The end of summer is a great time to perk up your South Florida garden. Take advantage of the dropping temperatures to replace tired, faded plants with fresh fall annuals, and consider adding shrubs now, to give them time to establish strong roots for next spring’s growth. Check out our suggestions below for the best flowers and foliage to grow in autumn.
Geraniums: Geraniums thrive in at least six hours of sun each day, but for best results, wait until October to plant them outside, after the extreme heat and humidity of summer. Keep the plants watered so the soil doesn’t dry out, and feed every two weeks with a balanced fertilizer to encourage more blooms.
New Guinea impatiens: These brilliantly colored, shade-loving flowers are best grown from October to December, when you’ll find them in many Home Depot Garden Centers. Grow them in containers or amend your soil with lots of compost if you’re planting in garden beds or borders.
SunPatiens: These are the first impatiens that can take the high heat and intense sunlight in Southern climates, although they’ll also perform in partial shade. SunPatiens are available with variegated or solid leaves, and flowers come in a wide range of colors. Try them in baskets, pots and window boxes, or grow them in masses in your landscape.
Kalanchoes: These evergreen succulents have lots of branches and tolerate dry soil, making them ideal ground covers. They’re also great for containers and rock gardens. Kalanchoe blooms are available in pink, red, salmon or yellow. Give the plants full sun and garden soil that drains easily, or use them in containers in a good-quality potting mix.
Hibiscus: Watch for the hummingbirds and butterflies that visit these big, beautiful shrubs, which can also be grown as small trees. The plants need full sun and at least 1″ of water each week if there’s not enough rain.
Croton: Tropical crotons come in a wide range of leaf shapes and vivid colors, including yellow, orange, red, cream and pink. These evergreens like direct sunlight and are hardy to USDA Zones 9B to 11. They’ll appreciate some shade in extreme heat conditions.
Ixora: Butterflies love ixoras, evergreen shrubs with yellow, red or pink blossoms. Give easy-care ixoras full to partial sun, and look for dwarf varieties if space is limited.
Cordyline: Usually grown more for their spectacular leaves than their small flowers — which are followed by red or purple berries — cordylines are good for planting around a foundation, in borders or containers, and along paths or walkways. Give these low-maintenance shrubs full sun to partial shade and moderate water.