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The Neighborhood Gardener – December 2016

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Happy holidays from the staff of the Florida Master Gardener program!

White flowerThe Top 8 Gift Plants – It’s the holiday season, and plants are an ever-popular gift. While amaryllis and Christmas cactus get a lot of attention this time of year, there are many other great gift plants if you’re looking to give something a bit different. Paperwhite narcissus is a great alternative to amaryllis. Norfolk Island pines and rosemary plants are often festively adorned to resemble miniature Christmas trees. Learn more about these and other holiday plant options.

Two carambola fruit hanging from treeCarambola – In South Florida, carambola is currently in season and a great tropical tree for growers in some parts of Florida. Also called star fruit, carambola is one of the more cold-hardy tropical fruit trees, making it a possibility for those north of the Keys. Older varieties of carambola tend to be quite tart, but new, sweeter cultivars have been selected. Star fruit are a good source of vitamins C and A, phosphorus, and potassium. Slices of the fruit look like stars—hence the celestial name.

View of the Fairchild Tropical Botanical GardenGarden Field Trips — With hectic holiday schedules it can be difficult to find time in the garden; add in travel and visitors and you might start feeling a plant void this time of year. Why not take this time to visit a garden and get “green inspiration” to start out the new year? Seek out a garden during your trip, or take your holiday guests to one in your city. We’ve compiled a list of just a few of the spectacular gardens throughout the state if you need some destination ideas.

Blue fruit of the female red cedarPlant of the Month: Red Cedar – Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a Florida-Friendly tree that adds year-round greenery and texture to your landscape. With attractive, dense foliage, it’s often used as a wind break or a screen. It also has a high salt tolerance, making it great for coastal areas. Its pleasing form makes red cedar also popular as a cut or living Christmas tree; it’s one of several evergreen species grown on Florida Christmas tree farms. Red cedar goes by many common names, including southern red cedar, eastern red cedar, and even pencil cedar (more on that later).

Spider plant in hanging macrame basketDecember in Your Garden – While the rest of the country may consider December to be a slow time of year for the garden, here in Florida it’s the ideal time for planting edibles like cruciferous vegetables, carrots, onions, turnips, and many more. Now is a good time to check out the health of your houseplants, too.

Read the full December issue.

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The Neighborhood Gardener – August

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

boy watering gardenBack-to-School (Gardens) Shopping List — It’s time for kids to go back to school, which also means it’s time for teachers to start thinking about their school gardens.  Although most of the  supplies needed to start gardening or composting will be purchased by the  individual schools, supplemental funding for the program comes from a variety  of other sources.  You can help a local teacher and school garden by purchasing a few things on their school garden shopping list.

man using chainsawBeing Safe with the Chainsaw — Summer is a great time to clean up your yard before hurricane season gets really active. Chain saws can make this really easy, but are also a tool that you want to be careful using. The chains can move up to 68 miles per hour, and the mufflers can be as hot as 900ºF. You can avoid injury with chain saws by taking a few precautions, such as carrying the chain saw backwards and keep the muffler away from your body so you don’t get burned. And when you purchase a chain saw, make sure it has safety features, like a low-kickback chain, a hand guard, and a chain brake.

Perennial peanutPlant of the Month: Perennial Peanut — Perennial peanut is a versatile groundcover that can be planted statewide and blooms all summer long with cheerful golden flowers. It can be planted on its own as a groundcover in larger beds or used as a lawn alternative in areas that receive low levels of foot traffic. It also can be interplanted within some existing lawns. Perennial peaunut flowers best when planted in full sun, but can also be planted in partial shade. Mowing established plants will make them bloom more, but it’s not required.

August in Your Garden – Many cool-season crops such as collards and onion can be planted now, including a final crop of warm-season vegetables, such as pepper. Tomato can also be planted for the fall garden. For a complete list of what can be planted when, consult the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide.

Zebra longwing butterflyFriend or Foe? Friend: Zebra Longwing Butterfly — The zebra longwing is the state butterfly of Florida. It’s a regular sight in many gardens, yards, and parks. The zebra longwing is a medium-sized butterfly with wings that are black with several bold, narrow yellow stripes. Common hosts for zebra longwings are passionflower vines, so plant a few of these in your yard to attract one of these beautiful, native butterflies.

Read the full August issue.

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

The Neighborhood Gardener: February 2010

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

  • Helping Your Lawn Survive the Chill — Protecting your turfgrass from freezing temperatures, and what to do if it does get damaged.
  • Leon County 9/11 Firefighter Memorial Garden — Master Gardeners worked with Tallahassee firefighters to create this Florida-friendly garden.
  • Plant of the Month: Needle Palm — This native adds texture to the landscape.
  • February in Your Garden — Taking care of citrus and prepping for summer weeds.
  • Friend or Foe: Cockroaches — Nasty, and to some, the cause of allergic reactions.
  • Featured Shows on “Gardening in a Minute”

Read the February issue.

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