The Q&A Archives: New to South Florida

Question: I reciently moved to South Florida from Pennsylvania. I have no idea what I am doing here as things are very different. I am looking for colorful annuals (I usually use impatiens and pansies) to plant in the front flower bed. However our house is literally built on a coral rock which they have simply covered with a blanket of sod.

What colorful annuals can I get to grow in this environment? I also was given a night blooming jasmine plant for Christmas which I do not know how to plant. I think I'll need to use a pickaxe! Will this plant grow in a pot?

Answer: Welcome to your new home! You do have some adjustments ahead of you--you may need to forget a lot of what you remember from gardening in Pennsylvania, and keep you mind wide open. Fortunately, there are lots of great guides right at your fingertips (don't you love the World Wide Web?). At this link, you'll find a bulleting on Annual Flowers for Florida, which covers all the basics, plus a chart for choosing the right annuals for Florida's seasons: copy this URL to your browser:

Since you're living on a limestone ridge, your simplest solution is to grow your annuals in containers and/or raised beds. There may be a drainage problem, so before you install beds, have a professional give you some advice on drainage patterns on the property. If you need to make adjustments to install beds, then you may be better off with large containers. Fortunately, your jasmine will do fine in a container. You can train it to climb a pillar or a trellis. It will bloom best in full sun, but tolerates light shade. Use a standard potting mix and a container that drains freely. Keep the soil in the container moist.

There are a lot more great resources at the site:

I hope this gets you started. Enjoy your new garden adventure!

Check in every couple of weeks to read National Gardening's Regional Report for the Tropical South at This will help you get into the rhythms of gardening in your new home.

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