Thursday, November 10, 2016

Milkweed and Monarchs

Monarch Butterfly
Attracting wildlife to your landscape is a great step toward Florida-Friendly Landscaping™. Butterfly gardening is one way to create a habitat for wildlife. Many gardeners choose milkweed as part of a diverse planting used in attracting butterflies. Milkweed is a host plant for Monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus). However, going to your local box-store and picking up whatever species of milkweed is available may not be the best choice for Monarchs. Not just any Milkweed will do.

There are several species of Milkweed (Asclepias spp.) and many are native to Florida. However, the most commonly found is the non-native, Tropical or Scarlet Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica). Tropical Milkweed produces flowers most of the year. These flowers are easily identified by their red, orange, and yellow flower heads. The problem is that when the native milkweeds have gone dormant, tropical milkweed is still flashing its bright colors and attracting Monarchs. During this time Monarch butterflies have a longer than normal breeding season and are more susceptible to a deadly parasite called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha.

It is best to choose native milkweed species. The most commonly found at your local native nurseries include Pinewoods Milkweed (Asclepias humistrata), Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata), White Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata), Aquatic Milkweed (Asclepias perennis), and Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa).

Utilize the right plant, right place principle of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ when choosing a native milkweed for your garden. Each of these species has different soil moisture requirements ranging from dry to wet soils. Butterflyweed (A. tuberosa) and Pinewoods Milkweed (A. humistrata) are better suited for dry soil conditions. Whereas, Swamp Milkweed (A. incarnata) and Aquatic Milkweed (A. perennis) prefer moist to wet soil conditions. White Milkweed (A. verticillata) is adaptable to both dry and moist soil conditions.

Non-native Tropical Milkweed
If you do have Tropical Milkweed in your garden, consider slowly replacing it with a native milkweed species. In the meantime, cut it back to about 6 inches above the ground during the months of October through February. This will mimic the normal dormancy of native milkweeds. This may require repeated maintenance to remove any new growth that may occur during this time.

For more information please contact the UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Florida-Friendly Landscaping™  Program at 863-519-1068 or j.schelb@ufl.edu.
                                                                                                                       
References:

Daniels, Jaret. “Are Non-native Milkweeds Killing Monarch Butterflies?”. Florida Wildflower Foundation (blog). http://floridawildflowerfoundation.blogspot.com/2012/01/are-non-native-milkweeds-killing.html

Oliver, Katherine. “Creating a Healthy Monarch Habitat”.  UF/IFAS Extension Manatee County (blog). http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/manateeco/2015/09/03/creating-a-healthy-monarch-habitat/

Monday, October 10, 2016

October Gardening Tips


Goldenrain Tree
October is in full swing and fall garden festivals are abundant this month. The leaves of deciduous trees like American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis) and Baldcypress (Taxodium distichum) are just beginning to turn to a golden hue. The papery fruit on Goldenrain Tree (Koelreuteria paniculata) are beginning to turn a reddish-orange against the panicles of yellow flowers. A beautiful sign of autumn in Florida!

    Here are some tips and reminders to keep your garden and landscape in order this month:
    Baldcypress
    • Adjust irrigation time clocks to water no more than once per week during the fall. 
    • Check irrigation and correct any problems.
    • Refresh mulched areas to maintain a layer 2 to 3 inches thick.
    • Maintain a mulched area around trees to at least the dripline or beyond. Remember to pull mulch away from the base of the trunk.
    • Consider converting turfgrass areas into drought-tolerant groundcovers for lower maintenance.
    • Choose drought-tolerant plants for the landscape.
    • Winter annual weeds in the lawn can be controlled using preemergence herbicides in late October once nighttime temperatures are consistently 55-60°F. For more information on how to use preemergence herbicides to control annual weeds in the lawn check out the Weed Management Guide for Florida Lawns:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep141.
    • Keep a record of what species of weeds appear in your lawn and when. This will allow you to properly treat them next year, if needed.
    • Only fertilize ornamental shrubs and trees that are underperforming due to nutrient deficiencies. Use a controlled-release fertilizer for a consistent, slow-release of nutrients over time. Always follow the label for directions and rate and do not apply before a heavy rain.
    • Do not use “weed and feed” products.
    • Fall and winter are the best times to control twig girdlers (Oncideres cingulata). Prevent future populations by collecting and disposing of fallen branches. For more information check out Twig Girdlers: http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/pests-and-diseases/pests/twig-girdler.html
    • Winter vegetables including kale, lettuce, and broccoli, just to name a few, can now be planted. For planting dates and varieties check out the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021
    • Now is a great time to start or replenish your herb garden. Some herbs to consider are basil, cilantro, garlic, parsley, and sage. For more information check out Herbs in the Florida Garden: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh020
    • Cool season annuals that can now be planted include alyssum, calibrachoa, dianthus, dusty miller, petunia, snapdragon, and viola. For more information check out Gardening with Annuals: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg319

    *This information was adapted from the Central Florida Gardening Calendar- ENH1189 by Sydney Park Brown: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep450#SECTION_9 and UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Fact Sheet: Month-by-Month Irrigation Checklist by Anne Yasalonis: http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/fyn/documents/FFL%20Fact%20Sheet-Month%20by%20Month%20Irrigation.pdf.

      Dianthus
      To keep your landscape looking beautiful, use less water, and reduce stormwater runoff 
      remember to incorporate the Nine Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™:
      1. Right plant, right place
      2. Water efficiently
      3. Fertilize appropriately
      4. Mulch
      5. Attract wildlife
      6. Manage yard pests responsibly
      7. Recycle
      8. Reduce stormwater runoff
      9. Protect the waterfront

      For more information on Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ visit: http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/fyn/index.shtml

      Contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at 863-519-1041 or http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/.

      Tuesday, September 13, 2016

      September Gardening Tips

      September brings the official first day of fall (September 22nd) and the introduction of pumpkin spice- well just about everything. Acorns have even started forming. The degree or two cooler temperatures, later sunrise, and earlier sunset may have you thinking about tackling some overdue garden projects from this summer.

      Here are some tips and reminders to keep your garden and landscape in order this month:
      •   Scout and monitor your lawn for signs of damage from chinch bugs, fall armyworms, sod webworms, and mole crickets.
      •   Mow lawns at the correct height: Bahiagrass = 3-4 inches; St Augustinegrass = 3.5-4 inches; Bermudagrass = 0.75-1.5 inches. Consider converting turfgrass areas into groundcover or landscape beds for lower maintenance.
      •   Adjust your irrigation to only when plants need it.
      •   Check irrigation filters and clean if needed.
      •   Begin planning landscape modifications to save water in the cooler, dryer months ahead.
      •   Prepare your fall vegetable garden with seeds or transplants. For planting dates and varieties check out the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021
      •   Herbs tolerant of warm temperatures can be planted including basil, mint, rosemary, and Mexican tarragon.
      •   Annuals such as zinnia, celosia, wax begonia, and coleus can add seasonal variety to planting beds or pots.

      *This information was adapted from the Central Florida Gardening Calendar- ENH1189 by Sydney Park Brown: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep450#SECTION_9 and UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Fact Sheet: Month-by-Month Irrigation Checklist by Anne Yasalonis: http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/fyn/documents/FFL%20Fact%20Sheet-Month%20by%20Month%20Irrigation.pdf.


      To keep your landscape looking beautiful, use less water, and reduce stormwater runoff remember to incorporate the Nine Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™:

      1. Right plant, right place
      2. Water efficiently
      3. Fertilize appropriately
      4. Mulch
      5. Attract wildlife
      6. Manage yard pests responsibly
      7. Recycle
      8. Reduce stormwater runoff
      9. Protect the waterfront




      For more information on Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ visit: http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/fyn/index.shtml

      Contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at 863-519-1041 or http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/.


      Thursday, September 1, 2016

      Reducing Mosquito Breeding Sources in the Landscape

      With rain expected over the next couple of days it seems important to discuss water holding objects in the landscape in an effort to reduce opportunities for container mosquitoes to breed.

      Preventing container mosquitoes from breeding in the landscape includes dumping or flushing standing water once a week, along with scrubbing solid surfaces with a sponge. Some common objects in the landscape that may hold water include bird baths, flowerpot saucers, buckets, watering cans, bromeliads, and roof gutters, to name a few.




      Rain barrels are another object in the landscape that are used to collect and hold rainwater. To prevent mosquito breeding in rain barrels, use a covered rain barrel instead of an open container to collect rainwater. They need to be tightly sealed with a lid or screen to prevent mosquitoes from breeding. Remember to monitor and keep the water level below the screen lid to prevent standing water.


      One way to increase awareness and efficiency in this process is to develop a weekly checklist. Take time to walk around the landscape and look for objects, such as those listed above, and create a list of items and their location that currently or could potentially hold water. Emptying any standing water in these object can easily be done once a week along with your regular gardening activities.
         
      The UF/IFAS Extension Polk County has developed a weekly checklist to reduce mosquito breeding opportunities in objects found in the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Demonstration Garden located at 1702 Highway 17 South, Bartow, FL 33830.

      Here is our checklist that you can use as a sample to create your own:

      UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Demonstration Garden
      Weekly Checklist to Reduce Mosquito Populations in the Landscape    
      1.  Rinse any standing water in bromeliads with clean water and pressure using a garden hose.
      * The following areas/garden sections contain bromeliads:
                                 a.      Color Garden
                                 b.      Shade Garden  
      2. Dump water from bird baths and scrub clean with a sponge before replacing with clean water.
      * The following areas/garden sections contain bird baths:
                                 a.      Color Garden
                                 b.      Foundation Garden
                                 c.      Butterfly Garden 
      3.Check rain barrels for water level and drain if needed. 
      4. Check roof gutter downspouts for standing water at drainage points.
       If standing water is present, rinse with clean water using the garden hose and scrub rock pavers if present.
      5. Check roof gutters for debris that may prevent water from draining. Remove any debris that is found.

      For more information on mosquito prevention around your landscape:

      EDIS document—Florida Container Mosquitoes

      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,  “Zika, Mosquitoes, and Standing Water” http://blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2016/03/zikaandwater/


      Contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at 863-519-1041 or http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu/.

      Wednesday, August 24, 2016

      Where should you get information on Zika and other mosquito-borne illnesses?




      The University of Florida has launched a website on Zika to provide information about mosquito-prevention activities on campus and guidelines on how to prevent the disease. While no mosquito transmission has occurred in Polk County, it’s important to know the facts. The disease can be passed from one person to another through sexual contact. For more information, go to http://zika.ufl.edu/ or contact UF/IFAS Extension Polk County at (863) 519-1041 or http://polk.ifas.ufl.edu.

      Friday, August 19, 2016

      August Gardening: Planning for your fall garden

      August is a great time to start planning your fall garden. While it's still a little too warm to start cool-season vegetables, Central Florida gardeners may be able to plant a second crop of warm-season vegetables like tomato and eggplant. All Florida gardeners can start preparing for cool-season planting. Have your soil tested so you can add the proper amendments before planting, and plan out what you want to grow and where you'll plant it.  The Polk County Master Gardeners will test your pH for $3 if you bring a sample into the Plant Clinic.  

      Follow the Central Florida Gardening Calendar so that you know how to plan and plant in your garden.  

      As usual, contact us if you have gardening and landscaping questions.  

      Thursday, July 21, 2016

      Fall Plant Sale: Mark your calendars!

      UF/IFAS Extension Polk County Master Gardeners have scheduled their fall plant sale.  For more information on the sale click on the link below.  

      Find out more about the plant sale on our Facebook page.  

      Friday, July 1, 2016

      Monday, June 27, 2016

      Garden Center Wall

      If you are looking for a little creative inspiration for an old shed, a fence or wall in your yard, look no further!  Master Gardener Molly Griner used her artistic talents to create a masterpiece on the wall of Sigman EarthScapes in Lake Alfred.  She has also painted a shed on the grounds of UF/IFAS Extension Polk County as well as our Little Free Library.    Using old paint, this can be a fun way to create a signature feature in your landscape or just add a bit of whimsy to a neglected part of the landscape.  Creativity is an important part of Florida-Friendly Landscaping!



      Friday, June 24, 2016

      Florida-Friendly Landscaping Demonstration Garden at the SPCA of Florida

      Have you visited our Florida-Friendly Landscaping demonstration garden at the SPCA of Florida recently?  This garden is open to the public and features pet-friendly plants.  If you are concerned about your pet ingesting a poisonous plant, visit this garden for ideas.  The plants are low-maintenance, watered with micro-irrigation and maintained by Master Gardeners.  For more information on our demonstration gardens visit our website.





      Tuesday, June 7, 2016

      What's going on in June?

      Following the Principles: Attracting Wildlife to Your Yard, Lunch & Learn Workshop
      Friday, June 10, 12:00 noon-1:00 p.m.
      Lakeland Police Dept. Community Room, 219 N. Massachusetts Ave. Lakeland
      Register here: http://polkgardening.eventbrite.com

      Propagation Made Easy Workshop
      Saturday, June 11, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 noon
      UF/IFAS Extension Polk County, 1702 US Hwy 17 South, Bartow
      Register here: http://polkgardening.eventbrite.com
      Florida-Friendly Landscaping Lunch & Learn Workshop
      Thursday, June 23, 12:00 noon-1:00 p.m.
      Haines City Public Library, 111 N. 6th Street, Haines City
      Register here: http://polkgardening.eventbrite.com


      Thursday, May 26, 2016

      Garden Dedication at the Extension Service

      The Polk County Master Gardeners dedicated a garden at the UF/IFAS Extension Polk County office to past Horticulture Agent and Master Gardener Coordinator, Dr. David Shibles.  Dr. Shibles was present for the dedication and helped the Master Gardeners unveil the color garden that is part of the Florida-Friendly Demonstration Garden in Bartow.  The garden is open to the public and is one of five Florida-Friendly demonstration gardens in Polk County.  Dr. Shibles served UF/IFAS Extension for fifteen years.  Thanks to all who attended the dedication!


      Dr. Shibles and Florida Master Gardener Patti Hayford, Demonstration Garden Chair, 
      enjoy a chat in the colorful garden.

      Dr. Shibles is interviews by the Polk County Democrat. Please enjoy the article.

      Tuesday, May 10, 2016

      UF Bug week is May 21-27

      Bug Week is coming soon! Check back for more fun bug facts and follow us on social media @PolkGardening and we will be posting everything from Bug Week 2016!


      Wednesday, May 4, 2016

      Pine Trees in Florida


      Pine trees make a great addition to the landscape.  If you enjoy adding native plants to your landscape, there are seven types of native pines in Florida.  If you enjoy attracting wildlife to your yard, pines can help provide habitat.  If you enjoy mulching your yard with pine needles, dropped needles can be used in landscape beds.  

      There are many benefits to pines.  Enjoy this fact sheet on Common Pines in Florida.  


      Unfortunately, just like many plants in Florida, there are insects that can damage your pines.  Learn more about these insects here.  

      When choosing and installing trees in your landscape, make sure you follow the nine principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping and remember,  the Master Gardeners in the Plant Clinic are always here to help!

      Backyard GardenFest and Plant Sale

       Thank you to everyone that came out to the 10th Annual Backyard GardenFest and Plant Sale! 







      Thursday, April 7, 2016

      So Many Workshops!