February 2018 newsletter
Our Friendly Hosts!
Florida gardener's almanac
monthly timetable of gardening chores:
in like a lion
10-5-15, 12-6-18 fertilizer labeled as a “Palm Special” or
similar fertilizer containing 1% magnesium, 1 to 2 % iron and
and trace amounts of zinc, copper and boron. Fertilizers
that provide slow release of
their nitrogen, potassium and
magnesium are best. Applications of
these fertilizers should be made 4 times per year at the rate of 1.5
100 square feet (10 foot by 10 foot) or 1 pound to 5 pounds per
Recommended months to fertilize are March, June, August and October. Fertilizer should be applied to the entire
ornamental planting area or at least
the entire palm canopy area and watered in lightly.
Cold-Damaged Growth from Plants: Frost or freeze-damaged growth
on plants should be removed now. To
determine how much of the plant you need to cut back, gently scrape the
bark to see if the cambium layer is green (living) or brown (dead). Prune all dead material.
Plants that Require
Shaping and Size Reduction:
Cut each branch separately with hand
to maintain a neat, naturally shaped shrub. Note:
Azaleas and Gardenias should not
be pruned until after they bloom. Remove
dead foliage from ornamental grasses
and cut stems to 4 – 12 inches above the ground depending on the
size of the
Watch for Pests: Lubber
grasshoppers hatch this month. They are
black with a yellow to orange
line down their sides. Young lubbers
should be hand-picked or
treated with a pesticide. Aphids feed on
the underside of new growth and cause cupped and distorted leaves. Mites thrive in the dry weather of Florida’s springtime,
sucking plant juices from
the underside of leaves. Forceful sprays
of water will dislodge both insects. Lady
Beetles and several other beneficial insects are effective predators
suppress aphids. Insecticidal soap
sprays and other pesticides will also control these critters if their
enemies do not.
Use Oak Leaves
as Mulch or in a Compost
Pile: A mulch of oak leaves around ornamental
plants will suppress weeds, conserve soil moisture and add organic
the soil. The yearly addition of leaves
may gradually acidify soils. Have your soil pH tested to see if lime is
needed. If you choose to compost leaves,
be sure to thinly layer them with manure or grass clippings to
decay process. Moisten, but don't
saturate each layer. Turning the pile
occasionally will also speed up decomposition.
Air-Layer to Propagate Plants: Select
pencil-thick branches and remove
a ring of bark about 1 to 2
inches wide, about 12 to 18 inches from branch tip.
Gently scrape the girdled area to remove
green tissue and dust it with a rooting hormone. Cover
the area with a handful of moist
sphagnum moss and enclose with a small sheet of plastic tied at both
ends. Then cover with tin foil. Peel back the foil and check for roots in 4
to 6 weeks. When sufficient roots have
been formed in the moss, cut the branch below the rooted area and plant
and Old Blooms of Annuals:
To increase branching and flowering,
1/2 to 1 inch of tip growth from each stem. Flowering
annuals produce blooms on the
new growth. The more branching that you
lovelier the flowering display.
bets for starting a garden this month are:
Of further interest to
- Vegetables: Cantaloupe,
Collards, Cowpeas, Mustard,
Okra, Papaya, Peanuts, Pole
Beans, Pumpkins, New Zealand Spinach, Sweet Potatoes, Turnips (for
Parsnips (for bottoms) and Watermelons.
- Tropical Vegetables: Boniato, Calabaza, Malanga,
- Herbs: Dill,
Fennel, Garlic Chives, Marjoram,
Mint, Rosemary, Sage, Landica and
- Flowers: Achimines,
Amaryllis, Balsam, Cosmos,
Gaillardias, Gladiolas, Gloxinias, Lilies, Petunias, Portulacas,
Scabiosa, Strawflowers, Zephyranthes, and Zinnias.
Garden in Sarasota
1825 4th Street N, St Pete.
County Extension Service calendar for lots more gardening
Beautiful Commission in St. Petersburg
Kopsick Palm Arboretum in St. Petersburg
Monthly meetings at Moccasin
2750 Park Trail Ln., Clearwater:
1st Monday, October – May, 7:00-9:00pm.
Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society
First Wednesday of month, 7:30 - 9:30 p.m.
3rd Thursday, 7:30-9:30pm
will be on Sunday, April 15th at 2pm. We are heading to Eastern
Hillsborough County to Eureka Springs Park for our memorial to Joe and
Bob. We are having a tree planted in their honor since they
enjoyed coming to the park with us so much, and a flowering tree is a
great way to remember them both. The club has reserved the
meeting room and we will be providing food. This month we have
chosen to forego the plant exchange.
to Members page
of the month by jim
This month’s jewel is Rubiaceae, a family that includes
two of the most common landscape plants in Florida, Ixora and Pentas
lanceolata (star clusters).
Their relative the Gardenia is also commonly grown. All 3 are highly
recommended for specific uses – Pentas for butterfly gardens,
Ixora for easy summer color and Gardenia for fragrance. Several other
plants in the family Rubiaceae are no fussier about care than Ixora or
Pentas, but unfortunately not seen so often in local gardens. These
include Coffea arabica, Psychotria nervosa, and Mussaenda
Wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa) is a Florida and Caribbean native that
grows in sun or shade. Its appearance is similar to its close relative,
coffee, described below. The flowers attract butterflies and the fruit
is eaten by birds. It will grow in all types of soils and is fairly
drought tolerant. Its maximum size is about 10’ high by 8’
wide, much smaller in full sun. All in all, it makes an excellent
addition to a native or butterfly garden.
Coffee (Coffea arabica) is a shade-loving shrub or small tree which
also tolerates sun. Its glossy, dark green leaves are very attractive,
and so are the red berries, which give us the beans that make up such
an important part of every American breakfast! Coffee likes lots of
rain, so if we’re going through a dry spell, it will definitely
need regular irrigation. The flowers are fragrant and continue to bloom
after the first beans are produced. At any one time there are green,
orange, and red berries on the bush, so it puts on quite a show.
Of course I’ve saved the best for last. Mussaenda erythrophylla
is a spectacular shrub which grows very well from Tampa Bay southward,
but is not often seen in local nurseries. A shrub with
too many common names to list, reaching 6 to 10 feet tall, Mussaenda
likes full sun and moderate water. With occasional low-nitrogen
fertilizer it blooms repeatedly throughout the year, and can be quite
literally covered with blooms.