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Month to Month in North Florida: What to Plant in June

NOTE: I forgot all about this post. I'm publishing it without many pictures for now because June is half over and I want to get it up. Sorry about that. It's been a busy month.

June is a harsh month in Florida, and most gardeners use it as a time to rest and plan for their August plantings, but there are still food crops that can be planted and grown, though many you may never have heard of.

Annuals to Plant in June in North Florida

During the heat of June, most annuals and perennials are added to the garden as established or starter plants,  not grown from seed. Look at your local garden center to see which plants are available this month.

There are very few annuals that can take full sun during the steamy Florida summers. Celosia, portulaca, vinca and sun-loving coleus will add color and blooms to your garden when other plants are taking a rest until cooler weather. Gaillardia blooms all summer and are excellent cut flowers.

Perennials & Bulbs to Plant in June in North Florida 

Heat-loving perennials and bulbs can also add texture and color to your garden. Add established plants to your garden and they will return year after year.

  • Pentas
  • Salvia
  • Lantana
  • Melampodium
  • Bulbine
  • Ornamental sweet potato
  • Canna
  • Crinum

Vegetables to Plant in June in North Florida

The common crops that can be planted in June are:

  • Sweet potatoes - These wonderful tubers aren't harvested until fall, but you can harvest the leaves to cook or use in salads as a leafy green. Just be sure not to take too many from one vine, or to remove the growing tip, of you won't get any tubers in the fall. I like to grow a separate crop, sometimes up a trellis, just for the leaves. 
  • Southern peas - You can eat southern peas green, or let them dry on the vine for storing. Black-eyed peas are probably the most well-known, but there are so many types & varieties of southern peas that you can plant an entire garden just of these. 
  • Okra - A cousin of the hibiscus, you either love or hate this easy-to-grow southern staple. I personally like boiled okra, but I mostly eat it fried or add it to soups and stews. Okra and tomatoes cooked with onions, flavored with bacon and served over rice is one of the south's most beloved comfort foods.
  • Eggplant - Although eggplant should be started from seed no later than March, you can still plant starter plants in June and then plant seeds for a later crop in early August for a crop before winter. There are dozens of varieties and sizes of eggplant that you can try if you don't like the large, grocery store varieties.
  • Hot Peppers - Like eggplant, these need to be planted as starter plants, but they can be both ornamental and edible. 

Tropical Vegetables

If none of the above four crops suit your fancy, tropical vegetables are a great alternative crop during the hot summer months.

Missing spinach? Leafy tropical spinach substitutes include

  • Chaya - CAUTION: While most of these can be eaten raw, Chaya leaves must be boiled for at least 10 minutes before eating to destroy the cyanic acids in the leaves.
  • Ceylon Spinach (Talinum fruticosum)
  • New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragonoides)
  • Albemoschus manihot  (aka Hibiscus manihot)
  • Malabar spinach

Edible Hibiscus and More

Cranberry hibiscus (H. acetosella) - the leaves are a beautiful dark burgundy with a tart taste similar to sorrel, and can be eaten raw in salads or used to make a delicious tea. CAUTION: The leaves contain oxalic acid crystals,so only eat them raw in small quantities.

Albemoschus manihot - a mild, leafy green, which can be eaten raw, but is usually cooked due to its mucilaginous property.

Elephant Ears - The young, unfurled leaves of taro (Alocasia esculenta) and some Xanthasoma spp. can be cooked and eaten, and are sometimes used in the Caribbean dish Callaloo. The older leaves can be eaten, but are best chopped and cooked for longer periods to make them more tender.

Amaranth - All Amaranthus spp. plants have edible leaves, although some are tastier than others. A. palmerii, a common weed in Florida, should only be harvested in safe areas where there is no contamination from cars or pesticides. It is easily grown in the garden with little to no care. Red amaranth and Amaranthus cruentus (Callaloo) are two popular garden varieties, but even the very ornamental leaves of Joseph's Coat are edible.

Lambsquarters- (Chenopodium giganteum aka Mexican tree spinach) is another weedy plant that can be used as a spinach substitute. It can grow to 6 feet tall in fertile soil, and can be pruned as needed to prevent reseeding.

Purslane - grows wild in Florida, but seeds of hybrid varieties with larger leaves can be purchased. Do not eat purslane purchased as an ornamental, because it may contain systemic poisons.

So June is not really a barren month devoid of flower and food crops to consider planting. Try a few of these in your summer garden to keep it going during the hot and humid months.

If you've already grown some of these summer veggies, let us know in the comments.

Happy Gardening!