The Best Plants for the Ocala, Florida, Climate
Ocala is located in Marion County, Florida, in Zone 9 on the USDA cold hardiness map. Like most areas in Florida, the list of plants that grow well is substantial, whether growing ornamental plants or food crops. Hardiness zones are important to know as a general guide, but other factors in a particular location play major roles in a plant's success as well. The amount of rainfall, soil type, time of the year and cultivation practices all play roles in how well plants will perform.
Ornamental ground covers that perform well in Ocala's climate include: dwarf confederate jasmine, English ivy, blue pacific juniper, evergreen giant bordergrass, and varigated evergreen giant bordergrass. Turfgrasses commonly used in Ocala are St. Augustine grass, Bahia grass and Bermuda grass.
Ornamental plants that perform well in the Ocala climate include vines such as cape honeysuckle, bougainvillea, trumpet vine, coral vine and Carolina jessamine. Canna lilies, shasta daisy, Chrysanthemums, Gerbera daisies, Gladiolus, maximilian sunflower, many varieties of daylilies, shrimp plant, red spider lily, many roses and herbs are all perennial plants well suited to the climate of Ocala. Cool weather annuals for the Ocala area include pansies, petunias, and snapdragons. Annuals that can withstand summer condition in Ocala and should be planted in late spring and early summer are marigolds, amaranthus, salvia and coleus.
Trees and Shrubs
Common trees in the Ocala area include red maple, dogwood, many species of holly, crepe myrtle, magnolia, live oak and various oaks, palm trees and pines. Popular shrubs in Ocala are gardenia, dwarf holly, Pfitzer juniper, pittosporums, and azaleas--a favorite in the area. Also common are camellias, ligustrum, podocarpus, confederate jasmine and sweet viburnum.
Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables grow well in any region of Florida, given the right care and maintenance. Gardeners in Ocala can grow warm season crops starting in the spring and also again in the late summer when some of the harsh heat, insects and diseases have abated. Warm-season crops such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, sweet corn, beans, peas will thrive given the proper care. During Ocala's cool season, various leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, white potatoes, turnips, and radishes may be grown. Small fruits, such as strawberry, blueberry, blackberries and grapes will do well in Ocala, and tree fruits such as persimmon, some low-chill varieties of peach, and avocado and citrus in protected locations will grow in Ocala's climate and offer not only a focal point in the landscape, but the added benefit of providing a nutritious crop to enjoy each year.