We admit that the term “Florida Winter Landscaping” may sound a little strange.
After all, winter has an entirely different connotation in this region, especially here in the Tampa Bay area – where snow is virtually unheard of and winters are known to be sunny and beautiful. Still, some of our hardy tropical plants which can withstand scorching sunlight and high temperatures, may suffer in the cool overnights which occur during our winter months. With possible frost warnings and cold snaps on the way, Florida lawns and gardens sometimes need a little variation in order to stay colorful and healthy.
Factors to Consider: Florida Winter Landscaping
1. This is a great time of the year to maintain trees and bushes with selective pruning. You can get rid of dead branches, shape your trees, and clear pathways and beds. During the winter, your trees and plants will have reduced resource to keep the plant healthy, so trimming off any vulnerable areas will help the healthy part of the plant to thrive. The Felco #2 is our favorite pruner for this type of work.
2. Be sure to add a thick layer of mulch to your flower beds and around your trees. Mulch keeps heat in, making sure that soil temperatures are able to sustain proper temperatures for root systems. It will absorb the sun’s warmth during the day and act as a blanket for roots overnight. Mulch also helps with moisture retention, especially important for these dry months. Additional benefits include inhibiting weed growth, reducing soil erosion, and even allowing for more nutrient rich soil.
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3. If you install plants and flowers which are more likely to withstand hard frosts and cooler temperatures, be sure to water them on a regular basis. Sometimes we get spoiled in Florida with all the rain, but winters typically bring months of drought. Even if the plant above ground is dormant or withering, the roots can remain healthy and ready to bounce back in the spring. Watering is a chore, but can be made easier with the ergonomic Dramm Revolution Spray Gun.
4. If the weather turns cold and frost is expected overnight, cover vulnerable plants – but not with plastic. Stop by Big Earth to stock up on frost blankets ahead of the cold – or you can use sheets or old quilts in a pinch. We don’t recommend using plastic, because it causes con condensation and could cause the plant to freeze and then “burn” in the sunlight.
5. Even though a Tampa winter isn’t cold by Northern standards, shorter days, lower light intensity, and cooler temperatures will affect the growth of your lawn. Be sure to fertilize your lawn in the fall, and apply a high-potassium fertilizer for best results. We recommend 15-0-15 for turf and 8-2-12 for palms, trees, shrubs and citrus. The benefit of cooler months, is your lawn will require less mowing in the winter. Check out our guidelines for how often to mow your lawn here.
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Plants Which Thrive in Florida Winters
Here are a few plants to consider to fill in your beds with color over the cooler months:
- Winter Jasmine
- Calendula (English marigolds)
- Florida Greeneyes
- Beach Sunflower
Stop by the Garden Center at Big Earth Sarasota to select plants that will suit your landscape and garden this season.
One final thought about winter landscaping – be careful with your holiday decorations! Be sure that electrical wires are properly grounded, that wires are not frayed or chewed, and that the wires are kept away from walkways. You will also want to make sure that no hot light bulbs are resting on your plants (small lights usually pose no danger) – and keep wires from laying across your lawn if possible. No one wants to run over an electrical wire with a lawnmower!
Big Earth Landscape Supply has the products you need to keep your lawn and landscape looking healthy, no matter the time of year. We invite you to shop our online store, or visit one of our (4) Bradenton, Palmetto, Sarasota or Tampa locations.