seflagamma's WunderBlog

Things are different here in Zone 10

By: seflagamma, 9:36 PM GMT on May 24, 2011

I am going to reprint an article I fully agree with here in my header which will explain to many gardeners
out there why we South Florida gardeners have to play by different rules.

Things are different here in Zone 10
By Christine Winter Juneau

Printed in the Flora & Fauna Newsletter from Flamingo Gardens.

Many Northern and Midwestern transplants to South Florida may still feel that surge of gardening lust every spring. After a long winter of nothing more than seed catalogs to nourish their frost-bitten souls, seeing the blades from those first spring bulbs poke through the ground is almost a religious experience.

Well, get over it. It’s different here. You are in Zone 10 now, and there will be no cheery crocus, no gentle daffodils blowing in the breeze, no yellow tulips to announce the earth’s reawakening.

Spring in South Florida means your impatiens are starting to get leggy and your tomatoes are about done for the season.

The hardest part of making the change from a cold gardening climate to a sub-tropical one is accepting that not only are many conditions here different from what you were used to - they are completely opposite. You are going to have to relearn gardening.

This is not a bad thing. They don’t call it paradise for nothing. There’s no brown grass or bare flower beds during the winter; little if any leaf drop in the fall; and something is in lavish bloom year round. There are definitely advantages: What you once considered “hot-house” flowers, like orchids, poinsettias and amaryllis, grow in the backyard.

But you are going to have to get over any lingering “Zone Envy” from northern climes and give up a lot of things you love. Don’t try putting tulip bulbs in the refrigerator and planting them in your Florida yard, it isn’t going to work. Throw out your seed catalogs, all those Zinnias and Shasta Daisies aren’t for your Florida flower beds. Forget about those Hostas around your trees, and don’t even think about those big pink spicy Stargazer lilies and Giant Dahlias. Just because the big box garden centers have plants for sale that you used to love “back home” doesn’t mean they grow well here - or at all.


Instead, go with the flow and study up on Florida natives and tropical plants.
You wouldn’t plant a citrus tree in Duluth, so don’t expect to plant a flowering crab apple tree in Miami.

Roses, for instance, are every northern gardener’s true love. You can certainly find them in nurseries here. But they require more care than just about anything else you will plant in your South Florida garden. Certain specialized rose varieties will grow here, but they probably won’t thrive, and you will spend a lot of time pampering them., spraying them with fungicides and insecticides, watering them well beyond the limits of our water restrictions, and in the end, wishing you had just accepted the fact that this is the land of orchids, gardenias and jasmine.

If you have to have those annual bedding plants, such as impatiens and wax begonias and petunias, go ahead. Just remember to plant them in the winter, not the summer.

Grass is another shocker for the newcomer to South Florida gardening. It’s true, you probably didn’t want to say anything the first you noticed it, but yes, St Augustine grass is nothing more than nasty old crab grass. You used to spend a lot of money trying to get rid of it in northern climes, and now you are stuck with it in all its harsh, creeping, but hardy splendor.

It needs to be fertilized four times a year, you can’t fill in bad spots with seed and you could probably get always with mowing it every 15 minutes during the rainy season.


Furthermore, there is nothing on this earth that can keep your Florida lawn weed-free, because Florida weeds are the floral equivalent of cockroaches. They are invincible, so don’t even bother mucking up the environment with nasty herbicides - most of them won’t do the job or do it for such a short time, it isn’t worth the effort.

You probably aren’t going to want to run through it barefoot either, and nobody will ever mistake it for a carpet. Even the typical male anopheles is going to have to learn to live with less than pristine grass here, unless he lives on a golf course.

But St. Augustine grass does a few things those wimpy norther grasses can’t: It stays green year round, its runners eventually cover bare spots, and you can park cars on it.

Perhaps the biggest adjustment to your Florida year will be learning to cope with the sheer lush-ness of it. You probably didn’t own a machete in Chicago or Des Moines or New York state. That’s because you had months of below-freezing temperatures and blankets of snow and ice to keep things under control.

Maybe there are a few weeks of chilliness that force a mini dormancy here, but it pales in comparison to a climate where whole plants and even bushes die back to the ground every year, only to be further thwarted by a late frost as they struggle to the surface each spring.

So that means you would be wise to heed any advice you came across on spacing plants, and not planting tiny saplings under power lines or next to the house. It definitely will not take them decades to grow and fill in. Expect to prune and prune and prune some more and don’t be surprised when that tiny cutting from a friend grows as tall as your house in just a few years. Suspect the accuracy of any plant tag that includes the words “dwarf” and “Zone 10”.

But you will probably eventually get a chance to fix your bad choices. Sooner or later, a hurricane will blow thought, and all those garden mistakes will suffer more damage than any blizzard ever caused.

It’s Mother Nature’s way of giving you a second chance to plant the right thing in the right place. And it’s not going to be a lilac bush or cheery blossoms in South Florida.

_________________________________________________ _____

These weatherstickers say Sunrise, FL because technically my zip code is for Sunrise and not Lauderhill but I live just within the city limits of Lauderhill. There is confusion sometimes.


And our Fire Index/Drought Maps are updating once again.

Locations of Site Visitors

Updated: 9:51 PM GMT on May 24, 2011


So much devistation...

By: seflagamma, 11:49 AM GMT on May 07, 2011

Mon. May 23, 2011: I put up 5 new garden photos...but they do not overcome the sadness in our country.

Sun. May 22, 2011: Got up early to get get the fire going in the smoker and got the 3 Boston Butts on little before 7am. They are starting to make the area smell so good.
Not sure who all will be here this afternoon; never can tell which neighbors or kids will stop by!

Sat. May 21, 2011: 6:09 pm.
I guess that rapture prediction was a bust because I'm still here and I would be gone if it really happened! ROLF

Thur. May 19, 2011: Well no good rain since last Saturday evening; and those sprinkles Sunday morning did not do much but wet the sidewalks. So we did not get what we needed but every little bit helps.

Sat. May 14, 2011: We are suppose to get rain but it is not here. Thought for sure some would fall last night but this morning not a drop fell in my rain guage. Weston may have gotten some because the berms have water in them out here but nothing at my house. Hope they come today because we are in trouble if we don't get rain soon.

Tue. May 10, 2011: The big fire out in the Everglades at the Big CypressNational Preserve is still going strong. It is more in Collier County to our west but the past few days with the winds the smoke has made it way here. I did not notice it yesterday but this morning it is very smokey outside and you can smell it. We Need Rain!!!

Sat. May 7, 2011:
Time for a new blog thread and to wish all of our WU Mother's (including God Mothers, Grandmothers, Special Aunties, and "like a Mother") a Wonder and Happy Mother's Day Weekend!

Myspace Graphics
Myspace Graphics, Mother's Day Graphics at

Our family has reservations tomorrow morning at 11am at the Jacaranda Country Club for 25 out on the terrace.
They prefer it that way and so do we with so many small children. And their inside dinning room is so crowded with all the Mother's Day Brunches.
We went to this place last year and it was beautiful, the Mother's Day Brunch Buffett is beautiful and such a great selection,
the price is right and they can accomidate our big bunch. You know I will have photos tomorrow night. :o)

We have been doing this for 5 years now, Us and hubby's parents, with Greg/Pam & kids with Pam's family, Chris/Ellen & kids with Chris's family.
This way Pam/Greg & Chris/Ellen don't have to find a way to split their day among two different houses.
Plus we all know each other and enjoy being together so it works out well.
If Bets & Scott were here I am sure Scott's family would join us also.
And all us Mothers/Grandmothers really love it being "out for brunch" somewhere instead of at one of our homes!

_________________________________________________ ______
These weatherstickers say Sunrise, FL because technically my zip code is for Sunrise and not Lauderhill but I live just within the city limits of Lauderhill. There is confusion sometimes.


And our Fire Index/Drought Maps are updating once again.

Locations of Site Visitors

Updated: 9:33 PM GMT on May 24, 2011


About seflagamma

I have been a "weather geek" all of my life and living in the tropics since '79 has just made it more interesting. Great site for info and friends.

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