During winter in Florida, nights are cool with an occasional freeze in central and southern Florida and frequent freezes in the north. The north and central zones experience temperatures too harsh for the tropical plants common in South Florida. Planting masses of bedding plants adds color to what may otherwise be a drab winter landscape in northern and central Florida. Winter bedding plants cannot withstand the harsh heat and humidity of a Florida summer and require yearly replacement. Choose plants from garden centers or nurseries and enjoy a colorful garden all year.
Petunias (Petunia X hybrida) are herbacious perennials (a plant that grows for more than one growing season), but are often used as annual bedding plants in Florida during the winter months. Most species of petunia are low-growing plants with dark green, soft leaves and large trumpet-shaped flowers. Flowers of petunia range from white, pink and red to purple, blue and multicolored. Petunias require full sun for the best flowering but can be grown in light shade on a variety of soils. Pruning is frequently needed to shape the plants and control their spread. Many varieties are available, selected for flower form, size and color.
Pansies (Viola) are usually small, clump-forming plants with lobed, kidney-shaped, or heart-shaped leaves. All pansies have five-petaled flowers, with the lower petal often carrying dark markings. White, yellow and purple are the most common colors of pansy, as well as many others. Pansies are generally hardy plants and grow in either sun or shade, and tolerate a variety of well-drained soils. Plant pansies beneath taller shrubs and plants for a bold splash of color.
Snapdragons (Antirrhinum majus) are herbaceous annuals or perennials with stiff stems and fine texture. Snapdragons flowers are two-lipped tube-shaped blooms and come in shades of red, pink, orange, yellow, purple and prefer growing in full sun on a variety of well-drained soils. Variety names of snapdragon include Bells, Madame, Butterfly and Black Prince.
Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum) are vigorous, clumping plants and are a cheery addition to mixed borders of plants. The flowers are usually white, though other colors have been cultivated. Shasta daisies prefer growing in sunny locations on various, well-drained soils. Tall varieties may require staking for support. Varieties of shasta daisy include Aglaia, Ester Read, Snowcap and T.E. Killin.