Region Description: Tropical South

Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

Region Description: Tropical South

Zone Map
USDA Hardiness Zones
9 to 11
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AHS Heat Zones
10 to 12
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Major Cities

Brownsville TX, Daytona Beach FL, Ft.Lauderdale FL, Key West FL, Laredo TX, Miami FL, Monterrey MEX, Orlando FL, Sarasota FL, Tampa FL, West Palm Beach FL

The Region

The northern boundary of the Tropical South region in Florida follows a line running from east to west running through Tampa, Orlando, and to Daytona Beach. All the cities in coastal and inland Central and South Florida and the Keys are included in this region. The southern-most counties in Texas which includes Brownsville and Laredo are also included in this Tropical South region.

The Climate

Central and South Florida have a distinct wet and dry climate typical of many tropical and subtropical areas of the world. The summer wet season is hot and humid. It usually begins in early June and ends around mid-October. The winter dry season starts in mid-October and continues until the beginning of June. We receive at least 2/3rds of our 50 to 65 inches a year average annual rainfall during the wet season with southeast, interior Florida experiencing the heaviest rains. Tropical rainfall can be intense with high winds and flooding a real problem in low lying coastal and southern areas. This is especially true during hurricane season from August to November. Central Florida and the southern tip of Texas generally falls into USDA plant hardiness zone 9 with frosts possible each December and January especially in inland areas. Coastal areas are always warmer and some rarely receive frost. Southern Florida rarely experience frosts (Ft. Lauderdale hasn't had a frost since 1989), while the Keys are true tropics and are frost-free.

The Growing Season

Our planting season in central and south Florida is opposite from the rest of the country. We plant annual flowers and vegetables primarily in the dry season starting in October and finish harvesting in April or May. The dry season permits virtually any annual flower or vegetable to be grown with concerns about the frosts dependent on where in the area you're located. Most of the common annual flowers and vegetables are grown during the dry season. It's also possible to grow a broad range of temperate and tropical fruits such as citrus, strawberries, and avocado. The lack of a prolonged winter and intense summer heat often limits the type of ornamental trees and shrubs that can survive and flourish in this climate to subtropical ones. The wet season has high heat and humidity making it hard for most vegetables to make it through the summer. Summer weather features temperatures along the coast in the 80Fs and low 90Fs and inland in the mid to upper 90Fs. Frequent thunderstorms often temporarily lower the heat.

View this week's Regional Report for
Tropical South »

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