Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Starting a Native Wildflower Garden From Seed

It's a great time of year to sow wildflower seeds into your landscape.  If you are looking for a seed source, contact the Florida Wildflower Foundation, or you may be able to find seed locally through your Native Plant Society.  There are so many wonderful native wildflowers that you can grow in Central Florida.  Gaillardia, Salvia, Coreopsis, Rosinweed, Beach Sunflower, Liatris and Aster may be found in some of the native wildflower seed mixes.

    Beach Sunflower 

     Black-Eyed Susan  



The first thing you need to do is determine where you would like your wildflowers.  Are you going to add them to an existing pollinator or butterfly garden or start a new one? Are you creating a no-mow area in your yard? Do you have a natural area that you would like to plant with flowers?  The area you choose should be in the full sun and have well drained soil.

When you are ready to plant, get a mix of compost and vermiculite ready and lightly till your site.  You want to make sure the site isn't hard-packed.  Mix your seeds with the soil mix and spread the soil evenly over the surface to be planted.  The mix should only be an inch or two deep.  When you have spread the mix, gently tamp the soil down.  You can walk over it to do this. Then, lightly water in the seeds.  Keep the soil moist throughout the germination process.

Some seeds will take longer to germinate than others. If you have used a seed mix, you may see some seeds coming up right away,while others may take a few months.  Do not fertilize or mulch the site while you wait for your new flowers to emerge.  

Once you have a nice stand of wildflowers, you can begin management. You may want to collect seed to use in other areas of your yard, or you may want to follow a mowing program to keep the area properly managed as a wildflower planting.  The flowers will die back to the ground in the winter months, so be prepared to cut them back at least once a year.  

Native wildflowers make a lovely, colorful addition to the landscape.  The flowers provide habitat and food for native insects and birds.  You can cut the flowers for bouquets or arrangements.  They are a great way to add a splash of color to your landscape without a lot of upkeep.  

Consider adding wildflowers to your landscape.  If you need more information, contact us at UF/IFAS Extension Polk County.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

2016 Polk County Master Gardener Calendar Gardening Guide is Available for Purchase

The 2016 Polk County Master Gardener Calendar & Gardening Guide is now available for purchase!  Cost is $10 ($12 mailed) and can be purchased at the UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at 1702 US Hwy 17 South in Bartow.  The calendar is also available for purchase at the Fall Plant Sale and Munn Park Garden Extravaganza

Every month brings new opportunities and challenges to Polk County gardeners. The biggest differences are between summer and winter but there are monthly differences as well. Each month brings different blooms or different fruit. Some plants should be pruned or planted at a particular time of year. Different insects or fungi are a problem at different times of the year.

The Master Gardener calendar gives helpful advice on what gardeners need to do each month. There is a discussion of what trees, shrubs and flowers are blooming, what fruit is in season, what annuals and vegetables can be planted, problems that you can expect with your lawn, and what insects may attack your lawn, fruit trees and shrubs. The calendar may also have a timely short article or two on some gardening subject such as planting citrus or care of roses plus a discussion of some of the good and bad bugs you can encounter.
The date portion of the calendar has squares large enough to write on. It makes a great diary of your gardening activities. You can use it to record what and when you plant new plants or when each shrub or tree is fertilized or when it needs to be fertilized.

The calendar is a great gift and the proceeds benefit Polk County Master Gardener projects. 

The Florida Master Gardener Program is a volunteer-driven program that benefits UF/IFAS Extension and the citizens of Florida. The program relies on dedicated volunteers who have an interest in gardening and in giving back to their communities.

Think you might be interested in becoming a Master Gardener? Read more about the history of the program and how to become a Master Gardener.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Plant Sale this Saturday!

The Polk County Master Gardeners are busy preparing plants for the plant sale this Saturday, October 10, 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. at the City of Lakeland Nursery ( Use entrance to Oak Hill Burial Park, 4620 US Highway 98 S, Lakeland).  Hope to see you there!

Flutterby Lane and our newest Florida-Friendly Landscaping Demonstration Garden are looking good! Enjoy a stroll down the Fort Fraser Trail looking at all our fun new plants!

Monday, October 5, 2015

All things autumn

It is officially autumn in Florida!  And it feels...just like summer did!  But there are some exciting fall events and programs on the horizon as well as some gardening tasks to get you in the autumn mood, even if the weather isn't cooperating.

Landscaping with Ornamental Grasses
Friday, October 9, 12:00 noon-1:00 p.m.
Lakeland Police Dept. Community Room, 219 N. Massachusetts Ave. Lakeland

Fall Plant Sale
Saturday, October 10, 8:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.

City of Lakeland Nursery ( Use entrance to Oak Hill Burial Park) 
4620 US Highway 98 S, Lakeland

Garden Tour
Second Saturday of each month, October 10, 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
UF/IFAS Extension, Polk County, 1702 US Hwy 17 South, Bartow

Dirt Days #1: Terrific Trees!
Saturday, October 10, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
Circle B Bar Reserve, Lakeland 

Munn Park Garden Extravaganza
Saturday, October 24, 8:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.
Munn Park, Downtown Lakeland

Composting Lunch & Learn at Bok Tower Gardens 
Wednesday, October 28, 12:00 noon-1:30 p.m. 
Bok Tower Gardens, 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales

Autumn Gardening Tasks

1.  Divide plants

There are many landscape plants that benefit from division.  Perennials such as liriope, African iris, flax lily, bulbine, and herbs such as rosemary and tarragon are easy to divide.  You may want to cut them back to the ground and then divide the clump into smaller sections using a sharp shovel.

2.  Move plants that have outgrown their space

If you have let things get a little out of control over the summer months, now is a great time to move plants that have outgrown their allotted space or have self-seeded themselves and created a crowded landscape.  Find a new spot for the plant that has more room than its current location.  You want to find a spot that will allow your plant to spread without having to continually prune it during the growing season.  This may be a great time to create new mulched beds or expand existing mulched beds in your yard.  By dividing and moving plants you may be able to create new planting areas for free by using plants you already have, or consider doing a plant exchange with your friends or neighbors using the plants you have divided or removed. 

3.  Re-mulch
As you clean up the plants in your mulched beds, you may find that you need to re-mulch.  Remember that you need to have two to three inches of mulch in your beds.  This will help keep down weeds, reduce erosion, and keep the soil moist.  If you find that you need to re-mulch, choose a by-product mulch such as pine bark, pine straw, eucalyptus, melaleuca, oak leaves, or compost.  The addition of mulch will also help create a clean and neat look in the mulched beds that you have worked so hard to clean up.  

4.  Plant trees and shrubs
After you have cleaned up, divided, and pruned your way through the landscape, you may find that you want to add more trees and shrubs to your yard.  Fall is a great time to plant trees and shrubs in Central Florida.  Choose plants that are the appropriate size for your yard and and take advantage of all the fall plant sales to stock up.

Community Gardening Workshops Coming Soon!

Enjoy being part of a community and gardening?

Come learn how to start and sustain a vibrant community garden at a workshop hosted by The UF/IFAS Extension and Bok Tower Gardens Partnership. Community gardens are fun places where people from all cultures, backgrounds and ages connect to learn from each other to grow healthy, nutritious food and ornamental plants. Polk County residents who attend a workshop will be eligible to apply for a community garden mini-grant through The UF/IFAS Extension and Bok Tower Gardens Partnership. The workshops are free and open to the public, but space is limited.

For more information on how to attend workshops in Haines City, Lake Wales or Lakeland, download our flyer.