The Neighborhood Gardener – May 2019

May means lots of plant sales and festivals – happy gardening!

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

An retention pond with lilypads and grasses, in front of a line of McMansionsProtecting Florida’s Water – The Earth is covered with water, but despite its abundance this resource is limited. In a state with so much access to water, it is easy to understand why we must all do our part to protect this vital resource. Gardeners can help protect and preserve the waters of Florida in many ways. Read on for more about preserving our water resources in Florida and some of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Principles that address protecting water in the state.

A tiny fig leaf budding from the tree with sun shining through itWhat Can Your Plants Do for You? – Have you ever sat and considered what your plants are doing for you? Plants can be used in a number of ways; they can provide you with fresh food, beautiful scenery, lovely aromas, and much more. Factoring in how a plant will be used when designing your garden will create a more functional, energy-efficient landscape. We list some of the functions plants can serve and how to pick the right ones to fulfill all your landscape needs.

A brightly colored hibiscus with orange, yellow, and red in the petalsHibiscus — Hibiscus evokes an image of a vivid tropical paradise, with flowers that come in a rainbow of colors. Tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is what’s commonly seen in garden centers and landscapes. However, there are about 35 species of native hibiscus, also called rosemallows, in the United States. One hibiscus native to Florida, Hibiscus coccineus, is also known as the scarlet rosemallow, marsh hibiscus, or swamp mallow.

State Master Gardener program coordinator Wendy WilberWendy’s Wanderings — When you think of Sarasota you think of the beautiful beaches and lush tropical landscaping. Please also think of the amazing 150 Master Gardener Volunteers there that share their passion of tropical landscaping, edible gardening and community outreach with the residents of Sarasota County. The MGV group is led by Dr. Pat Williams and they are headquartered at the UF/IFAS Sarasota Extension Office off of Clark road. They were recently recognized by the Sarasota County commissioners for their impact in the community.

Tropical looking plant with long strappy leavesPlant of the Month: Bird’s Nest Fern — Bird’s nest fern can be grown indoors or outside. Large, stemless, bright-green fronds slowly uncurl from the center of this plant giving it a nest-like appearance. Native to tropical Asia, bird’s nest fern thrives in Florida’s humid climate in zones 9 to 11; plants in zone 9 will need freeze protection. Plant it in an area with partial to full shade and rich soil. This epiphyte makes a lush addition to the landscape, where it can shine as a specimen or a container plant, or indoors as a houseplant.

Plant with small new flowers on it after being deadheadedDeadheading: Not as Scary as it Sounds — Keeping your flowers looking fresh can help you be sure your landscape is looking its best. Deadheading can make a huge difference in your landscape with a minimal effort, something any gardener could rejoice over. Matt Orwat, Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County explains the basics of deadheading. (Photo of coneflower, Matt Orwatt UF/IFAS Extension)

Deep purple torenia flowerMay in Your Garden — Summer is coming, and if you’re adding plants to your landscape be sure they can take the heat. Coleus, salvia, torenia, wax begonia, and ornamental peppers are a few of the ornamentals that can handle the high temperatures in South Florida. For heat-loving herbs, try basil, oregano, Mexican tarragon, or rosemary.

Read the full May issue.

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