Cool Season Bedding Plants For South Florida Gardens

6 Cool Season Bedding Plants To Keep Your South Florida Colorful

Cool Season Bedding Plants For South Florida Gardens-snapdragon-flowers
Snapdragon Flowers

The cool season presents the opportunity to fill our gardens with colorful flower blooms, why wait until the spring and summer months when you can get out in your gardens and install cool season annuals that will put on a beautiful display giving that color pop? Many species of bedding plants can be chosen to compliment your existing garden or even if you haven’t started a garden as yet this is the perfect time to transform your outdoor living space into your very own garden oasis.

The installation of bedding plants can help you to achieve this, these garden beauties will not only fill your gardens with various colors but will also provide nectar for pollinators ( butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds) during the early spring months. Although there are many bedding plants to choose from we have provided 6 of the most beautiful cool-season bloomers that will put on a beautiful display for your South Florida garden. Common diseases of snapdragons are downy mildew, root rot, fungal leaf spots, and rust fungus.

Downy mildew: Signs appear as a light grayed color growth that is fluffy on the leaves’ undersides, downy mildew symptoms appear very rapidly and may be difficult to control. Because this disease is brought on by the leaves being constantly wet, avoid overhead irrigation, and give snapdragons the proper spacing for good air circulation.

Root rot: Too much water and soil that drains poorly encourages root rot, signs of root rot include slow plant growth, mushy stems, and leaves that wilt, distort, and turn yellow. To discourage root rot monitor how much snapdragons are irrigated and provide good soil drainage by adding compost if needed.

Fungal leaf spots: Signs of fungal leaf spots are on the leaves initially, black spots appear on the upper leaf surface. Corresponding to dark brown, dusty pustules on the lower surface, if the disease persists the leaves shrivel, and vigor is greatly reduced. In extreme cases, the stems die back,  some control measures include the removal of infected plant parts, avoiding overwatering, give snapdragons adequate spacing to promote proper air circulation, keep the beds clean, and apply a fungicide for example neem oil.

Rust Fungus: Signs of rust fungus appear as brown, orange-yellow, or red spores appear or masses on the outside of the leave, these spores appear as raised dots on the leaves or the plant’s stems. Infected plants should be removed and properly disposed of to avoid the spread of this disease. Apply a fungicide that is liable for the control of rust on landscape plants.

Wilt: Wilt can happen because of insufficient water or may occur because of the infection of downy mildew, ensure that your snapdragon gets the right amount of water, and water from the base of the plant and provide good air circulation by proper spacing of plants.

1. How to Care for Snapdragon

Snapdragon can reach heights of 1-3 feet and 6-18 inches in width, this garden beauty grows best in full sun to partial shade, the ideal soil for snapdragon is a well-drained nutrient-rich soil with a neutral soil pH between 6.2-7.0, your snapdragon may stop blooming once the temperature warms up. However, planting them in partial shade and keeping them well watered will help greatly during the summer months. This move will also encourage them to most likely produce flowers during the fall season.

Once your snapdraons start producing flowers apply an all-purpose well-balanced fertilizer for example 10-10-10, before fertilizer applications read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results. Common pest problems of snapdragons are spider mites and aphids, to bring garden pests control apply horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.

2. How to Care for Lobelia

Cool Season Bedding Plants For South Florida-lobelia-flowers
Lobelia Flowers

Lobelias can reach heights of 1-3 feet and 1-3 feet in width, the lobelia bedding plant prefers full sun to partial shade and should be spaced 6-18 inches apart when installing. Lobelia needs fertile moist soil that does not dry out, avoid overwatering or allowing the soil to get soggy which will encourage root rot. The ideal pH for lobelias is 6.0-7.0 or slightly acidic, adding a layer of compost as mulch will provide the needed nutrients, retain moisture, and suppress weeds.

Remember to keep your lobelias evenly moist and not soggy, however insufficient irrigation will lead to fewer flowers, brown (leaves) foliage, and stunted growth. A regular fertilizer program will encourage flower bloom. At the time of planting apply a time-release or slow-release granular fertilizer and supplement with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer every 4-6 weeks.

Common pest problems of lobelias are spider mites, whiteflies, and aphids, the use of neem oil, insecticidal soap, and garlic base repellents will bring control. Read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results. Corn earworm presents another problem, these worms bore holes in the base of the lobelia stem and feed inside. The stems and the leaves slowly brown and collapse, the application of acephate applied at the base of lobelia will prevent infestation.

Keep an eye out for bacterial blight of lobelia, signs of this disease are initial leaf spotting on the flowers and the leaves of the lobelia plantlets. These leaf spots are surrounded by a distinct brown border. Leaf spots may also appear on the margins of older leaves, plants that are infected will eventually die. To discourage this disease avoid overhead irrigation during the evening and night hours, practice good sanitation, avoid handling plants when they are wet and remove infected plants and properly dispose of them.

3. How to Care for Viola

Cool Season Bedding Plants For South Florida Gardens-viola-flowers
Viola Flowers

Violas will fill your garden with beautiful flower blooms, this plant grows to a height of 4-10 inches and 4-10 inches wide. When installing violas space them 4-6 inches apart. Violas are tolerant of most conditions but grow best in full sun to partial shade and can easily fade in full sun during the summer heat. The ideal soil type is moist nutrient-rich soil that is well drained with an acidic pH, the addition of compost will condition the soil.

This cool-season plant is susceptible to iron deficiency which can be corrected with proper supplemental fertilizers, the main pest issues of violas are slugs and aphids. Aphids can be controlled with insecticidal soap. To reduce snail population hand pick and throw into a container of soapy water or apply snail bait.

4. How to Care for Alyssum

Cool Season Bedding Plants For South Florida Gardens-Alyssum
Alyssum Flowers

Alyssum flowering plants can reach heights of 3-10 inches tall and 2-4 inches in width, this low-spreading plant is easy to care for and thrives best when exposed to the full sun for at least 6 hours. The ideal soil is moist well-drained and with a neutral to acidic pH. When planting give alyssum a spacing of 6-12 inches apart according to the variety. Provide alyssum with at least 1 inch of water each week, during the warmer months water your alyssum more frequently or during periods of dry spells.

Unless alyssum is grown in poor soil they don’t need to be fertilized except if they are being grown from containers with a monthly application of water-soluble well-balanced fertilizer. Read and follow the manufacturer’s direction when it comes to fertilizer application because too much fertilizer will encourage a more lush or full plant with fewer flower blooms.

Alyssum can fall victim to stem and crown rot, downy mildew, or soil that has poor drainage, the key to discouraging or preventing this disease is to avoid watering. Common pest problems include aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies, To bring control apply neem oil or diatomaceous earth.

5. How to Care for Dusty Millers

Cool Season Bedding Plants For South Florida gardens-a-dusty-miller-plant
A Dusty Miller Plant

Dusty millers should be grown in an area that gets full sunlight though they can thrive in partial shade, when installing dusty millers provide a spacing of 9-12 inches. These garden beauties can reach heights of 12-18 inches with a spread of 12 inches. The soil type should be acidic soil that drains well but will hold the right amount of moisture. Adding organic matter will help promote soil health, when installing or grouping dusty millers they should be spaced about 8-12 inches apart for proper air circulation. Water your dusty miller well by ensuring that the soil is moist, allowing the soil to dry out somewhat between watering before irrigating again.

Dusty millers are light feeders and only need supplemental fertilizing in areas with poor soil, at the time of planting it is best to make soil improvements by adding organic matter such as leaf mold and well-rotted manure.

Common pest problems of dusty miller is aphids, aphids cause damage by sucking the plant’s fluid when this happens your dusty miller may show signs of stunted growth along with wilting or curling of the leaves. These unwanted garden insect pests can do a lot of damage. Bring them under control with the help of insecticidal soap. Aster yellows disease is caused by bacteria, these bacteria cause the plant to deform. There is no known treatment for this disease except to remove the plant and properly dispose of it. Excessive moisture can encourage root rot, ensure that you are monitoring the amount of moisture you’re giving your dusty millers to avoid root rot.

6. How to Care for Begonia

Cool Season Bedding Plants For South Florida Gardens-Begonia-flowering-plants
Begonias Flowering Plants

Begonia has also made its way on this list of cool-season bedding plants, begonias grows best in full sun to partial shade, begonia can reach a height of 6-12 inches with the seem in width. The ideal soil is organic-rich soil that drains well. The soil pH of Begonias should be 5.7-6.2, when watering your begonias ensure that the soil is moist then allow it to dry out somewhat before watering again. Overwatering will cause root rot also when applying moisture, water at ground level, or the soil surface. Don’t allow the water to get on the foliage or flowers.

Feed begonia with a fertilizer that is high in phosphorous, common pest problems of begonias are, spider Mites, mealy bugs, aphids, scales, and whiteflies. These garden insect pests cause yellowing and browning of the leaves followed by leaf drop. To bring these garden insect pests under control the use of insecticidal soap will offer some help. keep an eye out for these diseases.

Bacterial Leaf Spot: Shows up on the undersides of the older leaves as lesions that are small near the main veins. As the disease persists the spots enlarge and become brown, as the disease is allowed to spread the leaves will wilt followed by leaf dropping. The petioles and stems that are infected develop streaks that are water-soaked and may also split, at this stage your begonia may die. Remove and destroy infected plants, give the proper spacing of plants for good air circulation and humidity, do not wet the leaves and when purchasing plants ensure that they are disease-free.

Botrytis Blight: Damage shows up as soft brown rot on the stems, flowers, and leaves, you will also notice a growth that is gray and fuzzy. To bring this disease under control keep the plant bed free of debris, and remove infected plant parts which include leaves, stems, and flowers also avoid overhead irrigation, and water your begonias from the ground or soil level this way water will not come in contact with the leaves, stems or flower and give plants proper spacing for air circulation.

Powdery Mildew: Appears as a powdery substance on the plant leaves, this disease is encouraged by excessive fertilizing with water-soluble fertilizers, poor air circulation, and warm and damp conditions. Ensure that your begonias have proper air circulation, monitor the amount of fertilizer you are using, and do not overwater. Plant parts that are infected should be removed. Remember to sterilize your pruner after each use.

Fungal rot: Shows up as stunted growth, the plant’s roots may be discolored along with water-soaked stem at the ground level or soil line. Remove infected plants and dispose of them, before replanting in the same spot the soil should first be sterilized or treated with a fungicide, to ensure that your begonias are not getting excessive amounts of water allow the soil to dry out somewhat between irrigating

Viruses: Will cause the leaves to develop mosaic partners along with turning yellow and stunted plant growth. Infected plants should be removed and destroyed. Before installing plants the soil should be fresh and healthy. Plant pots that were previously used should be sterilized with bleach and water, also before purchasing the plant ensure that begonias are healthy and disease-free by looking for symptoms.

The final word on cool-season bedding plants for South Florida

These cool-season bedding plants will get your garden off to a great start as you connect with nature outdoors, cool-season bedding plants will fill your garden with an array of amazing flower blooms as you approach the spring and the summer months. What better way to start the year than by giving your gardens and landscapes that color pop? This guide will help you as you enhance your garden oasis that is inviting not only to family and friends but pollinators as well.


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About the author

+ posts

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.

6 thoughts on “Cool Season Bedding Plants For South Florida Gardens”

  1. Hello Norman,

    I just read your article on cool season bedding plants for South Florida gardens, and I’m genuinely inspired! As a flower enthusiast, I always look for ways to keep my garden vibrant and full of life throughout the year. Your detailed guide on these six stunning plants is a treasure trove of information that I find incredibly useful.

    The snapdragon flowers, with their vivid colours and unique shapes, have always been a favourite of mine. But what truly excites me about your article is the emphasis on plants that provide nectar for pollinators like butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. It’s a beautiful reminder of how our garden choices can significantly impact the environment and the crucial role these creatures play in our ecosystem.

    Your practical advice on caring for each plant, from snapdragons to begonias, is invaluable. It’s one thing to admire these plants, but understanding their needs and potential diseases makes it so much more rewarding to grow them. I particularly appreciate the tips on managing common pests and diseases, ensuring these garden beauties thrive in our unique South Florida climate.

    This article has not only equipped me with the knowledge to expand my garden but also reinforced my love for flowers, especially knowing that they support our vital pollinators. Thank you for sharing such a comprehensive and engaging guide. I can’t wait to introduce some of these plants into my garden and enjoy the colour burst they bring!

    Happy gardening,

    • Hello Danny,

      I am so happy that you’re a lover of plants like myself. Plants are amazing and make such a great contribution to our planet. Thanks for those kind words and I am so happy to help. Wishing you all the best and Happy garden as well!

  2. I love gardening with a passion. That is what brought me to your website to learn from you.

    The cool season bedding plant you talk about for Florida is also a good choice for other states as well. In my state of Pennsylvania, these are popular bedding plants we grow regularly.

    As a bonus your guide on how to care for each of these plants is well worth reading. Even I as an experienced gardener learned some new things about growing these plants.

    I recommend this website for all gardeners


    • Thank you so much for your kind words Jeff, it is so good to know your love of plants like myself. I am so happy to help all the best to you. Thanks again!

  3. Hi Norma, your article was a great piece to read but the main question that came to my mind is: In your 22 years of landscaping experience have you faced specific challenges in maintaining a garden in your area, and if so, what strategies or plant choices have you found effective in overcoming those challenges?

    • Hello Eric,

      There are many challenges at times that one can face in this field, can you be more specific with your question? Thanks again and all the best to you.


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