I want to start a flower/herb garden in Florida

breezy-anna(Zone 9)July 20, 2007

Hi I Would love to start a Garden with lots of bright flowers and herbs to use for cooking, teas, oils ect... But I have no clue where to start. I'm not sure what to plant and I don't want to bite off more than I can chew. So if anyone has any tips I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you -Brianna

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I've recently started the same type of garden! I'm using herbs like basil, rosemary, various mints, lemon balm, lemon grass and catnip. I planted chamomile and purple cone flower seeds, but they don't seem to be coming up. I've also planted flowers to attract butterflies, like zinnia, pagodas, Mexican petunia (in a pot) and passion flower. Hopefully, at least half of them will live :) I wish you good luck with your garden!!!

    Bookmark   July 20, 2007 at 9:06PM
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the_musicman(z9 FL)

yay herbs!

OK, here's what has worked for me. Perhaps it can work for you all as well. I'll try not to ramble too much, but herbs are a passion of mine.....

First of all, the best time to plant herbs is in the Fall or Spring. If you are growing from seed, start them in the Fall so they can be planted out in the Spring. I've got all my herbs in the ground. I believe this makes them more hardy and durable throughout our weather extremes. But many people have success with containers. Do whatever suits you best.

Nearly all herbs appreciate well drained soil, either in a pot or in the ground. Make sure they have it. Many herbs thrive in ordinary sandy dirt. When planting, I enrich the site just a bit with a generic store-bought "garden soil." Most herbs (in Florida) prefer morning sun and afternoon shade. Some more than others. Shelter of some kind (tree, arbor, fence, etc.) can help protect herbs from heavy rain or wind. Herbs range from high drought tolerance to absolutely none. If you can, group the plants by water-need for an easier time with watering.

Following are the herbs that have done the best for me. Most have culinary/aromatic as well as medicinal uses:
-Apple Mint
-Lion's Ear
-Mexican Tarragon
-Lemon Verbena
-Garden Sage
-Goodwin Creek Lavender (a specialized variety that does well in FL heat and humidity. most other types die off.)

There are some others out there, like lemon balm, feverfew, bronze fennel, and patchouli that are doing OK, but not as well as the ones above. It's a constant experiment.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 12:31AM
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read. read. read.

i suggest starting with my favorite flower book about FLA: A Cutting Garden for Florida. i have dozens of FLA gardening books, but this one has the most commonsensical, practical, insightful advice. there's also brandeis' other book, Herbs and Spices for Florida Gardens.

musicman's advice is right-on. i have a bunch of herbs in the ground, and then a second bunch of herbs in pots, right outside my kitchen door. even when it's pouring and i'm lazy, there's never any excuse not to grab a handful of herbs for cooking with...

it's tough, but the ideal light requirements for a herb garden are full sun in the winter and high shade/afternoon shade in the summer. you can accomplish this by planting deciduous trees (like peach, fig, grape arbor, tomatoes) that will shade western exposures in the summer.

let me add:
-cuban oregano (laughs at heat)
-papaloquelita (a coriander substitute)
-oregano (in a pot, it does very well all year)
-Berggarten Sage (it doesn't bloom like garden sage. mine is 3 years old)

hey, musicman, tell me more about the GC lavender. where'd you get it? what's it look like?

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 8:57AM
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Let me add my favorites: dill does extremely well all year(but plant enough for the caterpillars to eat who turn into black swallowtails) and basil-lots and lots of basil. The big leaf type (for pesto) doesn't like the heat of the summer but the other 8 months it's great along with thai basil.
I start mine from seed but if you bought some already cut I think you could root basil and get a jumpstart.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 9:07AM
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goldenpond((Vero.Beach FL 9b))

fennel and bronze fennel. Not only do the BST caterpillars enjoy it but you can add it to dishes to make it taste like you added sausage without the artery clogging fat!
Give dill PLENTY of room.Mine grew to 6 ft!

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 9:47AM
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the_musicman(z9 FL)


the Goodwin Creek Lavender came from Greenfest at University of Tampa back in March. but I've seen it at the USF sales as well. or of course there's always Richters (see link below).

it looks like this:

Here is a link that might be useful: Richters

    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 10:30AM
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zozzl(z9 FL)

I am not an expert like the rest of you folks but I started growing herbs for the butterflies and it is addicting. I grow dill,fennel, sages,red curly leaf basil and African blue basil. My favorite is the African blue basil because it attracts bees and small skippers and it will root in 3 days in a glass of water. It also will grow in poor soil, afternoon heat and survives a frost quite easily. It keeps a nice small bush form with lots of spikes of tiny flowers. I guess it is good to eat but I just like the way it looks.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 10:47AM
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abendwolke(9 FL)

don't forget parsley, curly and the flat variety does well for me, and the onion cives.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2007 at 12:52PM
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