Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Plants that Grow in Florida Summers

One of the challenges of living in SW Florida is that what is usually elsewhere a great summer growing season for gardeners is often, here, the "off" season of punishing temps and excesses of either drought, heat, or rain.  Florida's vegetable season is...most all other seasons!  That was hard for me to understand when I first moved here.

I saw a great list on the Lehigh Acres Edible Gardening Blog, a list of plants that DO survive our summers well.  Many of them are alternative or lesser-used (in modern times or in the U.S.) plants.  I was surprised to see how many of them we've tried over the years and found successful, even if we're not growing some of them this year in particular.

Here's the great list

Some of the plants listed there that we've tried before are

1.  Okra
2.  Sweet Potatoes
3.  Moringa (still going strong!)
4.  Pigeon Peas  (we planted them one year too late in season to have a harvest of actual peas...)
5.  Cherry Tomatoes (and how!!)
6.  Cranberry Hibiscus
7.  Malanga (still going strong, never have harvested)
8.  Nopal cactus (going VERY strong!)
9.  Basil (a great annual for us)
10.  Rosemary (ditto)
11.  Eggplant (got TALL and so so hardy)
12.  Chaya/Chayamansa (one of Jack's HUGE successes!)
13.  Tropical Pumpkins/Calabasa (got 4 about to harvest, more little ones on the vine)
14.  Cowpeas (one year we did purple hull peas, did great)

Of course this list does not include wild edibles or edible "weeds" such as Bidens Alba leaves and innumerable others.  And it doesn't include a lot of herbs, including Yerba Buena, one of Jack's favorites in the mint family.

Wow, we've tried more than I imagined!  Those are just plants from the Summer Survivors list...so many others grow as well, but do better in the other seasons.  

We'd still like to try several more from this list.  If you ever need a great source for alternative plants for not just Florida but many different climates, most of these and many others can be found over at E.C.H.O....they have online ordering and also have an on-site nursery with lots of herbs, plants, fruit trees, and unusual (usually edible) plants.

Got any favorite survivor plants that always seem to defy the weather extremes? I'd love to know them!


hanna said...

So have you tried Tulsi plant? I've read here at tulsi plant grows in India where it is always hot or it's almost sunny everyday. I think you can try it too, if ever you harvest one, you can make it into a tulsi tea. :-)

Robbyn said...

hi hanna! I think tulsi is a type of basil, and that grows great here...we haven't grown tulsi itself yet, but since we eventually want several sorts of basils, it will definitely be on the list...thanks for the tip!!

Sib said...

Googling Chapman's Field Milkwort I came across your blog. Have you tried this plant? I saw it at the USF Botanical Gardens Show this spring. Should have bought one, but they were pricey. $60 each.

Robbyn said...

Hi Sib...I don't know milkwort well enough to have investigated it beyond finding a wildflower last year I couldn't identify and finally was able to see it was a milkwort. I'm the sort that probably wouldn't pay $60 for a plant unless I were sure it would survive and thrive for quite a long time. So...did you get any other interesting plants? :-)