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  Dolins Garden Center

September 2017

 

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Florida Native Shrubs

We've put together a list of several native Florida shrubs. These are really tough, hardy and yet attractive plants that will do very well, once established. While they're all 'drought-tolerant', all plants do better with a reliable water source.

Most of them like the sun, a couple prefer more shade, and they all do well in most of our area's 'soil-types'.

 

Silver Buttonwood

While there is more than one variety of Buttonwood, the Silver Buttonwood is the most showiest and therefore the most popular!
Native to coastal areas from northern Florida to western Africa (it’s fruit clusters float) Silver Buttonwood is salt tolerant, plus it thrives in soils that are acidic to alkaline, clayey to sandy, and dry to wet. This is one tough plant, except, it doesn't like frost!
Usually grown as a low branching shrub with several trunks, the Silver Buttonwood, with a little ‘persuasion’, can become a handsome vase-shaped tree that can be maintained from 8 to 12 feet tall - or even taller
Moderate to fast growing and preferring full to part sun, you’ll find them planted throughout central and southern Florida in and around parking lots and along streets. They’re great as an informal hedge, a clipped hedge, or as a specimen tree. Silver buttonwood also makes an outstanding beachfront tree where it will become contorted and twisted as it adapts to the constant wind and spray.

 

Sea Grape

With its big rounded leathery leaves, which grow 8 to 10 inches in diameter, on upright branches the Sea Grape is an interesting and handsome shrub.  The have red veining and the new growth has a bronzy-red tint.

In late summer female shrubs produce clusters of fruit that resemble grapes (hence the plant's name) that start out green and ripen to purple. When ripe, the fruit is very sweet, providing tasty treats for people, birds and squirrels. You can make a delicious jelly or wine from them as well.

Salt and drought-tolerant, once established, Sea Grapes prefer full to partial sun. Being very wind tolerant the Sea Grape can be used as a windbreak, plus they provide habitat for wildlife. Plus, they can grow really big with wide ‘outstretched-branches’ however they grow at a moderate rate so you can control their size.  A mature shrub can be kept to about 6 to 8 feet tall and wide. Or it can be pruned to tree-form - multi-trunk or, with some effort, single trunk - and left to grow to 20 or 25 feet.
Once it's mature, you can water it just during dry spells, if you prefer, but regular watering will keep the plant looking its best.

Ripening Fruit>

 

Wax Myrtle

Cold hardy and fast growing, Wax Myrtle can take some really tough conditions. It’s salt-tolerant therefore perfect along the beaches. Also Wax Myrtle can take ‘wet-feet’ so it can also be used along ponds or in ‘wet’ low-lying areas. And it prefers full to partial sun. However, since it is a fast growing plant the stems tend to be more brittle and you might want to avoid planting them in a windy area. Though this plant can put up with a bit of dry weather, they'll do best with regular irrigation.

The dense, fine-textured foliage can be nicely manicured to create a more formal look, or let the plant grow into its natural upright, bushy form. While Wax Myrtle can be kept trimmed to 5 or 6 feet tall and wide, it can also be left to grow much larger - 20 feet or more.

 

Birds are attracted to the small fruit produced by the female plant. Small spring flowers are followed by clusters of tiny fruit that matures in fall and often lasts on the plant throughout the winter.

 

Cocoplum

With smaller rounded, shiny green leaves and red-tipped new growth the Cocoplum makes a terrific hedge or privacy screen. While the Cocoplum can grow to about 15 feet, if you let them, most of the time they're kept trimmed to around 4 feet.

The plant produces small white flowers, followed by fruit that's often made into jelly...or as an attraction in a wildlife garden.

Moderately salt tolerant, the Cocoplum also prefers full to part sun.

Once established, Cocoplum will tolerate a moderate amount of drought with watering only during dry spells, though it does better with regular irrigation.

 

Firebush
A very fast-growing evergreen the Firebush Shrub produces showy clusters of bright reddish-orange or scarlet tubular flowers that are about 0.75 in long thru out the year. Even the flower stems are red.
Once established this sun – to partial sun – loving plant is drought tolerant. However, as with other ‘drought-tolerant’ plants it does best with regular watering.
Used as a hedge or as a stand-alone shrub Firebush can easily be kept at around 6 feet tall, however under the right conditions it could top-out at 15 feet.
The clusters of fruit are also showy. Each fruit is a juicy berry with many small seeds, ripening from green to yellow to red and finally to black and is a valuable addition to butterfly and hummingbird gardens.
Firebush is salt tolerant and will grow in any kind of soil as long as it is well drained.
Finally, our native Firebush has a dwarf cousin. The Dwarf Firebush is shorter, produces lighter colored flowers and has smoother leaves. This variety is not a native.

 

Simpson Stopper

One of the best wildlife plants for our area, Simpson Stopper will grow in the sun or shade and is cold hardy, salt tolerant, plus drought-tolerant - once established, and grows slowly so maintenance is at a minimum.

In a sunny location the leaves grow dense and the plant takes on a full shape.

In more shade the foliage is less dense, showing off the attractive smooth bark on the trunk.

Although drought-tolerant once established, Simpson's Stopper does better with regular watering.

You can keep this shrub sheared to 6 to 8 feet as a hedge or let it grow larger (as much as 20 feet) as a multi-branched small tree.

Small white fragrant blossoms appear on and off all year, which attracts butterflies. And, after that comes the fruit...bright red berries that are a favorite of the mockingbird, blue jay, and cardinal.

 

Wild Coffee

Wild coffee, one of the lesser known native Florida plants, is a great shrub with glossy deep green leaves marked with deep grooves, giving the foliage a unique texture, plus it produces berries similar to coffee beans. Though the "beans" contain no caffeine, they can be roasted and consumed as a coffee-like beverage.

The berries appear in summer after small white spring flowers and ripen to red.

The flowers attract butterflies and the berries attract birds, making the plant a great addition to a wildlife garden.

Wild Coffee is a fast-growing evergreen shrub that can be kept 5 to 8 feet tall and while it can grow in sun or shade they seem to do best in partial to full shade. It tends to stay smaller in sun, larger in shade with a richer deep green color and a bit more open growth habit.

Moderately salt-tolerant Wild Coffee is more cold-sensitive than some other natives and may need a sheltered location.

 

American Beauty Berry
American Beautyberry is deciduous shrub that grows 6-8’ and prefers well-drained soil in a semi-shady area such as under tall pines. Their natural habitat is ‘relatively-open’ woodlands and dry hammocks. You can find them in the upland area of Sawgrass Lake Park as well as the Boyd Hill Preserve.
Incredibly drought tolerant Beautyberry requires well drained soil and actually does better without a lot of fertilizer. This shrub often ‘volunteers’ new plants to the landscape, sometimes with such ‘vigor’ that it’s considered a weed!
In the spring, tiny lilac-colored flowers appear which are held in clusters where the leaf joins the stem. Then the flowers turn into small ¼” berries in an incredible shade of “metallic-purple” by late summer / early fall. These berries are packed tightly together in clusters that encircle the stem.
The colorful berries last long into winter and are eaten by a variety of birds. However, they don't seem to be the most delicious food source around though, they tend not to be eaten until late winter when they are all shriveled into beautyberry raisins.

 

Plant Care

Don’t Give Palms a “Hurricane Cut”
Even though it is the height of hurricane season, do not be tempted to do any over trimming of your palms. Pruning too many healthy, green fronds off can actually do more damage. You will essentially be taking away any means for the palm to produce food. Only brown, dead fronds and unwanted flower and fruit clusters should be removed.

 

Plumeria Rust
If you have a Plumeria (Frangipani), you've probably noticed that in the summer they tend to get a yellowish colored spore covering the undersides of the leaves. This is 'rust fungus'. It is not detrimental to the plant, but does make it look unsightly causing the leaves to become yellow, spotted and eventually fall off.
We recommend spraying Fertilome’s Systemic Fungicide either as a regular preventive practice or as a curative spray. Picking off the bad leaves as well as raking up the ones that have fallen to the ground helps keep the disease from spreading.

 

Dead Heading Crepe Myrtles

Most Crape Myrtles have gone out of bloom by now leaving you with a tree full of seeds. They won’t bloom while they have seeds, but you can probably get them to bloom one more time before they go dormant by trimming off these clusters. Cut right below the entire seed cluster or even go back a little farther if you have leggy branches. You don’t have to wait until fall to trim the seeds, you can do this throughout the blooming season for re-bloom.

 

Seed Clusters>

 

Edibles

Get Ready, Get Set, GO!!
Labor Day Weekend is the "traditional" time for folks, in our parts, to start their Fall Vegetable Garden.
Some of the "fall season" vegetable seedlings are now available and more varieties will be showing up as the season progresses.  The more 'tender' vegetables, such as lettuces and broccoli, you'll want to wait until the heat breaks in October before planting.
Plus, this season's Seed Rack is fully stocked. And, in addition to a large selection 'regular' seeds, we also have over 60 varieties of Organic Vegetable and Herb seeds. Including, several Great Choices from “Renee’s Garden” Seed Company.
Many vegetables take 60+ days before harvest so it's important to get started soon in order to have a crop to harvest before any winter freezes.
The University of Florida is an exhaustive source of information on vegetable gardens.
You can start your search of their website at these two sites;
http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021

and;
http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/edibles/vegetables/selecting-vegetables.html


Meanwhile;

If you don’t have an area big enough to do a garden, consider an Earthbox. They are self contained gardens on wheels. You can grow anything and everything in an Earthbox and with the patented water reservoir you can’t over water them. We will have a few of them set up here at the shop if you want to come see for yourself. Last year we had so many peppers and tomatoes we were giving them away!

 

Blossom-End Rot

A common problem on tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and squash blossom-end rot is caused by a low concentration of calcium in the fruit. (Calcium is needed for normal cell growth.) When the demand for calcium exceeds the supply, the tissues break down.

Blossom-end rot usually occurs when the fruit is green or ripening. It starts with a small, depressed, water-soaked area on the blossom end of the fruit. As the spot enlarges, it becomes sunken and turns black or dark leathery brown in color.

Our native soil (unless you’re along the coast), as well as potting soils, is usually lacking calcium. However, blossom-end rot can also occur when there are wide fluctuations of moisture, which reduces uptake and movement of calcium into the plant or too much nitrogen fertilizer may also be a cause.

Adding Calcium to the soil, when planting, can help prevent the problem. Sources of calcium include Dolomitic Lime, Gypsum, or even crushed egg shells (cleaned).

After the fact, remove the affected fruit and add a liquid calcium solution.

 

Garden-tone 3-4-4
Formulated specifically for vegetable gardens, Garden-tone is a safe long lasting natural organic plant food that provides the nutrients necessary for vigorous and productive plants.
Made from natural and organic plant food ingredients, which break down gradually to provide a safe and long lasting food resource throughout the growing season,
Espoma’s Garden-tone also includes “Bio-tone” which is a blend of beneficial bacterial and fungal organisms.
A 4 lb bag will fertilize over 50 sqft of garden.

 

Worm Castings   

Worms turn organic waste into a rich compost, reducing the volume of material by half, and leaving a highly concentrated and powerful soil amendment behind containing unusually high populations of beneficial microorganisms crucial to healthy root systems packed with nutrients which then becomes a natural fertilizer. Unlike other ‘animal’ manure worm poop is not smelly in fact it smells earthy. Castings also naturally aerate the soil, retain high moisture levels.

Rich in plant nutrients, trace minerals and growth enhancers Worm Casting are a Great Soil Amendment! Plus, incorporating castings into the soil significantly increases microbial life in the root zone. Worm castings are extremely beneficial in that they stimulate plant growth more than any other natural product, enhance the ability of your soil to retain water, and also inhibit root diseases such as root rot.
One of the best features of worm castings is you can use as much as you want without the fear of burning tender young plants as other fertilizers may do. Unlike other animal manure and artificial fertilizers it is absorbed very easily and almost instantaneously by plants. Yet, while the nutrients are easily available they are at the same time naturally endowed with a slow release feature, causing the nutrient benefits to last up to 2 months!

 

.Lawn Care

Summer Challenge

Summer is still in full swing which means bugs and fungus are always possible. So, stay vigilant!
Grubs and Chinch Bugs have been showing up and Sod Webworm are always a potential problem.
Plus, with all of this rain Lawn Fungus could become a real problem quickly. For now, turn off the sprinkler system.
Meanwhile;

If you're turf doesn't 'look quite right' bring us a sample and we'll be glad to check it out! We'll need to see a section of sod approx 1' by 1', including the soil (roots) underneath. AND, this sample can't be completely dead nor completely healthy,, in other words a section that is beginning to go bad.

 

Weed Control

Now is a good time to kill some of those weeds growing in your lawn.
Plus, as of October 1st you'll want to apply a lawn fertilizer with nitrogen and you don't want to feed the weeds too!
For a 'Broad-Spectrum' (non-selective) Weed Killer we recommend Hi-Yield's 'KillZAll'. However keep in mind KillZall, will potentially kill the 'good' grass too and should either be used with a 'careful-aim' or in an area where you intend to kill everything!
And for "Broad-Leaf" Weeds in your turf you can use either liquid Hi-Yield's 'Atrazine' or granular Ferti-lome Weed Control.
Meanwhile, if you've not applied a weed 'pre-emergent' in the last couple of months you'll need to do it really soon! The pre-emergent will prevent the seeds from germinating, eliminating the weed before it even starts.

 

SUGGESTED LAWN CARE PROGRAM

This Month Use Products Highlighted Below in Yellow

PRODUCT

JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

LAWN FERTILIZERS

Sunniland's

16-0-8

'Nitro-Green'

 

x---or----x

 

x---x

 

 

 

 

x---x

 

 

Peggy Green
0-0-12

 

 

 

 

 

 

x---or----x

 

 

 

 x---x

Weed N Feed

 

x---or----x

 

x---x

 

 

 

 

x---x

 

 

WEED CONTROLS

 Broadleaf Control  Weed Killer Granules
(as needed)

 

 

x---x

 

 

 

x--x

 

 x--x

 

 

 

Atrazine or
Weed Out Liquid
 (as needed)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

x--x 

 

 

 

Bonide's

Sedge-Ender

(Sedge Control)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEED PREVENTION

Hi-Yield Crabgrass Control

 

 

x---x 

 

x---x

 

 

x---x

 

 

x---x

 

GRUB CONTROL

Hi-Yield Grub Free Zone
(Prevention)

 

 

x-------------------------x

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bayer Grub Killer Plus
(w/ Dylox)

 

 

Use as needed if grubs are a problem

 

OTHER INSECT KILLERS

Hi-Yield Bug Blaster

 

 

 

 

x---x

 

x--x

 

 

x---x

 

 

FUNGUS CONTROL

Bayer Fungus Control

 

 

 

 

x---x

 

x--x

 

 

x---x

 

 

or as needed

 

 

Dolins Garden Center

801 62nd Ave. N

St. Petersburg, Fl.  33702

727-525-3434

mail@dolinsgardencenter.com

 

 

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