For gardeners in the northeastern U.S., March is a time of earnest preparation. Still shoveling snow, they anxiously await the equinox, when spring officially begins and the renewal of plant life whispers in the wind. Meanwhile, with lush trees already in bloom, and the heat of the tropics casting off any last chance for frost, garden life for Floridians runs on quite a different calendar.

With a far longer growing season and a much warmer climate, Florida greets its new gardeners with unique growing conditions, while also yeilding unique treasures from its soil. To make things even more complicated, the University of Florida actually divides the state of Florida into three separate gardening climate zones: North Florida, Central Florida and South Florida (for our guide’s purposes, we’ve decided to focus on the zones’ similarities). If you’d really like to maximize your growing potential specific to your Florida home’s region, your best bet is to keep a record of the temperatures all year and install a rain gauge to measure weekly, monthly and annual rainfall. Over time, the journal will help you become intimately acquainted with your new climate, making you a master at selecting just what to plant – and when.

While many Floridians plant most of their seeds in the fall, there’s really plenty to do in the garden year-round. From planting your figs in January to pruning your tropical fruit trees in July, making the most of a garden in the Sunshine State is quite an art form. To help you perfect your craft, we’ve put together a secret weapon for your green thumb – our 2016 Florida Gardening Guide. Designed in calendar form for new and seasoned gardeners alike, it contains a few solid suggestions of gardening tasks for each month – helping you celebrate all that makes gardening in Florida so special. For an in-depth take on the tips below, visit www.LifestylesAfter50.com

Click here for a free PDF of the Gardening Calendar

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