Gardening Notes

plant pallet
Written by Jan Tuttle, a former resident and Master Gardener.

[wptabtitle] January[/wptabtitle]

January Gardening Notes

January is a great month for gardening plans. Start by considering what trees you need to plant.
Where to plant trees
For your Greenbelt, consider native species that did well in the storm — live oak, Southern magnolia and Florida or Red maple. Closer to your home, you might want to plant smaller trees — dogwood , Savannah holly or crape myrtle. January 21 is Arbor Day in Florida. Mark the day with your children by planting a tree — let them help.
Selecting trees
Look for a strong single trunk and no side branches that are more than 2/3rds of the main trunk. This will usually be graded “Fancy” or “Grade 1.” Although it is nice to start with a tree that is good size, smaller trees are easier to handle and adapt more easily. It is best to find a tree that has been grown in a container.
Planting the trees
Dig a hole that is 1 inch less that the root ball and twice as wide. Use the dirt that comes out of the hole to fill around the root ball. Do not add amendments — potting soil or fertilizer. They encourage the roots to stay in the hole rather than reaching out into the surrounding soil. Do not press the soil down with your foot but gently water the soil around the root ball to insure that there is not air around the roots. Do not put additional soil on top of the root ball. The roots like to be close to the surface. Water deeply once per day for three weeks and once a week for a year.
Winter flowers
Now that you have a tree planted, prepare a pot or small area with potting soil. Then select some winter flowering plants such as pansy, snapdragon or ornamental kale and plant them near an entrance that will brighten your home and your day


February Gardening Notes

St. Augustine, the grass of Heron’s Forest, is an excellent choice. It is believed to be native to the coastal regions, copes with heat and humid conditions, tolerates salt and grows in shade as well as in sun.
What to do now for your lawn?
Have your mower serviced, the blades sharpened and your soil tested – particularly for phosphorous levels. University of Florida soil testing kits are at my house (call 497-0944). If you need help, I will show you how to take a sample.
You should not apply fertilizer in our region until two weeks after spring regrowth. Higher fertilization rates will produce more growth, faster buildup of thatch and require more mowing and watering. Do not apply nitrogen too early in the growing season as subsequent frosts may damage the grass. On high pH soils, a yellow appearance may be an indication of iron or manganese deficiency.
St Augustine may be mowed at 2 inches but this low cutting height requires more fertilizer and water to maintain an attractive lawn. Cutting the lawn at 3 to 4 inches reduces the maintenance and reduces weed and pest problems.
The best way to irrigate an established lawn is on an as-needed basis. This means that you will turn off your automatic sprinkler system. When the grass blades begin to wilt is the time to give the lawn 3/4 to 1 inch of water. To test- turn your sprinkler on after you have placed several similar containers on the lawn. Check to see how long the sprinkler needs to run to get the required 3/4 to 1 inch in each container. Then, set the automatic sprinkler for that length of time. When you see that the grass needs water, simply turn the system on. Why 3/4 to 1 inch? Deep watering causes grass roots to reach down into the soil. Frequent, light watering causes shallow roots which sets the grass up for problems.
Lawn Pests
Cinch Bugs are the major pest of St. Augustine and result in brownish patches of turf. To test – remove both ends of a coffee can, inserting one end through the soil at the margin of the suspected area. Fill with water. Chinch bugs will float to the water surface. Insecticide treatment, sometimes repeated treatment, may be required. Mole Crickets damage grass by searching for food underground – making tunnels or soft mounds. When these conditions are found, apply 2 gallons of water with 1 1/2 oz of detergent soap per 2 square feet. Mole crickets will surface in minutes.
Brown Patch and Gray Leaf Spot
These occur in warm, humid weather and are encouraged by excessive nitrogen. Both can be controlled with fungicides.


March Gardening Notes

Planting Beds
Now is the time to clean up your beds and add amendments such as peat, compost or mushroom compost. Layer 2 to 3 inches over the surface and work it into the ground. Be careful of shallow roots — most tree feeder roots and azalea roots are near the surface. It is also a good time to make fresh edges and renew mulch.
The garden shops are full of cool weather annual flowers. They look wonderful but be aware that when the warmer weather comes, they will need to be replaced with plants that survive our hot summers — begonias, marigolds, pentas, verbena and zinnia. These plants are usually available in April. Remember that we have had frost as late as March 30 so be prepared to cover any tender plants.
You might want to experiment with some bulbs — amaryllis should be in bloom during March. It is a good time to plant daylily, African iris and ginger. Last fall, I planted 200 daffodils known to grow in our area. They are starting to flower — next year will be the real test.
Feed azaleas, camellias and other acid loving plants with fertilizer marked specifically for azaleas. Standard fertilizers may damage their roots.
Immediately after blooming is the time to gently prune spring flowering shrubs. It is better to reduce the size of the plant on a regular basis than to make drastic cuts. Do not prune summer flowering plants. They should be cut back after they bloom.
Crepe Myrtles
There are two thoughts on pruning crepe myrtles — one believes that cutting way back is the path to keeping the size under control. The second is to know your crepe myrtles and buy a variety that will naturally mature into the size you want — saves lots of pruning time and avoids those ugly knots.
Garden Pests
With tender new growth, a variety of garden pests arrive. Consider using dormant oil spray during the cooler weather and light oil spray as the weather gets warmer. These sprays are less toxic and very effective against aphids and scale.


April Gardening Notes

The combination of rain and several warm days in March has probably helped your lawn to start to green-up. Time to get out the spreader and apply some fertilizer. A good choice is a slow release nitrogen fertilizer in a formula of 12-4-8 or 16-4-8. A weed and feed formula is not recommended as timing for weeds and grass is different.
Plant fertilizer
Azaleas, camellias and other acid loving plants should be fertilized with 8-8-8 or 16-4-8. It is important to use fertilizer marked for azaleas as standard fertilizers often contain nitrate nitrogen which will cause damage to the roots.
Sago palms
Special palm food that contains magnesium and other nutrients needed should be used. Poor nutrition is one of the main problems for Sagos in our area.
Ornamental grassesThese will benefit from a trimming and light application of fertilizer. Don’t cut too low. If the clumps are getting too large, now is a good time to divide them.
Pest control
Horticultural oil is a good pest control agent. Use on camellias, holly, ligustrum, gardenia, virburnum, etc. before temperatures go above 85 degrees.
Perennials (plants that bloom for more than one year) should be growing. Inspect them and divide if they are getting too large. Then give them a light application of slow release fertilizer marked for flowers. Consider adding other perennials to your garden. Check to be sure that they will withstand our high summer temperatures.
Annuals (bloom just one season) are in the plant stores but many of them will not last through our hot summer. Some good choices to plant now are angelonia, periwinkle, portulaca, salvia and wax begonias. For shaded areas, you might want to consider caladium bulbs, coleus, and impatiens.
Herb garden
Select a small space near your kitchen entrance and plant a few herbs that you use in cooking. Rosemary, chives and parsley (flat leaf for best flavor) make a good beginning. You might want to have a pot of mint for your ice tea. Do not put mint in the ground as it will spread and spread. I grow mine in a pot on the driveway so the roots cannot spread from the drainage hole.


May Gardening Notes

As soon as your spring flowering trees and shrubs finish flowering, it is time to prune for shape and size. Do not delay as later pruning will cut off next year’s buds. Climbing roses should also be pruned as they finish blooming.
Roses require at least 3 inches of water per week. If you are relying on your sprinkler system, place a container next to the bush and check the amount of water. You may need additional hand held watering. Deadheading (cutting off spent blooms) will encourage more blooms. If you are looking for a care-free rose, try the new “Knock Out” Rose — no spraying, no pruning and loads of single, cherry red flowers.
As the weather warms, it is very important to cut your lawn at the correct height. The current thinking is that letting the cuttings fall and decompose is best for the lawn. This means that you should cut the grass on a regular basis.
Brown patch disease may be active at this time of year. Look for brown circular or irregular areas with dark purplish ring on the outer edge. Spray areas with fungicide labeled to treat this disease.
If you have too much lawn, consider using a lightly wooded area as a self mulching area. Plant some of the approved native shrubs and cover the ground with mulch. These shrubs will grow quickly and provide screening for your home and an environment for birds. You will have less lawn to maintain and more time to relax.
These easy to grow plants will be at their peak this month. You might want to visit the local Daylily Show on Saturday, May 21 at the University Mall. The plant sale starts at 9 a.m. and the show is from 1 to 5 PM. Although the initial cost may seem high, daylilies are easily divided and soon cover an area.
Check your perennials to see if they are large enough for dividing. Now is an excellent time to look at the mums you planted last fall. They probably can be separated into several plants. It is also possible to take soft cuttings (the new growth) and start new plants. An old (washed) plant tray filled with perlite or potting soil will make a good rooting place for the new plants. Give them a light liquid fertilizer and keep them watered. As they grow, transfer them to small pots filled with potting soil and then into the ground.
If you need some summer color, consider the new periwinkle — Titan Periwinkle (formerly known as vinca rosea). They come in a range of colors including white, lavender and pink and some have colored eyes. Choose a site in full sun with good drainage and 1-2 inches of mulch.


June Gardening Notes

As the weather heats up the cool weather plants will stop blooming. Trim off the old blossoms and keep them watered. They will resume blooming when the weather turns cool. If your garden space is limited, you may prefer to replace them with hot weather flowers. In early June, you may want to sew seeds for quick color — cosmos, gaillardia, portulaca, zinnia and sweet alyssum will bloom in 4 to 6 weeks.
When your daylilies stop blooming (depends on variety), consider dividing them and replanting them in a second area — or share with a friend or neighbor. Give them a little fertilizer to improve blooming next year.
Divide and transplant mums. Trim tips back to 3 inches of the last trimming to encourage further branching. Continue pinching out the tips until flower buds begin to form.
Trim seed pods after blooms have faded to encourage a second crop of flowers. Fertilize, trim suckers and treat for powdery mildew if needed.
If you are following the Scotts Lawn Cycle, it is time for ‘Turf Builder with Insect Control’. Continue to deep water your lawn 3/4 to 1-inch and cut on a regular basis removing only the top third.
This is a burrowing lawn pest which is first seen in early March when adults begin mating. Chemical control at this time is not effective. Wait until June-July. By that time, the eggs will have hatched and the immature mole crickets will be more susceptible to treatment. They damage the lawn by making tunnels while looking for food. As they dig, they loosen the soil and disturb the grass roots. This is the best indication of their presence.
Chemicals bifenthrin and imidacloprid are the most effective control. There is a new biological agent which is a parasitic nematode that feeds on the mole cricket and causes death within 48 hours.


July Gardening Notes

“Cut high, Water deep!” is great advice for lawns to keep them healthy and looking good. St. Augustine should be cut at 2-1/2 to 3 inches (keep your mower blades sharp) and should be watered when it is needed for as long as it takes for 3/4 inch of water to collect in containers placed at random in the grass area. With rotating sprinklers, this could take 40 minutes. This may vary depending on your water pressure and sprinkler. Frequent, light watering causes shallow roots which find it difficult to withstand the heat of summer. July is also the time for a slow release nitrogen source.
An alternate for keeping your lawn green is an application of iron. Check your fertilizer. It may have iron added.
About this time, many of the cool weather flowers are showing signs of stress and need to be cut back or replaced. Take a critical look at your flower beds and give them some new color with summer annuals. Throw some seeds of zinnias or cosmos for some fall color. For perennials, consider caladiums which are looking so good at the entrance and in many gardens in HF. They can be purchased in bloom and will usually bloom for many years. If you are not watering your flowers with a liquid fertilizer, you should apply a slow release fertilizer and work it into the top soil.
Trim the seed pods after the blooms have faded. A second crop of flowers will emerge in about six weeks. Remove suckers from around the base.
Should be fertilized in mid-summer. The plants will remain in the same growing spot should be clean up (dry leaves and flower stocks removed). Immediately after blooming is a great time to divide big plants which can be moved or shared with a friend.
Keep them well watered as they are setting buds for next spring. Feed with azalea fertilizer according too directions.
If you are growing tomatoes in the ground or a large pot and have blossom-end rot, they may be suffering from a calcium deficiency and fluctuations in soil moisture. Discard the rotting fruit and keep the plants evenly moist.
The hot days of summer can be difficult for trees and very stressful for young trees. Extra water applied directly to the base of the tree will be very helpful.


August Gardening Notes

When temperatures stay in the 90s, it is important to do your gardening in the early hours or early evening. Unfortunately, the mosquitoes also like this time of day, so spray yourself and the area with repellant. Drink plenty of water and work in short time periods.
If you have been watering deeply and cutting high, your lawn should be in good shape to withstand the high heat of August. Watch for bugs and take quick action. Water when needed.
Hot weather speeds up the breakdown of mulch. Check your beds and replenish if needed. The mulch protects the roots of shallow rooted plants like azaleas.
Check your bushes and consider if you want to reduce the number of flower buds to increase flower size. The flower buds are rounded and the leaf buds are slender.
Try cuttings of woody ornamentals to plant next spring. It is also a good time to take cuttings of favorite plants that are cold sensitive and may be lost over the winter – a good example is coleus. They root easily in water or perlite and will grow in the house over the winter providing you with free plants in the spring.
Make sure your flowers are getting enough water during this very hot weather. Remove plants that are tired looking and replace with fresh plants. Pinch back mums for fall color.


September Gardening Notes

Time for the last application of fertilizer for the year � no later than mid-September to allow the turf to go dormant as temperatures cool. “Winterizer” type fertilizer is not recommended for St. Augustine grass. After September, we do not want to encourage new growth as it may be more susceptible to diseases and more prone to cold damage. Select a fertilizer that has analyses of 5-0-15, 5-0-20 if your lawn does not need phosphorus.
Various gardening topics will be addressed in the Fall Leisure Learning Classes. Call UWF for more information and registration.
Master Gardeners of Escambia County will hold an Open House, demonstrations and plant sale at the Escambia County Extension Demonstration on SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15, 8 am-noon, 3740 Stefani Road. Directions: From 9 Mile Road turn north on Stefani Road. Extension Center is on right just north of 9-1/2 Mile Road.
Now is a good time to clean out tired annuals and prepare beds for the cool season flowers. Divide perennials. Plant seeds directly in ground for a great display of California poppy (they don’t transplant well). Purchase chrysanthemums for fall color. Fertilizer established plants.
Clean up summer debris and remove diseased or dead limbs from shrubs and trees. Replenish mulch to cut down on weeds and to protect roots over the cold of winter.
If you would like a spring display of daffodils, order and plant them. Be sure that they are a variety that blooms in the South. (Some bulbs require prolonged cold to set the bloom). Bulbs will be on sale at the Fall Festival as well as a talk by the Florida Daffodil Association.
Take your house plants inside in late September to acclimate them to a new environment. Be sure the pots are clean and the plants are bug free.


October Gardening Notes

Keep a close eye on your lawn for the emergence of winter weeds. I prefer to simply pull them while they are just emerging but there are herbicides that may be used. Remember that turfgrass is stressed by weed killers so read the label and follow the instructions carefully.
Remove leaves on a regular basis. The grass will quickly deteriorate if they are allowed to cover it.
When the daytime temperatures stay in the 70s, you may wish to over-seed your lawn with ryegrass. Water lightly each day until seed germinates.
Spray evergreens such as camellias, gardenias and euonymus if insects such as aphids, scales and mites re present. Horticulture oil spray may be used once the weather cools. It is best to not cup back shrubs until spring. You may want to remove dead, damaged and diseased branches and the occasional long shoot of an azalea bush.
should be dug and left in the shade for a few days. Clean and store in a dry mesh bag. Good advice but I leave them in the ground. Most will emerge in the spring unless we have a very cold winter.
Keep your flower beds weeded. Collect seeds from cleome, cosmos, sunflower and zinnias for nest year.
are plentiful in the garden shops. Add some to your landscape for some fall color. If you put them in pots they can be transplanted to the garden to become part of your flower


November Gardening Notes

A layer of mulch protects the roots of plants and reduces the opportunity for winter weed growth. Hopefully, you ordered pine straw and have it in your driveway.
Slow down on the watering of your lawn but be sure it gets 3/4 inch once a week. This includes rainfall. The need for grass cutting should be less but do not allow the grass to grow to the point where you are cutting more than a third. Watch for chickweed and annual bluegrass germination and apply appropriate herbicides following the directions carefully. Annual ryegrass may be sown if you just have to have a green lawn all winter. Remember that it needs frequent cutting.
Consider investing in a small hand truck to use in moving heavy pots or other garden objects. They can be found at the home supply stores and can save your back.
Use horticultural oil to spray evergreens and deciduous shrubs and trees. This oldfashioned environmentally safe will protect your plants from disease and insects.
As they finish blooming, cut them back to three inches.
Remove those tired summer flowers from your pots and replant them for winter. Consider planting some daffodil bulbs towards the base of your container with pansies over them. In spring, you will have a cheerful display.
Purchase some amaryllis bulbs for an indoor holiday display. It takes 6 to 8 weeks for them to bloom. (Consult the package for specific instructions.) After blooming they can be planted in the ground for future color.
Clean up your bird feeder and stock it with fresh birdseed. Remember that the birds need fresh, clean water.


December Gardening Notes

Plant an outside winter container with
Start with a container that is appropriate for your home – casual – country – traditional. Select a container that is at least 12 inches at the top and 14 inches deep. It is best to stay away from any material that will freeze and break. Make several drainage holes in the base.
Use good potting media (price is a good indicator). Do not use garden soil. Put enough media in the bottom that the daffodil bulbs will be approximately 9 inches from the top of the container. Put a layer of bulbs (close but not touching each other) on the media. Cover with 2 inches of media. Add another layer of bulbs. Cover with media to the top of container. This will result in lots of daffodils.
For more interest, add a couple of amaryllis bulbs. These can be purchased at most home stores. Plant with the top of the bulb above the soil.
Now add some pansies and violas. This will give you instant color. Put in a protected spot and keep watered. You will have pansies and violas immediately – amaryllis flowers in 8 to 12 weeks and daffodils in February or March.

[wptabtitle]Plant Palette[/wptabtitle]

Heron’s Forest Plant Palette

Excerpted from: Architectural Guidelines: APPENDIX B

For complete information on related topics, such as landscape standards and criteria, see “Architecture” under the “Legal documents…” menu. The following plants are recommended and approved. Approval can be extended to other plants as well. Submit questions to the Architectural Review Committee through the President.

Ground Covers

Botanical Name Common Name
Agapanthus Afiicanus ‘Peter Pan’
Ajuga Genevensis Geneva Bugleweed
Aspidistra Elatlor Cast Iron Plant
Euonymus Fortunel Running Strawberry Bush
Hedera Helix English Ivy
Juniperus Conferta Shore Juniper
Juniperus Horizontalis ‘Plumosa’ Andoria Juniper
Lantana Camara ‘Horizon’ Horizon Lantana
Lantana Camara “Gold Mound’ Golf Mount Lantana
Lantana Montevidensis Weeping Lantana
Lirlope Spp Lily-turf
Ophlopogon Japonicus Mondo
Vinca Major Periwinkle
Vinca Major Dwarf Periwinkle


Botanical Name Common Name
Asparagus Plumosus Plumosa Asparagus Fern
Camps is Radicans Trumpet Creeper (N)
Clytostoma Callistegioides Painted Trumpet
Ficus Pumila Climbing Fig
Gelsemium Sempervirens (P) Carolina Yellow-Jessamine (N)
Passiflora Spp. Passion Flower
Jasminum Mesnyl Primrose Jasmine
Juniperus Chinensi Pfitzer Juniper
Lantana Camara Common Lantana
Nandina Domestica Nandina
Photinia Glabra Japanese Photinia
Podocarpus Macrophylla Maki Japanese Yew
Pyracantha Coccinea Firethorn
Rhaphiolepis Indica ‘Alba’ Dwarf White Hawthorn
Rhaphiolepis Indica ‘Majestic Beauty’ Majestic Beauty Hawthorn
Rhododendron Indicum ‘Red Ruffle’ Red Ruffle Azalea
Severinia Buxifolia Chinese Boxorange
Spiraea Cantoniensis Reeves Spirea
Trachycarpus Fortunel Windmill Palm
Viburnum Suspensum Sandankwa Viburnum

Large Shrubs

Botanical Name Common Name
Camellia Japonica Camellia
Camellia Sasanqua Sasanqua Camellia
Chamaerops Humilis European Fan Palm
Cteyera Japonica Cleyara
Elaeagnus Pungens Silverthorn
Fatsia Japonica Fatsia
Feijoa Sellowiana Pineapple guava (Feijoa)
Hydrangea Macrophylla Hydrangea
Illex Vomitoria Yaupon
Illicium Anisatum Japanese Anise-tree
Illicium Parviflorum Dwarf Anise
Ligustrum Japonicum Japanese Priver (Glossy)
Michelia Fuseara Banana Shrub
Nerium Oleander Common Oleander
Osmanthus Spp. Osmanthus
Photinia Serrulata Chinese Photinia
Pittosporum Tobira Japanese Pittosporum
Trachelospermum Jasminoldes Confederate-Jasmine
Wisteria Sinensis Chinese Wisteria
Fatshedra Lizel Fatshedra
Allamanda Cathartica Common Allamanda

Small Shrubs

Botanical Name Common Name
Berberis Thunbergii Atropurpurea Japanese Barberry
Buxus Harlandi Harland Boxwood
Buxus Mierophylla cv. Japoniea Japanese Boxwood
Fatshedera Lizel Botanical Wonder
Gardenia Jasminoldes “Prostrara” Dwarf Cape-Jasmine (Gardenia)
ydrangea Maerophylla Hydrangea
lIex Crenata Japanese Holly (Dwarf)
lIex Vomitoria ‘Nana’ Dwarf Yaupon
Jasminum Floridum Showy Jasmine
Ligustrum Sinensis Variegata Variegated Chinese Priver
Pyracantha Spp. Dwarf Firethorn
Rhapidophyllum Hystrix Needle Palm
hododendron Obtusum Kurume Azalea
Serissa Foetida Serissa
Yucca Smalliana Adams-Needle
Zarnia Integrlfolla Coontie Palm

Medium Shrubs

Botanical Name Common Name
Abelia Grandiflora Glossy Abella
Ardisia Crenata Coral Ardisia
Aucuba Japonica Variegata Gold Dust Plant
uxus Microphylla Japonica Japanese Boxwood
Callistemon Rigidus Stiff Bottlebrush
Euonymous Japonicus Evergreen Euonmymous
Gardenia Jasminoides Cape-Jasmine (Gardenia)
Ilex Cornuta ‘Burfordi’ Burford Holly
Pittosporum Tobira ‘Variegata’ Variegated Pittosporum
Pyracantha Koidzumi Formosa Firethom
Thuja Orientalis Arborvitae
Vitex Aguus-Castus Chaste Tree
Yucca Aloifolia Spanish Bayonet

Small Trees

Botanical Name Common Name
Gordonia Lasianthus Loblolly Bay
Illex Opaea ‘Savannah’ Savannah Holly
Hex Opaca American Holly
Magnolia Liliflora Saucer Magnolia
Myrica Cerifera Wax-Myrtle
Parkinsonia Aeuleata Jerusalem-thorn
Viburnum Odoratissium Sweet Viburnum
Lagerstromia Indica Crape Myrtle

Large Trees

Botanical Name Common Name
Acer Rubrum Red Maple
Cinnamomum Camphora Camphor Tree
Magnolia Grandiflora Southern Magnolia
Pinus Spp. Pine
Quercuc Laurifolia Laurel Oak
Quercus Phellos Willow Oak
Quercus Virginianna Live Oak
Liquidambar Stryraciflua Sweet Gum