Cool Season Plants for South Florida
Today is officially the first of December which means that the cooler months are finally here but as the weather cools down we can continue to have a beautiful colorful garden that can continue to flourish during this time of the year. A plant that can keep your South Florida garden colorful is calendula, this garden beauty is native to Southwestern Asia, Macaronesia, Europe, and the Mediterranean. Calendula is a short-lived herbaceous flowering plant that’s in the daisy family Asteraceae and is in a genus of about 12-15 annuals and perennials.
What I love about calendula is these flowering beauties will attract pollinators (butterflies and bees) as a bonus to your South Florid garden, which can get things going. Below we will show you how to grow calendula successfully.
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Calendula thrives best in cool conditions during early spring and fall but will not withstand the summer’s heat, water calendula regularly until the flowers are established. If the soil dries out then water thoroughly. Make sure that calendula gets sufficient water. The soil should be somewhat moist at all times and not waterlogged.
The Soil Type
Calendula will thrive in soils that are ordinary but will perform their best in organic nutrient-rich soil.
When sowing calendula in your garden plant seeds in rows and give a spacing of 5 inches between seeds. At maturity, calendula can reach heights of 1-2 ft tall and 1-2 ft. wide
Make sure that your calendulas are watered regularly because prolonged periods of drought will cause flowers to wilt followed by flower drop.
Fertilizer applications will provide nutrients for your calendula however too much nitrogen will encourage more leaf growth and less flower production, for the best results read and follow the manufacturers.
Once you have planted your calendula it’s time to mulch, the addition of mulch will help to keep weeds down, conserve soil moisture, and beautify, and as mulch breaks down will add nutrients to the soil. A layer of hay or natural black mulch will work wonders.
Garden Insect Pest Issues
Calendula has its share of garden insect pests, as soon as insects are spotted control measures should be put in place, here is what to watch for when doing your inspection.
A pesticide that will bring control is insecticidal soap, before using this soap spray read and follow the manufacturer’s directions for the best results. Be warned however that insecticidal soap can also negatively impact beneficial insects if they come in contact at the time of application. If beneficial insects are present don’t apply, wait for them first to move away from ( garden pests) infested plants.
The beneficial insects that calendula attracts are hoverflies, ladybugs, and lacewings, these beneficials will control garden pests. Slugs also find calendula a delicacy, if slugs are spotted, hand-picking and throwing them in a container of soapy water will bring elimination. To limit or keep snails free from eating your calendula don’t overuse mulch and keep your garden free of debris which will encourage their presence. If slug infestation is high then consider using snail bait.
Cabbage loppers are another pest, these garden pests are small caterpillars but can do huge damage. Control measures include the use of Bt thuringienis or encouraging songbirds into your garden. If using Bt thuringienis read and follow the directions for the best results or if songbirds are desired here is what you can do.
- Set up a few bird feeders
- Install bird-friendly plants such as sunflower, marigold, aster, Purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, daisy, zinnias, cosmos, celosia, etc… sunflower, marigold, aster, Purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, daisy, zinnias, cosmos, celosia
- Provide fresh water in a shallow bowl or consider the installation of a birdbath
- Provide a few nesting sites for example open-front nesting boxes
Grasshoppers may be seen at times as well, if grasshoppers are spotted the presence of birds will bring control also consider using nosema Locustae bait. To apply simply broadcast this bait over your garden and the surrounding areas. The bait can be applied in early spring before the baby grasshoppers hatch and emerge.
A crowed plant bed and wet conditions will encourage powdery mildew, to discourage powdery mildew clear crowed beds to encourage proper circulation. Treat powdery mildew with fungicides including sulfur, neem oil, copper, and potassium.
The Benefits of Pinching Calendula
Pinching will encourage flower plants to produce more flower blooms when removing faded or spent flowers pinch the spent blossoms at the base of the stem or behind the bud. This will encourage new growth.
If calendula is growing too vigorously then you may have to prune or trim them back a bit.
Growing Calendula as a Potted Plant
Container-grown calendula is another great way to grow these garden beauties, containers that are used should have drain holes for water to drain once plants receive sufficient water. And organic potting soil is ideal for growing calendula from containers. Give calendula a regular feeding with a balanced fertilizer for example 20-20-20. The removal of spent or faded flowers by pinching will encourage a fuller plant with an abundance of flowers.
Bonus Just for You
- Mature seedlings can be planted in a deck planter or transplanted and grown in window boxes.
- Before sowing seeds spreading a layer of compost in your garden will encourage healthy growth.
- The flower colors calendula are red, yellow, pink, orange, and white.
- A hard frost will kill calendula.
- Calendula often self-seed in the garden.
- The seeds from calendula can be collected and replanted again.
- Although I have never tried it what I have heard is the flowers of calendula can be used to make tea
The final word on how to Care for calendula in South Florida
Calendula flowering plants will work well in your garden, these plants are amazing and will go to work for you. Calendula are easy to take care of and will help your garden to come to life buzzing with the presence of pollinators as well as songbirds. Calendula is a winner so why not consider installing this cool season plant in your gardens and landscapes or you may be wondering how to grow healthier calendula look no further you have come to the right place. The information that is provided will help you along the way, you will be so happy with the results as your calendula produces an abundance of flower blooms.
About the author
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.