What to do this week –By Mark Govan, Host
Flowering trees can be a beautiful addition to any landscape. Trees add beauty and
because of the shade they offer, give homeowners the opportunity to enjoy their
outdoor spaces. There are several large and medium sized flowering trees that
can not only give you the shade you so desperately desire, but as the trees
begin to bloom they can also provide your home with a colorful focal point for
the landscape. This week I want to go over some of the flowering trees you may
be able to use around your home and I will also tell you about some of the
problems you may run into while establishing these trees. Flowering trees may
not be for everybody but if you are considering adding one of these gems to your
landscape, you need to be aware of a few things.
Some flowering trees go through a period of dormancy during the winter months.
During this resting stage, many will lose all or most of their leaves and you
may have to rake the yard to keep a clean appearance. Fortunately, this
dormancy period does not last very long and most of us do not mind a little work
cleaning up a few leaves. Having a tree that loses its leaves in the winter
gives you more sun during our cool time of year. Another benefit of deciduous
trees is the fact that heavily shaded yards can cause plant dieback during the
winter months. I am sure you have seen homes where the turf grass which has
been shaded out because of large oak trees. Flowering trees that lose their
leaves in the winter, allow the sun to shine on your plants and lawns giving
them the precious light they need to survive during the winter months.
The first flowering tree I would like to talk about is called the Silk Oak Tree or
the Grevillea Robusta. Even though the word oak is used in its name, this tree does not belong to the oak family. Silk Oak trees are semi deciduous meaning they will not lose all their leaves in the winter but rather replace older leaves as they begin to age. In the springtime
you will normally get a big flush of fern shaped leaves which distinguish this tree from the Oak trees. Silk oaks can grow to a height of about forty feet in our area and they are drought tolerant. This makes the Silk Oak tree great for homeowners in the
If you are looking for a large tree that will give you shade during the summer
months and a beautiful golden flowering season in the spring, then the Silk Oak
is for you. April is the month most of these beautiful trees go into full
bloom. You may have noticed a few of these trees in your area with their dense clusters of fragrant golden flowers lining the branches. These flowers upon close inspection are not
really flowers but more closely resemble bristles in mass. Note in the photo above how brilliantly colored this tree is in full bloom. This tree can be a nice full sized addition for any landscape.
Another nice tree you may consider for your landscape is the Jacaranda tree. Jacaranda
trees are a medium growing tree that can reach heights of about twenty five feet in our area. The thing I like about this tree is its wide spreading habit and beautiful flowers. Instead of growing upright and narrow, this tree tends to have a spreading canopy which can give you much more shade over a wide area. If you have a wide lot or you want to cover your entire front yard, then this tree is for you. Most Jacarandas available in local nurseries are smaller trees so you will probably have to wait several years for this tree to start spreading
but the rewards are worth the wait.
When Jacarandas go into full bloom, they are a sight to see. Beautiful five lobed blue to purple blue flowers will dazzle your neighbors. As their flowers fall to the ground, they make a carpet of blue giving the appearance of a colorful blanket draped under the tree. Most Jacarandas are in bloom now and some are truly magnificent. This drought tolerant tree is perfect for our area of
I would be remiss if I failed to inform you of one of the problems with this tree. After the blooming process has ended, the tree puts on a woody shield shaped seed pod containing several winged seeds. As this seed pod ripens it will normally split open releasing the seeds which float on the breeze. This is what you need to look for if you plan on planting one of these trees from seed. The problem with this seed pod is not that you will have many seedling trees growing up around the mother plant because this does not happen. However, after
the mature seed pod has released all of the seeds, the hard pod will fall to the ground making some homeowners that cut their own lawns mad when they run over these pods. The pods are hard when they first fall and can make cutting the lawn difficult. This problem only lasts a short period of time as the pods tend to decay fairly fast but the beautiful color this tree provides should make this problem seem slight.
The last tree I would like to go over today is the Jerusalem Thorn Tree. Jerusalem
Thorn Trees are a smaller dooryard tree suitable for hot dry climates such as ours. This tree will grow to a height of about fifteen feet with a spread of about the same. Even though this tree does have small thorns (not a climbing tree), the sheer brilliance of color in its yellow and reddish-orange blossoms will make you a believer that this tree has a place in your landscape.
Most of these trees are grown from seed that a neighbor may save from their own tree
but you can still find them at many garden centers. Blooming time is generally mid April and what a show this tree puts on. Thousands of blossoms and an extended bloom time make this tree another one of my favorites. Another nice attribute of this tree is that the fine texture of its leaf structure makes this tree drought tolerant. Many of us do not have sprinkler systems so we are reluctant to plant trees that require a lot of water. If you are in this situation then this tree is for you. In fact, all the trees mentioned in this article will take full sun and are all well adapted to this area.
I hope you have enjoyed this article on drought tolerant flowering trees we can
grow in our area. Each of the trees I have listed above have a specific place in any landscape. Because the trees I have mentioned here all require little maintenance and care, you can be assured that in time, you will have a stunning addition to your landscape. When trying to locate these trees, let your fingers do the walking and try to get the largest tree that fits your budget. I hope I have given you a few recommendations that you can use to enhance the beauty of your landscape. Have fun in the garden and remember, without our plants we would not be here.
What to do this week -By Mark Govan, Host “Florida Gardening”
Over the next two months you will be seeing advertising for some of the most anticipated Spring Plant Festivals of the season. This is the time of year all of the garden clubs, plant societies, and even the Botanical Gardens gear up to sell their plants to the general public. These shows are fun, informative, and a great place to find those plants the garden centers rarely seem to carry. I attend many of these venues and from my own experience; I think you will enjoy attending at least a few of these shows over the next few months. Even if you are not interested in purchasing a new plant, you may find useful information on how to care for or propagate your own plants. This week I would like to tell you some of the differences I have found about these distinct groups and what you can expect when you attend one of these plant festivals.
Garden Clubs are usually local clubs or communities that band together to encourage amateur gardeners to develop their gardening skills. Many homeowners are transplants from different parts of the country and have little or no idea how to grow plants and vegetables in our Florida climate. Garden clubs can help you learn these skills by giving you the necessary information you need to become a productive grower. Once you learn about Florida Gardening, your new skills may be used for vegetable gardening or tending to your personal landscape. As your knowledge base continues to grow, you may find the opportunity to be part of horticultural projects such as the floral arts, beautification of the community, teaching other families and their children, and supporting conservation practices. Most garden clubs meet at least once a month and their agendas include plant lectures, demonstrations, field trips to botanical gardens, fund raising to support their clubs, and business meetings.
Garden Clubs specialize in growing many of the common plants we find in our landscape along with a few of the hard to find varieties of plants. These clubs are filled with people that love gardening and enjoy helping others learn from their successes and mistakes they may have made in the past. If you would like to learn about growing plants in your area, you should join one of these many garden clubs. In order to find a club near you, just use your computer to search for a local chapter. I am sure you will find several garden clubs in your area which will be delighted to include you in their membership. When you find a club that interests you, call them.
Most club members grow more plants than they can use in their own gardens or exchange with their members. When this happens, a sales event is planned. Because most garden clubs have a wide variety of plants to sell, your ability to find something special at one of these programs is great. Another nice thing about these sales is that the plants are reasonably priced so you may pick up some great deals and possibly purchase plants you will never see in a garden center. You may even be able to find larger specimen plants you can use as a centerpiece for your garden.
Another feature of these events is meeting people just like you whom share your love of gardening. Time is on your side at these shows as the members that sell their plants love to talk to you about their passion. You can ask as many questions about the plants they have and they love to share their information. I have never felt rushed to make a decision or been brushed off at these events because the person in the booth was too busy to talk to me. Most members love educating the public about their plants and feel pride in having the opportunity to show off their gardening successes by selling the plants they have grown.
Most Garden Clubs do not have big budgets to pay for major advertising in the newspaper or on television to promote their plant sales but rather they rely on word of mouth and flyers sent out to friends and businesses. Some of these events are picked up by the Garden Writers and published in the weekend papers. If you receive the weekend newspaper you should scan the Home section each week to find events in your area. If you are a member of a Garden club and you wish to have your program mentioned on my radio program, Florida Gardening, on 970WFLA, just call-in the studio Sunday mornings or send me a copy of the event schedule to my e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com> and I will mention the show on-air.
Plant Societies are very similar to the Garden Clubs but these groups normally specialize in individual plant species. Some of the societies I have had the pleasure of associating with are the Plumeria Society, the Croton Society, the Begonia Society, the Orchid Society, and the Passiflora Society. People whom belong to these societies have a special interest in their specific genus of plants. Some members may have dozens if not hundreds of cultivars of these individual plants and their love for these plants goes beyond the simple interest factor. I have known some hardcore members that travel the world seeking out individual cultivars of their favorite plants. I guess I may be one of those diehard individuals when it comes to my beloved Plumerias. Maybe when you find a certain plant you really love you want to find more of them. I finally stopped collecting different colors when I reached about one hundred cultivars of the Plumeria. So you can see that there is passion in the plant world.
Some societies like the Rare Fruit Society and the Native Plant Society specialize in many different types of plants but all of which fall into their societies classification. The Rare Fruit Society specializes in many different types of fruit trees and fruiting vines grown in our area. As a former member of this society I can tell you their primary purpose is to inform the public about the merits of fruits common to this area. They also encourage the selection, cultivation, collection, and growth of fruit that is exotic or unusual to West Central Florida. If you have ever wanted to grow exotic fruit or you want to learn about fruits which can grow in this area then you should consider joining one of the local chapters in your area.
Both the Rare Fruit Society and the Native Plant Society have monthly meetings with lectures by guest speakers, seed exchanges, question and answer periods, and refreshments. Because education and conservation is part of these Societies mission statements, you may also be able to help them promote their interests to the public through encouragement and volunteering at their meetings and public events. Although there are usually membership fees to join these Societies, the wealth of information you receive from them is well worth the cost. As a member you can also receive their monthly newsletters and participate in related activities. Whether you are an amateur or a professional, these societies will welcome your participation.
Similar to the Garden Clubs, these Plant Societies have plant sales for members and plant exchanges at their monthly meetings. They also participate in plant shows some of which specialize in just fruit or native plants. Occasionally, these societies will attend large festivals such as the USF Plant Festival, the Florida State Fair, and Native Plant Fairs held at many separate chapter locations. The proceeds collected from these events help to support the efforts of the Society and also supplement the costs associated with operating the Society.
Homeowners attending any of the Botanical Garden sales will have the chance to purchase plants you will never be able to find elsewhere. In addition, growers from neighboring communities attend these events and they bring plants that they specialize in growing. These sales are usually very large and may have as many as fifty or more vendors and Societies selling plants. The next big sale in St. Petersburg is the Green Thumb Festival at Walter Fuller Park on April 27th and the 28th. I hope to see you there!
This is a great time of year to find plants for your garden. If you are looking to save money, then your best place to find inexpensive plants are from the local Garden Clubs. If you want a specific cultivar of plant, then you will want to try one of the plant Societies. Botanical garden shows offer the most diversified selection of plants and while you are there you can browse the gardens and look at many of the plants for sale in their natural environments. Try to get to the shows early so you have the best selection of plants and remember, without our plants we would not be here.
What to do this week –By Mark Govan, Host
Fertilization of our ornamental landscape plants and turf grasses are very important to root
formation and the disease fighting characteristics of these plants. When plants are stressed due to irrigation problems such as drought or insect infestations, their root systems start to shut down causing further damage. Proper fertilization can enhance the ability of plants to form additional roots which grow deeper into the ground. This allows additional water and nutrients to be absorbed by the roots protecting the plants from occasional drought or insect
problems. Applying the right type of fertilizer and the proper nutrients can help our ornamental plants and lawns survive these problems. This week I am going to touch on the importance of using the proper type’s of fertilizer and when to make these applications. Let’s get started.
If you have not started your fertilizer campaign yet, you need to know you are running out of time. Because the State of
of fertilizer will begin in two weeks from the day you receive this article or June 1st.
The one commonality of all these individual restrictions is this fertilizer blackout period runs from June 1st through September 30th. During this time you will not be able to purchase or apply fertilizers to plants or lawns. There are a few exclusions to this rule such as vegetable gardens. Unfortunately, many of us gardeners call this blackout period the growing season and rightfully so. This is the time most of our plants and lawns are actively growing and require additional elements to continue thriving. As our plants break down and utilize elements in the soil to produce roots and leaves, wise gardeners replace these elements by adding additional fertilizer. Not only does this make the plant respond by growing thicker greener foliage but the plants also put down more roots. These additional roots and nutrients also help the plants natural ability to resist the infection of fungal diseases and insects.
If you have not hired a professional lawn care company to care for your ornamental
plants or lawns, then you need to fertilize your plants now. Ornamental plants and flowering landscape plants require nutrients that typical lawn fertilizers do not contain. This is the reason you will need two different types of fertilizers, one for your plants and one for your lawns. Because most of our ornamental plants produce blossoms, you need to apply a blooming or flowering type of fertilizer that contains Phosphorous. Phosphorous is represented by the middle number on a bag of fertilizer such as an 8-10-10. The main objective of
this element is to produce blooms or fruit on our plants. Because our turf grasses do not bloom or produce fruit, this element is unnecessary when fertilizing your lawn and most lawn fertilizers have a zero in the analysis numbers on the fertilizer bag such as a 16-0-10.
Ornamental fertilizers come in many different analyses. Do not let the numbers on the bags
concern you as some have higher or lower concentrations of certain elements. Also, some are granular and some are liquid. Granular fertilizers are the preferred choice as these types of fertilizers are longer lasting. Liquid fertilizers are generally quick release and must be used very frequently. Slow release granular fertilizers tend to break down slowly and feed your plants over a period of months. Some slow release fertilizers can last for up to a
year however, these types of fertilizers are very expensive and I do not recommend them for you unless you are a professional applicator. When I say slow release fertilizer, I am talking about the nitrogen content of the fertilizer or the first number you see on a bag of fertilizer. Nitrogen sources are broken down by the source of where the nitrogen is derived from.
The next time you purchase a bag of fertilizer look at the label and you will see where the nitrogen source is derived from. Nitrate Nitrogen, Urea Nitrogen, and Ammonium Nitrate are all quick release type fertilizers but most fertilizers will have some of these nitrogen sources in the bag. Some quick release sources of nitrogen are good because they will be released quickly giving your plants a quick boost of ready to use nitrogen. However, if the total nitrogen source in the bag is only from these forms of nitrogen, then this is a quick release
fertilizer and you will have the possibility of burning your plants.
The fertilizer you purchase for your plants or your lawn should have at least four units of slow release nitrogen or water insoluble nitrogen. This will be stated clearly on the bag. Look for nitrogen sources derived from Sulfur Coated Urea, Methylene Urea, Nutralene, and obuthylene Diurea. Fertilizers derived from these sources will cost more but will last much longer than your generic fertilizers and will not burn your plants. You will also be able to wait much longer
in-between applications as these products will last eight to twelve weeks or longer. When these products are applied to your plants or lawn they break down very slowly giving your plants the nutrients they need over an extended period of time. Since we can not apply additional fertilizer from June through September, these products will be able to spoon feed your plants over several months.
Most garden centers carry granular Osmacote or Dynamite fertilizers which are slow release. There are other varieties but you will need to take the time and read the label so you can make an educated choice. Apply at least four to five pounds of fertilizer for every one hundred square feet of ornamental bed space you have. I like to use a rotary hand held spreader which you can find at your local garden centers to apply my fertilizer. One hopper full equals about five pounds so all you have to do is figure out how much bed space you have. A ten
by ten area will need one hopper full. If you are fertilizing a hedge, make sure you do both sides of the hedge. Try not to direct the fertilizer over the top of the plant; rather you should fertilize under the foliage out to the drip line of the plant and beyond. Granular fertilizer placed directly over the foliage may burn the tender new growth. Liquid fertilizers and micro-element nutritional fertilizers may be applied directly over the plant at one-half strength every two to three weeks.
Turf Grass should be fertilized now and again in October with a 16-0-10 analysis. Most residential lawns will require at least fifty pounds of a slow release fertilizer. I know this seems like a lot but this is what your lawn requires if you have five thousand square feet of turf grass. When making your application, you should use a rotary type spreader and each pass you make over the lawn should be approximately three feet apart. This will give you the fifty percent overlap you need and will help prevent streaking. Make sure you square off the lawn and make straight passes to ensure proper application. Do not round off corners.
Box off corners to prevent streaking. If a tree is in the way of a pass, stop at the tree and go around it then start again on the other side of the tree in the same line you were walking.
Be sure to sweep up any spilled fertilizer off sidewalks and driveways. Fertilizer left on paved surfaces can stain and are subject to being washed away during a thunderstorm. Fertilizer misuse has been blamed for algae blooms and water quality issues if allowed to get into storm water drains which empty into the Bay or Gulf. Always wash out your spreader with water and be sure to clean your hands following application.
Selecting the right type and applying the right amount of fertilizer is very important to
the health and beauty of your plants and lawn. Use slow release forms of nitrogen fertilizers to spoon feed your plants over the summer and through the blackout period. Be diligent and use the right amount of fertilizer as your plants are constantly growing and need to be fed regularly. I hope I have given you a few recommendations that you can use to select the right type of fertilizer for your plants and lawn. Enjoy your landscape and remember, without our plants we would not be here.