosa plums - forget it. You might get the trees to survive, but they'll never bear.

Bunch grapes - won't bear in this area, but I've seen them bear further inland.

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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Bruggirl, please come over and taste my home grown Apples, Peaches, Plums and Nectarines next season. They are DELICIOUS! By then I should have Pears and plenty of Grapes too(G).

Pick the right varieties and they do very well. Pick the wrong ones and sure, they won't be happy at all.

I totally agree with you about spinach.(G)


    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 10:41AM
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tropicalfreak(z10b Ft Lauderdale)

tulips...... i miss tulips....

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 10:45AM
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nitelite(z9 Polk FL)


I myself would appreciate having a nice reference i can go to... expecially when it comes to fruits and veggies...

It would even be nice if there could be a section for butterflies [yes, i know there are tons of sites out there, but, why not make it so all the info is in one place for us Floridian GWers... ]

Like, perhaps having pictures of the butterflies and their cats, and list what nectur plants for that particular butterfly will do well and what particular food source would do well for the cat... etc...

I've found a huge problem with most lists is there arn't enough pictures [in one general location] of plants, butterflies and cats....

Hey, you need any help? I'm pretty darn good with web design!

Blessed Be,
Carrie Ann

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 10:56AM
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AmberSky(9b FL)

Don't tell that to Cindee's bunch grapes, or my peaches, plums or apricots.

I can't find a true cherry that will fruit here.
As much as I want want, and I know that other people have succeeded, I can't keep a japanese maple alive.
Lots of other exotics that I just drool over in catalogs but have never actually seen in person.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 11:25AM
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Blue Spruce. For 6 years, every year, I brought in 12 ten foot tall Blue Spruce from a nursery in Georgia for a client in Boca Raton. We planted them a week before Thanksgiving and she threw her Christmas decorations on them. She left the first week in April and the trees were dead by May. $900 per tree. Nice to have expendible cash.

Add to your list Japanese Red Maple. I've tried 6 times now with no luck. :o(

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 11:42AM
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O.K., so I don't care to try to grow some things, it's true. I don't like the heat resistant varieties of stone fruits, apples, or pears. It's a personal preference. I grew up in peach country, so nothing can compare to those huge, juicy Dixie Belles. And after having bunch grapes that are just dripping with fruit, so much so that you have to cut some bunches off so the vines won't suffer, with little or not maintenance other than a little fertilizer, struggling with insects and diseases just to have a few measly bunches just doesn't appeal to me. I'm spoiled. I admit it. :( I want easy, and these fruits are just not easy enough down here.

Fawnridge, if you want something like a Japanese Maple without the hassle, try the purple leaf plum. It won't flower, but it's a beautiful shade of purple. Look at my webshots album to get an idea.

Here is a link that might be useful: My webshots.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 1:14PM
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tony_k_orlando(Z9 Fl)


One has to be neutral when posting info regarding taste. If I were to consider making a page as yours, there would be NO good tomatos from new Jersey OR Florida, they just dont exist in my mind.

my Sunraycer nectarine is outstanding!! The stores should have fruit this good!

Taste is very subjective.... The Sunraycer DOES grow here.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 2:19PM
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Try growing lettuce in July in Florida - now there's zone denial !

What works up north does not always work here during the brutal summer months .

What works in Florida in the winter does not always work up north .

It is just a whole 'nother type of gardening in Florida - tons of fun once you edjumacate yourself !

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 2:26PM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

I do SO agree gatormom!

Right plant for the Right place - & @ the Right TIME!

That said, there are certainly Northern 'standards' that just won't grow in many areas w/ any success.

& FWIW, my Daytona 'bunch' grapevine is so loaded w/ fruit I'm afraid the arbor is gonna come crashing down any day now = S

They're supposed to ripen July/Aug & some of the berries are starting to color up - & critters are starting to nibble - I'm armed w/birdnetting, flash tape & bait stations....

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 5:06PM
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Lordy! Forget it! I wasn't trying to start a war, just asking what you had tried that hadn't worked. I give up!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 5:45PM
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Kameha(z9b/10a Heat:10)

Z 9b:


tulips: rotted by february

hyacinth: turned into a stinky mess by easter and attracted thousands of white flies

red poppy: tried to even germinate them but the seedlings did not last long, I had no where cool enough to put them

baby's breath: seedlings died because of warm conditions


tomatoes: they always die of disease within 2 months of planting and the tomatoes they produce (excluding cherry) are small and have lots of mold, I'm going to try to grow them in pots this fall

watermelons: I had a good harvest of sugar babies in the fall but this spring the congo watermelons just gave up

cucumbers: got blight very easily and never got fertilized

chayote: this is my second attempt to grow chayote, I don't know what I am doing wrong...I see them growing great in other regions of central florida but my leaves always turn yellow and the plant eventually dies

zuchinni: my second attempt at growing zuchinni failed this spring, bitterly

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 5:52PM
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justcallmeP(z6 RI)

B Girl,

Good thread, now I'll know what not to try. But alas, I'll only be growing in a balcony/patio area in the first year. I'm French and stubborn, but glad to know what not to bother with. Please carry on.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 5:55PM
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mjkerkau(8 FL)

Tomatoes do great here in my part of FL.... gainesville.
I keep mine potted in 1/2 black kow and 1/2 potting soil with miracle grow. From ONE bush I've got a load in my freezer, given them away at work, and to my neighbors!!!!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 6:04PM
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nitelite(z9 Polk FL)

I'm told im in 9b zone... being from polk county...

Tomatoes die? rot? WHAT?!?!

Am i doing something different? Because my 8 ft tall tomatoe 'tree' just seems to be doing GREAT! I've been eye balling it lately thinking that it has been spent and needed to go to compost, but, today i was investigating it and it has NEW GROWTH!

Granted, its not looking very pretty right now, cats have been munch munching on it and i've got some 'dead branches' due to the cats... but tomorrow i'll be cleaning it up.... Its been in the ground since Feb. only got a few tomatoes on it now, but, for a while there I was picking 3 tomatoes a day from it!!

It all depends on the cultivator and the conditions... and i truely believe a lot of it has to do with timing... [because i planted 2 others a month ago and they haven't done anything!]

So, do NOT write off tomatoes yet... there are some that grow wonderful in 9b!

Blessed Be,
Carrie Ann

    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 6:16PM
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pieceofparadise(9 FL Palm City)

This book deals with flowers- A Cutting Garden For Florida by Betty Barr Mackey & Monica Moran Brandies. I have loaned this book soooo many times to gardeners that move here and are frustrated by the plants they can't grow. These two women did a a ton of testing. They rearranged the growing seasons of many of the northern annuals and perennials to fit here. Many, many flowers will grow here. Our seasons just don't follow the back of the seed packs or the tags on the plants at nurseries too well. They give a month by month list of different plants that will thrive. It truly is one of the gems about Florida flower gardening.


    Bookmark   July 16, 2005 at 10:31PM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Kameha - have you had your soil tested?

FWIW, I grow huge organic tomato plants every year & harvest plenty of good fruit from 'em.

I don't buy transplants tho - I start my own from seed - less common varieties better adapted than the greenhouse stuff from stores.

It's a learning process - always = )

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 12:10AM
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I got some tulip bulbs this spring for my grandmother --- did good at first with green leaves, then the tips got brown before all the leaves died. Yes, tulips will not live here in the gainesville area (north central florida). My mother in Alachua County does get plums on her Japanese plum trees. Also, Concord and Niagara grapes will get leaves in north central florida but no grapes (I've tried).

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 12:14AM
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tampafred(Tampa (z9))

bruggirl...please do your webpage. Even though I have lived here most of my life, I still find myself ordering something that won't grow here in this heat and humidity. I think your webpage would be a great resource, even for us FL folks who sort-of know what/what not to plant. Just my $.02 worth....

BTW, I recently got an e-mail from Wayside Gardens advertising all of their Japanese Maples....if there were one thing I wish I could grow here, it would be JMs. Man, how I love 'em.

One other thing....I've never tried growing Delphiniums here. Is it possible?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 1:50PM
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julieyankfan(z9FL Pasco Cty.)

TampaFred, I swore they were selling delphiniums at the USF spring sale and people were buying them like crazy. I didn't, because I couldn't believe they would grow here.

Bruggirl, you know what my failed plant is, sage, 9b. At least I found out that it wasn't my fault it died!LOL Also, impatients and snapdragons only in the spring. I think a lot of people move here and plant annuals like those and then wonder why they died. The best advice I ever got about gardening here was "just because they sell it at the HD or WM, doesn't mean it's gonna grow"!

Good thread.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 5:28PM
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kotenok(z9b FL)

I would love to know more about your wonderful garden and your Daytona grapes. I only have two muscadine grape vines and even they have constant problem with aphids.
How big is your arbor? Can I train them into the regular size arch? Are they hard to care for (harder then Muscadine grapes?)Are they very sweet? Where can I get them?

What are you doing to improve your soil? What kind of pesticide are you using, I mean organic ones.? What kind of tomatoes are you planting? Mine always end up sad. I think my soil is very alkaline and very poor too and also highly nematoed invested. Will just manures and mulch help? I really want to go organic with my garden,but being so new to it I get frustrated of seing some of my plants not doing well.
I would really appreciate any suggestions and help with my new garden.
Thank you

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 5:56PM
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Katerina, to control nematodes, add lots of organic matter to the soil. They don't like rich soil.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2005 at 7:27PM
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kdkmommy(9b FL)

I just moved here a couple weeks ago and am loving this thread. I brought lots of stuff with me that probably won't survive, but I wasn't able to leave them for the landlord. I'll take them with me if they survive when I move in a year or three. We have almost 2 acres very heavily covered with pine trees. We have already cut down 7 pine trees and have about 30 left to go. I want to leave some for shade. I would like to plant a nice tree to replace all the trees but don't know what to get. The oaks seem to do well here, any other ideas? Also, if I don't get some color in here real fast I am going to scream. Is there anything I can plant now for color?

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 5:30PM
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Great I know what I actually COULD grow.
Bunch grapes, peaches, plums or apricots? Who knew.....can't wait to order them. Thanks guys.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 8:17PM
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You can use Delphiniums as a winter annual. They bloom in early spring and then croak.

I tried growing all kinds of stuff in Florida that I had no business trying to grow: true monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana), ladyslippers (Cypripediums-I grew them reverse cycle, flowering and growing in winter and dormant in the frig in summer-I wouldn't recommend it!), cool climate tree ferns (Dicksonia antarctica and fibrosa). vireyas (tropical mountain rhododendrons), daffodils, cobra pitcher plants (Darlingtonia californica), some native azaleas (such as R. prunifolium and calundulaceum), and the list goes on and on. It was hit and miss. Many didn't make it past the third season, but it was fun trying anyway! PF

    Bookmark   July 18, 2005 at 11:00PM
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I moved from up North (South Carolina) to Florida some years ago and have been growing old and a few new roses. Most will grow, but these won't bloom:
Blaze (red climber)
Mermaid (old climber)- no bloom
Zephirine Droughin ( only a few blooms with massive care)
Gallicas - not cold enough
New Dawn - No bloom (White Dawn however will bloom)
Hybrid Teas if NOT on Fortuniana root stock (must read labels)
Old Blush- blooms ball up and rot big time
Roses that love Florida and will bloom: (not a complete list)- little or not disease
Sunsprite (yellow floribunda)
La Marne (pink double blooming shrub seen in masses at Walt Disney)
Mutabilis (butterfly rose) single blooming- 6ft multicolored
All Chinas - Ducher (white), Louis Phillip(red), Hermosa (small pink and pretty), Gruss and Teplitz (red), Napoleon (pink - 4 foot). These grow well on their own root here +++
Teas - some spray is required - Safrano (apricot/yellow), Gloire de Dijon (Peach -noisette mix - climber) blooms are full, and gorgeous cottage fashion, Mrs BR Cantt Pink/Silver center, voluptuous blooms (bush is huge), Miss Atwood (peach),and Lady Hillingdon (yellow classic tea form).
Bonica -3 ft pink shrub with perfect little blooms.
Noisettes - notoriously are all good for disease and rebloom here. Examples are: Crepuscule (apricot/yellow climber), Madame Alfred Carriere (White), Blush Noisette, Marchel Niel (yellow climber/only intermittent blooms, but is the character of this rose at its best),and Alister Gray (yellow/cream tree climber).
Best Hybrid Teas: Don Juan (red), Garden Party (white with pink edge), Double Delight (red and white blend), may be many others, but I grow few of them.
Iceberg - White bush or climber (makes a good tree rose)
Prosperity - White climber
Red Cascade or Alachua (found in Alachua County Florida)blood red mini 6 foot climber. Good for hanging basket as well.
White Dawn - forget New Dawn (won't bloom)
Sally Holmes - hydrangea like peach buds open to big white clusters. Best grown on a fence or wall for support (can get 10ft either way)-blooms continuous, with breathtaking Spring flush.
Rugosa - F.J. Grootendorst (looks like pink serrated edged carnations)- no disease (rugosas do not get black spot)
Fairy - Pink polyantha cluster blooms on small bush (thorny)easy to root.
Ballerina - Pink and white single Hybrid Musk
Felicia - Pink/yellow blend Hybrid musk - scent is sweet and strong.
Joseph's Coat - show stopper for yellow/orange/red blooms. 6 foot climber.
Sweet Chariot - purple 2-3 foot mini - sweet scent
Pink Pet - pink small polyantha
White Flower Carpet (easy to root)-good edging & lovely buds
Knockout - red single (however, I don't grow because the bright color is a little noxious to my eye)
Bourbon - Souvenir de la Malmaisson - White with pink blush - gorgeous old cottage blooms and scent is scrumptous.
Old English (Austins)- get your spray bottle out, but for some it is worth it for that bloom and scent that most have.
I grow only a few, because of the disease. Evelyn (full peach/yellow blend quartered blooms). Some say the best scent of any rose. I'm one of those.

I know this is a rose forum theme, however, Florida has specifics for this whole arena that is not discussed much there. Also, I know there are many that I don't grow or know of that may work well here, but this list I do know from my own experience. Hope someone can benefit. I know you could write a book just on roses in Florida.

Also, there is a secret to growing Hostas in Florida. Plant them in their pots, and pull the pots up in the winter to give the roots the extra cold exposure they long for. An oldtimer who runs a nursery here in NE Florida gave me that advice. He found it out by accidentally leaving some hostas in pots out over the winter. There was die back, but the plants came back with vigor.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 12:27PM
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I hope I am not jinxing myself but I have had a Japanese maple for several years. I bought it from a place in California. I was told to let it go dormant even if I have to put ice cubes in it. So far I haven't done that because here in the Ocala area, it can get cold. I hope it is getting enough cold.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 6:27PM
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AmberSky(9b FL)

Garden Party, that was so helpful! Thank you, very much.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2005 at 10:46PM
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scents_from_heaven(z9b Orlando FL)

Brug, you have a great idea but a lot of what you said wouldn't grow will - IF you obtain the items produces, bred and made specifically for our area. I have three different regular type tomatoes growing and producing prolifically. They are bred to be disease resistant for this part of the state and they do not mold or rot easily. The plants are as tall as the house and one of them has made it onto the roof. I harvest tomatoes daily and the plants do not seem ready to give up yet though I have begun their replacements. Lettuce will grow in cool, shady locations and leaf lettuce does a lot better this time of year. Almost all fruit trees will grow and produce, but once again they must be bred for this part of the country. No, you will not be able to replicate the apples grown up north, but we do have varieties that are crunchy and sweet or soft and sweet and some tart. It is a bit more challenging to grow them here but it can be done. Muscadine grapes grow wild and produce heavily in this area. Ft Myers area grows wonderful varieties of grapes as is evidenced by the vuneyard and winery there. Pears and figs are great. Berries grow and wild cherries in Florida make wonderful pies. No we do not produce the large sweet cherries yet, but maybe that is because no one has gotten around to cultivating one for Florida. Rhubarb does grow here, but you need the one specifically for here.

Maybe we should do a webpage on things people have not gotten to grow well here, cultivars that do grow well here and then have a discussion board where people can post questions and answers and share. I think you have a wonderful idea and if you need assistance I also am available to help you. You could always do a page entitled IN MY OPNION THESE TASTE BLAH or something along those lines and people could give imput on what they have that tastes well. If we all had the same taste buds then this would be a bland boring world with little or nothing new being tried and shared.

REMEMBER EVERYONE - Brug was giving HER opinion on what tasted great to her and WE ARE EACH INDIVIDUALS first and garderners second. WE ARE ALL ENTITLED to our opinions and she stated TO HER they did not taste like what she is used to.

Thanks once again. Brug for this wonderful thread and I am here to assist if needed. Linda

( I have gardened in both north and central and south Florida)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 12:32PM
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cindeea(FtMyers 10)

garden_party-what an awesome rose list! I have the Double Delight and it is a great plant for me. I rescued it from Lowes throw away bin a couple of winters ago. It had a $25 price tag on it. It was about 2' tall dead leaves with a strong thick stem. I pulled it out of it's pot and it had beautiful root growth, someone just forgot to water and prune it. The girl at the counter gave it to me for $3.50. I been loving it ever since. Some other teas (fragrant too) that I have that do quite well for me are my Dad's favorite-Tropicana with a citrus/orange fragrance, then there's Tiffany and also Gemini all planted close with wonderful fragrance blends. I love my roses and they aren't as difficult as some people think. Mine have been over producers and still give me many hours of delight.

garden_party-How many varieties do you grow? Any photos to share?

Here is a link that might be useful: Double Delight

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 8:27PM
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Clematis, I've tried several, even ones labeled for heat tolerance, tried them in the sun, in the shade, roots shaded top in sun (as recommended), no luck. I love that vine, not enough to go back to suffer through winter, but love it.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 7:55AM
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julieyankfan(z9FL Pasco Cty.)

Garden Party & Cindee A, thanks for the roses that will grow. You're right, there isn't much about Florida roses on the rose forum, but I have received great advice from them over there. I will print out that list and add Cindee's, especially interested in that Tropicana!

Nancy, you're right, I miss spring bulbs, but not enought to suffer through winter, either!LOL

Also want to add to the list: dahlias. I heard they can be tough down here, so I didn't try them but I miss them.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 8:30AM
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Nicki(z9 FL)

I'm right on the line of 9a and 9b...
Things that haven't worked for me:
Hostas (although that was a good tip a few posts up)
Tulips (I'm not willing to keep them in the fridge)
Hollyhocks (some have good luck with them)
Lavender (it lasts longer for me if kept in a pot)

    Bookmark   July 21, 2005 at 11:07AM
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bekados(z9a--NW FL)

Love this thread too! I was afraid I was out of my zone league--but saw someone else from z8--so I'm in.

Someone said sage: ditto for tri-colored, purple and common. Thyme usually doesn't last long. I will replay the funeral march for my lavender. I kept it alive for three seasons this year. Floods and Dennis and 98* sent it away, though. I have a friend who grows beautiful dahlias in pots (I'm talking 2-3 ft tall plants).

Nobody mentioned passion-flower vines...mine have ALREADY been eaten to the ground. Those little cats lived through the winter! I don't know what they plan on eating next week. I didn't have a baby vine either. They eat it down from the trees. Voracious.

I'm having a spot of trouble with blue eucalyptus.

All I can think of right now.

    Bookmark   July 22, 2005 at 7:13PM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Hey - so sorry it took so long for me to check back - busy working Summer camp = S

kotenok - if you check my member page, you'll see I don't use much of ANY pesticide (except rat poison!).I suggest going to the Organic Gardening & Soil, Compost & Mulch forums here - I've learned a LOT over the years - so much so I no longer read gardening mags - no need, it seems = J

& I think I mentioned my arbor is falling down = (
As soon as I harvest &/or vine goes dormant, I think I might have to cut it back & for sure build something sturdy & permanent - I'm considering using chainlink.

What's funny is, I did not mean to have the vine where it is(west side of screened porch) - it rooted through the bottom of the pot, while I was waiting too find a place for it in my yard & I had to just let it stay - it's grown so vigorously, I guess it was serendipity - I mounded compost & log mulch over the exposed roots & have fed w/ alfalfa pellets (rabbit food) & seaweed extract - that's about it. The soil in that spot is very dark & rich.

Right now I'm STILL waiting impatiently for the fruit to ripen.

Oh & I have a Double Delight rose too - a gift from MIL.It is EXTYREMELY tough - been transplanted twice & last time I was afraid I'd lost it, but it came back & is putting out a few lovely blooms now.I also have a Paris de Yves St. Laurent - long stemmed & pink & nice scent.

I have a lavender in a pot that's supposed to do OK here & has lasted 2 yrs so far - I think the key to success w/ many 'hard-to-grow' plants is buying from local growers - they have the stuff that's best suited for FL, IMPE.I buy mainly @ the Greenthumb Festival every year & look for local folks w/ homegrown stuff - NOT the 1s w/ the UPC coded pots & fancy color-photo labels.

I've never had luck w/ thyme or sage either - but I always bought plants/seed from non-local sources.I found a sage that's survived well, so thyme's on my list for next year.I think the source was 'the Misting Shed'.

I wish I could grow beets/chard/spinach - never been able to so far - nor summer squash , which I love = (

    Bookmark   July 23, 2005 at 10:00AM
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cavamarie(z8b/9a FL)

I grow spinach with no problem. The trick to it is to grow it in the winter time. I plant it any time from mid October to February. It grows great.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 8:49PM
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I love this thread! I wish I had read it years ago. It would have saved me a lot of money. Me and Florida have killed so many of the things that ya'll have already listed. I miss daisies. Has anyone by chance, found some that will grow here????

    Bookmark   August 7, 2005 at 10:25PM
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Will daylillies grow in Florida?

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 8:28PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Was driving around neighborhoods the other day getting landscaping ideas and saw this beautiful japanese maple in a front yard. It's not mine, but it is here in Jacksonville, right off San Pablo Road!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2005 at 10:57PM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Hey Gayle - daylilies indeed grow here in FL - quite well in most places = )

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 12:39PM
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To Tampafred I have have great success in the spring with delphinium ajacis here in NE Florida. They reseed and come back for me every year.
I have not been able to grow bearded iris or most hollyhocks. I have found one hollyhock that grows for me every year but I do not have an ID for it. It's a single and pale pink.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 2:08PM
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tomkaren(z9 Citrus Co FL)

Daylilies will definately will grow in FL. But the best ones are from Fl growers. Alot of the ones grown out of state will not florish.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2005 at 2:13PM
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I have not been able to keep hollyhocks, snapdragons, cosmos or cleome alive here. I miss them all so much, especially the cosmos.

All the spring flowering bulbs and shrubs don't like it here. South African bulbs are a good alternative to tulips, daffodils, etc.

Re Roses: HT's not on Fortuniana will grow here but only last a few years. They are a lot cheaper. Peace and Tournament of Roses also do well for me

Re Daylillies: Daylillies come three way, dormant, semi-evergreen and evergreen. What you need in Florida is the evergreen type.

Hope this helps!

Mary Anne

    Bookmark   August 14, 2005 at 11:25AM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Isn't that funny - I've always considered Cosmos 1 of the easiest flowers to grow - never had any trouble w/ any of 'em.I always start 'em in the early spring.

Maybe it's the timing?The soil?

I start almost everything in pots/cels/flats & transplant.Starting most seeds in the ground here is futile, IMPO.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2005 at 11:50AM
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mistiaggie(z9A Tx)

I'm having zone envy...someone tell me if this may have a chance....z10 here...

bur oak (already planted and growing, but heard it won't last)
any other kind of fir tree other than what we have here.

le sigh.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2005 at 4:16PM
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bigpaulie1972(9B Melbourne FL)

GCMastiffs, what cultivar of peach, apple, plum and nectarine? I am a recent homebuyer and am looking for a bunch of different fruit trees to try in zone 9b.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2005 at 11:57PM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

bigpaulie, the 2 best sources for low chill fruit trees I have found, and purchased from, are Just Fruits and Exotics in N. Florida, and Bay Laurel Nursery in California.

At Bay Laurel you have many, many choices and can pick your rootstock. I grow lots of container fruit trees, so dwarfing rootsocks are important, as well as disease resistance and early bearing. The trees I got from Bay Laurel have huge trunk diameters and most produced that spring. Got them in February, had fruit to harvest in May/June.

Just Fruits has nice, healthy trees, just a little smaller and not a choice of rootstocks. But I'm very pleased with their trees as well.

I got all the low chill apples/Peach/Pear/Nectarine/Plum varieties. My favorite Peach is Tropic Snow, favorite Apple is Anna or Tropic Sweet. The Pears haven't produced yet.

Growing fruit trees in Florida is very interesting, fun and rewarding. The biggest problem I have had is the squirrels - and they destroy nearly all my hard work, every year.

So grow some dwarf trees in containers near your house if you actually want to eat the fruit(G).


    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 6:02AM
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How I wish we could grow peonies! I'm from Alaska and my Mom grows such gorgeous plants. Every year I come back to Florida with seeds from her garden. This year I have pansy seeds started and once again I am trying to sprout her asian lily seeds. They have roots but I've yet to see any green. ANd they grow like wildfire there!

    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 7:55PM
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Well, I'm at the end of my first year in North Central Florida...had some successes, some so-so's and some dismal failures.
Dismal failures include marigolds and zinnias...started a bed with both from seed. Semi-shade, got about 2 hours direct sun every day from noon until 2. Plants grew like mad, leafy and bushy, reasonably tall. The blooms looked pathetic though. Bad color, straggly and wilted soon after blooming.
Also, sparaxis. Planted in April, sprouted nicely, and then quit growing at about 3". Three varieties of irises sprouted and grew well but never bloomed.
Radishes failed, but recently planted a second batch in a shadier area after sprouting indoors. We'll see.
Had great luck with peppers, 3 varieties of tomatoes which produced well, mustard greens, pole beans, okra, basil and cilantro.
My thyme didn't work out well. Neither did dill...sprouted nicely but died at about 3".
Day lilies can do well here. Here's my experience though. Planted some about 5 years ago at my mother's house while on a visit. They did well, bloomed nicely and prolifically up until this year. No blooms, and the plants don't look well. I'm told that day lilies max out at about 5 years here. Gave them a shot of Miracle-Gro azalea fertilizer and they look better, so we'll see.
I think basically that anything will grow well around here, but may also not develop well, bloom in the manner expected, or follow normal patterns.
It's a learning curve isn't it?

    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 9:52PM
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Bigpaulie: The Rare Fruit & Vegetable Council meets monthly in Melbourne and is very informative on fruit trees. I go to their annual sale at the Melbourne Auditorium in April. I believe they also have another sale in early summer at Rockledge Gardens. I live in Cocoa and recently purchased a Sunracer nectarine, a Floridaglo peach, two plums (because you need two to pollinate), Scarlet Beauty and Gulf Gold. I bought some of these at the Rare Fruit sale and they only have trees suitable for our area, i.e. low chilling hours requirement. Also plums - Gulf ruby, Gulf blaze and Gulf gold; peaches - Florida prince, Tropic sweet, Rayon, UF Gold, UF2000 and UFO; nectarine - Sunmist. Persimmon - Fuyu, Izu (both non-astringent and are sweeter); blueberries - Jewel, Sharpblue, Floridablue. The sale starts at 8 a.m., people bring carts, and they sell out VERY EARLY. I can get the phone number if you are interested from a friend who is a member. You don't have to be a member to go to the sale. I believe I bought the nectarine at Rockledge Gardens in Rockledge. They sell trees which are not good here, such as apple trees, but if you know the varieties you need they sometimes have them. I believe I even bought a desirable variety at Lowes in Rockledge.

You can also get information on what to grow here from the Brevard County Extension Service master gardeners. I volunteer once a week at the Cocoa office, but they have a southern office in Palm Bay. They can answer questions and send you information. You can also go to the Univ. of FL website at, or the County site at

    Bookmark   September 22, 2005 at 10:17PM
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tenor_peggy(10 FL, N. Fort Myers)

My goodness, I was gonna say I am from really up north (Wisconsin) until I saw skyblue's post! ;-) I am glad garden_party posted that list of roses. I grew roses (including Garden Party!) for 20 years up there and plan on growing some again down here so that list will be saved! Thnx!

    Bookmark   December 12, 2005 at 10:56AM
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Tenor Peggy, I can tell you that many many roses grow well here. Think about it--we have lots of sun, well drained soil, and rains. Lord knows, we get rains!

The disease control is the rub, and spraying once a week with bayer, and drenching every other month with the other Bayer, has kept most if not all of my 50-something hybrid teas clean.

(I should say, clean enough.)

    Bookmark   December 15, 2005 at 5:50PM
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Plants that won't thrive here: gunnera, vireyas, rhododenrons, peonies, deciduous azaleas. Never say never, though, for some may have succeeded for some people.

BEARDED IRIS CAN BE GROWN HERE (at least in north FL). Build a raised bed, 8-10 inches will do. Plant the iris in it in August. They can have glorious blooms the following spring. You see, they can't stand having wet feet (as in our monsoon season) and if they drain perfectly in the raised bed, they're fine. Louisiana iris, on the other hand, LIKE wet feet, so plant them in semi-shade in a wading pool, sunken or not.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 7:21AM
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tenor_peggy(10 FL, N. Fort Myers)

I'm checking into old roses like the noisettes, chinas and teas. From what I'm hearing these roses do very well down here and are not as disease prone as moderns like hybrid teas and floribundas.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2005 at 12:10PM
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I've never had a problem with peach trees. I'm just north of Tampa. Florida peaches have a great taste. You have to get the right variety with low number of chill hours for Florida climate.

My husband always had a vegetable garden and we had great tomatoes. He grew squash, cucumbers, greens, corn, green beans, black eyed peas, tomatoes, egg plant and I'm probably leaving some out. We had a spring garden and a fall garden. I miss that, he'd grow it and I'd pick, cook, can it. I sometimes go down to Ruskin and pick tomatoes, great tasting tomatoes. It's hard to get a good tasting tomato unless you grow your own or pick them fresh at a U pick farm

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 7:19PM
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I'm loving this post. PLEASE do make the website! There are a lot of us northerners coming down over the next many years (baby boomers?) and have so much to learn.

Just remember, (especially if you've never lived up north) that we here are all so very envious of the stuff you can grow down in Zone 10 versus what we can grow in Zone 5! Which is one of the reasons I'm so excited to get down there in a few weeks! Just like trying to grow a marginally hardy plant up in Zone 5, I think it's really important to get a plant that was propagated and grown in your area - much more likely to do well than the same plant that comes from another part of the country!

But a list like this would sure be helpful, and a good starting point for us "transplanted" gardeners! I can't wait to get down there and grow all of the neat things that we can only use as houseplants - and not even very well at that!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2006 at 9:09PM
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I'm surprised your TropicSnow does well. Mine doesn't break dormancy very well, and I'm up in Brevard, though 3/4 mile from the Intracoastal. My TropicBeauty is very vigorous. Has anyone had luck with Sunmist nectarine in 9B and below?

Bruggirl: You should try some of the newer low-chill peaches. If you've tried some, I'd like to know which variety. They are much superior to what you can buy in a grocery store, and probably only slightly different than what you had fresh in peach land. You might reconsider them.

Anyone try GulfRose plum in 9B and below, or any CA pluot combo plants?


    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 8:07AM
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abendwolke(9 FL)

about the peaches, is one tree enough to plant or are two necessary for polination? Is the variety 'tropic snow' readily available?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 10:11AM
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msmarion(9aPort St Lucie)

Abendwolke, you might want to start a new thread for this one. I just received my Tropic Snow two weeks ago after Lisa placed the order. She didn't mention that I need two.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 11:06AM
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gcmastiffs(z10 Florida)

Low-chill Peaches and Nectarines are self-fertile. They do it by themselves.

Apples, Pears and Plums need another variety for a pollinizer.

Tropic Snow has been an utterly reliable producer here. It is very low chill, and probably the best peach I have ever eaten.

But the other ones are great too!

Mail-ordering is over for this year, since trees are shipped during dormancy. I've not seen them locally available. But FlordaPrince is a good one, and is usually available at HD or Lowes. There are quite a few low chill ones available- lots more than when I first started my collection(G). I just got a UF Gold at Excalibur a few weeks ago, which was one I couln't find before.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 11:27AM
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abendwolke(9 FL)

Great, thanks for the information, my Q is answered, I guess, no need to start a new thread now. Sorry about that.


    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 2:45PM
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As you can tell, many folks grow what you say can't grow here. My apples taste as good as the ones I remember growing up in Maine. I've had problems with only one vegetable, zucchini. For some reason I can't get the straight varities of zucchini to grow in my zone 9 garden. But, the eight-ball varity of zucchini, and the trellis varity, do quite well.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2006 at 10:19PM
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The one that breaks my heart is lavender. I've tried many times but the summer humidity kills it. If someone knows a specific variety that does well I would like to know.

I'm starting to grow some old roses and appreciate the list posted here. Many of the names are already familiar to me. I'd like to add:

Maggie--lovely very double, ruffled magenta blooms with an incredible, intoxicating scent. This rose is classed as a Bourbon and makes me want more Bourbons.

Perle d'Or--this is the absolute most disease-free rose I have ever seen. It's not very large, has tons of leaves and very few thorns, and its small flowers are almost more like peach-pink daisies, very unusual, and with a delightful scent. Perle blooms all the time for me. It's classified as a Polyantha.

Clotilde Soupert--another bushy, leafy little Polyantha. Clotilde has very double, white/pink, romantic blooms with the most fabulous scent, and gets almost no blackspot. The only drawback is the buds sometimes don't open well during high rainy season--they'll ball in extremely humid weather. I like Clotilde so well, though, that I'm considering planting more of this rose. Very low-stress plant.

Maggie, Clotilde and Perle d'Or all survived three years of shameful neglect, living in pots, rarely fed, not always watered, never sprayed. They're now much happier in the ground (I amended the soil w/compost and manure). I still don't spray. I also have Lady Hillingdon but hesitate to recommend her because she's got a moderate blackspot problem which the others don't share. It may be that she just needs some time to get healthy again--she hasn't been in the ground very long.

I will add a big glowing recommendation for DON JUAN. You just can't kill this rose and its blooms are amazing, deep red velvet, huge, and heavily scented. Our last one lived more than 20 years in conditions that would've killed most other roses in 3 months. I plan to get another and do it right this time.


    Bookmark   March 18, 2006 at 11:07AM
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Glad to see the list, but also disappointed! Been down here from Ohio since April, just got into our own place about 3 weeks ago. Am trying to concentrate on the things we can grow instead of what we can't. I just wanted to make sure you can compost with these "southern" oak leaves. Someone told me they are acidic, and I assume the acid would not be good for all plants. I've started composting, but have not added any of the abundance of oak leaves we have to the compost container. Can somebody help? I'll be using the compost for flowers & a few vegetables. Thanks.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 2:29PM
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P, you're French and so your stubborn. I always used that for my German heritage. Darn, I'm not the only one using that excuse, ha ha.
I think so many things that 'can't grow here' can somewhat. I have trouble with herbs. But I can grow them in the winter as an annual. Northerners grow annuals that aren't here, right. Move some things to a shadier area and they do better, etc.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 3:04PM
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tomkaren(z9 Citrus Co FL)

Bruggirl -- did you ever do your "will not grow in FL website"?

As I can see by all the opinions on this thread there are many differences in the areas of Florida. One example I grow Louisiana Iris. They die back in the summer and reappear in the spring and bloom. Also grow well in the pond.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 5:35PM
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So, my quick two cents on this conversation:

First, there needs to be a very clear difference made within any Florida discussion. Basically, there is NO "Florida garden," only Florida gardens. (This is more or less true anywhere in the States, but "truer" here. The differences between gardening in Michigan and Tennessee are notably LESS than the difference between growing in, say, Jacksonville and Orlando.) There are three very distinct belts here in Florida: Those with gardens in Jacksonville and higher can grow basically anything they want (of course with exceptions for high-chill plant needs, like most apples, some tulips, etc.) For them, any old southern gardening books will work.

Then we have my turf, Central FLA (9a, 9b) -- very difficult to have a floriferous garden or an orchard or a tropical paradise: We don't have the appropriate conditions for so many plants, and our growing cycle is basically reversed: Spring and summer plants grow here in the winter and spring, respectively. Yearly frosts make tropicals difficult while prolific rains and intense sun make many "northern", temperate plants problematic.

Finally, South Florida (below the freeze line, which is around Canaveral, but is moving northward): They are subtropical, and they are their own set of problems and rewards.

So I intentionally grow a very high maintenance garden. I've learned a lot in four years, but there's so much more to learn. It's possible here to have a garden of flowers for cutting and smelling all year round, but, as has been noted here, it's crucial to pick the right cultivar, plant it at the right time, and in the right place.

I've seen more good advice here in this forum in the last week than I've seen in all the gardening books I've read. (And I've read all of them -- scores and scores -- for Florida.)

I think a list of "tried and true" for each zone would be extremely useful, perhaps MORE useful than a list of things that won't grow.

About roses: The Orlando Sentinel published awhile ago a list of Central Florida roses. There's also a list of proven roses in the very excellent book, The Florida Gardener's Book of Lists by Lois Trigg Chaplin. (Chaplin is co-author of the truly truly excellent book, A Florida Cutting Garden, mentioned above.) On my blog (which is really just a way for me to keep track of what does well and doesn't here in Central Florida), I reproduced the lists and even collated them:

I also have there copious lists of things that have done well (and not done well) in my garden.

Oh, and I have had excellent luck with poppies here. It's a peony poppy, and it was very easy to grow from seed and incredibly beautiful. I have a picture and description here:

I grew it on the advice of A Florida Cutting Garden.

Must run!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 8:17PM
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Shirley, to answer your question: Don't worry about composting oak leaves. Finished compost is supposed to be ph neutral regardless of what goes in but even if it is acidic, most likely, you soil is anyway. You will find that things that like acid soil are the things you will have the most luck with. I know there are pockets of limey soil especially in South Florida but most of us have acid.

Though I live a little further north than many here, I have a very bad case of ZDD and have tried LOTS of things. I think ill-mannered has a good point that there are MANY different climates here in Florida. That's one of the things that's frustrating for me on this forum sometimes. The things that I have had GOOD LUCK with here that others have not are:
-poppies (direct sow them in fall for spring blooms then should self-sow after that)
-Bearded Iris (as mentioned above make sure they are very well drained)
-Hostas (don't get huge like up north but do fine and do bloom. Karla aka myfask has a HUGE one in her yard that she grew from just a one gallon pot and is easily 3 ft across with many bloom stalks)
-Daffodils (do fine)
-Louisiana Iris (LOVE it in a sunny, moist spot)
-Spanish Lavender
-Hollyhocks ... from elise :)
-Clematis (keep moist, mulch well)
OH latest success was a low-chill peony that I planted last fall. I did get one single bloom from it this past spring and is handling the heat with ease. It does get filtered afternoon shade but not in spring (it is under a crepe myrtle). We will see how it does next year.

-no tulips for me (even the low-chill species ones didn't bloom for me)
-Siberian Iris will not bloom for me though is rated for zone 9
-No matter what I try, I can not grow valerian. Given up.
Hope this helps others. Here is a link to my photos for this year. At photobucket, you can also get to previous year's albums


Here is a link that might be useful: this years garden photos

    Bookmark   July 19, 2006 at 9:50PM
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Herbs- I grow sage, lavender and thyme with no problem. The trick is full sun and not to overwater...especially the sage. Italian and greek oregano also grow without problems.

Veggies grow in reverse down here. Spinach, broccoli, etc. are winter veggies. Tomatoes are spring and fall. The only thing I can grow in the summer are cherry tomatoes and hot peppers and even they look scraggly. My veggie garden is the raised bed type. I've had the best luck with that type. And if you don't rotate the crops, nematode populations build up even in the raised beds.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 7:15AM
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annafl(z9b/10a Sarasota)


I use lots of oak leaves in my compost and also as a mulch. No problem. Everything in my garden seems to like them and thrive. Theresa is right. Finished compost is near neutral and the joy in our oak leaves is that they are small and don't need to be shredded to break down quickly in the compost.

I know it seems sad to give up the stuff you used to grow, but there is a whole new world here of beautiful, amazing plants to try. Have fun.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2006 at 7:54AM
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Well, since I last wrote, I've accomplished a lot! Started some compost in a plastic tub and it is now "ripe" for composting. In addition, found a pile of hay with some rabbit droppings where previous owners had a rabbit. Raked it all up into a pile and although it is infested with ants, added some to the compost bin. Yesterday, I incorporated all of it and have raked lots of the oak leaves that are in damp places and alreay beginning to rot. I got a bag of lime today and am going to add some whenever I add new fruit/vegetable waste from my kitchen, to keep rodents, etc. away as I've now dumped it out into a huge pile. Can anyone tell me if the lime will also help cut down on the ants in the pile, or will the ants hurt anything? Even if not, sure makes it hard to work with. I've already been bitten a bunch!!! It's not pleasant. I did not think it would be a good idea to add any of the ant killers to the compost. Am I correct on that one? Thanks! BTW, I've changed my email to

    Bookmark   August 3, 2006 at 8:11PM
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debbie8592(Central FL)

I personally don't know anything about compost, Shirley, but if you don't get an answer, there's a forum here that is all about it called "Composting". You might also want to re-post your question (here on the FL forum) separately, or it might not get noticed.

Congratulations on your compost, by the way! It does sound like you've gotten a lot done in just a few short weeks. And welcome to Florida!

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 9:15AM
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spike_fl(9B E. Central Florida)

I grow paperwhite narcissus to satisfy my daffodil needs. There is a yellow variety that will grow here too (western Brevard County).

I also grow those old-fashioned orange daylilies that I brought from Maryland.

I had a Spanish lavendar that did well for me for about 5 years, but it doesn't smell anything like the French lavendar.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 4:15PM
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mistiaggie(z9A Tx)

I had paperwhites last year. I pulled them up for now and will replants later in the fall.

    Bookmark   August 4, 2006 at 9:28PM
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rose_hip(Z9.5 FL.)

Hey"tenor peggy",and"blackmare", Old Garden Roses do very well here in Fl!!There's even a Central Florida Heritage Rose Society that meets once a month,a really great source of information(!)we started going several years ago and it's helped us allot. The The Noisettes, Chinas,Old Teas do the best here in Fl.,but some of the Bourbons, and Hybrid Perpetuals do well too but take a little more care and get a little more deseise(blackspot/powdery mildew).
We have several huge Noisettes(some of the best climbers you'll ever find!)there best if you can find them on Fortunia root stock but own roses will do well too,they just need better soil where you plant them. Everyone in Fl.who loves roses should try at least one Antique Rose, so many of them take so little care and can take all of Florida's abuse(!!)Hope this helps,Happy Gardening,Terry.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2006 at 6:39AM
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I'm getting ready to try my first "cool" season vegetables, which I'm told can be planted in September. I especially want to try tomatoes. Any specific plants I should get? Or should I start my own plants from seed? I have some volunteers in my compost that I may transplant a couple of just to experiment. All suggestions welcome. I'm a former OH gardener and need all the help I can get! Thanks.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 8:58AM
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msmarion(9aPort St Lucie)

You must have "Sun Gold" tomatoes. They are my new favorite. Although they don't make it in the house...I just pick and eat yummmm!

    Bookmark   August 16, 2006 at 3:53PM
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I have had Cosmos reseed itself for 2 years now. Have tried Delphiniums twice with no success, four 0'clocks grow well, get flowers but they never open. I have tried fuschias , tulips, jonquils, with no success. Would love to have hostas! My poor hydrangeas suffered for 12 years in full sun. Just moved them to a more shady area and they are doing better.

It is funny how some people have success with a plant and others don't. I think alot has to do with when we plant it and how long we think it should last. Just read an article in this months Florida Gardening and it mentioned that most annuals only last 3-4 months here in the heat but most people think they should last all summer.

My husband's family farm in Alachua (now part of UF's agriculuture department)had lots of fruit trees: Pears, grapes, figs, plums, persimmons, too. Their hydrangeas were gorgeous and in fact, most of my plants came from cuttings of theirs.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2006 at 10:09PM
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I know tulips will grow here however you can't overwater them. At least they will here in Gainesville. I planted tulips bulbs and they grew however when we started have problems in are laundry room we had to move the washer onto the back porch and I told my husband not to ain the water at the tulips but he didn't listen and they died from root rot.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2007 at 5:56PM
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tenor_peggy(10 FL, N. Fort Myers)

Terry, I have begun my rose garden here and planted a couple of the antiques and so far, so good! I do not spray with fungicides (I did that enough up north) and only Lady Hillingdon gets a spotted leaf here and there. I remove the infected leaves and it produces new ones almost overnight. ;-) Souvenir de la Malmaison, Louis Phillippe and Comtesse du Cayla are also doing well with zero diseases. Recently I added Duchesse de Brabant and Cramoisi Superieur to the mix and I am eager to see them bloom for me. I have Red Cascade in a hanging basket but it doesn't bloom very much for me. All it does it produce canes. I may take it out of that basket, put it in the ground and put Sweet Chariot or Green Ice in that basket instead....

I'd join the Central Florida Heritage Rose Society but you meet at the same time the Greater Fort Myers Rose Society meets! :-\

    Bookmark   March 10, 2007 at 11:22AM
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fayremead(8 BC (Sunset 4))

Some of the failures mentioned in earlier posts may be due to soil conditions. Well-drained soils in Florida tend to be deficient in organic matter, because their thermic or hyperthermic temperature regimes promote rapid decomposition. Another problem that Florida soils share with many other humid subtropical areas is intense leaching of mineral nutrients.

Experimentation with northern inland plants should be done in soils which most closely resemble their native habitat. So dig in enough compost to make the topsoil black and fluffy. Fertilizers containing calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium are also likely to be helpful.

There may still be trouble because an organic-rich soil in the subtropics is going to consume a lot of oxygen. Even well-drained soils may not be able to provide enough oxygen for the likes of plants from cooler areas. To get around this, add a few drops of hydrogen peroxide (sometimes sold as "Liquid Oxygen") to a watering vessel ... or use a fertilizer containing urea peroxide. Swimming pool or hot tub formulations (non-chlorine oxidizers) containing potassium monopersulfate are also worth trying.

Springs often have relatively cool water; a shady site next to a spring-fed creek is an ideal place to plant a 'northerner.' In northwestern Florida there are creeks which have cut shady ravines in which amazing numbers of northern inland plants grow naturally (as at Torreya State Park near Bristol).


    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 5:39AM
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I was eager to try a lilac that's advertised as OK for zone 9 - 'Blue Skies'. But after 3 years it's still a 2 foot sparse shrub without a single blossom. I've amended the soil so that it's neutral and given it lots of afternoon shade, but it has not flourished.

There's a new lilac variety that's supposed to be even more tolerant of the high heat / high humidity and resistant to powderly mildew. It's called 'Old Glory'. Has anyone tried it yet?


    Bookmark   March 11, 2007 at 6:06AM
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I live in Valrico (Hillsborough county, near Tampa), and I bought 2 'Husky Red' hybrid cherry tomatoes. The leaves were completely disease free and the plants bloomed indeterminently. They bloomed all winter through frost, producing bucketfulls of sweet fruit. The fruit kept coming even as the leaves and branches slowly died in the spring. I experimented by cutting the plant back to the main "trunks" a month or 2 ago, and NEW BRANCHES APPEARED! Flowers are already popping up again. Tomatoes seem to be invincible here as long as you get the right kind.

    Bookmark   April 8, 2007 at 8:22PM
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I have lived in Tampa all my life and have found anything that I have bought at WM or LW has never survived. My mom had a green thumb anything and everything would grow beautifully- even sweet peaches and by the time you were done eating them you had to wash your face and arms. Japenese plums we had a huge tree at my old house and my oldest used to love to eat those when she was a toddler- they were awesome! Me on the other hand not such great luck as mom. BTW- Love all the threads- have learned alot on what I might be doing to kill everything I plant...Thanks to all for the tips.:]

    Bookmark   June 26, 2007 at 11:18PM
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I stumbled on this page in trying to find a good fruit tree that would grow in my part of Florida, Jacksonville. My mom and I started our garden in March of this year. This is what we have found.

Tomatoes (started from seedling) - It produced a few GOOD tomatoes, but it finally died and got chucked in June.

Strawberries (started as seedling) - They produced a few GOOD strawberries, but not a lot between the two plants. We moved these to pots in June. They were the only thing salvageable besides the Basil. We've decided to do a raised bed (a work in progress).

Basil - GROWS GREAT!!!

Broccoli, spinach, lettuce, & cucumbers - never did a thing.

Carrots - They started to sprout, we had tops for them, but we didn't have enough drainage. Once the rain hit, they drowned.

Anyone have any good suggestions for fruits/veggies that will work in our zone? Anyone know a good fruit tree that will work too? Or a good way to keep out bugs?

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 1:00PM
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It all depends on the time, water and soil. If you compost, water and place plants in the right part of the house you can grow anything in south florida that does not require chill hours (or the amount of hours below 45 to stimulate flowering or fruiting). I grow Jaanese and chinese wisteria here that flower. I have hydrangeas, I have 3 varieties of Hostas, yes hostas that require water daily but do live quite well with part sun here. I also have had raised bed gardens thriving for several years, and I even start butternut squash, watermelon and zuichini in july august and september in full sun with no problem. Because I have them planted in compost and real dirt, not the junk sand that is native here that will not grow anything but palm trees and tropical plants. If you put in dirt, compost, and water regularly you would be surprised what can grow here sucessfully.

    Bookmark   March 29, 2011 at 11:02PM
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    Bookmark   May 28, 2011 at 8:55PM
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Thanks so much for this site! We are moving to Venice in 2 weeks and I haven't a clue about what to plant, etc. We have a unshaded lot and I have a clean canvas - can't wait.

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 7:55PM
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I live in Polk county, there's actually very few things that Iv had problems growing here....
Everything I grow is edible in some way, even my decorative plants....
I grow the berries: Raspberries, blackberries, elderberries, goji berries, even the grapes, witch are a native wild stock...

The herbs do well too, just in a more shady spot for the cool loving ones... Sage, chives, Rosemary, and Basil do the absolute best, with the sage and rosemary reaching 4-5 feet tall!

Tomatoes(I do not like them raw, nasty! btw! But cooked is different.), especially the cherries do really well, the Roma's do nicely too....

The only plants that give me so much trouble!!..................... Are MELONS!
You cant cheat and start them when its cool, like you can with every other plant, because they just wont sprout or just wont put out growth! When the heat and humidity and bugs come around.......
Its just the amount of water, the insecticides needed its just too much....... They're worth it, BUT, its just too much... :(

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 9:07AM
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Hi, I just thought that I would mention that your list also applies to Southern California. I tried to grow a Peony in Riverside Calif. for five years. Oh it would grow. But it never grew to be more than six inches tall. Now, I live in Ohio. I stick a peony in the ground and forget about it. Next spring I'll have a two foot tall beautiful plant covered with flowers.
It's the same with tomatoes. I tried growing tomatoes. Every year I got beautiful tomato vines. Never a tomato. Except for cherry tomatoes. I gave away a number 10 can of those cherry tomatoes every day. It got to the point that when someone would see me coming down the hallway they would turn away and go in another direction. LOL

    Bookmark   August 2, 2011 at 3:20AM
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I've had a couple of years to experiment and its amazing how much of difference the season and the location make when planting anything interesting in Florida - especially South Florida.

Things that have worked here:

Mustard - seed and greens (chinese pickling mustard grows great)
Basil (depends on the spot - seems to do best where it only gets sun half the day)
cosmos - doing great, re-seeding round 3 but susceptible to something that looks like powdery mildew
sunflowers - also susceptible to powdery mildew
nasturtiums - flourishing.
marigolds - sort of. plants I bought as near adults and planted mostly all died - but the handful that survived have reseeded and created a population of pretty dwarf marigolds.
sweet potatoes are successful on and off
amaranth grows really well here (great spinach substitute with a nutty flavor)
mint and cilantro are hit and miss - sometimes they go bonkers, other times they cling to life
pepper (as in salt and pepper)
parsley of all things - is flourishing in a spot that gets only afternoon sun

my current experiment is with hanging planters for tomatoes, peppers (hot and bell), and strawberries. Will keep you posted on that - everything seems to be going well there (they're hanging off the west side of the house and get about 6 hours of sun)
I also have some pumpkin plants growing from where I intentionally had the kids smash a pumpkin (3 plants - but they seem to be getting some kind of powdery mildew as well)

Things that don't even think about working:

poppies (won't even come up - I'm wondering if anyone's kept them in the fridge or freezer before planting?)
most plants planted directly in the ground (eggplant, tomatoes, cucumbers all were demolished by bugs in short order).
rosemary - dies everytime.
my tropical variety blueberries and blackberries are clinging to life
ginger starts to grow but is quickly devoured by evil nematodes
bananas (my neighbors are growing them but mine all fall down)
peanuts (I have two that are barely alive)

the common denominator problems and solutions are the following:

multiple expletive levels of nematodes that just weaken everything
ants that are voracious themselves but also love to cultivate aphids on every plant they find
soil that is basically just limestone rock - which (a) drains ridiculously fast, (b) makes it difficult to grow deep roots, and (c) makes the soil so basic that vinegar poured on the ground bubbles and froths as if you've poured it on to baking soda - which of course precludes the plants from getting micronutrients.
a form of powdery mildew that attacks almost anything that isn't native

in terms of solutions they appear to be these -
water, a lot (if not daily then as close to daily as possible). Plant as far away from the evil earth of Florida as possible - like by hanging things off the roof. plant the right plants in the right locations - usually this means anything that isn't tropical that liks full sun should get some degree of shade. plant the right things at the right times - summer vegetables can survive in winter/spring. keep experimenting until you get a strain of the plant you want that can survive - plant lots of one kind of plant and then cultivate new plants from ones that make it.

Not sure if it does anything, but I try to fertilize with coffee grinds and other acidifiers whenever I get the chance.

    Bookmark   April 1, 2012 at 3:50PM
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tomatoman(9B E Cen Fl)

Many things posted here that won't grow are correct, but several are not.
Tomatoes. I grow 10 months out of the year. Get disease resistant, Florida varieties, spray them with BT, Neem and sometimes a fungicide and they will do well. I had problems with peaches for a few year, but persisted and right now my Florida ?variety is loaded with small but very tasty fruit. The peaches must be sprayed with copper and neem several times before and after flowering. Be sure you know sun requirements, moisture and the ph that your plant demands and adjust accordingly.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2012 at 12:01PM
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I'm new to Florida and love this post, so bumping it :)

Happy New Year and Happy Gardening!

    Bookmark   January 1, 2013 at 11:37PM
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As a poster on this thread "farymeade" mentioned in 2007, many tree and shrub failures mentioned here are probably due to an attempt to grow a non-adapted tree in hyperthermic sands.

I've seen this repeatedly, once established natives and/or properly-adapted trees and shrubs can't be stopped and seemingly no amount of irrigation and fertilizer will make others happy, if they live at all. The non-coated hyperthermic sands are savage.

The USDA online soil series survey is an invaluable tool to determine what the native soil type is where one might consider planting a tree to shrub. There is considerably more variation in the florida sands than one might think, a tree that will fail in hyperthermic sand might do ok in one of the "active" or "semi-active" mixed fine sands.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2013 at 11:47AM
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I love this thread!!

I have been experimenting for 4 years (all organic, no pest control whatsoever, except what I can remove with my hands ;-) ; this is where I am at:

Veggies that grow well enough to have a very good harvest include tomatoes (only in containers, nematodes kill them in the ground, finally learned this after 4 years), broccoli, kale, bush beans, bok choy, asparagus (not much of a harvest but delicious), white cabbage, arugula, hot peppers, brussels sprouts. I have had good luck with cauliflower, but it takes up a huge amount of space (I have a tiny backyard) and you only harvest one head per plant, so I stopped growing them.

Veggies that I can't get to yield a harvest, or the yield isn't worth it include bell peppers, carrots, melons, squash, cucumber, spinach.

Fruits that are doing well are papaya (amazing 6-7 pound fruits, care-free tree), figs, peaches, and of course lemons and oranges.

Fruits I am currently trying (they are still too young to bear; so I haven't harvested anything yet) are apple trees, mango, grapes, carambola, guava, goumi and dragonfruit.

As for herbs, my rosemary would be a small tree by now if I didn't constantly cut it back, dill, and in pots outside: basil and oregano.

Zone 9b

This post was edited by Tampa-transplant on Sat, Apr 13, 13 at 21:52

    Bookmark   April 13, 2013 at 9:34PM
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L_in_FL(8B/9A Border, NW FL)

Have you tried the bell peppers in a self-watering container? When I grew bells in the ground I got a few small, thin-walled, and just not tasty peppers. I never had bells do anything until I started growing them in Earthboxes or my homemade SWCs.

This picture was from my first harvest last year (picked June 5). Yes, those bells were every bit as large, thick-walled, and sweet as any I've ever bought in the store.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2013 at 10:10AM
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Those peppers look wonderful! I will try them in containers next season (it's made all the difference for my tomatoes, too). It's just a shame that I have a garden yet can hardly plant anything in the ground ... I guess I will be expanding my terrace to accommodate all the pots :)

    Bookmark   April 26, 2013 at 8:44PM
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I grow the peppers & tomatoes in 3 foot tall plastic waste baskets with drain holes cut in the bottoms. The tall waste baskets gives the tomato and pepper plants plenty of room to grow as they have deep root systems.


    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 6:45AM
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Tampa-transplant -
I grow pepper (hot and bell/sweet) in earth-boxes and containers. I always have a good harvest. Plus in our area, they are tender perennials.

Were you growing in-ground?

I tried growing some bells in my raised garden, after harvesting cool weather veg's, and the bells looked terrible. I dug them up and put them in containers and they recovered... perhaps nematodes/pests problems in our soil...?

In winter on the raised bed, I was able to grow a good amount of carrots, and spinach. Spinach was the first to to succumb to the heat. But if you plant early, you should get plenty for a few months.

Interesting to hear that you grew asparagus... I've been wanting to try that, but always thought it would be unsuccessful.

And I grow organic as well :-)
For pest/fungus control, use neem oil. It helps tremendously!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 3:30PM
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sultry_jasmine_nights (Florida 9a)

I seem to have trouble growing the Australian Finger Lime here. No trouble with all kinds of other citrus. I really think it dislikes the humidity. I've tried twice it dwindles and dies off even in a pot and under coverage where it stays drier. Tried different kinds of lighting. It grows as an under story plant when young in its natural environment. Anyhow, anyone else have success with the Fingerlime here in FL?

This post was edited by sultry_jasmine_night on Mon, Apr 29, 13 at 12:50

    Bookmark   April 29, 2013 at 12:48PM
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I have been reading through the forums here for most of the day. This thread has been very informative. As a relative newcomer to Florida for health reasons (3 yrs. in Oct.) I found this site, trying to find out what plants are in my yard and what I can grow that will be relatively low maintanance. Ground cover in place of grass as an example. I have a large oak in a small front yard and once the leaves were raked I had small wisps of some grass and masses of crabgrass. Still trying to figure out what to plant where and be naturalized doing it.

Thanks to all who have posted to this thread, I think I have learned a little from all of you!

    Bookmark   May 17, 2013 at 8:50PM
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Here's something that may help with Things that won't grow in Florida

Here is a link that might be useful: UF/IFS Extension

    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 10:36PM
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Thanks for the link. Since my post I think I have a better idea of most of the plants located in my yard. Still have a few that I'm not real sure of, but will better be able to identify once they bloom. The forums and threads have been a great help. I will be returning often!


    Bookmark   May 29, 2013 at 11:02PM
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maybe there is a market for reverse can get an extra ac vent to go into it and keep it cooler..
then you can grow a lot of things just like they do in colder

10a, south florida, seems like a challenge..
I accept.

spinach, mabar, supposed to be the one variety that does well down here.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2013 at 10:24PM
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I didn't read through this entire post, so I'm going to add violets. Not the pale, anemic things I've seen occaisionally in somoeone's neglected yard down here; but the big, deep blue/purple violets that would carpet the field a week before they were plowed up to plant corn. There are a lot of flowers and plants I miss from my Ohio childhood. But I've lived in FL my entire adult life and tropical now suits me just fine.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 8:27PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F

Instead we have Drummond Phlox which will carpet all the fields and sides of the roads every spring. Makes for quite a show.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2013 at 8:56PM
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What about herbs. I'm like really new to gardening. We have success killed way too many plants but that was on my wife. LOL I'm tired of buying my herbs from the produce department. I see them outside the fresh market in lil plastic plant pots and I was wondering do they all do well in Florida since they seem to sell so many of them. I'm primarily looking to grown cilantro, parsley, jalapenos (not a herb and I know) and rosemary. This are what I cook with weekly.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 3:39PM
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I have a 6 year old rosemary in a clay pot, square, about 14X14X14. I planted it in cactus soil and have it in very bright, high, shifting shade from noon till 5pm. I am still surprised by its longevity and vigor. Got it from Lowes off the herb rack.

Cilantro and parsley will do best in winter here though I do summer over parsley often. You best bet with cilantro is to have a few designated pots and plant your coriander every two weeks. It bolts fast even in winter. Cheapest seeds are from any middle eastern store. BIG bags for maybe two bucks.

My experience with Jalapenos is well draining soil and keep them picked.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 7:31PM
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Michael AKA Leekle2ManE - Zone 9a - Lady Lake, F

Just be careful with 'sun-loving' herbs. Herbs that love the sun in other climes can get baked to a crisp in our sun. Like Thonotorose, I keep most of my herbs in terracotta pots so that I can move them about. If I see one that looks like it is getting too dried out, I move it to an area that gets more filtered shade or is quicker to fall into the afternoon shade from the house. Along the south side of my lanai, I have rosemary, pineapple sage, lemon balm, thyme, parsley and chives growing happily, so far, in a semi-shaded bed. Between the angle of the sun, the rain gutter along the edge of my lanai and the medium oak tree to the south of me that almost shades my yard, the herbs there tend to go in and out of the sun throughout the day and it seems to suit them.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 8:30PM
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Getting ready to pull up my crepe myrtle here in south FL. Poor thing is just sad after 3 years of trying everything I can think of. I may try transplanting to an area with less sun. It's been catching western exposure and I think it may be too much as I know they do well farther north. Then there's the darn weevils that appear on it every July or so.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 8:42PM
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FWIW, I grew up in Miami and there was a huge pink crepe myrtle just outside my bedroom window (SE corner of house), for many years, until Dad took a course in pruning.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 9:44PM
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Thanks Thonotorose and Leekle2manE. I appreciate the help. I'll be going to pick some up this weekend. Its always the sun that bakes everything because the sun comes up and my outside screened in lanai is directly facing it. Whenever I forget to move them...doomed! LOL

    Bookmark   May 13, 2014 at 2:05PM
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Deer~ they're the size of dogs.

    Bookmark   May 20, 2014 at 5:50PM
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I live near Pensacola and learned some lessons the hard way. When we first move in about 10 years ago I made a huge order from a popular seed catalog, about $150. Everything listed was good for zone 8! Not a single thing lived!

Now I just go to a local nursery and ask and they keep me straight.

I want to grow zone 9 or 10 plants, so I am off the greenhouse forum!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2015 at 10:50PM
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