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Southwest Florida Green Thumb: A Guide to Gardening in Southwest Florida

~Southwest Florida Green Thumb: A Guide to Gardening in Southwest Florida~

I do not know a ton about gardening or horticulture, so I’m no expert.  However, I keep hearing people say that most green thumbs turn brown here in Southwest Florida.  It seems to me that most of Southwest Florida is pretty green, and I see a lot of absolutely breathtaking lawns and landscaping, so I decided to dig a little deeper and consult a few professional’s websites on the subject.  You’ll be glad to know that green thumbs can thrive in Southwest Florida!  The truth is that you just have to educate yourself a little on the climate and types of soil we have here.

When you think of “soil”, sand probably doesn’t come to mind.  But in Southwest Florida, sand is one of the prominent soil types and if you hope to have a thriving green thumb, learning how to turn sand into an ideal growing medium is necessary.  In case you’re a non-expert, like me, sand is not great for plants because it has no nutritional value and water passes right through it.  So how do you counteract this?  Area experts say that the best thing to do with sand is mix an equal amount of organic matter in with it.  What happens is that the organic matter sort of overtakes the sand, and makes it more of a suitable soil in which your plants should do well.  Be sure to add organic matter to the sand annually to ensure a replenishing amount of nutrients.

Now that your sand has been effectively turned into soil, you will want to decide what to plant.  There are certain types of plants that thrive in Southwest Florida more than others.  Due to long periods of drought that Southwest Florida endures sometimes, most plants that thrive here are plants that can do well in full sunlight with minimal water.  However, if you’ve got a personal flower garden or a potted plant that you plan on taking care of more specifically, feel free to choose just about anything tropical!  Because of the heat, anything in direct sunlight will not stay moist for long so if you are choosing a plant that enjoys full sun and constantly moist roots, it would be advisable to get some kind of automatic watering machine.

If you’re looking for a hedge or shrub to plant in your yard, there are plenty of options other than palm varieties (although those are hardy and beautiful).  Common hedges and shrubs in Southwest Florida are plants such as Seagrape, Buttonwood and Pittosporum.  If you’re under the impression that it is hard to get flowering plants to bloom in Southwest Florida, you should check into plants like bromeliad and oleander, which will bloom beautifully and keep their blooms for most of the year.  Most types of lilies will grow here as well, and most are perfectly happy in full sun.  Aloe, begonias and impatients are also plants that will grow with a little work in Southwest Florida.

The important thing to remember about the climate is that the magic word is “tropical”!  Anything that says it grows in a tropical climate should work just fine in Southwest Florida.  The plant life in Southwest Florida is unique and colorful and allows any green thumb to create a beautiful array of plant life.


Comment balloon 1 commentShannon Moore • September 02 2008 03:29PM


Great advise...

The best thing I ever did was to buy Florida Natives.. 


Kat Bryce
St. Cert. Res. REA RD4424

Posted by Kathleen "Kat" Bryce (Kathleen Bryce, Inc.) over 11 years ago