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The Neighborhood Gardener – May

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

TickTicks Suck! — Being gardeners, you’ve probably noticed an increase in ticks this year. According to experts, the increase is due to a mild winter. In Florida, the brown dog tick and the American dog tick are the most common. Learn how to protect yourself from these pests.

Improving Your Lawn’s Drought Tolerance – The goal of improving drought tolerance is to grow a good-quality lawn that will survive dry spells with little or no supplemental irrigation (watering by hose or sprinkler system). A few simple management practices can help improve the drought tolerance of your turfgrass, no matter what species or cultivar you have.

Persian shieldPlant of the Month: Persian Shield — Persian shield is a perennial with irridescent purple leaves that shimmer with a hint of silver. This perennial loves humid climates, making it a perfect choice for summer gardens. Persian shield performs best when planted in rich, well-drained soil that receives regular watering. Here in Florida, it’s best to plant it in partial to full shade. Persian shield is cold tender, so gardeners should cover it when cold weather strikes. The other option is to treat the plant like an annual, replacing it in the spring if it doesn’t grow back from its roots.

May in Your Garden – Prepare your trees for hurricane season by checking for weak or damaged limbs, pruning if necessary. Plants that can take the summer heat like coleus, wax begonia, rosemary, and okra can be planted now.

bluebirdFriend or Foe? Friend: Bluebirds — Eastern bluebirds eat a wide variety of insects, and other invertebrates, as well as berries. They build their nests in the cavities of dead trees and in wooden fence posts. Bluebird populations had been falling, but are making a comeback, thanks to people building nest boxes for the birds. You too can help by building a nest box on your property. Boxes should be ventilated, easy to clean, and watertight with drainage holes.

Read the full May issue.

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