I grew up in New England but spent most of my life living in central Florida. The joy in my life comes from being on the water, gardening in the backyard, RV camping, playing with my two cats, and hanging out with my grown kids.
The hydrangea shrub in my Florida yard is doing well and blooming with pink flowers.
The hydrangea I planted in my Florida garden a few years ago is now blooming once again. Soil in Florida tends to be alkaline so the flowers are pink. When I first bought the plant the flowers were blue, no doubt due to amendments to the soil. Everyone wants blue flowering hydrangeas.
But when this hydrangea plant was left to grow in the sandy soil in my southern yard, the flowers became pink. I don’t care. Pink is pretty too.
The key to success when growing hydrangeas in the hot and humid Florida climate is to give the plant shade. All the leaves fall off for winter but the greenery comes back along the stems in Spring. Don’t cut the plant back! The first year I did cut it, but it’s not necessary.
2017 Potted and blue
Here is the hydrangea plant when I first bought it. It was probably grown in a greenhouse and given something acidic for the flowers to bloom blue.
For the winter months in Florida, the plant is nothing but stems. Once the weather gets permanently warm again – around February – the stems will begin to show green growth.
2022 June – Pink flowers
The flowers will only be blue if the soil is acidic. In Florida, azaleas, camellias, gardenias, and crepe myrtle all like acidic soil. So planting hydrangeas near these plants means they can all be amended with bone meal, or something to naturally turn the soil acidic. Read about more ways to turn soil acidic.
It seems that each year this plant has more, and larger, flowers. I try to give it plenty of water and it is never in direct sunlight thanks to the fact that a large shrub covers it.
July and the Blooms Are Fading
I was sick with Covid for nearly a month and only recently have been back out in my Florida yard. Now my pink hydrangea flowers are a very light greenish color. One little pink bloom hangs on.
With attention and lots of watering, the seeds I started in larger pots are doing well.
After caring for my seedlings in eggshell pots for weeks, I decided to start some seeds in big pots. They won’t dry out as quickly and are able to stay outside overnight.
I gathered up pots of all sizes that had been lying around and cleaned them out. for drainage I used yard debris, which was a mix of oak leaves, catkins (those long brown things) and Spanish moss. That mixture was pushed into the bottom of each pot before adding dirt.
I’ve planted basil, dill, cherry tomatoes, marigolds and cosmos. I used freezer tape to label the pots with the date they were planted.
Basil can be difficult to grow in Florida, or so I’ve heard. I had some basil plants in the garden that lasted a couple of years, but then they died. Basil does self-sow if you let seeds form. I now have two pots of basil.
The basil seedlings became so crowded that I removed some of the plants by cutting them off. You should cut and not pull when thinning so as not to disturb the roots.
I kept the cuttings to use when cooking! So far, everything looks good and I hope to have nice big basil plants to pull from year round.
Cosmos and Marigolds
I chose two types of flower packets to grow from seeds. Marigolds are so wonderful for gardens, because they repel certain bugs that could be destructive. They should be dead-headed (pull off the old flowers) and I rip the flower head apart and scatter it among the vegetables. Every gardener probably includes marigolds when planting. I think certain varieties are better than others, but I didn’t have a lot to choose from at the store.
I bought two flowering marigold plants – see the orange one below – and will see what happens with the seeds.
The cosmos seedlings are looking pretty good. A little purple cosmos flower has bloomed in my grow box. That plant was begun in an eggshell pot.
This is certainly a different looking cosmos from what I am used to growing in New Hampshire. Or maybe the plant needs to mature to grow larger.
Actually, the secret is to plant seeds in real good dirt.
I always grew dill in my northern garden, but have not had luck growing it here in Florida. I do have a few small seedlings in the grow boxes, and now have dill sprouting in this terra cotta pot.
Because I don’t have much luck growing dill, I have chosen to grow fennel. It is similar in that it also grows tall and feathery and has flowers that attract beneficial bugs. Also the Swallowtail butterfly will leave her eggs on fennel, just like parsley and dill.
I needed up putting the dill into the potato garden and planted more dill seeds in a large pot.
My cherry tomato seedlings were not doing much at first, but now in May they are large plants. I’ve transplanted them a few times and they have little tomatoes on the vine.
I’ve combined these two herbs in this post because one of them I can’t seem to grow. Because dill doesn’t like my yard, I’ve grown fennel in it’s place.
The two herbs are not interchangeable for cooking and seasoning, as they are both different, but as far as gardening goes, they are similar. They are both airy and lacy and have big yellow, open flowers that attract beneficials.
I first grew dill in my New Hampshire yard. I absolutely loved the flowers that came at the end of the season, which attracted good bugs. Here in Florida I have tried numerous times to grow it without success. This potted dill you see here was grown from seeds.
Aside from the fact that the raccoons dug around in the pot one night, it looks pretty good.
Fennel on the other hand grows all on it’s own. It is considered a perennial. It has successfully re-seeded itself in my front yard and I’ve seen caterpillars on it in past years. And often the stalks will last into the following year. Here in Florida that happens with many vegetables.
Unfortunately the brown lizards ate all the worms, so I didn’t see any turn into Swallowtail butterflies.
Both dill and fennel have seeds that form on the flowers and are very easy to save. Because I don’t have luck with dill, I have photos of fennel seeds only.
Fennel easily grows from seeds. I have some plants that have sprung up along the front of the house. This year I saw no caterpillars on them, but I like to have them just in case a butterfly comes by to lay her eggs.
May in my Florida vegetable and flower gardens. See what is growing well and what is not. Also advice on beginning plants from seeds.
Because there are no farm stands to buy Spring seedlings, I started my vegetables from seeds this year.
This page is an update on how my vegetables, and some flowers are growing. The hydrangea that I planted in the yard a few years ago is still doing well – surprisingly. See photos down the page.
Zucchini, Beans, Tomato, and Eggplant
Zucchini seeds were planted directly into a grow box. One plant is hanging on, the other two died. It is not growing well.
The beans are newly planted and doing very well. More about the beans further down the page.
The Cherry Tomato plants are thriving, and the eggplant (not from seeds) is giving me little eggplants.
Most plants have been in the ground, or transplanted to pots, for a few weeks now. We have not had much rain, so I water every day.
The Cherry Tomato Plants
All of the cherry tomato plants were begun in eggshell pots. Depending on where they went when transplanted, it has really made a big difference in their growth.
the First Transplanting of the tomatoes
The little seedlings that went straight into the garden grow box are still quite small. In fact, one of them died.
The cherry tomato plants that were transplanted into small, individual pots began to thrive. I think I would plant seeds directly into these pots next time.
From the small pots they went into large patio pots where they will stay. Already they have flowers forming.
Bigger plants today
Planting the seeds in small pots (eggshells in my case) got the plants off to an early start in March, however… I would skip that next time and put the seeds straight into small 4-6” pots instead. Caring for the little eggshells was time consuming as they needed watering often.
But, it has made all the difference in the way I transplanted them. The plants in the garden box are not growing fast at all. The plants I transplanted twice – into good garden potting soil – are nearly ready to give me tomatoes.!
Jalepeño Pepper Plants
The pepper plants are doing nicely. It seems to be one thing that grows well in Florida, mainly because peppers like it hot. In New Hampshire it took way too long for the plants to grow to a size to begin producing – and by then the frosts came.
These jalepeño peppers are in small clay pots for now.
The Dirt Makes All The Difference
We set up new garden boxes in the yard this year. We mistakenly bought many bags of dirt at the local Home Depot that was not good soil. It was supposed to be added to already established beds. We dumped it into the grow boxes and raised beds. Nothing that has been planted in that soil has done well.
All we can do is amend the soil with better dirt, so that is what I am doing. But it is too late for the seeds and seedlings struggling in those boxes.
The Black Gold brand is what I had good luck with – this is an Amazon affiliate link. But the Black Gold is expensive if you need to fill a large box or raised bed. I plan to make my own compost and amend the soil with that. Dirt can be improved, but it might take time. Here in Florida we can plant again in Fall.
Potatoes and Green Beans
The white raised beds had been planted with potatoes. They were doing well until the cutworms arrived.
Most every potato stalk has died, so I am filling those two beds with bean seeds. Beans and potatoes are companion plants.
These are bush beans and do not need staking, but I put the cages in to keep animals from digging around in the dirt. Something climbs up into the beds at night and digs. I’ve already lost a couple bean seedlings.
Beans do okay with heat, so I am hoping they will grow throughout the summer.
I’m having better luck with the Japanese eggplant than I did with the regular eggplant. The old one grew into a small tree and only gave me a few eggplants to eat.
At the end of last year I planted this Japanese eggplant plant. I bought it as a small plant.
It has consistently given me little eggplants to enjoy. It quit producing over winter, but now it is going strong. The eggplants are small but are the perfect size for me.
No Luck With These
Carrots – they are simply not growing
Cucumber – small vines, curling cukes
Beets – leaves totally eaten by something
Older Garden Boxes
The eggplant is growing in one box, with peppers in the center box and a scraggly tomato plant in the third. I’m waiting for all the tomatoes to turn red and then the plant will be ripped out. It doesn’t have many leaves and is not doing well. All these plants had to be covered at night all winter, and they did not like those colder temps.
Growing Cosmos From Seeds
Plant the cosmos seeds in good dirt in a larger size pot. I began a few cosmos plants in eggshells, but they didn’t do well at all.
Directly sow seeds into big pots and they will create a pretty display.
In my photo here I have two pots and one is doing a lot better. It’s the dirt. The smaller plant was recently transplanted into good dirt and now I’m hopeful it will flourish.
The raccoons got into the other pot and dug up part of the seedlings. The ones left are blooming and look good.
The Hydrangea Plant in May
New leaves have grown on my one hydrangea plant and today I noticed there are about five tiny buds. The plant looks nice and healthy.