Friday, December 21, 2012

Polk Master Gardeners Speak

Have you been reading Master Gardeners Speak in each issue of Polk Homes?  Each week, the Polk County Master Gardeners present information on a timely gardening topic.  These articles are filled with UF/IFAS research-based information and are not to be missed!  Take some time to read the back issues that can be found here, and stay up-to-date by logging in each week to read new articles.  To contact a Polk County Master Gardener with a gardening question, call (863) 519-8677 or visit the UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service in Bartow.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Polk County Florida-Friendly Landscaping Demonstration Gardens


Polk Training Center Nursery

Mackay Gardens & Lakeside Preserve

UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service

There are four Florida-Friendly Landscaping demonstration gardens in Polk County.  They are open to the public and are gardens to inspire you and give you new ideas!  Visit the gardens to see the nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping incorporated into gardens of various sizes and themes.  Here are the plant guides that will help you identify plants and when you visit the gardens.  Let us know how the gardens have helped you!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How To: Choose a Plant at the Nursery

When shopping for plants, it is important to choose healthy specimens so that they establish easier and have less maintenance issues as they grow.  Here is what to look for when you are at the nursery:

1. Choose moderately sized plants, if they are too large in the container, they may be root-bound.  If they are too small, they may have just been re potted and may not have enough roots to hold the rootball intact.
2.   Avoid plants with insect infestations.  Check all plant parts for insects, making sure you look under the leaves and around/in the soil.
3.  Check for spotting on the leaves.  Sometimes this isn't an indication of anything serious, but it could be signs of disease.  Take a quick look at the plant's cultural information (smart phones are great for this!) to see if it is susceptible to any diseases before you purchase it. 
4.  Don't buy plants with scars or wounds from pruning.
5.  If you are buying a grafted plant, check the graft union to make sure it has properly closed and that there are no suckers coming from the base of the plant.  Gardenias, some citrus and roses are often plants that are grafted.
6.  Check for cold injury (brown leaves, split bark, brown roots, dead branches).
7.  Choose plants that look good!  Look for a uniform canopy, healthy leaves, properly spaced branches, full foliage and nice form.
8.  Take the plant out of the container!  You need to do this so that you can check the root ball.  Ideally the root ball will be "just right".  Not too many roots (dense roots may have a hard time penetrating the soil once they are planted and the roots will continue to to circle).  Too few roots may mean that the roots are unhealthy or that the plant was just re potted.  There should not be any mushy, brown roots or roots protruding out of the container.
Too many roots make this a root-bound (or pot-bound) plant.
Not enough roots cause the root ball to crumble apart when removed from the container.
Roots protruding out of the container are a bad sign.
Healthy roots.
9.  Check the surface of the soil.  It should be free of weeds.  A balled and burlaped tree should be moist and the root ball should hold itself together.
Weeds in the container might mean that the plant is not properly cared for.
Use these tips as a refresher before you head to the nursery for your next Florida-Friendly Landscaping project.   Although many are common sense, sometimes it's hard to remember to look over a plant before you purchase it.  For more information or other questions, please contact us at the UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service.