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The Neighborhood Gardener – July 2017

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

Hello, gardeners!

Dark green leaves of Algerian ivy, wet with rainGroundcovers for Shade – Everyone associates Florida with sun; after all, we are the Sunshine State. Despite all the talk of our sensational sunshine, we can’t forget about the challenges growing in the shade presents. Finding the right groundcover for a shady area can seem like a struggle but never fear—there are many options, from dense, low-growing plants to taller, more dimensional options.

Small leaf turned over to show dusty coating of powdery mildewDowny or Powdery Mildew? Mildew isn’t usually something you want to think about, but when you have it in your garden you may find it consumes your thoughts. As when treating any disease in the garden, it’s important to know exactly what you’re working against before selecting a course of treatment. A potential spot for further confusion is when plant diseases have similar names, like downy mildew and powdery mildew. Learn the differences between these two mildews, as well as how they can be treated, and better yet, prevented.

Wendy WilberWendy’s Wanderings — While it has been said that “the best stories are found between the pages of your passport,” some of your best plants can be found on the road, too. Most gardeners know their local nurseries and garden centers like the back of their hand, so when they’re traveling, they look for cool nurseries to visit. Florida has many garden centers that can broaden your horticulture horizons beyond the big box stores.

White flowers of a wax begoniaPlant of the Month: Begonia – Begonias are a popular bedding plant that can provide striking color in the landscape throughout the year, and handle shade quite well. The begonia family contains more than 1,300 species and hybrids, but the begonias that do best in the landscape generally fall into three groups: wax begonias, cane or angel-wing begonias, and rhizomatous begonias. These tropical plants can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 8b to 11. If you live in a cooler part of the state, be sure to protect your outdoor begonias from frost.

small green worm in the roots of turgrassTropical Sod Webworm – Florida lawns can face challenges from a variety of sources, including tropical sod webworms. These pests are most active from spring to fall, so we’re right in the middle of the time of their potential damage. Find out more about these hungry caterpillars, as well as how active Master Gardeners can help a UF graduate student conducting research on tropical sod webworms.

A square of light green with a hint of yellow reading Color of the Year 2017 Pantone Greenery 15-0343A Better Lawn on Less Water – Deep in the midst of summer is the perfect time to sing the wonders of greenery, but it was back in winter when Pantone announced the Color of the Year as Greenery. Gardeners are well aware that greenery is, as Pantone put it, “nature’s neutral.” Greenery in the garden can create the perfect backdrop for your statement plants, or it can shine on its own as a delightful and inspirational force.

A palm tree in an attractive yardJuly in Your Garden – It’s not too late to use summer heat to solarize your vegetable garden soil in preparation for fall planting. Solarization takes 4 to 6 weeks and is a great way to kill weeds, diseases, and nematodes, giving you a fresh start for your fall vegetable garden. Continue planting palms while rainy season is in full swing. North and Central Florida gardeners can start their Halloween pumpkins from seed, but watch out for mildew diseases.

Read the full July issue.

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The Neighborhood Gardener – July

This month in The Neighborhood Gardener:

birdbathInviting Wildlife to Your Yard — Here in Florida, we’re lucky to have incredibly diverse wildlife. You can welcome wild creatures into your yard by doing a few simple things. Planting native plants that serve as a food source and providing water are a good start.

Florida Master Gardener Program in DC for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival – The Smithsonian Folklife Festival is held every summer on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and offers visitors a glimpse at an incredible range of cultural and educational programs and displays. This year, the festival celebrated 150 years of public and land grant institutions, and the University of Florida was there with its own booth.

Peacock gingerPlant of the Month: Peacock Gingers — Peacock gingers are shade-loving perennials that make great groundcovers here in Florida. Most bloom throughout the summer with small pink or purple flowers, but peacock gingers are best known for their beautiful leaves. Choose a spot that receives full or partial shade. Peacock gingers will tolerate a range of soils, though the plants will generally perform best in a rich, well-drained soil.

July in Your Garden – Use summer heat as a tool to help you prepare the vegetable garden for fall planting. Soil solarization takes four to six weeks to kill weeds, disease-causing organisms, and nematodes, so start now. An inexpensive rain shut-off device can save you money by overriding your irrigation system when it rains. If one is already installed, check that it is operating properly.

FireflyFriend or Foe? Friend: Fireflies — Fireflies, or lightning bugs, are harmless beetles that can light up summer nights, coming out at dusk or nightfall in woods or wetlands. Unfortunately, they’re becoming harder to find. Some scientists think fireflies can be deterred by brightly lit urban areas, and that their populations may be decreasing because of mosquito spraying. To provide habitat for fireflies in your landscape, reduce or eliminate artificial lighting and keep pesticides to a minimum.

Read the full July issue.

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