Thursday, February 28, 2013

Don't Miss This Garden Event!!

Spring Obsession
Saturday, March 9, 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Munn Park, Lakeland
A celebration of garden, art and music featuring local and regional nurseries, garden vendors and art for and about the garden. Visit the Polk County Master Gardeners and the Florida-Friendly Landscaping program for information on landscaping, insects, plant pest diagnosis and UF/IFAS literature. 

Educational Seminar Schedule:
9:00. City of Lakeland Plant Introductions, Bill Koen, Horticultural Specialist, City of Lakeland
10:00. Basic Orchid Culture - Give Them a Good Start, Kay Stone, Ridge Orchid Society
11:00. Citrus Greening and other issues, Dr. David B. Shibles, Urban Horticulturist, UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service
12:00. Butterfly Gardening in Central Florida, Linda and Buck Cooper
1 :00. Worm Farming, Ginger Hansill, Master Gardener, UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service
2:00. City of Lakeland Plant Introductions,
Bill Koen, Horticultural Specialist, City of Lakeland

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Turfgrass alternatives offer residents additional groundcover choices, UF/IFAS experts say


From UF/IFAS News

Filed under Environment, Research on Tuesday, February 26, 2013.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Spring is right around the corner, and for some residents it may be time to think about sprucing up the yard with new landscaping.
Covering more than 5 million acres in Florida, turfgrass is the state’s most popular groundcover — but it may not be the ideal choice for every situation, say experts with the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.
Emphasizing the Florida-Friendly Landscaping principle “right plant, right place,” UF/IFAS Extension faculty members suggest that residents who are considering groundcover options start by assessing their needs and site conditions.
“We need turf for recreation, for that open front-yard spot in your landscape, and to give us that green look,” said Wendy Wilber, an Alachua County environmental horticulture Extension agent. “A good-looking Florida-Friendly Landscape can have a mix of plants and features, if the conditions call for it.”
Turf may be the best option for areas that receive heavy foot traffic and plenty of direct sunlight, Wilber said. Many varieties have been bred for hardiness and can withstand the wear and tear associated with frequent outdoor activity.
Turf alternatives can be a good choice for covering shaded areas, making an eye-pleasing transition between turf and taller plants, or establishing low-maintenance zones where foot traffic is infrequent.
Some of the best-known turf alternatives include low-growing plants, mulch, gravel and structures such as decks and patios.
Low-growing plant options include perennial peanut, sunshine mimosa (also known as powderpuff), largeflower Mexican clover, threeflower beggarweed, Asiatic jasmine, bronze beauty jasmine, creeping inch plant, Florida pusley and Liriope (also known as lilyturf).
For a UF/IFAS video on Florida pusley, see
“One issue with plants is, are they steppable?” Wilber says. “In other words, will foot traffic harm them? If so, you’d want to put down stepping stones or create a mulch path through the planting bed if you’ll need to walk through it.”
Also, keep in mind that low-growing plants established from seed, plugs or cuttings may take a year or more to fill in planting beds and cover the ground.
For larger yards, it may be practical to put a high-quality turf variety out front, and bahiagrass in areas that aren’t so visible, Wilber said. Commonly known as a forage, bahiagrass is hardy and drought-tolerant.
Decorative mulches such as pine bark and cedar chips can be obtained from garden stores and nurseries, though mulch can sometimes be gathered at home by raking leaves or pine straw to the desired spot.
Gravel can be an eye-catching addition but tends to reflect heat. Also, prices vary widely, depending on the type of rock involved.
The options for patios, walkways, decks and other structures are virtually limitless. These structures offer function as well as appearance, but require more planning than other groundcovers.
Finally, residents of communities with specific landscaping standards may want to check with the local board that oversees the standards before making dramatic changes, said Doug Caldwell, a Collier County commercial landscape horticulture extension agent.
Recently enacted state law promotes Florida-Friendly Landscaping, but it doesn’t necessarily support every modification a homeowner might want to make, he said.
“It’s just easier to do things right the first time,” Caldwell said.
Florida-Friendly Landscaping is an approach developed by UF/IFAS experts and collaborators to promote beautiful, affordable and sustainable landscaping on residential, commercial and public properties. To learn more, see


Tom Nordlie,
Wendy Wilber,
Doug Caldwell,

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Irrigation System Maintenance

It's a great time of year to make any updates and changes to your irrigation system.  If you  had it turned off all winter, now is the time to make sure everything is functioning properly.
Here are a a couple of helpful videos from the UF/IFAS Turfgrass Science Department.
How to set your irrigation timer:

How to calibrate your sprinkler system:

Do You Know About the Morrill Act?

Monday, February 18, 2013

Wishing for Spring? Plan Your Spring Garden!

Spring is almost here and it is time to plan your spring garden!  There are many great plant choices for Central Florida –remember to choose plants that are drought-tolerant, low maintenance and best suited to your yard.         
Flowers to plant -
African daisy, ageratum, aster, balsam, begonia, black-eyed Susan, blue daze, browallia, bush daisy, cat’s whiskers, celosia, cleome, coleus, coreopsis, cosmos, crossandra, dahlberg daisy, gazania, gaillardia, gerbera, goldenrod, impatiens, Joseph’s coat, lantana, lisianthus, marigold, melampodium, Mexican sunflower, moon flower, nicotiana, nierembergia, pentas, periwinkle, porterweed, portulaca, purslane, salvia, sunflower, torenia and zinnia.
Herbs to plant - Anise, basil, bay laurel, borage, cardamon, chives, coriander, dill, borage, ginger, lemon balm, oregano, Mexican tarragon, mint, oregano, rosemary, sage, savory, sweet marjoram and thyme.
Vegetables to plant - Calabaza, cantaloupe, cassava, chayote, cherry tomato, cucumber, dasheen, eggplant, Jerusalem artichoke, jicama, lima bean, malabar spinach, malanga, New Zealand spinach, okra, pepper, roselle, Seminole pumpkin, snap beans, squash, Southern pea, sweet potato, tamarillo, yam and yard long bean.
Florida bulbs - Don’t forget bulbs for your Florida garden. There are a number of bulbs which do well in central Florida including the African lily, amaryllis,  Eucharist lily, blood lily, caladium, canna, crinum, rain lily and spider lily. Most do well in full sun to partial shade, but check the label to be sure.
For more information on Florida gardening contact the UF/IFAS Polk County Extension Service at (863) 519-8677 or visit the Florida-Friendly Landscaping website: