When people tell you “nothing grows in Florida summers” don’t listen! There are so many delicious and easy-to-grow crops that you can enjoy this time of year, and it’s the perfect time to begin planning and planting for your fall Florida garden.
The key to any productive garden is a good foundation. Healthy soil will help your plants start out strong, be more resilient against pests, and handle fluctuations in irrigation better. This is especially important if rely on hand watering like us. It’s easy to skip a day, or go out of town for the weekend if you have healthy soil, rich with organic matter and compost, then topped with mulch. If you’re not composting at home already, we highly recommend you start. It’s easy! We have a self-paced class to get you started.
Beginning gardeners – there are some words that you may not be familiar with. Go down to the bottom of this page for a list of definitions. Check out my recorded class, Starting Your First Florida Garden, for more info about growing seasons and soil.
It’s easy to spend a lot of time and money getting a garden started. If you have tried in the past and it wasn’t very productive or it all died for some reason, you’ve wasted all that time and money. We offer virtual Gardening Coaching Sessions to you get started with your fall Florida garden on the right foot, or solve some problems that you may have encountered.
Keep in mind that these planting guidelines are the traditional cultivars. There are more heat-tolerant varieties of many plants that may survive and thrive during the summer too.
What to Plant Now
Annuals for your Fall Florida Garden
Plant seedlings – tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, and okra (seeds or seedlings).
Direct sow – heat-tolerant beans, bush beans, okra, scallion onions, summer and winter squash, pumpkins, cow peas
Central and South Florida gardeners – You can begin planting seeds for some of your cool weather crops towards the end of the month. We tend to wait until the beginning of September to plant our brassicas (kale, broccoli, collards) here in Pinellas County.
In North Florida, you can plant seedlings of your cool weather crops like your brassicas – kale, collards, cabbage, and cauliflower, carrots, celery, cucumbers and turnips. It is probably too late to plant pumpkins. But if you want to try it, look for smaller pumpkins that take less time to mature.
If you are growing sweet potatoes for the tasty edible leaves, you can plant them now but they won’t produce tubers of any decent size. Leave them in the ground and they will produce tubers next year.
While we love our annual veggies, the perennials are like the trusty stand-bys in the garden. They are there year round, ready to harvest time and time again. In Central and South Florida you can usually plant these year round. In North Florida, you want to plant them during the spring, summer or fall. They will likely need winter protection.
Our favorites are longevity spinach, Okinawa spinach, cassava, chaya, katuk, moringa, tindora, pineapple and Surinam spinach.
Pro-tip: At the beginning of winter, or if you know it’s going to freeze hard, take cuttings of your perennial crops. That way, you will not loose your plants, even if the whole garden is decimated by night after night of hard freezes.
Herbs – most herbs can be planted year round in Central Florida. Parsley, dill, cilantro struggle with our Florida heat. Mint can be fussy too. Other than that, most common herbs will grow for a long time.
Our trick to easy year-round herb gardening: If you struggle to keep herbs alive, try a sub-irrigated pot like an Earthbox. We have our kitchen herb garden in full sun from 1pm-sunset all summer in several Earthboxes right outside the back door and the herbs never even wilt. We recommend keeping them off concrete and away from a building or fence to avoid creating a heat-trap and further increasing the temperatures for your plants in the summer.
Annuals: Plants that grow for one growing season, or about one year.
Perennials: Plants that grow for more than one growing season, maybe for several years.
Direct Sow: Planting seeds in the ground where they will grow. This is often because plants have a delicate root system.
Planting seedlings or starts: Planting seeds in small containers or flats so you so transplant them to a larger pot or garden bed later. It is usually easier to control the conditions for delicate seeds to have a better chance of surviving.