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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 – February 2016

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Florida Fresh app iconFlorida Fresh App – For those who love the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide, guess what? There’s an app for that! Florida Fresh is a new mobile app that provides a list of fruits and vegetables available fresh in stores and markets at this time of year based on your zip code. There’s also a list of what edibles you can plant in your garden right now. Detailed information on each fruit and vegetable is provided, along with links to other educational resources. The app is free and available at the iTunes app store and Google Play.

Leafy vegetable with dark red leavesRed Leafy Vegetables
Roses are red
Violets are blue
Lettuce is green
But it is red too!

Yes, even your greens come in different colors.

WendyWendy’s Wanderings — When it’s too cold to garden, Wendy peruses garden catalogs and books about landscape plants. This month, she curls up with a book that’s sure to educate and entertain any gardener. Beatrix Potter is well-known for such children’s books as “The Tale of Peter Rabbit,” and “The Tale of Tom Kitten,” but did you know that she was also an accomplished botanist?

An uprooted clump of crabgrassDon’t Let Crabgrass Make You Crabby — As cooler temperatures arrive, have you found brown patches of lawn where there was green and healthy turf just a few months ago? If so, you may have a crabgrass problem, but don’t let it get you down. Now is the time to do something about this pesky lawn weed, before it grows back in the spring.

a Mrs. B.R. Cant rosePlant of the Month: Roses for Florida — Roses are an iconic (and expensive) symbol of Valentine’s Day, but you don’t have to settle for pricey roses in a vase. Not everyone knows it, but you can actually grow roses in Florida! Of course, as with so many plants, what works everywhere else doesn’t always work for Florida gardeners. Researchers at UF/IFAS have been looking into which roses strike the perfect balance of tough and beautiful for growing in Florida.

Pink crinum flowerFebruary in Your Garden – While we’re talking about roses, don’t forget that now is the time to prune any you have growing in your landscape. Many bulbs can be planted now; some to try are crinum and agapanthus.

Hands planting baby lettuce in pot“Harvest as Your Grow” Container Gardening — Growing your own vegetables is becoming quite the popular hobby across the country. Container gardening allows anyone—from those with acres of land to apartment dwellers with no more than a tiny balcony—to try their hand at growing their own produce. It’s also a great project for the beginning gardener. This tutorial will walk you through the basics of creating your own “harvest as you grow” leafy greens container.

New Look for the e-Newsletter
Starting in March, we’ll be moving the email version of the Neighborhood Gardener into a more mobile-friendly template. This won’t change the content we provide, but it will make reading easier for nearly half of our subscribers that are reading the newsletter on a mobile device.

Read the full February issue.

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

The Neighborhood Gardener – February 2013

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

rosesFlowers for Valentine’s Day — Fresh flowers are a popular gift on holidays, with good reason—92% of American women can remember the last time they were given flowers, and fresh flowers have an immediate positive impact on happiness. Increase the lifespan of your beautiful flowers, plus that good feeling, by following a few easy steps. Learn how to extend the life of your bouquet.

Saving Water Using Smart Controllers – UF researchers have been investigating irrigation water savings with the use of smart controllers. Smart controllers reduce outdoor water use by monitoring and using information about site conditions and applying the right amount of water based on those factors. You can help save water in your landscape by installing a smart controller.

flowersPlant of the Month: Taiwan Cherry — In late winter, this small Florida-Friendly tree produces one-inch, bright pink flowers on its naked branches. Taiwan cherry’s dark green leaves provide shade all summer, turning a bronze-red in fall. Best suited for North and Central Florida, Taiwan cherry prefers full sun, but will tolerate some shade. A hybrid version, ‘Okame’ cherry is commonly available and has lighter pink flowers.

February in Your Garden – Roses should be pruned this month to reduce and improve the overall form. After pruning, fertilize and apply a fresh layer of mulch. Blooming will begin eight to nine weeks after pruning. Many bulbs can be planted now. Divide large crowded clumps. Provide adequate water to establish. Some to try are Amazon lily, crinum, and agapanthus.

Burmese pythonFriend or Foe? Foe: Burmese Python — Recently, Burmese pythons have become a very big problem in South Florida. Although it’s now illegal to do so, these snakes were commonly sold as pets. Some owners released these giant snakes into the wild (also illegal), and now active breeding populations are found in several areas of South Florida. Burmese pythons can grow up to 20 feet and weigh 200 pounds. They’re known to feed on more than 30 species of native wildlife, including several endangered or threatened species. You can help by learning how to identify and report invasive reptiles.

Read the full February issue.

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

Are Your Trees Ready for Hurricane Season?

The hurricane season for Florida begins June 1, so now is the time to have your trees checked by a certified arborist.  Research has shown that trees pruned correctly survive heavy storms better than neglected trees.

We’ve all seen the destruction hurricanes can wreak on Florida’s homes and landscapes. To minimize your chances of getting hurricane damage, hire a certified arborist to prune your trees before the hurricane season.

The arborist will remove dead branches that can fall on houses, cars, and people. They’ll shorten overly long branches and eliminate branches with cracks and those that are poorly attached to the tree.

Branches with the same diameter as the trunk will be shortened and the outer edge of the canopy will be thinned, making your tree less likely to be blown over. Low branches that are close to your roof should be removed or shortened, as well.

Be sure to have your trees evaluated by a professional every two years.

Check out Trees and Hurricanes for more information about prepping and  pruning your trees for hurricanes.

What to Do With Cold-Damaged Plants?

frost plantI found this article (Keep Pruning to a Minimum Experts Say) via the Polk County Florida Yards & Neighborhoods program.  It features UF experts and deals with the topic of frost/freeze damaged plants.  And, with this current cold snap that we’re in, it couldn’t be timelier information!