People across the country love gardening. But, depending on where you live, gardening looks different to different people. Vegetables and plants that thrive year long in the south would die after a few minutes of midwestern winter. Today we’re taking a second to pause and talk about winter gardening in Florida. Florida winter is unique and gardening during a Florida winter looks a little different than it does in a state like Illinois or even California.
What makes winter gardening in Florida special? What can Floridians do in their gardens during the winter? Will you need to do any garden maintenance during a Florida winter season? We answer all these questions and more in today’s blog.
What is a “typical Florida winter”?
A typical Florida winter looks a little different depending on what part of the state you are in. The amount of rain and wind you receive might vary, but verall temperatures hover between 55 and 75 degrees. These temperatures are typical of a usual May or September in any Midwestern state. Suffice to say, Floridians are not concerned about freezing, or god forbid–snow. Even frosts are rare, and mostly contained to central or northern Florida.
Because of this, the Florida climate supports a range of unique gardening opportunities and species that aren’t possible in other states and climates. Unlike their northern neighbors, Floridian gardeners have a growing season that lasts all year long. Still, the vegetables that they plant still differ depending on the month.
The Best Vegetables to Grow During Florida Winter
Like we said, Floridians have the stand out benefit of a year long growing season. Many gardeners state that winter is their favorite gardening season due to lower temperatures, and greater comfort while tending crops. Here are some of our top picks for vegetables to grow during the Florida winter.
It should come as no surprise that many of the crops on this list grow underground. Soil temperatures in the winter in Florida rarely cool dramatically. This makes root vegetables less vulnerable to potential frosts.
Turnips are a fast growing winter crop that is easily overlooked. However, turnips are exceptionally versatile. Both the leaves and roots are edible, and pair deliciously with other winter vegetables. Turnips withstand light frost and warm weather alike, making them great for the slight variations in Florida winter weather. Northern Floridians should plant in early September for best results. Those in southern Florida can hold off until October for a true winter harvest. Plant in full sun and give roots plenty of space to spread out. Place crops at least three inches apart for best results.
Lettuce may seem delicate, but it is actually a great winter weather crop in most parts of Florida. Because there are so many different kinds of lettuce available, gardeners can choose the varieties they prefer. Among the hardiest are butter lettuce, looseleaf, and romaine.
Lettuce can not withstand hard frosts, but this is generally not an issue due to how fast this crop grows. Lettuce that is planted in September can be harvested in November, well before the risk of any cold snaps.
If you’re looking for an even hardier leafy green, try kale. Kale is notorious for loving colder weather, and has no problem with the occasional frost. In fact, cold weather makes this superfood taste even better. Kale can be started in September and grown and harvested all the way until spring.
Turnips’ sweeter cousin, parsnips are yet another root vegetable that thrive in Florida winters. Like kale, colder temperatures result in a sweeter parsnip harvest. Plant in loosely packed soil giving the plants room to grow. Plant in September or October for a February harvest.
If you don’t like broccoli, look away now. But here at Liveinyourbackyard, we think broccoli gets a bad reputation. One of the most versatile vegetables, broccoli can be roasted, pan fried, added to soups, curries, and countless other dishes, and acts as a flavor sponge for the most delicious sauces. And you lucky Floridians can grow it during the winter months.
Broccoli, like kale, can withstand a freeze. This means that even northernmost Floridians can plant in their gardens during the winter months. Broccoli should be planted in Florida in September or October, and can be grown all the way until mid to late spring.
We’re ending with another divisive pick. Beets are known for their beautiful bright reddish pink color, but aren’t always everyone’s cup of tea. If you are a fan, however, and you live in Florida, try them in your winter garden this year.
Beets do great in Florida winter weather, as it is just cool enough to keep them happy, but not warm enough to prevent them from getting established. Plant in September or October and enjoy until March or April.
Other Florida Winter Gardening FAQ’s
Does Florida get frost?
Yes, some parts of northern and central Florida can get occasional frosts. However, you should not expect any deep freezes. Average temperatures across the state rarely dip below the 50’s. Southern Florida may experience no winter frosts at all.
Will I need to mow the lawn during Florida winter?
A year-long growing season means a year-long lawn mowing season as well. To keep your lawn in great shape, let it grow a bit longer. Winter season grass will also need less water as temperatures cool and sunlight becomes less intense.