Bright, Beautiful Warm-Season Annuals for Your Central Florida Garden

Spring is in the air here in Central Florida, and you may already be asking yourself what kind of flowers you’d like to feature in your garden this year. Daniel’s Lawn Service and Pressure Washing is here to give you some insight into which annual flowers will be perfect for your spring blooming season! While there are two types of annuals — cold-season and warm-season — we will focus on the latter. We will introduce you to some amazingly beautiful annuals that will add color to your garden from many different varieties. Warm-season flowers should always be planted after the last frost. This can vary in Florida, as the North and South regions have significant differences in seasonal temperatures compared to Central Florida and even areas along the coasts — all of which can affect your blooms differently. 

Beautiful Blooms That Add Color and Variety

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The wax begonia is known for its green, glossy leaves and small flowers that bloom in varying colors containing reds, whites, and pinks. In Central Florida, the earliest planting time is in February with removal in November. For optimal growth, wax begonias require partial shade, so it’s best to plant them where they aren’t in the sun all day. This annual also grows well in coastal areas as it has a high tolerance to salt, so it can handle that ocean breeze. You’ll want to plant the seeds a little more than a foot apart so that they don’t become crowded in your garden bed as they start to grow and produce those bright blooms! 

Another bright and beautiful warm-season annual is celosia. Its name is derived from the Greek word, kḗleos, which translates to “burning” in reference to its flame-like flower heads. They come in vivid reds, oranges, and pinks that will give your garden magnificent colors. Celosia is best planted in March in Central Florida. They thrive best in full sun but can grow in partial shade, as well. When it comes to planning for space, they only need 10-12 inches, so about a foot or less. You can remove them as soon as you notice that they start to decline.  

When To Plant Warm-Season AnnualsSome annuals are easier to maintain than others. For example, coleus is one of the easiest warm-season annuals to root. You can start using a glass of water with some cuttings or germinate the seeds indoors for up to 8 weeks before the last expected frost. They require water and can thrive in any type of sunlight, although partial shade is recommended for best results. Due to their huge leaves, these plants require about two feet of spacing when planting — to be accurate, about 18-24 inches. Since they are in the “tender” range of plants, it’s best if you bring them indoors for the winter, they can be grown in pots, so if you start out that way, it will save you the time of digging them out of the ground for winter. 

Daniel’s Lawn ServiceOf course, this list has to include the crossandra, as its bright orange petals would pair wonderfully with the coleus due to its “firecracker” like growth pattern and need for partial shade. It’s definitely one of our favorites to mention as it’s perfect for Florida, but since it thrives in indirect sunlight you can grow it indoors and brighten up your home. Another positive to growing crossandra outdoors is that it attracts butterflies! 

While these are only a few of our favorites here at Daniel’s Lawn Service and Pressure Washing, we invite you to take a look at some other annuals on this comprehensive list provided by the University of Florida IFAS Extension.

When To Plant Warm-Season Annuals

Most warm-season annuals are best to plant between February through April. We recommend that you check the specific annual that you want to grow and plan ahead. It is common to find that annuals are sold out of season, so planning ahead of time is the best way to ensure that your annuals get the proper care and treatment they deserve. 

Planting and Care Tips

You’ll want to prepare your area of choice as best as possible a few weeks before you decide to plant. Remove weeds and old plants, add compost, and a controlled-release fertilizer compatible with the annuals you’ve chosen to plant. Following these steps will ensure the success of your annuals all throughout the summer.

Water and moisture are key when it comes to planting annuals. You’ll want to make sure they are thoroughly watered before planting so you can loosen up the compost. When you do water, you’ll want to water lightly from below the leaves so that you don’t damage the blooms. Use mulch as a way to prevent weeds from growing and ensnaring the roots of your annuals, as well as lock in moisture. Again, with fertilizer, you’ll want to pick one that is best for your choice of annuals so that they receive nutrients throughout the season. Deadheading flowers will help the plant become bushier and produce more blooms — just clip off the dead blooms and pinch the stems to control the size and shape of the plant.

Also keep in mind that annuals serve as an accent to the landscape, and should not be a dominant feature. As noted by horticulturist Sydney Park Brown, “They should harmonize with the setting and the color of your home. Combinations of many flower colors and plant forms are appropriate for a “cottage garden” look, but attractive flower beds can also be achieved by using just one or two types. Color should be used to direct the eye. For example, a colorful flower bed along a walkway to your home visually pulls a visitor to the front door.”

If you’re a gardening enthusiast who loves the entire process — from buying to planting — you’ll have fun this spring! If you enjoy looking at a colorful garden more than creating or maintaining it, call us! Daniel’s Lawn Service and Pressure Washing offers landscape design services that can bring your vision of a Central Florida paradise into stunning reality – and maintain it year ‘round. Call us today to make your dream lawn and garden come true!