Florida Container Gardening: For Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers, and Fruits

Planting a garden in a container is the only option for most urban and suburban residents. Many benefits come with using containers, including portability, low cost, and positioning them in many locations, such as yards, fire escapes, and rooftops. Many people think they can grow their food in their backyards, but they make common mistakes that prevent them from getting the freshest, most flavorful produce possible. Let’s check out more information about Florida container gardening.

There are also many Florida container gardening ideas that you can consider to get a better look at your container garden. Finally, we’ll show you how to put up a container garden that can help you grow the best produce on your own. This post is intended for the many people in Florida who are just getting started growing their food in containers and is written just for them.

This article discusses how to grow fruits, vegetables, and herbs, in containers. It has also touched on how to grow flowers. In recent years, growing plants in containers have become more popular, and several cities in Florida, including Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, and Tallahassee, have emerged as focal points for this trend.

We have provided below the information on container gardening in the south, central, and north of Florida, and container vegetable gardening in central, north, and south Florida. Fruits, flowers, and herbs are also included. Container gardening is the best option for those who cannot do conventional and raised bed gardening in Florida. We hope this information is helpful to Floridians who want to produce flowers, herbs, fruits, or vegetables in containers.

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Florida Container Gardening
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Florida container gardening

What is container gardening? 

Container gardening involves growing herbs, fruit, and vegetables in containers. It can also include shrubs and small trees. Container gardening is excellent for high-rise apartment complexes lacking outside space. It’s also good for folks with restricted budgets who can’t afford a normal garden. Finally, container gardening is an excellent solution for those who can’t bend down due to age or handicap.

Huge, two- or three-foot-high pots on the ground are easy to access and less prone to weeds than a large grass. Planting a container garden is simple. Container planting works well in hardscaped environments, bringing natural beauty to contrast with artificial elements.

USDA hardiness zones of Florida

The hardiness zone is an essential consideration when choosing a plant for your garden. Florida has been divided into four zones by the national government’s Department of Agriculture (USDA): 8, 9, 10, and 11. To assist you in choosing plants that can withstand the harsh winters, the USDA has established hardiness zones. Using the zones as a reference, you can pick the right plants for your region. However, Florida’s hot, humid climate can impact a plant’s ability to thrive, even if it’s in the correct zone.

Florida, the nation’s southernmost state, is well-known for its consistently pleasant climate. Since the state’s humid subtropical climate means it has long, hot, humid summers and moderate, chilly winters, many of Florida’s planting zones are at the upper end of the temperature range. South Florida has a tropical climate. In the summer, thunderstorms are common, and tornadoes and hurricanes occur. Warmer winter temperatures and milder summer temperatures are common in coastal areas. 

Determine Florida’s planting zones before deciding what to grow. Depending on where you plant, you can expect a range of plants, flowers, herbs, vegetables, and fruits to thrive in zones ranging from 8a to 11a. Knowing the zone makes it easy to determine which plants will thrive in Florida’s growing areas. Many types of flowers and vegetables will thrive in this climate. Small cherry tomatoes and okra are some crops that can grow in the area. Brussels, sprouts and kale grow best in the spring and summer, respectively.

Things to use for container gardening

Hand trowel: In appearance, this instrument resembles a smaller replica of a spade for the garden. It’s the essential tool you can have. Digging a hole, planting seedlings, leveling the soil, and splitting tubers are some of the tasks it can be used for. A compost or potting mix can also be scooped out of the bag with this tool.

Hand cultivator: At one end, it contains three or more prongs, while at the other, it has a grasp for the user’s hand. The container soil is raked and tilled with it, weeds are removed, and slow-release nutrients are mixed in.

Pruner: Woody stems and tiny branches can be cut using this tool. 

Gloves: To avoid having your hands become dirty or having nails that look like zombies, this is a vital essential. Buying many inexpressive garden gloves allows you to have a backup pair if one of your current pairs is lost or washed.

Watering can: A watering can is all you’ll need for watering your plants if you don’t have access to a water hose connected nearby.

Plant supports: Utilizing as much vertical space as possible while cultivating in a container is container gardening. For example, a strong cage or stake is vital if you grow tomatoes in a container. Because of this, vegetables like peppers and eggplants will need to be stacked and supported later in the season. Likewise, a trellis will be needed for vine crops like beans and peas to grow up. 

How to grow plants in the container?

Select the ideal container 

Consider a few things before purchasing a pot. First, no matter how large or tiny, light or heavy, a container’s bottom must have holes to enable water to drain freely. Roots can drown if drainage is inadequate, and the plant will die. Any material can be used to make pots. Pots made of terracotta, glazed ceramic, or plastic can all be used. It all comes down to personal preference and affordability. Bushel baskets, wood boxes, or recycled second-hand shop containers are more possibilities for pots.

Glazed containers: There is a craze in the pottery world for glazed clay pots. They’re a little more costly than normal, but they’ll endure for long and can even survive for decades. 

Plastic containers: Using plastic pots is an excellent option for plants that need frequent watering and moisturizing. In the case of gardeners who forget to water their plants every day, plastic pots might be an excellent alternative. They will keep the plants that require the most water hydrated and happy by retaining moisture. In addition, they’re an excellent, cost-effective alternative since they’re small, sturdy, and long-lasting. Herbs, tomatoes, and lilies, which all need extra water, thrive nicely in plastic containers.

Terracotta containers: Plants thrive in terracotta because the pots are naturally porous, allowing water and air to seep through. Root rot, which is frequent in potted plants, can be avoided. The price of terracotta pots varies widely, although they are often inexpensive. While most plants could flourish in a terracotta pot, succulents, cacti, or any other plant that doesn’t need a lot of water are especially well-suited.

Custom containers: You can be as inventive as you want with custom containers. A vintage shop is a great place to get antique milk jugs, crates, baskets, and metal pots. When choosing a container, it’s essential to consider its material, size, form, and the sort of plant or flower you’re planting.

Size and Shape: When choosing containers, consider your area’s size and shape. To avoid clogging up a small area with too many pots, use smaller ones. In addition to deciding on the sort of plant, you also need to think about the size of the container. A decent rule of thumb is to utilize pots with a depth of at least 10 inches and a width of 12 inches. Remember that a large pot will provide more places for roots to develop and establish, which means plants will be healthier and stronger.

Choose the plants for your container

For this, there are a variety of factors to take into account. For example, roses need six hours of direct sunlight each day; don’t attempt growing them on a balcony that only receives one hour in the early morning. Instead, ask for help at the garden center and figure out which plants will grow in the amount of sunlight or shade you have available. The easiest way to decide what to purchase is to use one kind of plant per container. If you want to grow various plants together, ensure they all like the same amount of light and moisture. 

Choose the potting mix for your container

Fresh, new potting soil should always be used as potting medium outside potted flowers and shrubs. Plants could be harmed if you use soil from the yard because it can contain weed seeds or fungal infections spread by insects. Decomposed organic particles are used in potting soil to help retain water. The mineral aggregates of cat litter, vermiculite, and perlite can be found in potting mix.

They all help maintain the soil in containers at the right consistency and are great for container gardening. Standard Potting soil is a specialized potting mix unique from garden soil. Use light and airy potting mix rather than heavy soil that might suffocate the roots and restrict plant development. This can be purchased in a garden center or nursery. The plant’s pH balance is determined by its needs. Look at the product’s label or tag, or contact a local nursery for help.

Some people like light, nutrient-rich soil, while others prefer nutrient-rich soil that has been supplemented with organic matter. Knowing what sort of soil each plant needs to thrive is essential. Roots need nourishment, moisture, and air to thrive, thus, light soil is ideal. In addition, choosing a time-released fertilizer will reduce the time and effort you must put into caring for your plants.

Prepare your container 

If your containers are big, arrange them where they’ll eventually go before filling them. They could be too heavy to transport after being fed and watered. Cover the holes in the bottom of an empty pot using a basket-type coffee filter or a shard of a shattered pot. Potting mix will not wash away, but water will be able to escape. Before putting in the soil, verify its moisture content. Read guidelines on the bag for soaking it correctly. Water should be added slowly, and the mixture should be mixed by hand.

In general, moisten the mix until it resembles a wet sponge. Add the soil into the container. Fill the pot with potting soil until the plant’s base is about an inch above the top. Remove any large air pockets from the soil by softly pressing it with your fingertips before planting. Be careful not to over-compact the soil.

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Preparing container for Garden
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Planting your plants in a container

It’s time to get rid of that nursery container. Tip the pot and gently release the root ball into your hand by putting the finger on either side of the stem. Attempting to remove a plant by its stem is always a bad idea. Tap the pot’s sides to free it if it becomes stuck. A plant is said to be root-bound if its roots are constantly circling. Before planting, gently pull the roots out of the ground. Place the plant on the soil. When potting several plants, leave an inch between root balls.

Using little amounts of soil, fill up the gaps. To get rid of any air pockets, gently pat the surface. Ensure the plant’s stem is above the soil surface before adding soil. Allow approximately an inch of space between the pot’s rim and the soil surface. The container has to be hydrated. In time, they will get comfortable with the new surroundings. If the soil level falls below the top of the root ball, you may need to top it up with more mix.

Watering the container plants 

Under no circumstances should you water a plant by just dripping water from above.  To avoid mold and other issues, it’s best to keep the leaves as dry as possible. The plant should be watered at the soil level instead. Container gardens need more frequent and more significant amounts of watering since the water evaporates so rapidly.

Installing a low-cost automated watering system is simple if you have access to a hose. However, other solutions also exist, such as using a two-liter soda bottle pressed into the ground to create your own. These methods function well when it comes to watering.

Fertilizer requirements for your container plant 

The finest containers for plants need the use of fertilizer. Adding slow-release fertilizer to the soil when you plant your container is the most straightforward approach to ensure that your plants get the nutrients. Slow-release or controlled-release fertilizers will provide two to three months’ worth of nutrients. As your planter grows in size, you may wish to enhance your slow-release fertilizer with frequent water-soluble fertilizer applications. You can begin applying a water-soluble fertilizer once a week or six weeks to two months after planting.

Traditional water-soluble fertilizer can be used instead of slow-release fertilizer. Applying a water-soluble fertilizer to your plants while watering them is a typical weekly or biweekly maintenance routine. Find out how to apply your fertilizer by reading the instructions on the packaging. Your planters will probably do well without fertilizer, but you should fertilize them often if you want them to develop to their full potential.

Pest and disease management 

Neem oil or soapy water are good options for killing small insects and mites. If the problem is minor enough, you can also try gently scraping them off with your fingernail and using a soft brush to remove them. Insects can be wiped off with a simple water spray if your plant is strong enough. Insects can be caught using adhesive materials such as yellow card traps.

Anthracnoses, whiteflies, and spider mites are examples of common pests. Unlike aphids, ants, and flies, Mites can be difficult to see since they are invisible. However, tiny, hardly visible organisms can be seen in fine, webbed regions. Tiny green dots on leaves and stems, yellow discoloration, and curled or dead leaves are all signs of mite infestation.

If you’re dealing with an infestation of tiny insects like whiteflies or mealybugs, spraying with soapy water will typically be sufficient. It’s safe to use the soap. Allows water to soak insects deeply and obstruct their spiracles, causing them to drown. This breaks the water’s surface tension. The active element in many garden sprays is “potassium salts of fatty acids.” Dish soap has a chemical description like this. Dish soap, diluted, can be sprayed on instead of buying expensive commercial cleaners.

Insecticides can be found at garden centers if you feel the need to utilize synthetic pesticides. Use a houseplant-specific product if it will be kept in your home. To get the best results, you’ll want to use pesticides that target particular plant and pest species. Please ensure that you follow the instructions printed on the product’s package. Sprays should be applied outside whenever feasible to ensure the safety of children and pets.

Growing vegetables in containers in Florida 

Vegetable container gardening in Florida is also gaining momentum. So, we have provided a list of vegetables that grow best in containers for the Florida climate.

Tomatoes: Plants should be buried at least six inches under the soil’s surface, whether they were started from seed inside or purchased. Stabilizing roots will grow out of the leaves you remove. It’s best to keep just a few inches of the plant above the earth. Ensure that the plants are well-watered, but avoid over-watering.

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Growing vegetables in containers in Florida 
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Water the roots in the morning, but avoid wetting the leaves. When the plants are wet, could you keep your hands away from them? Place a tomato cage or similar support structure around the plant as soon as possible after planting. Spreading roots might be damaged if you wait too long to remove them. Every month or so, feed the plants with a natural fertilizer.

Peppers: Most gardeners advise against planting peppers directly in the ground. Therefore, it’s best to start with seedlings. Some gardeners believe that planting a half-dozen matches in a hole can encourage the growth of peppers, although this isn’t universally accepted. It’s been said that peppers prefer to be close as they become large; therefore, some people recommend planting them close together.

Fertilize and water them regularly, though you can reduce the rate of fertilization as the fruit grows. During a freeze, cover pepper plants with a blanket. Pests aren’t likely to bother you until the spring.

Radishes: Make a row in the soil about half an inch deep, and then plant the seeds an inch apart in that row. A half-inch of soil should be piled on top if it isn’t raining, and water every other day or two. Within a week, you’ll notice new leaves sprouting from the ground. At around 3 inches apart, you’ll want to prune the plants out a little. They’ll have plenty of space to put on weight this way.

Then, as they develop into spicy, large bulbs just below the surface, watch your confidence soar. Then, after around 30 days, begin removing the larger ones and eating them as soon as possible.

Green beans: Sow the seeds straight into the ground, about an inch deep. Although it will help, you don’t need to soak them in water the night before. When the sprouts are a week old, you’ll begin to see them bend up from the soil. When watering your beans, make sure the leaves do not contact the water. Also, keep your hands away from the leaves, which might carry disease if touched.

If your soil is rich in nutrients, you don’t need to fertilize your beans. However, covering them in a freeze is necessary, although pests are unlikely to be a problem in the autumn and winter. Spray your plants with water, olive oil, and dish soap if you see small aphids.

Kale: Although the seedlings are little, they grow quickly and easily. The sprouting plants should be approximately six inches apart, but they can get closer if you feed them carefully with natural fertilizer. Then, using a pair of scissors, try to cut the bottom of the leaves.

Growing flowers in containers in Florida 

Container flower gardening in Florida is also gaining momentum. So, we have provided a list of flowers that grow best in containers for the Florida climate.

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Growing flowers in containers in Florida 
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Evolvulus: Evolvulus, like many Floridians, is a fan of the hot weather. So in the summer, you’ll be rewarded with stunning blue blooms. The blue bell-shaped blooms of this plant, which can grow up to 15 inches tall, bloom in the day and close at night.

Hibiscus: One of the hundreds of hibiscus varieties available will likely work well in your Florida planter. Hibiscus bushes produce a wide variety of enormous, brightly colored flowers, some of which can measure up to six inches across. It’s also possible to find them in various shapes and sizes. You’ll get bushier results with a perennial when you prune it down to the ground in the winter.

Butterfly bushes: Butterfly bushes come in around 140 different varieties. Even though most only reach approximately 2 feet, butterfly bushes and trees exist, so look for one when selecting a plant for your Florida container. Many develop many flowers on their terminal spikes around this time. 

Periwinkle: It is a magnificent vine that looks stunning in the Florida heat as it cascades over a planter’s rim. Flowers resembling phlox grow on leaf axles in late spring and early summer. 

Coreopsis: These plants grow well even if you don’t take constant care. There are more than 80 options to choose from. This 14-inches-tall and the 18-inches-wide plant can thrive in direct sunlight or light shade. White, yellow, orange, and various colors are available in this long-blooming shrub. Others spread through runners if the birds don’t eat all the seed, while most kinds self-seed.

Growing herbs in containers in Florida 

Container herb gardening in Florida is also gaining momentum. So, we have provided a list of herbs that grow best in containers for the Florida climate.

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Growing herbs in containers in Florida 
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Basil: During the hottest summer months, basil grows and becomes better in taste. This low-maintenance herb is all you need. Aside from watering it once or twice a week, you don’t need to feed or fertilize it. Gardening with basil is an excellent option for small spaces like window boxes, planters, and other containers.

Oregano: In Florida, oregano is the cold-hardiest herb. Unlike all the other herbs on this list, Oregano can be cultivated all year round. Oregano is ideal for edges, pots, and traditional gardens as a decorative plant. As a result, it is used to beautify any environment. Oregano is a perennial, which means it will live for many years in your garden. This means that you only have to plant it once, and you’ll be able to attain its benefits year after year.

Mint: Mint thrives in Florida’s chilly temperatures, unlike several other plants. To get the best peas, you should plant them in the winter and early spring, when the weather is cooler. When caring for this plant, you don’t need to fertilize it, water it very little, or trim it! Mint grows well in pots in the garden.

Sage: Savoring the longer, hotter summers, the sage plant population keeps growing and flourishing. Find a low-maintenance herb here. You can grow them in pots, window boxes, raised beds, and even poor soil.

Thyme: In terms of versatility, thyme is among the best. Certain varieties can be cultivated in cold weather, while others can grow in hot and cold conditions. You can harvest this herb year-round. Because of this, you can use it or preserve it throughout the year. If you’re looking for an easy-to-grow herb, look no further. 

Growing fruits in containers in Florida 

Container fruit gardening in Florida is getting popular. So, we have provided a list of fruits that grow best in containers for the Florida climate.

Apples: When it comes to apple trees, cold hours are a must for them to produce fruit. Only in the north and north-central parts of Florida can these thrive. You’ll have to wait for your tree to bear fruit if you’re starting from seed. Seed-grown trees often begin bearing fruit after six to ten years. Having a grafted tree means it will start producing at a younger age, generally between 3 to 5 years old. In Florida, apples typically mature in June or July.

Avocados: There is nothing they hate more than the cold. However, new cold-tolerant varieties are being developed, allowing north Florida gardeners to cultivate them. The fruits do not mature on the tree at all. Approximately four days after plucking, the finest avocados will mature to their full potential. This indicates that the avocado has to be left on the tree for a longer period before it is ready to eat.

Citrus: When you think of Florida, citrus is generally the first fruit tree that comes to mind. Several citrus fruits, such as oranges, limes, grapefruits, and tangelos, thrive in Florida’s environment. Cold temperature damages citrus since it is a subtropical fruit. North Floridians will have to keep their plants warm at night if they live in that part of the state.

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Growing fruits in containers in Florida 
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Citrus trees thrive well in full sun and on soil that drains well. Give them lots of room to develop, as they can reach up to 15 feet. If you’re growing your trees in containers, they’ll still grow, but they’ll be a lot smaller when they’re done.

Figs: There aren’t many fresh figs available at your local store since the fruits don’t perform well with the logistics involved in transporting them. Due to their unique flavor and freshness, homegrown figs are among the best. In Florida, figs are a simple fruit to produce. A location with plenty of sunlight and capacity for expansion is ideal. Figs can grow up to 12 to 15 feet tall and broad. March is the optimum time to grow figs in Florida, starting with a cutting or seed.

Jackfruit: Gardeners in South Florida should consider growing jackfruit trees in their landscapes. This tree will begin to suffer damage at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. A jackfruit tree will die if the temperature drops below 28F. Unless you have access to a huge greenhouse, this is not a viable solution for those living in northern Florida.

The jackfruit tree is capable of producing up to 60 pounds of fruit! However, this does not imply that all of your fruits will be enormous. Typically, they weigh between 10 and 20 pounds. Also, the fruit’s size will vary according to the type.

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