James on Instagram asks about good plants for South Florida:
“Hey Mr Good, I’ve been watching a lot of your YouTube videos and I really enjoy watching them and learn a lot. I live in south Florida and I was wondering if you had and spare tips or type of plants I should get and experiment with. I want to go to collage for horticulture and before I finish high school I would like to have a good amount of experience and you seem to be a very smart man. So let me know if you have any plants, ideas, or tips for me thank you again”
South Florida is basically a tropical climate, allowing a gardener to grow all kinds of wonderful species.
In my short book Create Your Own Florida Food Forest, I share a list of edible plants I recommend for South Florida in Appendix 2:
If you’re more interested in vegetable gardening, my longer book Totally Crazy Easy Florida Gardening focuses on that. I spent multiple decades gardening in Fort Lauderdale and the challenges of the “soil” and weather can often be overcome by choosing species that fit local conditions. Everglades tomatoes, yard-long beans, Seminole pumpkins, chaya, cassava – these plants will bear for you under less-than-ideal conditions while common vegetables from farther north just give up.
Good Plants for South Florida, non-Edible Edition
If you’re not interested in food gardening in South Florida and would rather grow orchids, bamboo, palms, staghorn ferns, etc., my writing won’t help you very much. However, my recommendation on those plants is to visit smaller nurseries that focus on specific interests and talk with the owners. There are a lot of niche gardeners out there and some of them love their plants so much they start nurseries dedicated to them.
Nurserymen are good resources – often better than extension offices. Larger nurseries are often less focused and more interested in moving product than they are in the plants themselves. Unfortunately, many people never see any nursery other than the nursery area at a Lowe’s, Home Depot or Walmart. You need to visit independent nurseries to really meet the plant lovers who will give you good guidance.
My Favorite Plants for South Florida
My personal favorite plants for South Florida are jaboticaba, coconut palms, chocolate pudding fruit, Seminole pumpkins, yams (Dioscorea spp.), perennial cucumber and coffee.
This perennial cucumber is a good example of a super-easy Florida vegetable:
If I had all those species, I’d be pretty happy. Sure, I’d also be likely to keep collecting plants, and I’m certain if I had the space I’d stick in a gumbo limbo, some mango trees, vanilla orchids, sea grapes, acerola cherries… well, let’s just say I’d never stop. But I do have my favorites.
Good luck and drop me a line any time if you have questions.