How to Grow Turk’s Cap Flowers (Malvaviscus arboreus), Explained

By Jennifer Poindexter Do you need a beautiful, unique, but low-maintenance shrub for your home? If so, you’ll be hard pressed to find a plant as …

How to Grow Turk’s Cap Flowers (Malvaviscus arboreus), Explained

Fall/Winter Harvest Seed Bank

The Fall/Winter Harvest Seed Bank includes a collection of all the seeds you need to grow your favorite fall and winter crops.

Click picture to see all the seeds!
20 varieties of crops (individually packaged)

These seeds thrive in cold weather and are extremely hardy.

You will be able to grow your own brussels sprouts, carrots, kale, broccoli, turnips, swiss chards and so much more. With over 20 popular varieties included, this seed bank is your #1 seed bank of choice for seeds that thrive in cooler temps.

What’s Included?

  • Over 6,500 seeds in total (all seeds can be saved for multiple planting seasons)
  • BONUS! We’re including 25 seed starting soil pellets (so you can start your seeds indoors!)
  • Seeds are individually packaged and labeled in resealable bags and then secured in a Mylar bag (provides two layers of protection from moisture and light)

Fall Vegetables for 9b

Many of you expressed interest in setting up and growing a vegetable garden this summer.

Most of the vegetables do not like extreme heat. I wouldn’t recommend the mindset of traditional growing seasons if you have never grown in Florida! Planning ahead makes the difference.

It’s not too late to set seeds out or pre-sprout indoors. This list will also work for Jan-Feb planting preparation for spring.

Fall is perfect for all the cool weather loving starts. The daily rain works in our favor if you’d like to try growing a fall garden. Summer requires daily watering and fending off heat loving pests! Everyone deserves a break from the heat!!! So give it a try!

Remember the prices on the produce aisle? That should be motivation enough! The best part is you won’t have to worry about how or where your produce was grown.

If you aren’t really “into gardening” but like a little spice in your life, why not grow some herbs?

Herbs such as oregano, rosemary and basil are great in a planter. They also enjoy a little cool weather. The oregano plant that I have is at least 20 years old! Ah fresh herbs. Just the smell makes me hungry!

Get out there and then you can Mangia Bene! (Eat Well). Ciao (chow?) No….🤪

Garden Zones

Guide to The Different Gardening Zones

Plants grow best in specific locations due to the temperature and climate that they can tolerate. Across the country, temperatures can vary significantly from one coast to another, within the same state, or from one state to the next.

When planting flowers it is important for people to understand what grows best where they live and what will likely not thrive at all. For this purpose there is a resource known as the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map.

This map vertically divides the country into thirteen zones of hardiness for gardening in winter temperatures. The zones are based on the coldest annual minimum temperatures in a region based on averages over a period of thirty years. Each of the planting zones is numbered, with Zone 1 being the region with the coldest annual temperatures and Zone 13 being the hottest. Each zone on the map is separated by ten degrees Fahrenheit. Additionally, each zone is further broken down into “a” and “b” sub-zones that are divided by five degrees Fahrenheit.

Understanding and following the gardening zones is one of the best ways to ensure a beautiful and healthy garden.

Zone 1

Zone 1 can be found in areas with extreme minimum temperatures of -50 degrees Fahrenheit or lower. Areas within this zone are further divided into 1a and 1b. The temperature range in zone 1a is between -60 and -55 degrees, while 1b is -55 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. Parts of Alaska, including Bettles and North Slope, are zone 1. Plants such as the quaking aspen, dwarf birch and black crowberry will grow well in zone 1.

Zone 2

Zone 2 is another area with inhospitably cold temperatures, and is mapped with annual cold temperatures between -50 and -40 degrees Fahrenheit. People who live in this planting zone can successfully plant the American elm, American cranberry bush and the silverberry. Some plants do best in one of the specific growing zones. For example, bearberry is most successfully planted in zone 2b where the minimum temperature range is between -45 degrees Fahrenheit and -40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Zone 3

Zone 3 is an area that is known for relatively cold winters and short summers. Plants that can survive temperatures between -30 and -40 degrees Fahrenheit are suitable for this zone. Aster is a flower that will thrive here, as will black-eyed Susans and tulips. Areas in Alaska are zone 3 as are areas in North Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Zone 3 is further divided in half into garden zones 3a and 3b.

Zone 4

This zone ranges from 30 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit with the last frost occurring in early June. Like Zone 3, the winters are cold while the summers are short. Plants that thrive in Zone 4 include the Japanese yew, ginkgo, the Trumpet Honeysuckle, and the Persian violet. Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and parts of New York and Maine are all parts of Zone 4.

Zone 5

Zone 5 is found in regions where the last frost occurs in late May and the lowest temperatures are between -20 and -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Sub-zones split these coldest temperatures, with 5a being -20 to -15 degrees Fahrenheit and 5b being -15 to -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Areas within this zone have winters that are cold and windy, and summers that tend to be long. Gardeners who are both casual and professional may plant plants such as the Japanese maple, Japanese holly, the multiflora rose, Shasta daisies, and tulips. Vegetables and fruits that grow well in this zone include spinach, strawberries and tomatoes.

Zone 6

In Zone 6, plants may safely tolerate temperatures of -10 to 0 degrees Fahrenheit. The summer weather conditions in Zone 6 are usually dry and long. The winters are often windy and very cold. This zone nearly bisects the country and is found in states such as New Mexico, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia. Other states including parts of Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Utah, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts are also Zone 6 to some extent. The last frost in these areas tends to be around mid-May. Plants and flowers that grow well in Zone 6 include the English lavender, purple coneflower, hydrangeas, English yew, English holly, and American holly.

Zone 7

Areas with lowest temperatures between 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit are known as Zone 7. Generally the last frost in these areas is in late April. Flowers and plants that thrive in this planting zone include the Kurume azalea, daffodils, crocuses, lilies and pansies. Plants that grow best in sub-zones include chinaberry, Monterey pine, and monkey puzzle, all of which grow best if temperatures reach no lower than 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit or 7b. On the map, Zone 7 is found in states that include, but are not limited to, Texas, Nevada, California, Washington, Oregon, and Virginia.

Zone 8

People living in Zone 8 are able to safely plant flowers and other plants that can tolerate low temperatures from 10 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. People who live in subzone 8a may plant flowers in temperatures as low as 10 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. People living in zone 8b can plant in minimum temperatures from 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Zone 8 covers much of the lower half of the U.S. and can be found in states such as California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, to name a few. Plants and flowers that are suitable for this zone include oleander, Indian azalea, hybrid rhododendron, butterfly blue, and purple-top verbena

Zone 9

Warm weather flowers and plants are suitable for planting in zone 9, where the annual minimum temperature is 20 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. The gardening zones in zone 9 are zone 9a and 9b. Plants in zone 9a will tolerate minimum temperatures of no lower than 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit. In 9b, the lowest temperature for flowers or plants should be 25 to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. Zone 9 occupies most of the lower states including California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida, to name a few. Plants that are well suited for this area include fuchsias, asparagus-fern, Australian pine, and Chinese hibiscus.

Zone 10

Zone 10 gardeners are dealing with warmer temperatures that are not suitable for cold weather plants. The average minimum annual temperatures that plants can safely tolerate in these regions are 30 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The two planting zones that make up zone 10 are 10a and 10b. Examples of where these garden zones are found include California, parts of Arizona and East Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and some of the Hawaiian Islands. Bougainvillea, poinsettia, royal palm, and rubber plants all grow well in zone 10.

Zone 11

This is a tropical zone that is found in some areas of Southern California, the Florida Keys, the Hawaiian Islands and Puerto Rico. Annual minimum temperatures are between 40 and 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The growing zones in zone 11 include 11a and 11 b. Geraniums, impatiens, and veronica or speedwell, are flowers that do well within these zones.

Zones 12 and 13

According to the USDA Hardiness Zone Map, these garden zones apply to the Hawaiian Islands and Puerto Rico and are not found on mainland USA. Temperatures for zone 12 are 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Zone 13 temperatures are 60 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Each of the two zones has sub zones that split them by 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Musk okra, caterpillar plant, and knife acacia are flowers that grow in these zones.

Daytona Beach 9a, 9b

Destin 8b

Gainesville 9a

Jacksonville Zone 8b, 9a

Lake City 8b

Ocala 9a

Orlando 9b

Panama Beach 8b, 9a

Pensacola 9a

Tallahassee Zone 8b

Troublemaker Plants

Growing Zone 5-8

Rebecca Finneran is a garden expert, and even she was seduced by the rose campion.
Finneran, a senior horticulture educator with the Michigan State University Extension, planted the perennial, known for its gray foliage and magenta blooms, in her home garden.

But it had a mind of its own.
“I loved that plant. And I suddenly realized that it was coming up down the hill in the woods from my garden,” she says. “And I would faithfully go down there and dig it up and bring it back. And then I looked out one day and, holy mackerel, there’s hundreds of them.”
While the rose campion isn’t technically classified as invasive in Michigan, it’s a plant that can quickly spread, popping up in unwanted places or pushing out other native species. It’s a reminder to gardeners to be responsible for what they plant, Finneran says. That means, for example, avoiding true invasives, monitoring energetic spreaders or non-disease-resistant varieties, and managing plants that can be water hogs or fire risks.
“I think gardeners need to better observe what their plants do,” she says.
So while it might be love at first sight at the garden center, research whatever you plant to make sure you aren’t introducing a problem like one of the varieties of bamboo that have proven to be invasive in the United States. One of Finneran’s most important garden tools is her phone, which she uses to research cultivars before she buys them to see if they are plants not to plant. What should you be on the lookout for? Here are four categories to help you know:

  1. Invasives
    For homeowners, super-spreaders like rose campion can be a pain, but invasives are a whole other level of headache. When plants like bush honeysuckle or Mexican petunia escape your garden and intrude on the natural landscape, they displace native species, threaten the ecosystem, affect fire patterns and even change the biochemistry of the soil, says Deah Lieurance, a member of the faculty at the University of Florida and chair of the Florida Invasive Species Council. Florida spends $45 million a year trying to clear conservation areas of invasive species, most of which have been introduced through horticulture, Lieurance says.
    How do you know if a plant is invasive? County extension agents and master gardener programs have information, and many states have invasive plant councils that assess risks, says Lieurance. Some states, like Massachusetts, maintain a list of banned plants.
    Last year, the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture instituted a ban on nurseries and stores selling Bradford (or Callery) pear trees, loved by homeowners and builders for their fast growth and showy flowers. But the trees spread and crowd out other species, grow spurs that make walking through brush difficult, have long taproots that complicate removal and self-destruct after 15 or 20 years, says Theresa Culley, who heads the biological sciences department at the University of Cincinnati and works with Ohio’s Invasive Plants Council.
    Not all non-native plants are invasive: It’s OK to grow something that doesn’t grow naturally in your area as long as it doesn’t pose a threat, Culley says. But do the research to find out which ones are safe.
  2. Water hogs
    Depending on where you live or what drought conditions may be in effect, water may be scarce or expensive. It’s therefore strategic to look for plants that require little water or to group water-lovers like astilbe and ligularia in one area of your garden so heavy watering is limited to one spot, says Finneran, who writes about water-smart gardens for Michigan State. Here, too, it pays to research a plant to learn about its native habitat. For example, the red maple is popular with homeowners, but it’s also known as swamp maple, which says a lot about its water needs.
    “In my world, we’re constantly diagnosing plant problems that we create ourselves because we have one uniform irrigation practice,” Finneran says. “We’re irrigating the plants that hate to be irrigated along with the plants that love to be irrigated.”
    Also, consider where you place container plants. A container tomato will need more water if it sits in a heat-absorbing location like an exposed deck or a stone patio.
    Look for plants that fit your conditions and what you can manage, Finneran suggests. “It’s really hard for the beginning gardener because the beginning gardener looks at a magazine and they go, ‘Oh, I want that.’ You just can’t have it all. It’s like buying clothes that don’t fit you.”
  3. Disease spreaders
    Gardeners tend to design by shape or color, but Finneran advises that you factor in disease resistance or you risk having a weak cultivar that spreads a pathogen like powdery mildew throughout your flower bed.
    “One of my favorite plants is tall phlox,” she says. “They’re fragrant, they’re colorful, but oh my gosh, some of them are really resistant to powdery mildew, and some of them are terrible.” Her solution? Removing susceptible cultivars from her flower beds and replacing them with varieties that are disease resistant.
    “Keep in mind that the more disease you allow to be in the garden, the more disease you’ll have,” she says.
  4. Fire risks
    This winter’s Marshall fire near Boulder, Colorado, which destroyed over 1,000 homes, is a tragic reminder of the increased risk of wildfires, says Christopher Jones, who’s responsible for agriculture and natural resources extension programs at the University of Arizona. The latest strategy for fire safety is to prevent wildfire embers from igniting materials — including plants — around a house, he says.
    “Now they say no plants within zero to 5 feet of the structure, and we’re recommending that you use containers, things you can move out of the way in case of a fire,” he says.
    Jones offers presentations on how to be fire wise, and several western state extension services distribute an ember awareness checklist. While no plant species is totally fireproof, deciduous plants tend to be the most fire resistant because the leaves have a high moisture content, he says. That’s opposed to plants that have mechanisms to retain moisture — including conifers, junipers and pines, and arborvitae. “They have needles or scales so they can hold that moisture,” he says. “That’s done because of the oils and resins that are in those needles. The presence of [those oils] just allows them to really burn hot.”
    Aromatic plants are dangerous, Jones says, since it’s the oils that make them smell so good. Rosemary is one example. “Great, easy plant for us to grow around here,” Jones says, “but if it catches on fire, it’s going to burn very hot.”
    Even a fire-wise plant can become a problem if it isn’t kept trimmed and free of detritus. “You want to keep them well maintained rather than allowing a lot of dead material to build up around them,” Jones says.
    Fire risk is yet another reason to avoid invasive plants, Jones says. Buffel grass and red brome, for instance, are range grasses that were introduced into the West and have contributed to wildfires, he says.
    For more information on how to protect yourself and your property, check with your extension service or fire department

National Garden Club History

History and Mission of National Garden Clubs

  • National Garden Club
  • Florida Federation of Garden Clubs
  • Deep South Region
  • Deltona Garden Club

National Garden Clubs, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) organization that aims to promote the love of gardening, floral design, and civic and environmental responsibility and we help coordinate the interests and activities of state and local garden clubs in the U.S. and abroad.

The First Garden Club

The first garden club meeting in the United States took place in Athens, Georgia in 1891.  It occurred during a time when women were seeking knowledge about a variety of subjects in study clubs of those with like interests.  They felt they needed more knowledge, as they had not had the benefit of a formal higher education.  

The topic of gardening was a logical choice for women in Athens, as it was the site of the University of Georgia with its botanical garden.  This garden had a collection of thousands of rare plants.  With the failure of the botanical garden, many residents had an interest in exchanging plants among themselves. 

The idea to have a garden club came from Dr. Edwin Dorset Newton, an Athens physician who had a keen interest in horticulture. Twelve women met in the home of Mrs. Edwin King Lumpkin on a January day in 1891 to form the Ladies’ Garden Club of Athens. The primary purpose was to study plants with each member studying a particular variety. These members dedicated themselves to the study of horticulture and the exchange of plants and ideas for the betterment of their community. Members were encouraged “to carry out experiments with different vegetables, flowers, seeds and so forth to find out which varieties were best.” The first flower show grew from the exhibitions of their flowers and vegetables.

Garden Lingo

If you need a quick reference or intro to gardening terms, here’s a basic list.


Varieties that complete their life cycle in one year or less, requiring sowing every year. Annual flower varieties often bloom profusely and over a long period of time.


Varieties, both flowers and vegetables, that complete their life cycle in two years, usually just showing only leaf growth the first year, and flowers the next.


Young, leafy vegetables or herbs that are harvested at 2″–4″ tall.


The condition of premature flowering in edible crops, often making the plant unpalatable.


Cucumbers that do not produce, or produce very little of a chemical called cucurbitacin, which produces a slight bitter flavor mainly concentrated in the skin and causes minor indigestion in some people.


Botanical Interests defines cold climates as those that experience freezing temperatures; generally, USDA zones 9 and cooler.


A four-sided frame placed on the ground or in a garden bed that has a clear top. By design, it increases temperatures over the ambient temperature and is used for growing seedlings for transplant or for food crops, extending the harvest season.


Planting different plants together that benefit one another. For example, sowing a plant that attracts pollinators next to a plant that requires pollination.


Organic matter often made from decomposed/broken down plant material. Compost can be used to replenish soil nutrients and introduce soil biology to a growing area or simply to reduce landfill waste.


Fast growing plants, usually grains, legumes, or grasses that are utilized for one or more of their soil-enhancing qualities. These crops are usually worked into the soil or removed before they produce seed.


A plant that is cultivated for harvest, like cutting flowers or vegetables.


A species that was selected or bred by humans for a particular feature. Cultivars carry a specific name in addition to the scientific name and/or common name, e.g. ‘Brandywine’.


Number of days, on average, that it will take a seedling to emerge from the soil or medium in favorable conditions.


Number of days from sowing (or transplant) to harvest.


Cutting spent flowers off a plant, encouraging the plant to bloom again; extending the bloom period.


Describes tomatoes that stop growing when fruit begins forming from the topmost flower bud, making them more compact at around 3’–4′. Most of the crop ripens within a couple weeks time, making these a great choice for canning.


Sow seeds directly in their permanent growing space.


Exhibiting less susceptibility or an immunity against specific diseases as compared to other varieties.


Better ability to thrive with the stress of infection as compared to other varieties.


Ability to survive or thrive in low water conditions. Also known as “water-wise.”


Characterized by lanky, weak, pale plant growth, resulting from low or no-light conditions.


Ability to survive or thrive in low water conditions, but to a lesser extent than “drought tolerant” plants.


Crops that tolerate some cool weather and even frost, although the amount of tolerance varies between crops and even varieties.


Crops that are not frost tolerant and will die as a result of exposure to freezing temperatures.


A seed capsule that emerges from a flower, such as a tomato or melon.


Six or more hours of sunlight.


The moment when a seed begins to grow.


Stands for Genetically Modified Organism. Commonly means genetically engineered, indicating that the variety was manipulated at the gene level in a laboratory.


A plant with only pollen-accepting flowers. A pollinator plant with pollen-producing flowers is required for fruit production. These varieties are generally very productive and fast to mature.


The 7 to 10-day process of acclimating plants started indoors to outdoor conditions.


The degree to which a plant can withstand cold temperatures. Botanical Interests uses “hardiness” to also indicate the lifespan of a plant, e.g. annual, biennial, or perennial.


The ability to resist heat-triggered issues like poor pollination, bitterness, premature flowering, and lack of fruit-set.


Botanical Interests considers open-pollinated varieties over 50 years old to be heirloom.


Modern F1 (filial 1) type hybrid. Two specific parent varieties are bred to achieve a first generation hybrid offspring. F1 hybrids are not open-pollinated. Traditionally, “hybrid” indicates any variety that had been made by cross-pollinating, even if that was completed by hand or an insect.


Describes tomato varieties that continue to grow and produce tomatoes all season until first frost: therefore, you can find tomatoes at all stages on the plant at one time. Also called “pole” tomatoes because supports are helpful in guiding plants that can easily reach 6′ or more.


The two or more part name that is unique to a specific species. Scientific names are consistent in any language, whereas a species may have several common names that may even vary by region.


For horticultural purposes, a medium is the material plants grow in.


Young, leafy vegetables or herbs that are harvested just above the soil line when the plants have their first pair of leaves, called cotyledons, and possibly the just-developing true leaves.


Botanical Interests defines mild climates as those without freezing temperatures; generally, USDA zones 10 and warmer. By using microclimates and protections some cooler USDA zones can also use mild climate sowing instructions.


The attribute of a plant producing both pollen-producing and pollen-receiving parts.


Botanical Interests identifies varieties that are native to the U.S. as “native”.


Describes seeds grown on certified organic property, following strict USDA guidelines regarding soil quality, pest and weed control, and the use of additives like fertilizers.


Varieties that produce seeds that are “true”, growing into nearly identical plants as the plant they were harvested from (if they are not cross pollinated). Unless a Botanical Interest variety is identified as a hybrid, it is open pollinated.


3 to 6 hours of sunlight.


The attribute of a variety producing fruit without fertilization. Cultivars produce seedless fruits when flowers are unpollinated, making them ideal for greenhouse production where pollinators may be excluded. When pollinated, these types produce seeded fruit.


Varieties that live for two or more years.


Refers to a reaction some organisms have to the length of day or night. In plants this reaction is usually flowering.


The fertilization of a flower by wind, insect, birds, etc. where the male pollen reaches the female stigma, resulting in a seed, sometimes surrounded by an edible fruit like a pepper.


An organism that transfers pollen.


Fabric that is used to either exclude pests or raise temperatures of the area beneath it. “Remay” is a type of poly-spun row cover material commonly used in farm and garden settings and it comes in several different thicknesses. Row covers may or may not have hoops under it to create a “low tunnel”.


The process of breaking through a hard outer covering of a seed to allow moisture to penetrate.


To drop viable seeds to the ground. In some varieties, often annuals, if seeds are allowed to drop, those seeds will germinate, perpetuating the variety. The subsequent seedlings are often referred to as “volunteers”.


Growth type of tomatoes that falls between determinate and indeterminate types. They produce a main crop that ripens within a couple weeks, but also continue to produce up until frost.


Germinated seeds that are not grown in medium but instead rinsed in water and drained several times a day.


The process of subjecting seed to a moist and cold treatment to break dormancy, which occurs naturally when seed is sown outdoors in the fall and experiences a winter period.


Sowing at least once more after the initial sowing, which extends the harvest. Three ways to successive sow: 1. Staggering sowings of the same crop 2. Sowing two varieties of the same crop with different maturing dates 3. Replacing one finished crop with a different crop.


A perennial that is not cold hardy in all zones. For Botanical Interests purposes, perennials hardy in only USDA zones 7 and higher are called tender perennials.


The act of reducing extra seedlings so that remaining plants are spaced properly.


Transferring a plant to a different growing space.


Seed that does not have a chemical treatment such as fungicide applied to it.


The historical, average, lowest winter temperature in specific geographic US areas. Perennials are rated using the USDA zone system, indicating the coldest temperature and USDA zone in which they can survive. “Deltona is in USDA ZONE 9b”


A species that has naturally formed a unique characteristic, for example from cabbage (Brassica oleracea) came kale (Brassica oleracea var. viridis) and kohlrabi (Brassica oleracea var. gongylodes) which both adapted unique, characteristics that differ from cabbage and so the variety (“var.”) name was added to the species name.


A cold treatment, such as found in cold winter conditions, that induces flowering in some varieties.


A plant that emerges from being self-sown or sown by an animal rather than by the gardener.

Herbal Mosquito Repellent

Makes about 8 oz.



  1. Pour both catnip extract and witch hazel extract into an 8 oz. bottle. 
  2. Slowly drip the essential oils into the bottle. 
  3. Cap the bottle and shake vigorously to combine.
  4. Store in the refrigerator with tight-fitting lid. Mixture will be shelf-stable for up to a year when stored properly.

To Use

  1. Replace the lid with optional mister cap or shake bottle and pour some into a smaller spray bottle that you can take with you for day trips. Return remainder to refrigerator.
  2. Shake well before each use. Spritz over exposed skin, avoiding eyes and mucus membranes.
  3. Reapply as often as needed.

Florida’s 3 Growing Seasons


Florida can be broken into three growing regions: North, Central, & South. Each has a slightly different climate (mainly depending possibility of freezing temperatures).

Florida Federation District Map


The spring growing season is the time of year to finish the last bit of the Winter harvest (mainly leafy herbs and veggies) & begin the process of planting fruiting plants. The Spring season begins with the occurrence of the LAST FROST. This can be as late as April 15th in North Florida or as early as January in South Florida. Central Florida tends have their last frost around early to mid March. Mother Nature can be unpredictable though, so each year is always unique.

Spring is the Opportunity to grow the largest diversity of edible plants in the Florida Garden. Everything from leafy veggies, to mainly fruiting plants will populate the garden.

How long does Florida’s Spring Growing Season last?

The Spring growing Season is sandwiched between the coldest temperatures of the Florida Winter (which may or may not be freezing temperatures) and the ever-increasing Summer Heat.

On Average: the Spring Growing runs February (Last Frost depending on location in Florida) through May.

More Specifically: North Florida is normally the end of March through June. Central Florida March through May. South Florida December or January through April or May.



The hallmark of Florida’s Summer growing season are humid heat and almost daily rains. Summer tends to be too hot for many of the Spring Plants to thrive, but many fruiting plants started during Spring can be harvested into the Summer. 

There are two major keys to growing a successful Summer Garden in Florida; growing the garden in Morning Sun & Afternoon Shade and making sure that plants are well-watered. The Sun during the Summer time is very intense, in fact too intense for many plants. It is recommended for the novice, especially during the Summer, to emphasize container gardening. This will give the gardener the ability to move plants around into less sunny or more sunny spots that the plants may find more suitable. Pay careful attention to what the plants are telling you, if they become droopy, while having been well-watered, this is a sign that they need to be in more shade and less sun.

Summer being such a sweltering season in much of the state, make sure that the plants are getting enough water. Signs that need water may include: wilting, droopy appearance, dusty soil (not moist to the touch, etc. Due to the excessive heat it can not be overly emphasized how critical careful attention to regular watering of the garden can be.

How long does Florida’s Summer Growing Season last?

On Average: The Summer growing season typically lasts May through September.

More Specifically: North Florida is normally June through September. Central Florida runs Mid-May through Early October. South Florida typically begins in late April and can run as late as November.



Florida’s Winter Growing Season runs between the slow cooling-off of the Fall through the end of Winter. This season is best suited for growing leafy veggies & herbs. Seeds can be started between Late Summer and into the Fall (September to Early December). 

Winter tends to be a dry season in Florida, rainfall is not as common as the Summer Season. Make sure to keep leafy Veggies well-watered and partial to full sun are acceptable during the Winter Season. The cooler it becomes, the more acceptable sun exposure becomes for the garden. 

As the weather cools, the bugs and pests become less active. Think of temperature as a dial, the warmer it is, the more active bugs (leaf mites, aphids, etc) become.

How long does Florida’s Winter Growing Season last?

On Average: The Winter growing season typically lasts September through March.

More Specifically: North Florida is normally September through March. Central Florida runs Mid-September through March. South Florida typically begins in late October and can run as late as February.

© Florida Seed & Garden 2022 credits

17 Top Bulbs for Fall Planting – for Blooms Next Spring

By Jennifer Poindexter When you’re looking for ideas to brighten up your landscape, planting bulbs is a great option. There’s nothing like natural …

17 Top Bulbs for Fall Planting – for Blooms Next Spring

National Pollinator Week

Official Logo

Pollination Fast Facts: Gardeners

What is pollination?
• Pollination occurs when pollen grains are moved between two flowers of the same species, or within a single flower, by wind or animals that are pollinators. Successful pollination, which may require visits by multiple pollinators to a single flower, results in healthy fruit and fertile seeds, allowing plants to reproduce. Without pollinators, we simply wouldn’t have many crops!

• About 75% of all flowering plants rely on animal pollinators and over 200,000 species of animals act as pollinators. Of those, about 1,000 are hummingbirds, bats, and small mammals. The rest are insects such as beetles, flies, bees, ants, wasps, butterflies, and moths.
Why are pollinators important to us?
• Worldwide, approximately 1,000 plants grown for food, beverages, fibers, spices, and medicines need to be pollinated by animals in order to produce the goods on which we depend.

• Foods and beverages produced with the help of pollinators include blueberries, chocolate, coffee, melons, peaches, pumpkins, vanilla, and almonds. Plants that depend on a single pollinator species, and likewise, pollinators that depend on a single type of plant for food are interdependent. If one disappears, so will the other.

What about bees that sting? What about allergies?
• Most species of bees don’t sting. Although all female bees are physically capable of stinging, most bee species native to the U.S. are “solitary bees,” that is, not living in colonies and don’t sting unless they are physically threatened or injured. Only honey bees are defensive and may chase someone who disturbs their hive.
• It is wise, though, to avoid disturbing any bee or insect nest. For instance, if you spot an underground nest of ground-nesting bees, you might want to mark it with a stick so that it can be easily avoided.
• Some people are allergic to pollen of various flowering trees, plants and grasses, but not to all pollen. A common misunderstanding is that hay fever is caused by goldenrod pollen. It isn’t! Ragweed is the main offender and should be avoided.
Pollinator Partnership 600 Montgomery Street, STE 440 San Francisco, CA 94111 415-362-1137

Ways You Can Help!
What everyone can do for pollinators:
• Watch for pollinators. Get connected with nature. Take a walk, experience the landscape and look for pollinators’ midday in sunny, planted areas.
• Reduce your impact. Reduce or eliminate your pesticide use, increase green spaces, and minimize urbanization. Pollution and climate change affect pollinators, too!
• Plant for pollinators. Create pollinator-friendly habitat with native flowering plants that supply pollinators with nectar, pollen, and homes.

What you can do for pollinators:
• Create a pollinator-friendly garden habitat in just a few simple steps.
• Design your garden so that there is a continuous succession of plants flowering from spring through fall. Check for the species or cultivars best suited to your area and gradually replace lawn grass with flower beds.
• Plant native to your region using plants that provide nectar for adults plus food for insect larvae, such as milkweed for monarchs. If you do use non-native plants, choose ones that don’t spread easily, since these could become invasive.
• Select old-fashioned varieties of flowers whenever possible because breeding has caused some modern blooms to lose their fragrance and/or the nectar/pollen needed to attract and feed pollinators.
• Install ‘houses’ for bats and native bees. For example, use wood blocks with holes or small open patches of mud. As little as 12” across is sufficient for some bees.
• Avoid pesticides, even so-called “natural” ones such as Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). If you must use them, use the most selective and least toxic ones and apply them at night when most pollinators aren’t active.
• Supply water for all wildlife. A dripping faucet or a suspended milk carton with a pinhole in the bottom is sufficient for some insects. Other wildlife need a small container of water.

• Provide water for butterflies without letting it become a mosquito breeding area. Refill containers daily or bury a shallow plant saucer to its rim in a sunny area, fill it with coarse pine bark or stones and fill to overflowing with water.
• Share fun facts, such as: a tiny fly (a “midge”) no bigger than a pinhead is responsible for the world’s supply of chocolate; or one out of every three mouthfuls of food we eat is delivered to us by pollinators.
Pollinator Partnership 600 Montgomery Street, STE 440 San Francisco, CA 94111 415-362-1137

Native Plants

The Benefits of Native Plants and Flowers

Coreopsis the Florida state wildflower
Photo- Anna Sarich

Native vegetation evolved to live with the local climate, soil types, and animals. This long process brings us several gardening advantages. Native plants provide multiple benefits to people and wildlife, while contributing greatly to healthy soil and water in urban and rural areas. Native plants attract a variety of birds, butterflies, and other wildlife by providing diverse habitats and food sources.

In the U.S., approximately 20 million acres of lawn are cultivated, covering more land than any single crop. Unfortunately, there are very few benefits to native wildlife from a manicured lawn. Likewise, gardens that mostly feature non-native species of plants are often of little benefit to wildlife.

Natural landscaping is an opportunity to reestablish diverse native plants, thereby inviting the birds and butterflies back home. By creating a native plant garden, each patch of habitat becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for birds and other animals.

A native plant garden or large planting with a diversity of trees, shrubs, perennials, and grasses provides food and shelter for insects, birds, amphibians, and mammals throughout the growing season.

Leaving seed heads and plant structure throughout winter provides continuing food and shelter for many creatures and provides opportunities to observe nature up close. To underscore the importance of native plants to birds, virtually all terrestrial birds feed their young insects. Native plants provide food for insects, and insects provide food for birds. With no insects, we would have no birds.

Photo -Anna Sarich

Native wildflowers, flowering vines, shrubs, and trees offer a wide range of colors, textures and forms to create dynamic seasonal displays. Grasses and sedges have interesting flowers and seed heads and yellow–orange fall color. Shrubs and trees have fall color and berries that persist into the winter. Choosing a wide assortment of plants ensures seasonal interest, with the bonus of attracting colorful birds, butterflies and insects.

Eastern Swallowtail

Some of the many benefits of native plantings are:

  1. Save Water:
    Once established, many native plants need minimal irrigation beyond normal rainfall.
  2. Low Maintenance:
    Low maintenance landscaping methods are a natural fit with native plants that are already adapted to the local environment. Look forward to using less water, little to no fertilizer, little to no pesticides, less pruning, and less of your time.
  3. Pesticide Freedom:
    Native plants have developed their own defenses against many pests and diseases. Since most pesticides kill indiscriminately, beneficial insects become secondary targets in the fight against pests. Reducing or eliminating pesticide use lets natural pest control take over and keeps garden toxins out of our creeks and watersheds.
  4. Wildlife Viewing:
    Native plants, birds, butterflies, beneficial insects, and interesting critters are “made for each other.” Research shows that native wildlife prefers native plants.
  5. Support Local Ecology:
    As development replaces natural habitats, planting gardens, parks, and roadsides with native plantings can provide a “bridge” to nearby remaining wild lands and wetlands.

Learn more by coming back to

Native Gardening - Goffle Brook Farms

Volusia County Restrictions

Summer Water Runoff Restrictions

Here in Volusia County, summer is approaching, and we know there’s nothing quite like summer fun—so our flamingo flock is helping us take the summer off—from fertilizing, that is!  Let’s hear it directly from them: Here are the top ways to
Be Floridian Now this summer!

Read more about Volusia County’s fertilizer ban at or

1.  Skip the Fertilizer:  The first thing you can do to protect our fun, and our water quality, is to skip the fertilizer during the summer rainy season, from June 1 through September 30. Summer rain showers wash fertilizer into our waterways, causing toxic algae blooms and fish kills. Volusia County has a fertilizer ban on nitrogen and phosphorus—the first two numbers on the fertilizer bag—from June 1 through September 30. During this time, residents and lawn care companies may not apply nitrogen or phosphorus to lawns or landscape plants.

2.  Twice is Nice:  Use at least 50% slow-release nitrogen, once in the spring and once in the fall. This will carry your plants through the rainy season, without posing an extra risk to our water bodies. And don’t forget to skip the phosphorus year-round without a proven deficiency. For more information on how to read a fertilizer label, go to or

3.  Be on your Guard:  If you choose to fertilize with 50% or more slow-release fertilizer, make sure there is a deflector shield or edge guard on your fertilizer spreader so you can spread it only where you need it. If you do make a mistake, brush any stray granules back onto your landscaping. Driveways, sidewalks and streets lead to storm drains, which lead to water bodies.

4.  Get Buffer:  Keep your fertilizer at least 15 feet away from any body of water, as required by Volusia County’s fertilizer ordinance. While you’re giving your waterways some distance, why not plan for a low-maintenance buffer zone around your waterfront? Whether they’re on the bank or in the water, low-maintenance zones can include native or Florida friendly plants, which require NO fertilizer or irrigation once they are established in the right place. They can even help protect your waterway from excess fertilizer runoff.  For more information about Florida friendly plants for pond shorelines, see the UF/IFAS Extension’s webpage on the topic here:

5.  Floridify your Yard:  When the Right Plant is in the Right Place, it can reduce or eliminate your need for fertilizer and irrigation. It can also require less overall maintenance, cost less in the long-term, and benefit local wildlife. Native and Florida friendly plants can be sustainable turf alternatives. As you plan, you can call a nursery near you and ask about availability of native or Florida friendly plants. For some common native plants for Florida yards, check out these resources:

6.  Raise the Blade:  When you mow your lawn, raising the blade on your mower makes the grass that is in your landscape stronger and more capable of finding its own nutrients and water in the soil. Remember, grasses are plants, too! Mowing too short stresses the grass and makes it more vulnerable to disease and pests.  For more information about good mowing practices, visit the UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions site at

7.  Keep the Clippings:  Keep grass clippings on your landscape, because they contain nitrogen! Nitrogen can contribute to nutrient pollution if it runs off your lawn, but clippings left on your landscape will break down and feed your lawn. It’s free fertilizer! For more information about “grass-cycling,” and for recommended mowing heights, see the UF/IFAS Extension webpage on the topic:

8.  Save the Water (bill):  Only water your landscape if your plants are showing signs of stress, like if the leaves of your plants are curling, or you can see footprints in your lawn. Otherwise, keep your distance! You may be surprised to find that they might not need your help as often as you think they do, especially if you have the Right Plant in the Right Place!  IF YOU MUST water, do so efficiently. Be sure that it has not rained in a while, and that rain is not scheduled in the forecast. Keep an eye on your system, and make sure your sprinkler heads are pointing in the right direction – not watering the sidewalk!

Know your watering day/s, and know where your shut-off valve is, in case you need to get involved in the process.  See this link for more information about watering days in Volusia County:

Shared courtesy of

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails

Eastern Tiger Swallowtails

When you see a large, showy butterfly flitting around your garden, a roadside, fields or woodsd, take a closer look. It may be an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail(Papilio glaucus), which is a native in eastern North America.  It’s at home in Florida, except the Florida Keys.  

From February to November, these butterflies feed on nectar from sturdy plants, particularly those that have “red or pink” flowers.  Look for adults with a wing span of 3.1 to 5.5 inches. Males are yellow with four black stripes on their forewings.  Females may be yellow or black.   The yellow females have a band of blue spots along their hind wings.  Black females do not have distinguishing markings, they are just dark. 

These dark females may be a species preservation mechanism as some predators will avoid them, thinking they are another form of swallowtail that is poisonous.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail – Yellow

Adult Eastern Tiger Swallowtails live about a month.  They are loners and are frequently observed flying above the tree tops.   Males pursue females by frequenting areas that contain the kinds of  plants on which females prefer to lay their eggs.  To attract or tempt the females, the males  release a pheromone that encourages mating.  While courting, the butterflies engage in a ritual mating dance, fluttering their wings around each other before they land and mate.

Two to three broods may be produced each year in our area.  Trees and shrubs of the Magnoliaceae (magnolia) and  Rosaceae plant families are the favorite host plants on which the females lay their green eggs. 

As the young caterpillars develop, they are brown and white.  Then change to green with black, yellow and blue spots on the thorax. The caterpillar then goes into a resting stage, forming a chrysalis from which the butterfly will emerge

Milk Fertilizer?

Using milk as fertilizer has been an old-time remedy in the garden for many generations.

Milk, it does the body good.

But did you know it may also be good for the garden? Using milk as fertilizer has been an old-time remedy in the garden for many generations. In addition to helping with plant growth, feeding plants with milk can also alleviate many issues in the garden, from calcium deficiencies to viruses and powdery mildew.

Let’s find out how to take advantage of the beneficial fertilizer components in milk.

Milk Fertilizer Benefits

Milk is a good source of calcium, not only for humans, but for plants as well. Raw, or unpasteurized, cow’s milk has some of the same nourishing properties for plants that it has for animals and people. It contains beneficial proteins, vitamin B and sugars that are good for plants, improving their overall health and crop yields. The microbes that feed on the fertilizer components of milk are also beneficial to the soil. Like us, plants use calcium for growth.

Use the mixture for spot treatments

A lack of calcium is indicated when plants look stunted and don’t grow to their full potential. Blossom end rot, which is commonly seen in squash, tomatoes and peppers, is caused by a calcium deficiency. Feeding plants with milk ensures they will get enough moisture and calcium.

Feeding plants with milk has been used with varying effectiveness in pesticide applications, especially with aphids. Perhaps the best use of milk has been in reducing the transmission of mosaic leaf viruses such as tobacco mosaic.

Milk has been used as an effective antifungal agent, specifically in the prevention of powdery mildew.

Drawbacks to Feeding Plants with Milk

Along with the benefits of using milk fertilizer, one must include its drawbacks.

These include:

•Using too much milk isn’t a good idea since the bacteria in it will spoil, resulting in a foul odor and wilty, poor growth.

•The fat in milk can produce unpleasant odors as it breaks down as well.

•The benign fungal organisms that colonize leaves and break down milk can be aesthetically unattractive.

Dried skim milk has been reported to induce black rot, soft rot, and Alternaria leaf spot on treated cruciferous crops.

Even with these few drawbacks, it’s plain to see that the benefits far outweigh any downsides.

Using Milk Fertilizer on Plants

So what type of milk can be used as milk fertilizer in the garden?

I like to use milk that is past its date (great way to recycle), but you can use fresh milk, evaporated milk, or even powdered milk as well. It is important that you dilute the milk with water.

Mix a solution of 50 percent milk and 50 percent water. When using milk fertilizer as a foliar spray, add the solution to a spray bottle and apply to plant leaves. The leaves will absorb the milk solution. However, keep in mind that some plants, like tomatoes, are prone to developing fungal diseases if the fertilizer remains on the leaves too long.

If the solution is not being absorbed adequately, you can gently wipe down the leaves with a wet cloth or spray them with water.

Less milk can be used if you have a lot of plants to feed, as with a large garden area. Using a garden hose sprayer is a common method for feeding plants with milk in large gardens, as the flowing water keeps it diluted. Continue spraying until the entire area is coated.

Distribute about 5 gallons of milk per acre or about 1 quart of milk per 20-by-20-foot patch of garden. Allow the milk to soak into the ground. Repeat every few months, or spray once at the beginning of the growing season and again during mid-season.

Alternatively, you can pour the milk mixture around the base of the plants where the roots will gradually absorb the milk. This works well in smaller gardens. You can place the top portion of a 2-liter bottle (upside down) in the soil next to new plants at the beginning of the season. This makes an excellent reservoir for both watering and feeding plants with milk.

Do not treat the area with any form of chemical pesticide or fertilizer after applying milk fertilizer. This can affect the main fertilizer components in milk that actually help the plants—bacteria. While there may be some odor from the decaying bacteria, the aroma should subside after a few days.

Queen’s Tears

Queen’s tears – a striking, sturdy bromeliad

Queens Tears photos by Anna Sarich, Deltona Fl.

By Launa Herrmann

If you’re looking for an unusual plant to fill an empty pot, consider Billbergia nutans. Also known as queen’s tears or the friendship plant, this member of the Bromeliaceae family grows almost anywhere in common soil or no soil and with little care. The plant’s nearly indestructible foliage and unusual blooms provide an exotic accent to a deck, doorway or flowerbed.

History and habitat

Billbergia nutans was named for the Swedish botanist, zoologist and anatomist Gustaf Johan Billberg (1772-1844). Nutans means “nodding,” a description for its undulating blooms.

A native of Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, this bromeliad is also found in Mexico and Central America, Ecuador, Peru and Argentina.  Generally an epiphytic in its native habitat, flourishing on rocks and trees, Queen’s tears also thrives on the subtropical forest floor and in the well-drained soil of gardens or containers. As a ground cover, the plant spreads quickly growing outward from the original rhizome.

This monocot’s thick grasslike grey-green leaves with saw tooth edges and pointed tips present themselves in funnel-shaped rosettes. Each rosette, approximately 12 to 15 leaves, can reach heights of over 15 inches. Once a year, in springtime, a long arching pink stem emerges from the rosette’s center bearing one of the most striking of floral color combinations I’ve ever seen.

Must-see-to-believe blooms

Imagine this long arching pink stem topped with day-glo reddish pink pendant bracts bursting with flowers. 

And that’s not all.

The blooms hang in clusters, tubular in form, with three backward curved pink sepals with violet-blue margins, three reflexed lime-green petals outlined in navy blue to purple, and six protruding stamens one inch long with bright yellow anthers.   

The blooms exude nectar. Sticky and clear, these visible droplets are often described as “weeping,” which occurs when the plant is touched or moved. These “tears” in combination with the purple color of royalty that outlines the lime-green petals, is the reason for its common name queen’s tears. Since this bromeliad readily produces new offsets called “pups” that are dividable from the original plant and easily shared. If you are fortunate to receive “a start” from a friend, remember that most Billbergia nutans need two to three years to mature before flowering.

Easy-care tips

Mid February after a good rain

Tolerant of drought, queen’s tears can survive months without water. This plant obtains moisture and nutrients from rain or overhead watering or misting, not from the roots. If you place your plant in a pot with a saucer, do not allow water to accumulate in the saucer, which leads to root rot. Use regular garden soil or planting soil and keep the soil slightly dry. Repot and/or divide when the rosettes overgrow their container. Billbergia nutans prefers partial shade and can scorch in full sun. A location beneath an overhang or tree is best.

Queen’s tears is hardy for USDA Zones 8-11. My plant, which I obtained as an offset from a friend, grows outdoors in a pot – a sturdy survivor of several Vacaville winters.

Launa Herrmann is a Master Gardener with the University of California Cooperative Extension office in Fairfield. If you have gardening questions, call the Master Gardener’s office at 784-1322.

Growing Lettuce


Lettuce growing in a garden

Winter is the perfect time to grow lettuce in Florida.

Lettuce comes in four major types: crisphead, butterhead, leaf and romaine. All can be grown in Florida, but leaf lettuce often works best since it’s more suited to our mild climate and can be harvested throughout the season.

Good leaf lettuce selections for Florida include ‘Black-seeded Simpson’, ‘Red Sails’ and many Salad Bowl varieties.

You can start yours from seed or purchase transplants. Try planting in the ground, in containers, or even in a floating hydroponic garden. When you should plant depends on where you live, so check with your local Extension office for exact planting dates.

With proper watering and care, your lettuce should be ready to harvest within a few months of planting.

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