Cool Season Annuals For South Florida

Keep Your Garden Colorful During the Colder Months

Cool Season Annuals For South Florida-petunia-flowering-plants
Petunia flowers

The warmer (Spring through Summer) season is not the only time to display an array of colors from our gardens and landscapes, the fall season as well as the early winter months can give us a beautiful show of colors provided we choose the right plants. A great way to add a rainbow of colors is the use of annuals, annuals are some of my favorites.

Over the years I have worked with annuals on many garden projects and have seen what they can do to spruce up a garden area with their soft texture and array of colors, although we may get a few months out of these garden beauties it’s worth the effort as our gardens and landscapes are transformed into a thing of beauty or a beautiful work of art. If you’re interested in having a colorful garden during the cooler months then continue reading as we take a close look at cool season annuals for South Florida.

Cool Season Annuals for South Florida

Cool Season Annuals For South Florida-pentunia-flowering-plants
Petunia Flowers

Petunias: I love the many colors that petunias produce, these flowering beauties can really bring that wow to your South Florida gardens and landscapes. Once planted you are sure to have an abundance of flowers with a long bloom period. These flowering plants are popular in Florida when it comes to planting for a colorful winter garden look.

When planting locate an area that gets full sun, the soil can either be clay or sandy to well-drained, the soil should be thoroughly soaked when irrigating, allow the soil to dry out somewhat before watering again. During the spring and summer months provide petunias with a balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 0r 12-12-12, before applying fertilizers read the manufacturer’s directions for the best results. Keep an out for garden pests such as aphids and caterpillars, for aphid control a strong spray of water from your garden hose will knock aphids to the ground killing them but because petunias are delicate the strong spray of water may damage plants so your other option is to use insecticidal soap spray or horticultural oils. Before applying however read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.

Budworm caterpillar is another pest to look for, if they are present reach for Bacillus thuringiensis to control, read and follow the manufacturer’s direction for best use. Soft rot and gray mold are diseases that are encouraged by too much moisture like heavy rainfall. Install (Petunia) species that can withstand heavy moisture.

Petunias can be installed in hanging baskets, containers, garden walk pathways, around the trunks of trees, in a flower bed, alongside fences and walls, Alongside a garden deck, in containers on a patio or a porch.

Cool Season Annuals Fpr South Florida-viola-flowers
Viola Flowers

Violas: Violas are another cool-season annual that has so much to offer, these garden beauties can add many colors, I love violas because they are showy. There are said to be about 500 species of violas which gives a lot of choices. Violas love full sunlight and soil that’s organic-rich and well-drained, once violas are given a good soaking allow the soil to dry between watering before watering again to discourage root rot.

Violas can be fertilized in the spring and then during the late summer months, with a slow-release fertilizer that promotes flower bloom, especially during the fall months. Keep an eye out for mealy bugs, whiteflies, aphids, and spider mites. The use of insecticidal soap spray and horticultural oils will bring control. Before spray applications read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results.

For flea beetles, the use of sticky traps, neem oil, insecticidal soap, diatomaceous earth, Carbaryl, and Malathion can help as well. Snails and slugs can also become a nuisance, to bring control keep the garden beds clean and clear of debris. Hand-picking snails/slugs and throwing them into a bucket of soapy water will bring elimination. Snail bait and diatomaceous earth are also effective for control.

Diseases such as rust, powdery mildew, stem rot, anthracnose, and pansy scab are common, for control. Refer here, viola plant careViolas can be planted in flower beds, installed in containers and hanging baskets, around the trunks of trees, install violas along a garden path walkway, alongside a fence or a wall, and around garden decks. 


Cool Season Annuals For South Florida-dianthus-flowers
Dianthus Flowers

Dianthus: Dianthus will warm your heart during the colder months, during the spring and the summer months as dianthus puts out their display of flowers will attract butterflies and other pollinators. Dianthus is a species of a large family that consists of 3000, plant dianthus in a sunny location, the soil type for this garden beauty to survive in is well-drained soil.

During summer time the soil should be kept moist at all times however be careful not to overwater which can lead to root rot, it is best to allow the soil to dry out a bit just to be on the safe side and then water again. A slow-release fertilizer such as 5-10-5 or 5-10-10 during the growing season will encourage flower blooms.

The main culprit of dianthus are aphids, spider mites, and slugs, to bring aphids and spider mites under control apply insecticidal soap.  Snail bait will reduce and control the snail population. Be aware of these diseases and treat them immediately, rust, greasy blotch, fusarium wilt, Alternaria leaf spot, botrytis blight, and bacterial slow spot. To control these diseases refer to dianthus plant care.

Dianthus can be planted in a garden plant bed, along a garden path walkway, in containers, around the trunks of trees, alongside a fence or wall, around a garden deck, and also in hanging baskets.

Cool Season Annuals For South Florida-geranium-flowers
Butterfly on geranium flowers

Geraniums: I have worked with geraniums on many garden projects, especially when installing as interior plants, geraniums are not only beautiful but have that soft touch as well. With a display of beautiful colors, that’s showy geraniums are the perfect fit for your cool-season garden, install these garden beauties in an area that gets lots of sunlight.

Geraniums thrive best in sandy or well-drained soil because these garden beauties don’t like wet feet, give geraniums a good drink of water then allow the soil to dry out before irrigating again. After new growth emerges give geraniums a liquid feed fertilizer every 3 weeks throughout the growing season, the use of an all-purpose granular fertilizer is ideal.

Garden pests of geraniums include aphids, budworms, white flies, fungus gnats, katydids,s and spittlebugs, bonide insect pest control will bring control. For best results read and follow the manufacturer’s directions. Keep a watch for these diseases, root rot, stem rot, rust, botrytis blight, Alternaria leaf spot, and bacterial leaf spot. For more on these diseases and how to control refer to the care of geraniums.

Geraniums can be installed as interior plants, plant them in hanging baskets and containers, in garden plant beds, around the trunk of trees, alongside a wall or a fence, around garden decks, and alongside a patio.

Cool Season Annuals For South Florida-pansy-flowering-plants

Pansy: For that color pop pansy is the ideal plant, the rainbow flowers are a real show stopper that I am sure you will be pleased with, for pansy to perform their best install in a sunny location. And organic-rich well-drain soil will help your pansy to thrive, keep the soil of your pansies moist not water saturated or waterlogged which will lead to root rot.

A balanced fertilizer such as 10-10-10 during the growing season will encourage full bloom, simply sprinkle the fertilizer around your plants and apply water. Snails/slugs and aphids are the main garden pests of these plants. Slugs and snails can be hand-picked and thrown into a container of soapy water for control or snail bait can greatly help also.

For aphids apply insecticidal soap according to the manufactures direction, diseases of pansies include anthracnose, powdery mildew, Cercospora leaf spot, and botrytis blight. To bring full control refer to how to plant, grow and care for pansies.

Cool Season Annuals For South Florida-dusty-miller-flowering-plant
Dusty Miller

Dusty Miller:  Many years ago when I first laid eyes on these garden beauties I was blown away by the color and the velvety appearance, these plants are unique bringing that much-needed flavor. Dusty millers are known to keep deer and rabbits at bay so if you have an issue with wildlife install dusty millers along the edges of your garden plant beds, planters, and pots.

Although dusty millers can thrive in the partial shade the full sun is ideal, soil that drains well but holds the right amount of moisture is ideal, and the addition of organic will help to condition the soil. Give dusty millers a good soaking but allow the soil to dry out somewhat before applying more water, the use of slow-release fertilizer will keep dusty millers growing healthy.

Aphids are the main pest of dusty miller, insecticidal soap however will bring control, aster yellow and root rot can cause dusty miller to deteriorate. For more on the care of dusty millers including disease control refer to dusty miller care. dusty miller can be installed as a specimen plant, in a garden plant bed, around the trunks of trees, in containers, garden walk pathways. alongside fences, walls, garden decks, and patios.

The final word on cool season annuals for South Florida

We can still take advantage of the fall and the winter months, this time of the year presents so many opportunities to bring that much -need colors into our South Florida gardens. I believe that our gardens and landscapes should always look their best year round because a beautiful and well-maintained garden can have such a positive impact on our mental as well as physical health besides increasing our property’s value so let’s do all that we can to keep our surrounds beautify which is a great way to also give nature a helping hand.


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About the author

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Norman loves being in the garden, both at home and for his job....
he is 'Natures Little helper' being outdoors, growing his vegetables and flowers from an early age.
Now having spent over 22 years in the profession he want to give some of his knowledge to others...
his vast array of hints and tips you will find scattered over this site will help you no end growing plants in your garden.