About Central Florida Gardener

Welcome and thank you for visiting Central Florida Gardener. Florida is a unique state in which to garden. It can be frustrating but also rewarding for gardeners who persevere. This blog was created as a resource for Florida gardeners, both new and experienced, in search of information specifically for Florida gardens.

You are invited to participate by leaving your comments, suggestions, tips and recommendations relevant to Florida gardening - don't be shy! Thank you for dropping by to learn more about gardening in the Sunshine state. I look forward to hearing from you! Susan

Monday, April 04, 2011

Changing Over to Summer Annuals

Wishbone Flower - Torenia fournieri
 As the weather continues to warm-up you'll notice the pansies, petunias, snapdragons and other winter annuals in your garden steadily declining. Now's a great time to replace them so they'll have a chance to become established before the really hot weather arrives.

When you visit the garden center you will find a large selection to choose from...but beware. On my last trip there I noticed lots of petunias and pansies...which are winter annuals in Florida...still for sale. In addition, there were very pretty dahlias, fuschia, tuberous begonias and Asiatic lilies not suited to this area. 

I'm always amazed to see these plants in the garden center at this time of year, and when I see people scooping them up I fear they will become frustrated Florida gardeners and give up. Don't get me wrong...if you love the dahlias, fuschia, tuberous begonias and Asiatic lilies you CAN buy them and enjoy them while they last but don't expect them to thrive in your Florida garden.

Every winter I buy a container of tulips to enjoy just because I like them, and a friend of mine bought 2 beautiful tuberose begonias that she enjoyed in a container all through the winter months. They're an enjoyable splurge, but I wouldn't invest a lot of money in them.

What annuals will take the Florida summer heat? 

Wax begonia - Begonia semperflorens

Fortunately, we have a large selection to choose from: ageratrum,  begonias, celosia, cleome, cosmos, dalburg daisy, impatiens, lisianthus, lobelia, marigold, melampodium, nicotiana, periwinkle, portulaca, purslane, rudbeckia (black-eyed Susan), salvia, sunflowers, torenia (wishbone flower) instead of pansies or violas, verbena and zinnias.

Some of my favorite hard-working summer annuals are: impatiens and the green-leaf wax begonias for the shade. The burgundy-leaf wax begonias, periwinkle, portulaca, purslane, salvia, torenia and zinnias for the sun.
Impatiens - Impatiens wallerana
What favorite summer annuals have done well in your Florida garden?


Run Baby Run said...

I have Pentas in my front yard and know that they handle the heat and sun quite well. In my pots I have lantana but will add portulaca once it gets super hot. I want to transfer the lantana to my back yard so it can vine in the wooded areas!

Darla said...

Torenia will take over your gardens and my dahlias perform wonderfully all summer here in north FL.

daisy said...

I picked up some native petunias and pansies at a plant show a few weeks ago. I'll be curious to see how they do. Thanks for all the great selections!

Anonymous said...

Nice to know what flowers can take the heat...thank you!

Floridagirl said...

I agree, there are far too many cool-season annuals in the garden centers at this moment. I took DIL shopping this past weekend and saw all those plants you mentioned. I think she was getting frustrated with me because I kept telling her that's gonna die soon and this is a waste of money.

Torenia and impatiens are two of my fave annuals that reseed nicely in the garden, as long as we don't overmulch. I like annual salvias as well, though it is a luxury for me.

NanaK said...

I might try some torenia this year. I am one of those gardeners who became quite frustrated trying to grow the stuff that can't take the heat. I always thought the cold was the only thing that mattered. I'm a little late to the party but at least I'm here now:)

Susan said...

Welcome to a couple of new faces: Run Baby Run and Theanne & Baron. It's time for me to do an update on some new Florida gardening blogs. Thanks for joining in, and please drop by often.

Hi Darla...I've had some torenia turn up in odd places, too. Periwinkles are famous for reseeding prolifically, too. Have any central Florida gardeners had success with dahlias?

Hi Daisy...I've got some wild petunias that are great. They disappear in winter and are resurfacing now. I like their low height and pretty purple flowers. Good luck with yours.

Hi FloridaGirl...You're right heavy mulching will stop a lot of the reseeding. The pretty red annual salvia is nice, but you're right it can be costly. I like to use Victoria blue salvia which is a perennial.

Hey NanaK...Maybe you're just a late bloomer...which means the best is yet to come. By the looks of your garden you're making up for lost time.

Ami said...

I bought three different colors of torenia last year, that blue one you shown in the first picture was one of them. I need to check carefully the re-seedings.
Since I have the habit of moving the plants around and digging, I am afraid that reduced the seedlings coming up.

Thanks for clarifying the difference of green leaf and burgundy-leaf wax begonias. I used to plant the green leaf begonias in the sun and failed miserably. That almost made me thing I was brown thumb :)

My favorite summer annual is Zinnia, and periwinkle. The impatiens has been performing wonderfully through the cold season, and I am glad that it can be summer annuals as well.

Dawn said...

I have Pentas in my butterfly garden and they have taken off now weather is warmer. I have never had any luck with Torenia. The blue petunias are growing really well in hanging baskets (afternoon sun), but curiously have no scent this year. I grow Zinnias in a large pot with a purslane and the Zinnias reseed themselves. I have a double petalled impatiens that comes back every year. Thanks for the hot season plant tips Susan!

Meems said...

Great post, Susan.

It is amazing how quickly we've warmed up and the winter annuals I planted are already complaining about it.

My favorite summer annuals are coleus. Just planted several of them in containers AND in the ground. Of course that's because I LOVE foliage as much as flowers.

Impatiens are water hogs so I do not usually recommend them for summer ... even in the shade (which is the only place they survive) where they re-seed like mad they will wilt in summer. I'm not willing to baby them.

Torenia did well for me last summer. From seed I plant celosia, cosmos, and zinnias ... they are fun and colorful and re-seed when I don't dig around too much destroying their chances.

I'm considering getting some periwinkle. I have not planted any in years but always have some pop up here and there from past years. They are workhorses in our humidity in the worst of the summer.


Nanette O'Hara said...

Last summer I planted purple coneflower and orange cosmos together, and the colors not only looked great together but both plants thrived in the heat.

pallavi222 said...
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Denise said...

I live in Ft. Lauderdale and have had luck with impatiens if they are in a moist shady place only. They are great for places where other plants tend to grow mold or fungus. Torrenia is a great choice. I have had lots of luck with them as well but they wont tolerate full sun. Partial sun or light shade is best. Periwinkle has been really great for dry hot areas in the garden where little else survives. They are easy easy easy and are always blooming. Pentas have grown best or me in partial sun, they grow much larger than impatens (about 2x the size)and they make great cut flowers. Who knew?
Petunias dried out in April. Some still survived in partial shade but its only April so I imagine they will go soon. :(

Anonymous said...

Try miniature zinnias - lots of them - in Palm Bay Florida. They love the heat and the humidity. I tried a flat of them last May, on sale, when I saw them at Home Depot. Wow! They are even more heat tolerant than the red bolero marigolds. They spread beautifully too. Each little zinnia became a great big bush. Had color up until October! Can you believe? Six long months of beautiful color! Keep calling Home Depot to find out when the zinnias are coming in, because they usually don't get many and they go fast. Or, try seeds!

bocully said...

I live in Sarasota and love my flowers, especially around my two mounded hollys on each side of my driveway which get full sun. I've changed them with the seasons/heat until my sunpatients which I've left in for months and are now 'worn out' and need to be repalced.
Am I pushing it to replace them with petunias? Do you have another recommendation?
Thanks for the advise/recommendation.

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