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The Neighborhood Gardener – June 2013

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Firebush flowerCoastal Gardening — Salinity problems are very common in coastal Florida. Soils laden with salts often dry roots out and prevent plants from thriving. If you live in an area abundant in salt spray or your well has been intruded by saltwater, do your research and choose plants that can handle these conditions. Plants and trees that are planted within one-eighth of a mile from the coastline need to be adequately salt-tolerant.

Microirrigation – Summer is our rainy season, but the dry fall months will be here before we know it. So now’s the time to plan for a garden microirrigation system. When microirrigation is installed and used correctly, water use is reduced because water is delivered directly to the plants’ roots instead of sprayed through sprinklers. Disease problems can be reduced because plant foliage stays drier. And unlike sprinkler irrigation, microirrigation exceeds 90 percent efficiency.

crossandraPlant of the Month: Crossandra — Native to Southeast Asia, this shrub will grow up to 3 feet tall, with glossy, textured leaves and salmon or orange colored blossoms that attract hummingbirds. Crossandra thrives in warm, humid environments and cannot tolerate cold weather. It perform as a perennial in Central and South Florida, but should be used as container or annual plants otherwise. While it can tolerate up to four hours of direct sun light per day, this shrub can also be grown in partially shaded areas.

June in Your Garden – Annuals that can take full sun during the increasingly hot summer months include celosia, portulaca, vinca, and some coleus. Plant heat-loving herbs like basil and Mexican tarragon. Many summer flowering shrubs like hibiscus, oleander, and crapemyrtle benefit from frequent light pruning to improve flowering.

iguanaFriend or Foe? Foe: Iguanas — Iguanas were originally brought to South Florida during the ’50s and ’60s and sold as exotic pets. In the decades since, people have been illegally releasing these animals into the wild, dumping them after realizing they can no longer take care of these giant lizards. The warm, tropical Florida climate allowed these reptiles to thrive, and now there are over 100,000 feral iguanas invading Palm Beach, Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties.

Read the full June issue.

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