Summer Plantings for Florida Heat

Florida’s summer plantings are different

Florida’s Summer plantings need to be hardy if they are to make it through the heat and humidity. For the same reasons we don’t grow vegetables here in the summer; we also don’t grow the same annuals that they grow during the summer up north. Pansies, Petunias, Snapdragons, Violas, Alyssum, and many more Northern favorite summer annuals can’t take Floridas summer weather.

Annuals for Summer Plantings

I will keep the list short but feel free to email me and tell me about your Florida favorite summer annuals and maybe I’ll include them in another blog! Also, just click on the flower’s name below for more details from the University of Florida’s IFAS Extension.

A group of yellow Sunflowers
Sunflowers brighten up a community garden and attract lots of pollinators. Photo by David


Who doesn’t love Sunflowers with their broad yellow faces and upright stature? The mammoth-sized ones will surely spark the imagination of any child and the smaller sprays can lend some unforgettable color. Dry them out and a multitude of seed-eating birds will come and enjoy them later! Cardinals especially like them or you could eat them yourself!

A lavender Zinnia shows off it's resilience growing in Florida sand.
A lavender Zinnia shows off its resilience while thriving in Florida sand. Photo by David Austin

Zinnias are tough and a favorite of pollinators. They come in a multitude of colors and can be easily started from seed. Butterflies and bees will gather in your yard just for the chance to drink their nectar. They range in many shades of color and should soon become one of your summer favorites.

Pink floweres with a brown river rock background
Dwarf pink periwinkles take the heat and stay compact. Photo by David Austin

For the love of heat! Periwinkle also referred by some as Vinca thrive in the hot and even dry of Florida. Overwatering could be more detrimental than underwatering to one of Florida’s most drought-hardy summer annuals. Ranging in a multitude of colors. New garden store varieties have been created that make them even more resistant to Florida’s weather. Plant them in June using established plants then leave them alone.

Violet and white moss rose flowers
Portulaca or moss rose are succulents that perform in the summer heat. Photo by David Austin

Referred to often as Moss rose or Purslane, Portulaca is a colorful summer annual that may act like a perennial in South Florida, where winters are milder. Other areas of Florida it might reseed. This ground-hugging succulent may be the most resistant to heat and drought than all of the above-listed plants. Coming in a multitude of colors, it creates dense mats of diversity in your summer planting.


The old standby Marigold has been popular for Florida summer plantings for good reason. A combination of summer color and resistance to heat are two of the top reasons. Available in shades from yellow to reddish-orange and a variety of height makes Marigolds a great addition to summer plantings.


Many flowering perennials can bring you loads of colors to add to your summer plantings. Some of my favorites; Penta, Blue Basil, Milkweed, Lantana, and Ruellia (Mexican Petunia) make great pollinator plants too. The last two, Lantana and Ruellia, while are both hardy, care should be taken to only purchase sterile varieties. Non-sterile varieties are considered category one invasives and can do damage to our ecosystems. Click on the plant names to learn about the University of Florida’s sterile varieties that will allow you to grow these two plants without threatening Florida’s ecosystems.

Multiple colored leaves of the caladium
Caladiums provide color through Florida’s hot summers. Photo by David Austin

I would be amiss to not mention the Caladium. Caladiums are a tropical foliage plant originally from Brazil. With many leaf shades of green, red, pink, and white, caladiums offer color all summer long. Depending on the variety, Caladiums can grow in sun or deep shade. Because 95% of caladiums are farmed in Lake Placid, Florida; Lake Placid has earned the name “Caladium Capital of the World”. Each year the town honors the plant with a Caladium Festival the last weekend of July. Unfortunately due to Covid19 the festival has been canceled for 2020.

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david austin
Posted: May 15, 2020

Category: Agriculture, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Horticulture, UF/IFAS Extension,
Tags: Gardening, Highlands County, Highlands Horticulture Digest, Hometown Gardener, Master Gardeners, Summer Annuals, Summer Plantings

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