Tips for Growing Flowers in Zone 9a (2024)

Feb 3

Tips for Growing Flowers in Zone 9a

Molly Coyne


Looking for tips for growing flowers in zone 9a? I live in a historic corner of sunny Jacksonville, Florida—a place that’s far enough inland to avoid salt and sand but coastal enough to get tons of rain, sunshine, and breezes. Sounds perfect for growing things, right?

My answer usually is “Sort of, yeah.”

Like all zones, 9a has its share of issues. On average, we get 294 days in our growing season, and as any Florida native will tell you, that season is quite unpredictable. Add in daily multi-inch rainfall from June through September, heat indexes regularly clearing 102 degrees F, and hurricanes, and it makes you wonder how anything gets grown.

As someone who has grown for two years and just closed out their first serious growing season, it’s been a significant learning curve. Looking through my 2020 journal, I’ve pulled together some tips and tricks to help other Southern climate growers in zone 9a survive and thrive for 2021.

Plan Smarter, Not Harder

Any book on growing or gardening will tell you that a solid plan is essential to success.

I’m an analytical person who thought I’d covered most of my bases planning for this season, and here are the things that my zone threw at me:

Cool Season Flowers and Growing Zone 9a’s “Cool Season”

Everyone knows their cool/warm-season crops, but growing cool season crops in zone 9a can be a challenge.

I struggled to acclimate to my zone’s cool season more than farmers who I look up to who lived farther north. Even zone 8b has a drastically different freeze cycle than my area of Florida.

In 9a, I aim to plant my direct-sown hardy annuals in late October or early-mid November, with some as late as December. I start my shelter-grown spring transplants from late October through December in our unheated garage.

Other growers here (who have protection in their fields or more room) started their hardy and half-hardy annuals in August and September.

Ultimately, know your garden and trust your knowledge of it when shifting your seed-starting schedules.

Tips for Growing Flowers in Zone 9a (2)

Handling Heat & Humidity

Once you get through spring blooms, having a smart plan about summer crops can save you stress, sweat, and possibly heat exhaustion.

That can range from using shade cloth as a cool-season extender to laying some of the groundwork, considering the points below.

Most importantly, take care of yourself! The heat index regularly climbs 15+ degrees over the actual temperature in this area, so plan your work in growing zone 9a around the coolest points of the day and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!

Weed Care in Zone 9a

We get almost daily deluges from June through September; your plants will love this, but so do the dreaded weeds. Stay on top of your weeding in the spring, invest in a solid weed blocker (landscape fabric, mulch, etc.), and give yourself time in your days to go weed (early morning or around sundown are safest).

Also, know what your lawn/plot consists of. We have a ton of Bermuda Grass, and it can absolutely demolish a bed of flowers if it gets a chance. Lawns and gardens in the area are full of tough weed varieties like sedges, goose and crabgrass, beggar and matchweed, morning glories, Florida pulsey, pigweed, Spanish needle, and dollarweed. Many of these weeds spread via runners, so keep an eye out for them creeping into and under your blooms.

Tips for Growing Flowers in Zone 9a (3)

Zone 9a Irrigation and Rain

The image of toting around a watering can is rustic and nostalgic, but hand-watering all of your plants? It’s time-consuming and physically demanding.

Plan irrigation and schedule it for the coolest parts of your day (early morning and around sunset). Overhead watering is good if you need to cool a rose quickly, but it can literally fry your plants if done incorrectly.

Drip lines and tape can be put in during your off-season and lifted/moved when you put the garden to bed after the first frost.

Rainfall can make a huge difference in production as well as the cost of watering during dry spells. Rain barrels are an ecological and fiscally conscious option to assist you through the summer season. We’re installing several and looking at water conservation ideas to combat run-off and pollution in our area.

Know Your Microclimates

I love dahlias, and so do my customers. But dahlias don’t like temps above the mid-70s, which makes growing them (and most spring bulbs) a challenge here in the Southeast in zone 9a.

Knowing any microclimates you have (north walls, shady spots, or dips in the land) and learning how to create them yourself is super valuable. Shade cloth is incredibly useful here. Put it up once dahlias sprout! Shade cloths will lower temps by a percentage but won’t block rain or airflow.

Then, take it down once things start cooling off. Be sure to also think about how the path of the sun changes throughout your season. Tulips and other spring-flowering bulbs can be chilled and sprouted in November and planted in December for growing zone 9a, but check where you get shade during the late winter days and factor in that temperature difference when planning your bulb patch.

Tips for Growing Flowers in Zone 9a (4)

Tips for Growing Flowers in Zone 9a (5)

Hurricanes, Floods, and Pests

Sometimes when growing cut flowers and foliage, stuff just goes pear-shaped. Zone 9a is no exception.

You only have to look at the record-breaking named storm season we’ve had to see some of the challenges growers face. Pair that with West Coast fires and Northeastern areas’ early frosts/freezes, and you get the picture that everyone has their struggles.

Save yourself additional stress by planning what you can, using your local community as a resource, and taking the rest as an opportunity to learn and adapt. Plan your support structures, drainage areas, and storage with last season’s struggles in mind, and you’ll be off to a great start for the next one!

Tips for Growing Flowers in Zone 9a (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Jeremiah Abshire

Last Updated:

Views: 6743

Rating: 4.3 / 5 (54 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Jeremiah Abshire

Birthday: 1993-09-14

Address: Apt. 425 92748 Jannie Centers, Port Nikitaville, VT 82110

Phone: +8096210939894

Job: Lead Healthcare Manager

Hobby: Watching movies, Watching movies, Knapping, LARPing, Coffee roasting, Lacemaking, Gaming

Introduction: My name is Jeremiah Abshire, I am a outstanding, kind, clever, hilarious, curious, hilarious, outstanding person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.