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The Neighborhood Gardener – January 2017

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Happy New Year!

Cupcake with candlesCelebrating 100 – The December issue was our 100th edition of the Neighborhood Gardener. The first Neighborhood Gardener newsletter went out in August 2008. Since then our subscribership has flourished, we have sent out hundreds of informational pieces, and promoted as many local and state gardening events. We hope that you’ve enjoyed the information we’ve shared and we look forward to sharing another 100 newsletters with you in the coming years.

Peach on the treePruning Mature Deciduous Fruit Trees – Pruning is an important part of deciduous fruit tree maintenance. There are two training systems that will depend on the type of tree you’re growing and will dictate how you need to prune. Now is the time to plan for pruning and possibly make cuts to your tree, assuming the danger of a freeze has passed for your area. Check out our piece and the linked EDIS articles for the information you need to prune your tree properly for the best crop yield.

Wendy WilberWendy’s Wanderings — Florida’s Arbor Day is celebrated every year on the third Friday of January. This month it is January 20th, so mark your calendar to plant a tree or to help someone else plant a tree. Florida’s Arbor Day is held a little earlier than the national day—celebrated in April—because January is a great time to plant a tree in Florida and our soil isn’t frozen like many other states.

Creamy white pinwheel shaped frangipani flower with yellow centerWinter-flowering Trees and Shrubs — The start of a new year brings flowers to many trees in the Sunshine State. January, and February for that matter, see many trees and shrubs flowering in the coldest parts of the year and on into the spring. Our monthly “What’s Flowering in Florida” infographics tell you what is in bloom each month; this piece will give you a little more information on the featured plants for January and February.

Foliage of Fortune's mahoniaPlant of the Month: Mahonia – Mahonia is the name of an entire genus of woody, evergreen shrubs with dozens of different species. A few of those species will grow well in north and central Florida gardens. Mahonia plants thrive in the shade and are drought tolerant once established. Both their yellow flowers in winter and blue-purple berries in the spring will add some unusual interest to the landscape. Foliage varies with each species, from holly-like and spiky to delicate and feathery.

Male green anole with dewflap showingAnoles – A competition for shelter and food is raging across Florida, and two related lizard species have been adapting to the presence of each other for decades. The native green anoles found themselves in competition with the Cuban brown anoles over a century ago. While not much can be done to eradicate brown anoles, having tall shrubs and trees in your landscape offers refuge for green anoles, as they move vertically in habitats when brown anoles are present.

Purple flowers of agapanthusJanuary in Your Garden – While it may be cold out, there are still many bulbs or annuals to plant. Bulbs like crinum and agapanthus can be planted throughout the state. Gardeners in North and Central Florida can also plant gloriosa lily bulbs, and those in South Florida can plant clivia lily this month. In North and Central Florida, annuals like pansy, viola, petunia, and snapdragon are great for planting this time of year. South Florida gardeners can plant begonia, browallia, lobelia, dianthus, dusty miller, and nicotiana.

Read the full January issue.

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

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.

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