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By Rebecca Fending
Have you been looking for an excuse to get into or start gardening this year? March 12 is National Plant a Flower Day, understandably established in the middle of gardening season. Gardening can be a bit difficult in Florida’s climate given the high humidity and intense sun almost year-round. However, here are a few plants that are perfect for any gardener to include in their crop this spring.
What vegetables are best to plant in March?
Since Florida weather is still pretty cool as we come off of winter and temperatures begin to rise as we approach the first day of spring on March 20, now is a great time to farm vegetables. Vegetable crops tend to thrive in cool conditions, as opposed to the state’s native hardy flowers that prefer sweltering summer temps. But which veggies are best to plant now?
- Warm season vegetables: beans, cucumbers, melon, okra, southern peas, peppers, sweet potatoes, summer quash and tomatoes. (according to My Little Green Garden)
- Cool season vegetables: carrots, celery, Chinese cabbage, kohlrabi, bunching onions, radish, spinach, winter squash and Swiss chard. (according to My Little Green Garden)
March is ideal for planting either warm or cool weather crops as typical weather for March tends to sit right in the middle. Be sure to keep an eye out for any surprise frosts as winter sees itself out the door. If a frost is forecasted, be sure to cover up any of your “warm season” plants in order to protect them from the cold shock as it may kill the plant.
Flowers to plant for the holiday
Since the holiday is technically focused on flowers, here are a few options for flowers that thrive in Florida’s climate and are great to plant now, according to Costa Farms.
- Summer-blooming bulbs like cannas, dahlias and gloriosa lilies, can be planted now. Be sure to keep an eye out for any frosts that may be forecasted and cover these bulbs as necessary.
- Non-bulb flowers can be planted once sprouted in a seedling starter. Flowers such as Crossandra are great for attracting pollinators and brightening up your garden or flower box. Queen’s Wreath is also a great option for those who may want flowers but don’t want to fuss over them. Once Queen’s Wreath is established, it requires almost no attention and has a very little number of pest problems. Calla lilies are also great for Florida’s warm and moist climate. As temperatures rise, these flowers will need more water to balance out the amount of sunshine they receive.
General tips for flower planting
- Always be sure to research the needs of whatever you would like to plant. Although some may thrive in Florida’s warmth and moisture, they may not take kindly to being in full sun. Be sure to either place what needs shade in the most shaded parts of your lawn, or plant them in a pot so you can move them as needed into or out of direct sunlight.
- Fertilize the soil properly. Be sure to use soil that is appropriately fertilized for what you are planting, including not completely saturating the soil with fertilizer. Most experts recommend fertilizing soil through organic means or even composting regularly prior to and after planting.
- Lay mulch in order to combat weed growth. Weeds are easily the most annoying part of gardening. Laying down a three inch deep layer of mulch over your flower bed can help keep weeds from forming due to the lack of sunlight.
If you’re not sure where to start with gardening, you can research online with a number of websites, including University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences extension or your local gardening experts. Gardening is a great hobby, especially when we’re still advised to stay home as much as possible. Get some sun and reap the benefits of your labor by farming your own flower bed.