Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Perennial Peanut, the Turfgrass Alternative

Perennial peanut is a great groundcover for most Florida yards.  During the summer months you may see these small yellow flowers in lawns, along roadsides, and in medians.  The showy yellow flowers and low maintenance qualities make peanut a great choice for sunny, dry areas of the landscape.  Consider it for your yard!  

Friday, July 11, 2014

There's a UF/IFAS app for that!

Gardening decisions are now easier with the release of new applications from the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. 
The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Plant Guide features more than 400 Florida-Friendly plants that can be selected by their type, shape, and sun tolerance.  Each plant is accompanied by a color photo. The mobile web tool allows users to simply plug in their zip code to get specific gardening-zone recommendations for temperature tolerance and watering requirements.
The plant guide works on any device with a web-enabled browser, such as an iPhone, Android, or tablet. It has an annual cost of $1.99 a year and is available at https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/plants. Read more about the app at IFAS News.
The new mobile website, Landscape Pests (pest.ifas.ufl.edu), helps users diagnosis and learn about common insect and mite pests found in Florida and elsewhere in the southeastern United States. Users can search for pests using menus based on plant host or damage symptom, as well as by common or scientific name. The site currently features nearly 300 pests, and will continue development to expand the numbers of pests, as well as search capability.
These two new mobile web tools join the UF/IFAS iPest apps in providing homeowners with easily accessible information on plants and pests. The iPest apps cost $1.99 each and are currently only available for iPhone.

--From the July issue of "The Neighborhood Gardener"

Milkweed in the Landscape

Ascelpias sp., also known as milkweed or butterfly weed, is a wonderful addition to your butterfly garden.  It is the larval host plant for both the monarch and queen butterflies.  It is a tough, Florida-Friendly plant that features red/yellow, orange or yellow flowers depending on variety.  It will die back to the ground in the winter and will emerge in the spring.  Milkweed will grow to about two feet tall and one foot wide and has thin leaves that are devoured by butterfly larvae (caterpillars) throughout the summer.  Because of this, you may want to plant your milkweed where it is hidden so that when it is defoliated it does not detract from the look of your landscape.  It grows well in full sun to partial shade and in dry to moist soil.

Pests that can occur on the milkweed include aphids and milkweed bugs.  To eradicate them it is best to hand pick them off or remove any butterfly larvae/eggs and spray down the plant with water.  Remember that you are growing a plant for the butterfly larvae to eat and using any pesticides may harm the larvae! 

Use caution around milkweed, particularly if you have small children or pets as it is toxic.  Ingesting the sap or getting it into your eyes can cause severe reactions.  It is recommended that you wash your hands after touching the plant and refrain from touching your face or eyes after you touch the plant.

Milkweed can be purchased at many local garden centers.  Always call ahead to check their availability.  Peterson’s Nursery in Lakeland, Spirit Lake Road Nursery in Winter Haven, the Polk Training Center for Handicapped Citizens Nursery in Lake Alfred and Lowe’s stores all carry milkweed.

Milkweed is a great addition to a butterfly garden when combined with other flowering perennials. Remember that when attracting butterflies to your yard you need to provide food for both the larvae as well as the adult butterfly so that the entire life cycle can unfold in your garden. Plant milkweed with pentas, coral honeysuckle, salvia and porterweed for a colorful landscape bed.  Follow the principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ when designing and maintaining your landscape for the best results.  For more information go to: http://polkffl.com

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Do you have a bird bath in your yard?  If you are trying to attract wildlife to your yard you must provide habitat.  Habitat consists of food, water and shelter.  Birdbaths are are a great way to provide a water source, but it is important that you maintain your birdbath to prevent the spread of avian disease.  Clean your bird bath once a week with a solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts water.  Use a scrub brush to clean the bottom and sides of the bird bath, and rinse with clean water prior to refilling.  Happy birding!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Versatility of Asiatic Jasmine

Asiatic Jasmine (Trachelospermum asiaticum) is a versatile landscape plant that is often used in difficult growing conditions.  It grows well in full sun and full shade making it a great choice for shady areas where grass won't grow but a similar look is desired.  It can be pruned, mowed and edged and if left alone will cover an area easily.  As you can see in the photographs below, it is often used to maintain a neat appearance in the landscape where grass is sometimes used.  It is evergreen and its small glossy leaves and vining habit create a thick mat.  If you have a location in your landscape that is too shady for grass, is difficult to maintain, or a steep slope that needs stabilization, Asiatic Jasmine is a good choice.