How to Grow Vegetables in Florida Heat

Overview

Most traditional summer vegetables are grown during the cooler fall and winter months in Florida. Growing vegetables in the heat of a Florida summer is challenging but rewarding. In addition to heat, Florida summers bring rain, and high humidity brings disease. Add summer pests and you have a recipe for disaster in the vegetable garden. Do not despair. Choosing the proper heat, disease and pest resistant vegetables can ease the burden and make growing vegetables in Florida heat much less labor intensive.

Step 1

Prepare the soil for planting. Remove all leaves, roots and debris. Mix composted manure into the soil in a 1:1 ratio, with equal parts of manure and soil. Smooth with a garden rake.

Step 2

Plant heat and disease resistant vegetable varieties. Eggplant, cherry tomatoes, hot peppers, okra, sweet potatoes and Southern peas all thrive in the Florida heat. Plant heat resistant varieties of standard tomatoes, such as Heat Wave, Tropic and Solar Set. Plant bell peppers in an area where they are shaded from the afternoon sun to avoid sun scald.

Step 3

Fertilize weekly with a balanced vegetable fertilizer with minor elements added or by working composted manure into the soil. Foliar feeding with liquid fertilizer is not recommended due to the danger of splashing disease spores onto healthy plants.

Step 4

Water early in the morning every day. Do not rely on afternoon rains, as irreversible wilt damage may already be done by the time they arrive. Ground moisture evaporates rapidly in the Florida heat, so regular watering is essential. Water as close to the ground as possible, as watering overhead can spread disease spores to healthy parts of the plants.

Step 5

Check daily for signs of pests or disease and treat accordingly. Spray for pests and diseases only during the early morning hours to avoid leaf burn. If possible, do not leave plants wet at night. If insects are detected, wash down leaves on both sides with a heavy spray of water to help remove insects and eggs before spraying with insecticides.

Step 6

Keep the garden area free of weeds. Weeds suck moisture and nutrients away from vegetable plants. Diseases and insect pests also breed on weeds.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always drink plenty of water when working outside in the Florida heat. Wear a hat to protect your head, face and eyes from the intense Florida sun. When working in the early morning or early evening when mosquitoes are most active, apply insect repellent to avoid mosquito-borne diseases such as encephalitis and avian flu. Apply sunscreen to all exposed areas, especially during cloudy weather. The Florida sun can burn you very quickly.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tools (shovel, hoe, trowel, garden hose, sprayer, gloves)
  • Composted manure
  • Heat resistant garden plants or seeds
  • Fungicides
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilizer

References

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Summer Vegetables
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Tomatoes in the Florida Garden

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Summer Vegetables
  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Tomatoes in the Florida Garden
Keywords: Florida vegetable gardening, Florida summer vegetables, southern summer vegetables, heat resistant vegetables, heat loving vegetables, heat resistant tomatoes

About this Author

Maddie Gardener is a freelance writer who enjoys sharing knowledge with others. She has been writing online for two years with various sites and private customers. She has degrees in business management and horticulture, and over 20 years experience in the horticulture field.