Florida Plant Hardiness Zones Map And Gardening Guide

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Summary

Florida plant hardiness zones include zones 8b to 11b. Most of this state experiences short, mild winters with long, hot summers. The southern portion of the state experiences no frost-growing seasons and is warm all year long. The overall average minimum extreme winter temperatures range from 15°F (-9.4°C) to 45°F (7.2°C).1-2

There are two climate ranges in Florida: humid subtropical and tropical. The tropical climate range of southern Florida has three smaller climate types: monsoon, savannah, and rainforest. This means it is frost-free and seasonally warm with extended precipitation.3-4 

Florida experiences a long growing season, and you are able to garden year-round in the southern portion of the state. You could extend the season in the north by using a greenhouse, especially due to the overall warmer growing conditions in the state.8-9

Florida experiences heatwaves, wildfires, thunderstorms, and flooding. The state has a rainy season that extends from mid-spring to early fall. Plan for these forms of extreme weather through plant selection and understanding afternoon heat.5-7, 29-30

Plant suggestions include but are not limited to the following:10-28

  • Live Oak
  • Red Bottlebrush
  • Ghost orchid
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Mexican tarragon
  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Seagrape
  • Kalanchoe

Florida Plant Hardiness Zones

Credit to U.S. Department of Agriculture
USDA Hardiness ZoneAverage Minimum Extreme Winter Temperature Range 
Fahrenheit (°F)
Celsius (°C) 
Average Last Frost Date Range In Spring (Beginning Of The Growing Season) Average First Frost Date Range In Autumn (End Of The Growing Season) 
8b15°F to 20°F

-9.4°C to -6.7°C
Mid to late FebruaryMid to late November 
9a20°F to 25°F

-6.7°C to -3.1°C
Early to mid-FebruaryEarly to mid-December 
9b25°F to 30°F

-3.8°C to -1.1°C
Mid to late January Early to mid-December 
10a30°F to 35°F

-1.1°C to 1.7°C
Early to mid-JanuaryMid to late December
10b35°F to 40°F

1.7°C to 4.4°C
Early to mid-JanuaryEarly to mid-January
11a40°F to 45°F

4.4°C to 7.2°C
Frost-free year roundFrost-free year round
11b45°F to 50°F

7.2°C to 10°C 
Frost-free year roundFrost-free year round

Frost Date Sources: 1- 2

Florida’s Growing Conditions

General Climate3-4

Map showing Koppen climate types in Florida.
Credit to Wikipedia

Florida is divided into two major growing climates. The northern and central parts of the state are humid subtropical, while the south is tropical. This means the majority of the state experiences mild, short winters with long, hot summers. This is optimal for longer growing seasons with more plant diversity. 

The south is broken up into three smaller climate types: monsoon, savannah, and rainforest. This means all areas experience hot temperatures year-round and frost-free weather. This also means the south can experience a defined rainy season from May through October. 

Microclimates

USDA plant hardiness zones are an important starting point for your garden, but you’ll also need to consider microclimates. 

Microclimates are areas where specific conditions create a climate different from the climate they’re situated in. 

Buildings, fences, paved areas, or short hills and valleys can create these microclimates. 

They can be as small as a space in your backyard or as large as a city.

In other words, learn about your local conditions from local experts to see if your garden falls into a microclimate.

Extreme Weather5-7, 29-30

Thunderstorms 

Florida experiences the highest number of thunderstorms in the United States and the highest number of lightning-related injuries. These storms can bring high winds, hail, flooding, and even tornados, which can have a negative impact on your home and garden space. 

Choosing plants with strong root systems can be beneficial for this type of climate. If you live in an area where high winds are common, planting hedgerows can help block and dissipate wind. 

Flooding

Florida experiences a distinct rainy season from May through October. This season directly links to heavy rainfall and flooding in certain areas of the state and can be detrimental to a garden without prior planning. 

This is where well-thought-out garden design and planning come into play. Installing proper drainage systems around your home and focusing on rain gardens can help move the heavy flow of water away from your home and garden space. 

Heat Waves And Wildfires

Keeping your garden irrigated during heat waves is essential to keep your garden alive. It’s best to irrigate it before sunrise or after sunset. Doing so ensures the water doesn’t evaporate with the day’s heat, and your plants have a higher chance of absorbing the water.

Due to the heat, wildfires are common in Florida.

To prepare for one, keep your yard clear of branches and debris. This helps stop the spread.

Additionally, you can choose and plant trees that aren’t as susceptible to fires. For example, some trees have thinner bark or more oily leaves. So, you’ll want to avoid those.

Growing Season8-9

No matter where you are in Florida, the growing season is long. The southern part of the state does not experience frost, so you can grow a variety of plants all year long. 

With that in mind, know that the state is divided into three growing seasons: spring, summer, and winter. Fall isn’t part of that list because Florida doesn’t have four distinct seasons due to the lack of frost, and the plants that typically grow best in the fall can be lumped into the winter category. This includes planting perennials and bulbs.

Spring is the ideal time to grow leafy greens, perennial flowers, and herbs. It is also the best time to get fruit trees in the ground. 

Summer is the time to plant your heat-tolerant veggies like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers.  It is important to understand where the shady parts of your garden are to protect your plants against the afternoon heat, which can cause wilting and sometimes plant death. 

Winter is the ideal time to grow cooler crops that can’t really tolerate the heat. These would be peas, kale, and other greens like lettuce. It’s also advantageous to plant shrubs and trees at this time because there are fewer stress factors from extreme heat. 

Florida Gardening Tips8-9

Cottage with garden in Key West, Florida on a sunny day.

Choose The Right Plants

Choosing the right plants starts with planning. Planning out your garden is essential anywhere, including Florida. This is partly due to its droughts and flooding. So, you’ll want to figure out what areas of your garden see more sun or are more susceptible to water overflow. From there, you can select plants that’ll do best.

This can take many shapes. 

For example, you could select plants with strong root systems for the areas susceptible to water. This helps because those plants will absorb more of the water. 

You could also select heat-tolerant plants like cosmos and zinnias for the full-sun parts of your garden. They handle the heat well and add amazing color during the summer months.

Plan For A Hot Afternoon Sun

Most plants, even the heat-tolerant ones, can have a tough time dealing with the afternoon sun in hot climate zones. Growing a successful garden in Florida can mean monitoring where the afternoon shade is in your garden space. 

Container gardening is a great way to fight the afternoon heat. You plant your plants in moveable pots and can move them into the shade when needed. 

Another method to try is planting in a raised bed, where you can use shade cloth to cover your plants on those extra hot days. 

Consult With Local Professionals

Consulting with local gardening professionals allows you to benefit from their experience with your area’s conditions, the plants that do well there, and overall best practices. 

Ohio Plant Suggestions8-21

Ghost orchid on a Florida State Preserve.

Trees

  • Sand pine (Pinus clausa)
  • Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
  • The Florida maple (Acer saccharum subsp. floridanum)

Shrubs

  • Red Bottlebrush (Callistemon citrinus)
  • Crepe jasmine (Tabernaemontana divaricata)
  • Elderberry (Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis)

Flowers

  • Ghost orchid (Dendrophylax lindenii)
  • Pitcher plants (Sarracenia spp.)
  • Eastern Red Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis L.) 

Vegetables

  • Sweet potatoes (Ipomoea batatas)
  • Malabar spinach (Basella spp.)
  • Endive (Cichorium endivia)

Herbs

  • Mexican tarragon (Tagetes lucida)
  • Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum)
  • Dill (Anethum graveolens L.)

Spices

  • Garlic (Allium sativum)
  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa)
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Fruits

  • Seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera)
  • Chickasaw plum (Prunus angustifolia)
  • Avocados (Persea americana Miller)

Succulents

  • Dragon’s blood stonecrop (Sedum sparium ‘Dragon’s Blood’)
  • Sedum (Echeveria ‘Black Prince’)
  • Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe tomentosa Panda)

Disclaimer

Any of the above can change and is not exhaustive. 

Treat anything above like a good starter guide. Then use that as a foundation as you consult with local gardeners, professionals, forecasts, guides, and organizations. 

Sources

  1. Delaware plant hardiness map”. Oregon State University. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  2. Chart of First and Last Frost Dates by Zone”. Park Seed. March 27, 2024. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  3. Climate of Florida”. Wikipedia. March 28, 2024. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  4. Tropical climate”. Wikipedia. March 11, 2024. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  5. Severe Weather Awareness”. FDOT. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  6. Wildfires | Florida Disaster”. Florida Division of Emergency Mgmt. Accessed March 29, 2024. 
  7. Florida Forest Service”. Florida Department of Agriculture. Accessed March 29, 2024. 
  8. Florida’s Three Growing Seasons”. Florida Seed and Garden. Accessed March 29, 2024.  
  9. Planting in Florida: A Comprehensive Guide”. Revival Gardening. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  10. Florida’s Native Pines”. University of Florida. October 7, 2021. Accessed March 29, 2024. 
  11. Florida’s Native Orchids”. University of Florida. March 30, 2022. Accessed March 29, 2024. 
  12. Florida’s Oaks”. University of Florida. August 3, 2023. Accessed March 29, 2024. 
  13. Seagrape”. University of Florida. February 10, 2022. Accessed March 29, 2024. 
  14. Chickasaw Plum”.University of Florida. February 10, 2022. Accessed March 29, 2024. 
  15. Carnivorous Plants”. University of Florida. March 30, 2022. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  16. Columbine”. University of Florida. March 20, 2018. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  17. Florida Maple”. University of Florida. February 11, 2022. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  18. Bottlebrush”. University of Florida. July 26, 2022. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  19. Elderberry”. University of Florida. August 31, 2023. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  20. Mexican Tarragon”. University of Florida. November 10, 2016. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  21. Cilantro”. University of Florida. August 7, 2018. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  22. Sweet Potatoes”. University of Florida. May 12, 2021. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  23. Tropical Spinaches”. University of Florida. May 21, 2021. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  24. Mahr, Susan. “Ginger, Zingiber officinale”. Wisconsin Horticulture. Accessed March 29, 2024
  25. Mahr, Susan. “Garlic, Allium sativum”. Wisconsin Horticulture. Accessed March 29, 2024
  26. Turmeric”. Wikipedia. March 9, 2024. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  27. Endive”. University of Florida. September 21, 2021. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  28. Succulents”. University of Florida. February 28, 2024. Accessed March 29, 2024.
  29. Fire ecology”. Government of Canada. July, 2020. Accessed April 5, 2024. 
  30. How Different Tree Species Impact the Spread of Wildfire”. Alberta Government. Accessed April 5, 2024.  

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