I’m in full garden obsession down here in Tampa. I’m talking a Burpee catalog perusing, zone 9 studying, spending all my fun money, sun measuring, seed buying, Lowe’s garden center stalking, Pinterest image gathering level of obsession. It’s all I can think of.

The best part? I live in subtropical zone 9, where you can start your garden very early and harvesting won’t end until late-December. I gathered stalk after stalk of basil until January, and the tomato plant I put into the ground as an end-of-season tester is still bearing fruit, albeit one sad little cherry tomato at a time.

Which means it’s time to start spring garden planting!

When we moved in last fall, our 3 bed / 2 bath ranch style home had little to no landscaping. Over the last five months, I’ve slowly added in flowers as I find them or they are given to me. It’s a mish mash of everything from begonias to roses, petunias to gerbera daisies. It’s been great to learn what works in the sun v. shade, and what the soil needs for plants to thrive. Now it’s time to add in more formally planned sections each season.

I’ve started with a full sun bed against a southern facing fence line. This is what I’ve ordered so far for my zone 9 full-sun garden:

Zone 9 Full Sun Summer Garden

Zone 9 Full Sun Garden

lisianthus pink bouqet pink sunflower ms mars

Lisianthus Pink Bouquet Collection (left): Perennial, Zones 7-11. Blooms Spring to Fall. 12-14″ in height. 6-8″ in spread.

Sunflower Ms. Mars (right): Annual. Blooms in Summer. 2o-30″ in height. 18-24″ in spread.

I picked these two plants because they make fabulous cut flowers and are great bedding plants. I’ve never lived in a zone where Lisianthus can grow as a perennial, so it will be interesting to see how it grows in Tampa.

monarda fistulosa humdinger clematis diamond ball

Monarda Fistulosa: Perennial, Zones 6-9. Blooms late Summer. 3-4′ in height. 20-24″ in spread.

Clematis Diamond Ball: Perennial, Zones 4-9. Blooms in Summer. 6-7′ in height. 2-3′ in spread.

We had several types of Clematis growing in our Kilkenny house. I’m interested to see how this vine looks in this heat. Will it hold up in zone 9? And, I added in a plant the bees will enjoy. This is the only plant I’m not sure I’ll like, as it’s more of a “wildflower” looking plant than the traditional cottage garden plant. So, we’ll see how it looks with it!

claire austin rose blue freesia zone 9

Claire Austin Rose: Perennial, Zones 5-9. Blooms in Summer. 4-8′ in height. 3-4′ in spread.

Freesia: Perennial, Zones 9-11. Blooms in early Summer. 14-18″ in height. 12″ in spread.

I’m a huge fan of David Austin roses, and this rose named after his daughter just looks beautiful in person. It’s been a feature in several formal gardens I’ve visited, and I can’t wait to see how it grows in my own garden. As for the Freesia, do I even need to give a reason?


The lisianthus and Ms. Mars sunflowers did really well in the heat. I did plant the lisianthus in an area that didn’t get enough sun, so while they bloomed beautifully, they leaned forward towards the sun and didn’t look as pretty as I would have liked. But I’m definitely going to add them in the garden this year as well. The sunflowers are a keeper as well.

The fistulosa, clematis, and rose did not survive the summer heat and humidity. The freesia came in but didn’t bloom. However, we were too busy to take care of our lawn this year and a lot of it came up wild in the yard!


  1. Tracy A. says:

    I love our Florida winters. To see flowers in bloom every day is equally as wonderful as enjoying the warm weather. Good luck with your planting!

  2. Nemasys Info says:

    A beautiful range of selected flowers especially Freesia.

Post a comment