Friday, January 31, 2014

Native Shrubs for Central Florida

There are many native shrubs that grow well in the Central Florida landscape.  This list of low maintenance, drought tolerant shrubs should be installed and maintained following the Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles.  These shrubs are readily available and are great choices for a home landscape. 

Florida Privet (Forestiera segregata).  Great for a hedge or screen.  The Florida Privet is a thick, dense evergreen shrub that can tolerate pruning and shaping.  Its small, glossy green leaves and black fruit make it a very wildlife friendly shrub. 

Firebush (Hamelia patens).  This moderately sized shrub has bright red flowers all year long that appeal to both hummingbirds and butterflies.  It can be used as a specimen or in a mixed shrub border.  The dwarf variety, 'Calusa', will grow to four feet tall.  

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana).  This loose shaped shrub is best know for it’s beautiful purple berry clusters that appear in the fall.  Beautyberry is a deciduous shrub that is attractive to wildlife and can be used in a variety of settings. 

Coontie Cycad (Zamia pumila).  A versatile shrub that will grow in sun or shade. Low-growing and does well in many different landscaping situations.  Plant in groupings for maximum impact.

Simpson’s Stopper (Myrcianthes fragrans).  An excellent specimen or hedging plant.  Produces fragrant white flowers in the spring followed by red fruit.  This shrub has a variety of uses and can be pruned to keep a compact form or trimmed up to create a small tree.   'Compacta' is a dwarf variety that will grow three-four feet tall.

Walter’s Viburnum (Viburnum obovatum).  This is a large shrub that provides a lot of benefit to wildlife.  It flowers profusely with white flowers in the spring and then fruits in the summer.  It is an evergreen shrub that can be used for hedges or specimens. 'Riefler's Densa', 'Withlachoochee' and 'Mrs. Schiller's Delight' are all varieties of Walter's Viburnum.  

For more native shrubs for Central Florida download our Florida-Friendly Landscaping Plant List for Polk County.  You can also visit our Florida-Friendly Demonstration Gardens to see these shrubs growing in the landscape.  

Friday, January 17, 2014

Florida Arbor Day

Did you know that Florida's Arbor Day is always the third Friday in January? Arbor Day was first celebrated in Nebraska on April 10, 1874.  It was adopted throughout the United States in the 1870's and National Arbor Day is celebrated each April.  State Arbor Days were created to coincide with the best planting times for the state.  Take some time this Florida Arbor Day to plant a tree in your yard, neighborhood or park.  Here are some good choices for Central Florida.  

 Cabbage Palm (Sabal palmetto)-Florida's State Tree

Chickasaw Plum (Prunus angustifolia

Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana

Little Gem Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem')

Red Maple (Acer rubrum)

Yellow Tabebuia  (Tabebuia caraiba)

Pink Tabebuia (Tabebuia heterophylla)

Winged Elm (Ulmus alata)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Cold Protection for Landscape Plants

Central Florida is no stranger to freezing temperatures in the winter months.  Although many times it is just a day or two here or there, there may be a need to protect plants in your landscape.  If you have tropical plants or annual plants that you wish to protect they may be affected by temperatures below 50 degrees and you will need to watch the forecast carefully.  Plants such as orchids may need to be brought inside for extended periods of time. 

What to do before a freeze
Choose plants that will not require protection during cold weather.  Follow the Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles when selecting plants for your yard.  If you choose to plant tropical or tender plants, put them in containers that can easily be moved indoors or look for microclimates in your yard.  Microclimates are small pockets of warmer air, you may find these near your house, in a protected area of the yard or in a courtyard.  

What to do during a freeze

If your plants are in containers, bring them indoors.  You could also move containers together into groups and add mulch to the surface of the soil.  A good layer (2-3 inches) of mulch will help keep plants protected.  
Covering plants will protect them from frost damage.  Plant covers should cover the entire plant all the way to the ground and not touch the foliage of the plant.  If the foliage touches the covering some damage could occur.  To further protect the plant, a small light bulb could be placed under the cover.  

Remember to remove the covering during the day if the temperatures warm up.  You can then place the cover back over the plant in the evening.  

What to do after a freeze
It is important to water your plants after a freeze.  This will help with any water loss that occurred as a result of low temperatures.  Damage may not be visible for a few weeks or longer on some plants. Remember to refrain from pruning the damaged foliage until after all risk of frost/freeze is past.  

For more information on protecting your plants from the cold contact the UF/IFAS Extension Polk County.