Summer Spotlight

Each of the 25 display gardens at Mounts Botanical is a living exhibit, with plants chosen specifically to tell a story about home gardening in a challenging subtropical climate. The gardens illustrate what Palm Beach County residents can emulate in their own spaces, large or small. This series spotlights key elements of gardening in South Florida.

Click on any of the bold terms to learn more about some of our favorite gardening resources.

Jump to a specific Summer Spotlight entry by clicking on a title below:

Growing a Garden in South Florida
More articles coming soon!


The Mounts Botanical Nursery

Growing a Garden in South Florida

Growing plants in South Florida presents a series of unique challenges. A simple internet search can feel like an overwhelming maze, as you stumble upon a solution to your problem only to realize the summer storms or brutal heat require a different solution than the internet suggests. But with the right resources and key search phrases, you can support your green thumb with the information you need to become a master of South Florida gardening.

USDA’s Plant Hardiness Zone Map of Florida

Plant Hardiness Zones
Regardless of where you live, you should become familiar with the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Plant Hardiness Zones. The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is a standard by which gardeners can determine which plants are most likely to thrive. The country is broken down into zones based on the average annual minimum winter temperature. Mounts Botanical Garden finds itself in Zone 10b, 35 to 40°F. A quick internet search of any plant with the term “zone” will help you discover if it may be a good addition to your garden or not worth your time. The plant hardiness zones are a guide, and not exact.

Contributing Environmental Factors
There are many contributing environmental factors to the success of a plant in addition to temperature range. Wind, soil type and moisture, humidity, pollution, seasonal sunshine can all greatly affect the survival of your plants. And that does not begin to cover their place in the landscape, how they are planted (transferred at what season or size? from seed or cutting?), and health which also all influence their chance of survival and ability to thrive.

The variation in display gardens at Mounts Botanical is a great example of the possibilities achievable within the same climate. The Mediterranean and Cottage Gardens specifically suggest ways that sub-tropical plants can be used to recreate a specific aesthetic that is a-typical of the environmental conditions found in Palm Beach County.

Resources for Gardeners
With so many contributing factors to a garden’s success, it can be overwhelming for even the experienced gardener to diagnose a problem, never mind for those new to the area or to gardening. Luckily, there are plenty of great resources. The University of Florida has a plethora of information and programs to support the Florida gardener. UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions is an easily searchable and browsable collection of information from plants, pests, design, care, and more. As you get into specifics, you may be directed to EDIS, or the Electronic Data Information Source of UF/IFAS. EDIS is used to publish and communicate current research directly from the University. A great EDIS reference to bookmark is the South Florida Gardening Calendar, which details planting and maintenance plans by month.

Support local, and not just for your produce. By sourcing plants for your garden from local nurseries, you don’t just get a hardy Florida plant but also years of experience and expertise. Local nursery owners and staff want to see their plants do well in your yard, and are usually happy to answer questions you may have. The Mounts Botanical Nursery staff are always happy to help you select the right plant and troubleshoot why things may not be growing as they should. Find yourself getting really into cycads? Baffled by roses? Palm Beach County is home to a variety of plant societies and many typically meet in the Mounts Auditorium. The plant societies are fantastic local resources and a great way to get more involved. A list of the societies is available at https://www.mounts.org/societies-and-clubs/ and most of them can be found online or on social media.

Join us for our next Summer Spotlight, where we will jump into Florida-Friendly Landscaping!

If you have any comments or suggestions for future articles, we would love to hear from you by emailing mallory@mounts.org 

For gardening questions and advice, reach out to Palm Beach County Cooperative Extension’s Help Desk by calling 561-233-1750 or by emailing mgardenfwd@pbcgov.org

Memberships and donations to the Friends of the Mounts Botanical Garden support our mission to inspire and educate through nature at the Garden, in the classroom, and at home. We appreciate your continued support!