Region Description: Coastal and Tropical South

This region is a consolidation of two former regions,
Southern Coasts and Tropical South.
Zone Map
USDA Hardiness Zones
8 to 10
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AHS Heat Zones
8 to 12
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Major Cities

Baton Rouge LA, Brownsville TX, Charleston SC, Corpus Christi TX, Daytona Beach FL, Ft. Lauderdale FL, Galveston TX, Houston TX, Jacksonville FL, Key West FL, Laredo TX, Miami FL, Mobile AL, Monterrey MEX, New Orleans LA, Orlando FL, Sarasota FL, Savannah GA, Tampa FL, Tallahassee FL, and West Palm Beach FL.

The Region

The Coastal and Tropical South region follows its namesake bodies of water and extends inland as far as the sea's influence moderates the climate. The Gulf Coast bends upward from Brownsville and Laredo Texas, east across southern Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama to the Florida panhandle and northern Florida. The Lower Atlantic Coast draws a narrower swath along coastal Georgia and South Carolina to the North Carolina border. The tropical areas include Central and Southern Florida and the Florida Keys.

The Climate

The Coastal and Tropical South region is solidly subtropical and tropical. The Gulf Coast and Lower Atlantic Coasts are not as hot as the true tropics or cold for as long as those just north of us. With about 100+ days each year above 86F, even where sea breezes prevail, the predominant weather is hot and humid. Precipitation is heavy and frequent with annual rainfall averages between 40 and 60 inches a year. It's marked by high humidity, year round lush growing conditions, and little variation in the seasons.

Central and South Florida have a distinct wet and dry climate typical of many tropical and subtropical areas of the world. The summer wet season is hot and humid. It usually begins in early June and ends around mid-October. The winter dry season starts in mid-October and continues until the beginning of June. We receive at least 2/3rds of our 50 to 65 inches a year average annual rainfall during the wet season with southeast, interior Florida experiencing the heaviest rains. Tropical rainfall can be intense with high winds and flooding a real problem in low lying coastal and southern areas. This is especially true during hurricane season from August to November. Inland areas can receive frost in December and January while coastal areas, such as Ft. Lauderdale, are always warmer and some rarely receive frost. The Keys are truly frost-free.

The Growing Season

Most of this region will not experience frosts most winters. However, the summer's are oppressively hot and humid, making annual vegetable and flower growing difficult. The best growing season for annual flowers and vegetables is fall (September) through spring (May). It is often dry in winter permitting virtually any annual flower or vegetable to be grown with concerns about the frosts dependent on where in the area you're located.

It's also possible to grow a broad range of temperate and tropical fruits, such as citrus, strawberries, and avocado, in warmer areas. The lack of a prolonged winter and intense summer heat often limits the type of ornamental trees and shrubs that can survive and flourish in this climate to subtropical ones. Live oaks, citrus, palms, magnolias, oleanders, and gardenias are but a few of our classic landscape plants. Tropical foliage plants thrive in southern Florida.

The summer has high heat and humidity making it hard for most vegetables to survive. Summer weather features temperatures along the coast in the 80Fs and low 90Fs and inland in the mid to upper 90Fs. Frequent thunderstorms often temporarily lower the heat.

View this week's Regional Report for
Coastal and Tropical South »

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