july 2014 newsletter
Welcome to Frank's!
Florida gardener's almanac
can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.
A monthly timetable of
Here’s a list of
things to do in your Suncoast Garden this month.
annuals as well as perennials, especially those that may be showing
signs of heat stress. Make sure to fertilize azaleas, camellias
and hibiscus for Spring color.
Start a compost pile or
add to your existing pile. Recycle grass clippings. Leave grass
clippings on the lawn or use them as mulch or compost. Each full
bag of clippings equals 1/4 pound of organic nitrogen fertilizer that
can be recycled on the lawn, in flowerbeds or in compost.
Watch for lacebug
infestations. This insect loves heat and humidity!
Spray roses to prevent
Fertilize outdoor potted
plants, especially those that show signs of heat stress or yellowing.
Check lawns for insect
Plant palm trees
now. The summer rains will help the palms establish a sufficient
root system to thrive in our cool, dry Winters. Yes, it will be
plants. Prune lightly to shape plants and encourages branching.
Never remove more than 1/3 of a plant’s foliage at a time. Summer
flowering plants like hibiscus, oleander and crape myrtle will produce
more blooms if old blossoms and seedpods are removed. This should
be the last pruning of the year for azaleas, as flower buds will form
Solarize your vegetable
garden. Clear, till, level, and moisten soil, then cover with 2 to
6-mil clear plastic. Mound soil over the edges of the plastic to retain
heat. Leave covered for four to six weeks. Solar heat will accumulate
under the plastic and soil temperatures will increase to a point where
nematodes, weed seeds and soil borne diseases will be killed.
Check citrus trees for
rust mites, greasy spot and melanose diseases. Heavy Rust Mite
feeding will blemish citrus fruits by causing a brownish discoloration
of the peel. Interior quality of the fruit is not affected. Leaf
spots can be signs of greasy spot or melanose diseases. Prune out
all dead wood and spray with copper fungicide and summer oil
emulsion. This spray will control all three problems.
Correct iron deficiency
of plants. Symptoms appear on the new growth of plants. Leaves
are yellow, but veins appear as fine green lines. Applications of iron
chelate or iron sulfate are effective. Check soil pH to determine if an
alkaline soil is causing the problem.
Install a rain shut-off
device. This gadget overrides an automatic irrigation system when
rain occurs. It is inexpensive, easy to install and quickly pays for
itself with savings on your water bill. Florida law requires a rain
shut-off device on new irrigation systems. Hillsborough County requires
them on all irrigation systems. Contact an irrigation supply store for
Cut back poinsettias and
chrysanthemums. Poinsettias and chrysanthemums should be cut back
several times through the growing season. New growth on poinsettias
should be pinched back a few inches when it is 12 inches or longer, 6
to 8 inch cuttings can be rooted to have potted plants for Christmas.
Pinch Chrysanthemum tips when stems are 6 inches long.
Traditionally the season following an El Nino is ripe for
hurricanes. That's what happened in the 1926 hurricane that
struck Miami and in 1992 with Hurricane Andrew, which devastated the
southern part of Miami-Dade County .
Check your trees now to
minimize possible damage from these devastating storms.
Remove dead wood,
crossing limbs, stubs and weak wood from your trees. When you
hire a professional, use only certified arborists.
Bugs are at their height
of activity. Mealybugs seem particularly active on jatropha. Be alert
for scale, whitefly, mites, thrips, aphids, caterpillars, chinchbug,
sod webworms, beetles and weevils.
Sources: Florida Home
Grown; Florida Gardening Month by Month
July: The Heat is
Our next meeting is on Sunday,
July 20th at 5pm. We are heading over to Tampa, to Seminole
Heights and the home of Gary and Gary. Gary L. told me they have
been working in the yard to make sure it looking good. I'm sure
he is understating the amount of work and the outcome!
The Gary's have a beautifully secluded pool, so if you want to
swim, bring a suit
and towel. You will need to bring a chair this month. Water and
ice will be provided. We will have our usual pot-luck, so try
cooking skills on this appreciative audience. Don't forget to
bring a plant for the raffle and maybe a few dollars for the 50/50
Baseball raffle - the pot is up in the $50's.
If you plan to
bring a guest, please email
Joe so he can make your guest a nametag.
to Members page
In honor of Michael's fascinating presentation on orchids at the
meeting this month, I am going to try to introduce Orchids as the plant
of the month. I was a firm believer that Orchids were a hobby for
wealthy people - because they were terribly expensive to maintain, and
for people with a lot of time on their hands - due to their need for
specialized attention. I thought them the High Maintenance trophy
wife of the plant world. I was surprised to find that isn't
necessarily the case, though it took me a while to discover it.
For starters, did you know that the word orchid comes from the ancient
Greek word for "testicle", which is what some orchids are said to
resemble. While most people are under the assumption that
orchids come from the rainforests, orchids actually grow throughout the
Northern and Southern hemispheres and on all continents except
Antarctica. Some even grow in deserts. Most orchids
can handle about 50% sun, thought filtered sun is probably best.
Many orchids can challenged to handle more sun, though it must be
increase to allow each plant to adapt to the change.
So, I was wrong about much that I believed about orchid growing, so it
was time for me to try growing some of my own. I won a couple
of orchids in the plant raffle, so I was all set to get started raising
them. They happened to be Phalenopsis, those nicely showy, unscented
see at the home care centers which are probably easiest to grow.
I was at a loss from the start since they were planted in bark
Where was the dirt? I was totally out of my element.
I figured the internet would tell me all I needed to know about
orchids - WRONG!! Boy was I naive! My orchids were dying at
a stupendous rate. I needed professional help!
In stepped Michael. First he told me that to grow healthy orchids
you need to know where they grow naturally, so you can see what they
like and don't like. Orchids fall into the category of plants
that do not like wet feet -
they don't like to sit in water for any length of time as it will cause
the root system to rot or develop fungus. My orchids came out of their
trays to allow the water to flow through. Remember that most
orchids grow in the umbrellas of trees, so
they get rain that flows through them without welling. Many are
similar to air
plants in that they attach to a host and are not planted in dirt.
For that reason, the potting material needed to be replaced
periodically. I now know that bark is better than sphagnum.
Orchids are very good at telling you what is wrong with them. If
your orchids have leathery or wrinkled leaves, it is a sign that they
need watering more often. If the leaves are very dark, they need
more sun, if browning, spotting, or paling, they need to get less sun.
I found out from experience how to recognize these problems and am now
letting them tell me what they need.
The native orchid - encyclia tampensis
For more information, check out
these fact sheets.
future meeting locations
I am very
pleased to announce that we have a full schedule of meeting locations
for the rest of the year. Now the chore is to find speakers
willing to give us gardening presentations. If you are
interested in giving a 30 minute presentation contact me.
June - Frank G.
July - Gary and Gary in Seminole Heights
August - Phil Stager in Maximo
September - Dan B. in Sarasota
October - Jesse and Don in Sarasota
November - John and Norm in Palm
December - Albert and Alfred's in St. Pete
Spring - Island's Bamboo in
*** special announcement
looking for a volunteer to take photographs at the meeting. I
have been the club's photographer for the past few years, but now that
I am President, I find myself forgetting to take pictures, particularly
while I am relating club news. Please consider volunteering your
services. We have a nice, small camera that you can use, if you are
willing. I try to have about 50 photos per meeting, and about
1/3rd get into the newsletter.
Bob held the 50/50 raffle. Since so few people were participating in
the first month after someone won, the club is now starting off the pot
with $25.00, so if you should win you will get at least $13.00.
The current pot is up to more than $50.00, so it certainly seems
to be reasonable to participate.
Jim ran the plant raffle, and there was a nice selection to pick from.
Thanks to Jim and Eric, there are usually enough plants for
everyone, even those who buy raffle tickets. Did you know they
always bring a bunch of plants from their garden to share, and seldom
take more than a single plant in return. This month there were several
different varieties of Passiflora, Jim's specialty. Michael
brought a Cattleya which was snapped up very quickly!