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The Neighborhood Gardener – March 2017

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Happy spring, gardeners!

Man working on the underside of a mowerSpring into Action for a Healthy Lawn – Warmer weather means Florida gardeners will be spending more time keeping their lawns looking lovely. Now is the perfect time to check out equipment, do your research, and create a landscape plan before heading outside. We have four steps that can help you get ready for your lawn’s active growing season.

Artistic rendering of the words International Flower and Garden FestivalEpcot Flower and Garden Festival – There’s a special event that heralds the arrival of spring in Florida—the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. Running now through May 29th, the festival features gorgeous gardens, world-famous topiaries, and special events. On Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, our very own Master Gardener volunteers will be answering questions at the garden information desk, and Master Gardener Coordinators will give instructional seminars on topics such as hummingbird gardens and orchids.

Wendy WilberWendy’s Wanderings — I never know how spring fever is going to hit me. Sometimes it’s the pleasant shock of finding my shopping cart full of beautiful perennial plants—when I only went to the big box store for light bulbs. Or waking up on Saturday with a full-blown panic attack realizing that if I don’t get to the nursery immediately they will be sold out of my favorite tomatoes, and if they are sold out, I won’t have my favorites and I will suffer with lesser tomatoes all spring omg where are my keys?

Purple blossom of queen's wreathPlant of the Month: Queen’s Wreath – Queen’s wreath is a tropical flowering vine that looks wonderful this time of year. With drooping lavender flowers, this plant resembles wisteria—without that plant’s invasive issues. While usually found growing as a woody vine, queen’s wreath can be maintained as a shrub or a small, single- or multiple-trunked tree. Left to its own devices, queen’s wreath can reach 40 feet tall, but you can keep it much smaller with occasional pruning. Gardeners in zones 9B and further south can plant this long-flowering vine and enjoy blossoms for many months.

Logo for FruitScapes website over a photo of papayaFruitScapes – State Master Gardener Coordinator Wendy Wilber thinks growing fruit trees is a fabulous idea. They provide nutritious food to eat and share with both friends and wildlife, they provide shade, and are an attractive addition to home landscapes. But with so many fruit tree (and shrub) options available to Florida gardeners, it can be difficult to know where to start. Enter FruitScapes, the UF/IFAS website that offers you information on planting and growing over 50 different fruit plants in Florida.

Red zinnia flowersMarch in Your Garden – Spring is one of the busiest seasons for Florida gardeners. There are many edibles that can be planted in your garden this month and we have an updated Edibles to Plant this Month infographic that gives you a glance at what can be planted across the state. Now is also the time to start planting heat-tolerant annuals like angelonia and zinnia in your landscape.

Photo of a doe, mostly her headPlant Damage? Oh, Deer! – Spotting deer in your backyard can be a sweet treat; spotting damaged plants that have been chewed up by deer can sour your joy. While there are no guaranteed deer-proof plants, there are plants that are resistant to deer damage, as well as steps you can take to protect your garden and landscape.

Read the full March issue.

Or subscribe today, and receive it directly by e-mail.

The Neighborhood Gardener – December

Red weeping yaupon holly berriesHappy holidays! This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

  • Helping Cavity-Nesting Birds — Gardeners love to have birds and other wildlife in their yards. More than 25 bird species in Florida require cavities in trees as nesting sites, including woodpeckers, Carolina chickadees, brown-headed nuthatches, and American kestrels. Read the full December issue for steps you can take to attract birds like these to your yard.
  • Planting Blueberries – Blueberries are a wonderful edible addition to your landscape. The best time to plant them is from mid-December to mid-February. You can either plant bare-root or container-grown plants. Usually, blueberry plants benefit from incorporating ¼ to ½ cubic foot of acidic sphagnum peat moss into the planting hole. Pine bark mulch also aids in blueberry plant establishment. Make sure to plant in a sunny area away from tree roots.
  • Plant of the Month: Weeping Yaupon Holly — Add color and whimsy to your yard with weeping yaupon holly, an interesting tree that bears clusters of bright berries each winter along its cascading branches. Native to Florida, weeping yaupon hollies should be planted in a spot where they’ll receive full or partial sun. They’ll tolerate a range of soils and conditions.
  • December in Your Garden – Poinsettias are one of the most popular holiday plants. Enjoy them indoors and then plant them in the garden for re-blooming next year. While cooler weather generally means fewer pests, some populations increase at this time of year. Continue monitoring and treat as needed.
  • Friend or Foe? Neither: Velvet Ant — The velvet ant, also called “cow killer,” is actually neither an ant nor a cow killer. The velvet ant belongs to the wasp family. The name “cow killer” comes from the pain inflicted by the sting of the velvet ant, which has been said to be strong enough to “kill a cow.” Only female velvet ants have the capacity to sting. Unlike their cousins the bees, velvet ants are solitary creatures. These “ants” do not cause plant or property damage and should be left alone.
  • Deer Damage in the Garden – If you’ve ever had problems with deer in your garden, it may seem like they’ll eat everything they find. However, they do prefer some plants over others. Read the full December issue ot learn whether the shrubs and trees in your yard are among their favorites.

Read the full December issue.

Or subscribe today, and receive it directly by e-mail.