Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Pruning Crapemyrtles

Most crapemyrtles require little to no pruning if they are planted following the right plant, right place principle and healthy nursery stock was selected.  But it you determine that your crape needs pruning, follow the UF/IFAS recommended guidelines for proper pruning.  

Here are some helpful reads:

Southern Living
EDIS circular on pruning crapemyrtles

Monday, December 22, 2014

Learn How To Recognize if Your Tree is Safe

If you have large trees in your landscape, you may be concerned about the safety of their branches and the likelihood of failure.  In this new EDIS publication, UF/IFAS highlights some visible defects that might cause issue to people or property.  If you have some of the defects mentioned, you may want to contact a Certified Arborist to help you determine your strategy for maintaining or removing the problem branches or the tree itself.  Using the ISA's online tools, you can locate a Certified Arborist in your area.  You can also refer to this UF/IFAS document on finding a reputable tree professional.  As always, if you have additional questions, contact us at the UF/IFAS Extension Service Polk County Office.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Master Gardener Calendar Sneak Peek!

Are you considering purchasing a 2015 Polk County Master Gardener Calendar?
Take a look inside!
The calendars are $8 (if you want them mailed to you, add $2).  Call the UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Office to order or stop by and pick them up!  

Monday, December 15, 2014

Containerized Plants for Holiday Gifts

If you are looking for a unique gift this holiday season, consider a containerized plant.  Low maintenance plants in an attractive container make a lovely gift that can be enjoyed for years to come.  Consider where the recipient will place the container--will it be inside or outside?  In the sun or shade? On a screened patio or outside in the hot sun?  Small containers are easy to move around and more economical for the gift giver.  Consider dividing a plant in your yard and sharing it.  A plant care card, containing the plant name and care instructions, is a good addition to the gift.  You may want to think about what the recipient enjoys.  A cook may like a potted herb, such as basil.  A butterfly enthusiast may enjoy a colorful nectar plant.  A busy working mom might enjoy a succulent or bromeliad that will require very minimal care. Plants make a lovely and unique gift.  If you need assistance choosing a plant, contact us or refer to this article on Container Gardens.  

 Aloe, a low-maintenance containerized plant.

Bromeliads, great for shady areas.

There are many types of succulents that work great in containers.
They require very little water and are attractive year-round. 

Annuals, such as this Dianthus, add a pop of color.
Annuals in a container require frequent watering.

Perennials can be grown in containers.
Echinacea blooms in this attractive planter.

Many herbs grow well in containers and can be grown in the kitchen
 or right outside the door.

Friday, December 5, 2014

December Gardening Programs

There are still gardening and landscaping classes and events being offered through the month of December! Check out the list below.

Christmas Flowers, Gardening Talk 
Thursday, December 11, 10:30 a.m. 
Latt Maxcy Memorial Library, 15 N. Magnolia Ave., Frostproof
Join the Polk County Master Gardeners in a series of landscaping programs at the library. We will discuss Christmas flowers in and around your home. To register for the free workshop, contact Missy Hadden at the library. Call (863) 635-7857 or email.

Rain Barrel Workshop
Friday, December 12, 10:00 a.m.
UF/IFAS Exension, Polk County, 1702 US Hwy 17/98 South, Bartow, Brenneman Auditorium
Join us to learn how to create a rain barrel and conserve water in your landscape. The workshop is free, but if you would like to purchase a rain barrel, they are $40 each. To register for the workshop go to 

Florida-Friendly Demonstration Garden Tours
Saturday, December 13, 9:00 a.m.
UF/IFAS Extension, 1702 US Hwy 17/98 South, Bartow 
(meet on the south side of the Extension building in the Paul Anderson Gazebo)
Master Gardeners will lead you in a free tour around the Florida-Friendly Demonstration Gardens. Get ideas for your own yard by seeing the nine principles up close. This is a great event for clubs, groups or kids. Sign up here. The tour will be offered on the second Saturday of each month.

Ask a Master Gardener at the Lakeland Downtown Farmer's Curb Market 
Saturday, December 20, 8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (every 3rd Saturday)
East Pine and N. Kentucky Ave in Downtown Lakeland
Gardening and landscaping questions? Ask a Master Gardener! Bring us plants and insects to identify, ask us about Florida-Friendly Landscaping and learn about the free programs that we offer. Look for the blue UF/IFAS tablecloth to find us each month. 

Ask a Master Gardener at the Winter Haven 4th Saturday Market Downtown 
Saturday, December 27, 9:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. (every 4th Saturday)
Avenue A NW & 5th Street NW, Winter Haven
Gardening and landscaping questions? Ask a Master Gardener! Bring us plants and insects to identify, ask us about Florida-Friendly Landscaping and learn about the free programs that we offer. Look for the blue UF/IFAS tablecloth to find us each month. 

Monday, December 1, 2014

2015 Master Gardener Calendars Available for Purchase

The 2015 Master Gardener calendars are now available for purchase.  These colorful calendars are FULL of gorgeous photos and chock full of gardening tips!  The calendars can be purchased at the Extension Service in Bartow for $8 or mailed to you for an additional $2.  They make a great gift for anyone who loves to garden or is new to Florida.  They also make a great monthly resource if you want to know what to do in your garden throughout the year.  Contact the Extension Service to order your calendar TODAY!  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's Cold Outside!

You may be ready for the cold temperatures tonight, but are your plants?  It's time to revisit the proper way to cover plants in preparation for freezing temperatures. Check back to this blog post as well as this EDIS publication to ensure you are caring for your cold sensitive plants properly.  
Stay warm!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Rain Barrel Workshop

Barrels are available for purchase.  Registration is required. 

Garden Pathways

There are so many paving choices for garden pathways, walkways and patios.  Create a path so that you can easily navigate your landscape. Create a path that leads to a focal point. Create a path that leads around a corner to entice a visitor to move around your landscape.  There are a variety of materials to choose from to help you achieve the look you desire.  

If you are unsure how to create a pathway through your landscape, consider one-on-one landscape planning assistance or attend a landscape design workshop.  We will be offering a design series this winter.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Proper Planting

When you install a plant in your yard, you may not even think about your technique.  How do you install plants?  Do you install them the way you always have?  Did a friend or family member teach you? Did you learn to install a plant in another part of the country?  Well, it may be time to brush up on your technique! IFAS has some new planting recommendations and guidelines for installing plants.  

It is important to start the nursery. Choose a plant with a healthy, full canopy that is free of injury and pests.  Examine the roots of the plant you are going to purchase. Remove the container to determine if the plant is well-rooted.  Refrain from purchasing plants that are root-bound (mass of roots circling the root ball), recently repotted (root ball doesn't hold together and crumbles when removed from the container), contain mushy black roots or circling roots at the base of the plant.  You want to give your plant the best start by choosing a healthy plant.   

When you are ready to install your plant, follow the general tips outlined below.  Remember that all plants need water during their establishment period, which will vary depending on the size of the plant at installation.  If you do not have access to supplemental water, you may want to install your plants during the rainy season. If you have access to supplemental water, you can install plants year-round in Florida.  
General Tips for installing trees and shrubs in well-drained soil

     * Dig hole as deep as height of root ball, at least 2 times wider

* Keep bottom of hole flat, leave soil at bottom undisturbed
     * Inspect root ball.  Do not score, cut or pull apart roots if the root ball is intact and        healthy.  New research indicates that instead of scoring the sides of a pot-bound plant,        you should shave off an outer inch or so of the root ball.  Do this with a knife or shears.         Any remaining circling roots should be pulled away from the root ball prior to planting.      

     * Install and backfill appropriately, gently tamping backfill soil in
     * Keep top of root ball slightly above soil line, trunk flare should show

     * For trees, install 3” tree ring of soil or mulch, if desired
     * Mulch and irrigate appropriately; stake if desired

     * Fertilize appropriately

General tips for installing perennials and annuals in well-drained soil
     * Dig hole so plant is at ground level, or slightly higher
     * Dig hole slightly wider than potted plant
     * Keep bottom of hole flat
     * Amend sandy soils, if needed, best to amend entire area

     * Inspect root ball
     * Install plant, fill hole completely with soil, gently press soil in around root ball
     * Mulch, irrigate and fertilize appropriately
Stomping on the plant will compact the soil.

Piling soil on top of the root ball is one of the leading causes of plant decline.  

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Versatility of Asiatic Jasmine

Asiatic Jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) continues to be a favorite groundcover because of its versatility.  Grown in sun or shade, Asiatic Jasmine is often the right plant for the right place!