Florida gardens are the product of sandy, nutrient-starved soil, hot, sticky air, and searing sunlight. Therefore the plants we can grow are limited to those that will thrive in this environment. A successful gardener in this state learns to build their plant base to provide shaded areas, texture, and color from any source possible.
Florida’s boundaries encompass the USDA growing zones 8 through 11. Knowing your home’s zone helps you choose plants that can survive and thrive based on the temperature. Growers generally will tag a plant with the zones where it can acclimate based on temperature. I grew up in Zone 5 among the Great Lakes. A plant or shrub that thrives in the Midwest is cold tolerant and might even have a dormant season. It needs that dormant season to build up energy and won’t enjoy the year-round warmth of Florida. Similarly, the Florida tropical plants would freeze and die if left outside in Zone 5.
A Florida garden is a living and ever-changing painting. One thing I learned while visiting a variety of historic gardens is that the best landscapes here evolve over time. Take your time, plan and plant the species you find beautiful, and enjoy them as they grow and bloom.