Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Add new colors to garden; protect against frosty weather

This is a great time to garden in Florida.

Plant growth slows down, but you can still add color and texture to your garden.

Now is a good time to concentrate on adding some inexpensive color to the landscape.

You may have lost some or all of your annuals to the December cold, so try buying a few packets of seeds and sprinkle them about.

The soil will need to be kept moist, but that is about the only requirement. Try those seeds that normally like the cooler weather such as alyssum, calendula, carnation, dianthus, dusty miller, foxglove, geranium, marigold, snapdragon, pansy, petunia or Johnny Jump Up.

The investment is minimal, so if more damaging cold weather passes through there won't be much disappointment.

Prepare the soil for the seeds by adding compost, then fertilize lightly after planting. Keep seeds and newly emerged plants watered until established, then water when needed.

Try a mix of seeds and plants. Using seeds helps keep your cost low and gives you the opportunity to try more plants. Germination and growth of seeds will be slow this time of the year, but it tends to be very successful.

Perennials such as blue salvia, chrysanthemum, coreopsis, day lily, gaillardia, gazania, Shasta daisy, stokes aster or yarrow can be planted now. Some will provide color this winter. Others, such as the day lily, will provide spring and summer color.

Although botanically perennials are plants that grow more or less indefinitely from year to year and usually produce seed each year, in Florida some may be short-lived. Some perennials may have to be replanted each year.

Don't forget veggies

Don't forget the vegetable garden. Plant — or plant more of — beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, Chinese cabbage, collards, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, radishes, spinach and turnips.

Watch for bugs and hand pick when possible. If using chemicals, follow label instructions carefully. It's been breezy this winter, so be careful of drift if spraying chemicals. Fertilize every other week with a weak water-soluble mixture or use compost tea.

Add some herbs; try garlic, chives, coriander, dill, oregano, thyme, sage and parsley. The cold weather may have killed the basil, so wait a few weeks before replacing it.

Amend the soil

You can never add too much organic material to plant beds. Anywhere there is bare soil is a good spot to add soil amendments. Working straw, compost, peat, topsoil, stable waste, or chemical-free lawn clippings into the soil is best. If you're afraid you'll damage the roots of established plants, just heavily mulch with the organic material. It will make its way into the soil.

If you cover plants with old sheets or blankets when cold weather comes, remember you are just protecting from the frost, not a heavy freeze. You can buy frost clothes in the big box stores, but most just protect from the frost also.

The cover must be insulated to help protect against cold weather, or add lights, such as Christmas lights, under the cover to raise the temperature around the plant.

Watch weather reports so you don't get caught unexpectedly by cold weather, and continue a leisurely pace of garden maintenance through the winter.

Mary Collister can be reached at

Add new colors to garden; protect against frosty weather 01/13/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Related Group breaks ground for complex on old Tampa Tribune site

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — Miami-based Related Group has broken ground on a 400-unit apartment complex planned on the site of the former Tampa Tribune building in downtown Tampa.

    From left, Related Group executive associate Arturo Penaa, Jorge Perez, center, founder and CEO of the Related Group, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and Steve Patterson, the President of Related Development dig their shovels  during the groundbreaking ceremony of the 400 unit Riverwalk Manor apartment complex on site of the old Tampa Tribune building on Wednesday. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times]
  2. Robert Pattinson is better than 'Twilight.' 'Good Time' proves it




    Don't judge actors by the books they cover on screen. It appears truer with each performance that two of our finest got their starts with the Twilight franchise.

    Robert Pattinson hooks viewers in Good Time, an inventive crime story.
  3. Deputies: Man feared other man was going to "steal his girlfriend" before armed assault



    Deputies: Rifle pulled in fight over girlfriend

  4. Largo police investigating U.S. 19 crash that killed woman, 34


    LARGO — Traffic homicide investigators are looking into a crash Wednesday morning that killed a woman and closed the southbound lanes of U.S. 19 for a few hours.

  5. Harvey regenerates into tropical depression, sets aim on Texas coastline


    The system moving toward Texas has regenerated into Tropical Depression Harvey, prompting storm surge and hurricane watches on portions of the Lone Star State's coast, according to the National Hurricane …

    [National Hurricane Center]