Caladiums from Zhanao.

Annuals provide a great opportunity to color-up your landscape, front porch and lanai, whether in the ground or in containers. Most Florida annuals last one season, not one year. There are both warm and cool season annuals. This article focuses on warm season annuals, which are so named because they are damaged by frosts and freezes.

You need to know your site conditions because these elements will help you make appropriate plant selection decisions. Consider whether the planting area is in the sun, shade or part sun and part shade. Is the area well drained, wet or in between? What is the size of the landscape bed you want to utilize? Once you have this information, you can make good plant selection decisions by ordering a free copy of the “Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection and Landscape Design” from Southwest Florida Water Management District’s website ( by clicking ‘Resources,’ selecting ‘Free Publications’ and searching for the guide. The key to the information provided is on page 31. We are in ‘C’ for central Florida, 9B.

I selected three warm season annuals that do well in central Florida. They include Caladium, Coleus and Coreopsis.

Caladium: This is a fast-growing bulb that can reach a height and spread of 1-2 feet. Soil moisture should be well drained. Caladium has medium drought tolerance. Different cultivars prefer partial shade, full shade or full sun. Its foliage is colorful, and the leaves die back in the fall.

Coleus: This is a fast-growing plant that can reach a height and spread of 1-3 feet. Soil moisture should be medium drained. Coleus has low drought tolerance, prefers full sun and performs well in partial shade/partial sun. Propagation from cuttings is very easy.

Coreopsis: This is our state’s wildflower, which produces orange/yellow summer flowers. It is a fast-growing annual that can reach a height of 1-4 feet and a spread of 1-3 feet. Soil moisture should be well drained. Coreopsis has high drought tolerance. It prefers full sun and performs well in partial shade/partial sun. This plant attracts butterflies and birds.

For more information on environmental horticulture, contact the University of Florida/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County at 813-744-5519, visit our office at 5339 County Rd. 579, Seffner, visit our website and calendar of events at or check our Facebook pages. We hope you will get outside and garden. It can improve your attitude, health and landscape.

Lynn Barber is the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ agent for UF/IFAS Extension Hillsborough County. Contact her at

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