The Florida climate allows for year-round blossoms, including some that flower throughout the winter season. Some prep is required for gardeners in the Sunshine State to enjoy colorful winter plants. For gardening success, plant flowers ideal for the zone you are in. Also, situate your garden area with the right conditions for plants to thrive, which is mostly in full sun. Learn about some of the best ornamental winter blooms for zone 9 below, along with preparation tips and other advice to maintain healthy blooming plants during Florida winters.
Leatherleaf Mahonia. Beale’s barberry or leatherleaf mahonia is a unique, eye-catching winter flowering plant originally from China. Tiny bright bells bloom above dark green foliage, and the plant produces small, purple, oval fruit, which birds enjoy. The bush is prickly and stiff and shouldn’t be where visitors are likely to brush up against it. Leatherleaf mahonia is not an invasive plant, but it can self sow.
Winter Jasmine. You can banish any winter gloom if you have winter jasmine flowering plants in your garden. These hardy vining shrubs have bright yellow blooms in winter. Unlike the distinctive scent of jasmine, winter jasmine has no scent. However, they are low-maintenance beauties and a favorite among lazy gardeners.
Snapdragon. Colorful snapdragon plants have blue-green foliage and bloom in five different colors: Orange, red, pink, white, and yellow. These annuals thrive in Florida gardens all winter. They make excellent cut flowers because they last a remarkably long time.
Fashion Azalea. A fashion azalea is an evergreen shrub that grows upright to 5 feet tall and wide. Throughout winter, the shrubs are loaded with salmon-colored or crimson blooms. These are fairly easy to grow. Your fashion azalea should be planted in organically rich soil that drains well and has partial shade or sun. The root system should be protected from the cold with mulch thickly layered over the root zone.
Wild Petunia. Wild petunias are considered annuals or tender perennials. They bloom in various shades of purple all through winter, especially if kept watered, fertilized, and deadheaded.
Firespike. The red blooms on the firespike are stand-outs all through the year. They can be hampered in the latter part of winter, if there are extreme freezes. If expecting a hard freeze, cover your firespike plants. The plants do best in full sun, though they can tolerate a small amount of dappled shade.
Whichever winter blooms you choose for your Florida garden, there are certain steps needed in preparing and caring for the plants. Begin, for example, with soil built up with organic matter. Certain plant nutrients are required to produce blooms, and good soil helps to retain those nutrients. The following is more helpful information about maintaining a successful winter garden in Florida:
Add slow-release fertilizer to the plants’ soil. In the alternative you can give the roots a weekly dousing with organic compost tea mixture. You will be rewarded with a generous crop of colorful blooms.
Water regularly throughout the season, particularly because of limited rainfall. An investment in sprinklers and soaker hoses is an absolute must in Florida, to enjoy bright, healthy blooms all through winter.