Blooming Winter Color for Central Florida
When other areas of the country are laying down their gardening gloves, Central Florida residents can pick their gloves up and garden with color. This is the time of year when Lake County residents can fill small beds and container gardens with winter blooming annuals.
Annuals work best in the landscape when planted in mass and used to draw attention to a front door or another focal point of the yard. Planting in mass will require you to buy your annuals by the flat or flats and not just one pot. One pansy is not nearly as impressive as a bed or a large pot filled with pansies.
Pansies are planted in the northern United States in the late winter or early spring, but can be planted in the fall in Central Florida. These hardy annuals will survive down to 5° F. When planting pansies, most homeowners make the mistake of placing them too far apart. Since they are compact and only grow for one season, group them closely together and in large numbers in order to provide the biggest bang in your landscape.
Trailing petunias brighten up a front entrance way, a patio or even a deck when grown in containers. ‘Supertunia’ is a type of petunia that is smaller than the common wave petunia and will bloom nonstop from October to June. ‘Million Bells’ is an even smaller petunia that blooms just as profusely. ‘Million Bells’ is available in white, purple, pink, yellow and varying shades of each of these colors. Both ‘Supertunia’ and ‘Million Bells’ will benefit from a sunny spot in the winter. When the months become warmer in the spring, protect these petunias from the afternoon sun.
Lobelia is an underutilized annual found in snowy white or an electric blue. It performs best when planted in a container. Place this plant in full sun and keep the soil moderately moist. Lobelia’s beautiful blooms should last until late spring.
Snapdragons, kale, ornamental peppers and dianthus are more examples of fall and winter bloomers to add cheerful color to the Central Florida landscape. Plant tall red, orange, and yellow snap dragons as a back drop for deep purple ornamental cabbage. This planting will transition beautifully from winter to early spring.
Annuals developed to grow from seed, to a blooming plant and seed again all within a year. Do not get discouraged when winter annuals fade in the summer. Enjoy their beauty now and look forward to new combinations for next year.
More information on selecting and using annuals. Visit our plant clinics and Discovery Gardens for solutions to your gardening problems. Both are open weekdays from 9 am to 4 pm at the Ag Center, 1951 Woodlea Rd. Tavares, FL.
Our next Saturday in the Gardens is in partnership with the City of Tavares and will be held in Wooten Park on Jan. 20th from 10:00 am to 3:00 pm in celebration of Florida Arbor Day. There will be a tree give-away and presentations on pruning and flowering trees and shrubs for Central Florida. Admission is free.
Brooke Moffis is the Residential Horticulture Agent of the UF/IFAS Lake County Extension office. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.