Titusville Men's Garden Club
JANUARY IN THE GARDENSo far our winter weather has been almost ideal. It has been cool early some mornings. I have not had any frost in my yard as of December 15th. We will still be hit by some colder weather. Freezing weather or heavy frost has occurred in Central Florida as late as the March full moon. So some chores must be put off until, at least, the end of February.
Do not prune undamaged Non-Deciduous Plants. Pruning now will stimulate new growth that will be more susceptible to cold damage. If frost or a freeze has killed the leaves or tips of non-deciduous plants; dead parts if unsightly can be removed but do not prune back to green wood until warm weather returns.
Do Not Fertilize During January......don't fertilize lawns, trees or shrubs.
Replace declining trees and shrubs. You can transplant dormant trees and shrubs, and spray trees and shrubs for Scale and Mites. Use a dormant oil spray. Follow label instructions. Add a fruit tree to your yard. Prune deciduous fruit trees, shrubs and vines. Apply dormant spray before apple, peach, pear and similar trees bloom. Divide perennials and renew mulches. Maintain a 3 to 4 inch mulch layer in shrub and perennial areas. Continue to mow lawns to control weeds. Reduce watering lawns to once or twice a week.
Flower seeds of MARIGOLDS, IMPATIENS, GERANIUMS, PETUNIA and FIBEROUS BEGONIA are best planted between now and February 15th. Bulbs for Florida planting in January include AFRICAN IRIS, AMARYLLIS, BLOOD LILIES, CRINUM, DA Y LILIES, SOCIETY GARLIC, ZEPHYRANTHES (RAIN LILIES), and refrigerated DUTCH IRIS, TULIPS and DAFFODILS.
Flowers that bloom this month in spite of the cold include ALYSSUM, BEGONIA, CALENDULA, DIANTHUS, PANSY, PETUNIA, PHLOX, SNAPDRAGON and VERBENA. The blooming period can be extended by removing old blooms as they mature so seed pods cannot develop. Fertilize container grown plants monthly.
Keep holiday plants attractive into the New Year by keeping them in bright light. Water when the soil begins to feel dry. Feed them monthly.
This is the month to thumb through those new garden catalogs. Plan your next garden. Decide the varieties of new plants or your favorite plant for planting. Local nurseries will have lots of annuals available in the spring, but most will be the old proven standbys. The catalogs will have seeds of the old proven varieties and many new hybrids developed to give us genetically stronger, hardier plants, with larger and more vivid flowers. Get your seeds started in January for setting out in March.
FEBRUARY IN THE GARDENThis has been a good winter in our gardens. The cold snaps served to intensify Citrus color and harden most shrubs. We have had some frost and a few freezes so far. Some plants have been damaged by cold, but none beyond recovery. Remember, cold spells are common in Florida during February full moons, and have occurred during cold winters as late as the second week of March.
Judicious pruning of cold-damaged plants can be done. Grape and Kiwi vines and all deciduous fruit and shade trees should be pruned in February, if not already done. Begin routine apple, peach, fig and similar tree spraying. Till and enrich sandy soils with organic matter. Complete transplanting bare root trees and shrubs as soon as practical. Divide and replant large perennials.
You can thin and prune dormant shrubs. CRAPE MYRTLE should be pruned. Remove all small, spindly stems from the base of the plant, and small shoots on the main stems. Thin to 3 to 7 main trunks to open up the plant. Prune stems up to about 1/2 inch in diameter. CRAPE MYRTLE only blooms on new wood. Thin twigs will seldom produce big blooms.
ROSES can stand heavy pruning by mid-month. Cut vigorous bushes back by 1/3 to 1/2 . Remove all twigs and any branches that are dead, diseased, injured or thin and spindly. Shorten main canes and remove small twigs and older canes that have become too hard. Miniature ROSES should be pruned as you would a bush ROSE, but lightly. Vigorous varieties may need heavier pruning to keep them compact. Clean up as much of the cut foliage as practical. Add a new layer of mulch to cover old ROSE leaves and Black Spot spores.
Hedges can be pruned heavily and shaped. Keep the top of the hedge narrower than the bottom to allow sun to reach the lower branches.
By the middle of the month, you can work your beds for annuals by removing old plants, checking soil for pH, and correcting, if necessary. Treat for pests, work in compost, mulch or other organic matter and, when needed, colloidal phosphate, other amenders and fertilizer.
By the end of the month, all except spring blooming trees, shrubs and vines can be pruned. Spring flowering plants should be pruned after they finish blooming. A good pruning now will shape the plants for much of the summer. Renew mulches to control weeds and conserve water.
By the end of February, you should fertilize all plants except your lawn. Use 6-6-6 with minor elements, or if you prefer one for a special plant, such as Citrus fertilizer. Citrus trees will need 1/2 pound per inch of circumference measured 6 inches above the ground. Shade trees will need 1 pound per inch when less than 6 inches in diameter, and 2 pounds for each inch above 6 inches. Feed container grown plants monthly.
Major lawn care and fertilizing should wait until March. Repair winter damage. Spraying for weeds can continue. If crabgrass has been a problem, remove brown but surviving crabgrass and apply a pre-emergence herbicide by mid-month. Mow lawns as needed at the normal cutting height. Water normal lawns once a week.
If you did not start seed in January, start the seed now. Seeds started in trays or flats will grow rapidly and be ready to set out in March or April.
MARCH IN THE GARDENThis has been a pretty cold winter with some freezes which caused extensive plant damage. The long range forecast does not predict damaging cold weather after March 1st.
Pruning should be completed this month except avoid pruning spring-flowering trees, shrubs and vines until they finish blooming. Most of us in cold areas will have at least some cold damaged foliage to trim. Prune the limbs of cold damaged shrubs and trees into healthy wood.
Most shrubs and perennials in the ground more than two years should be pruned, thinned out, shaped and shortened. Perennials killed back to the ground should be identified with a stake and cut back.
When pruning woody shrubs, such as CREPE MYRTLE or HIBISCUS, remember-strong branches will not grow from weak ones. Prune CREPE MYRTLE stems back to points at least 1/2" in diameter.
Once you have pruned, clean the beds. Remove dead plants, weeds and debris. Apply fresh mulch such as compost, pine bark or cypress mulch. A good mulch will conserve water and keep the soil cool. A 3" to 4" mulch layer will also keep weeds down and soil from splashing on plants.
All beds, shrubs and trees should be fertilized this month if not already done. Use a good all-around fertilizer such as 6-6-6 or 8-8-8, with minor elements. Broadcast at the rates recommended on package. Most spring blooming plants will benefit from an application of superphosphate fertilizer such as Peter's 10-30-20 or Hyponex 15-30-15. CREPE MYRTLE, HIBISCUS and BIRD OF PARADISE can be fed every 2 weeks until they bloom.
Where needed, repair lawns with sod, plugs or seed. Rake out brown grass blades left by cool winter weather. Lawns should be fertilized or given a Weed N Feed product in early March. The quality of the fertilizer will help determine the quality of your lawn. A good 16-4-8 that includes minor elements is best. If, in addition, it is sulfur coated and contains iron, your lawn will be greener for a longer period. A 50-pound bag of 6-6-6 will contain 3 lbs of nitrogen, 3 lbs of phosphorus and 3 lbs of potash. The other 41 lbs is carrier to distribute the fertilizer. A 50-pound bag of 16-4-8 will cover almost 3 times as much area as a similar bag of 6-6-6. One bag of 16-4-8 may be cheaper, and definitely will be less work than 3 bags of 6-6-6.
New leaves on plants will bring out aphids and other insects, so be prepared to spray. Summer oil will kill aphids and other insects. Be sure to read and follow the label.
ROSES should be sprayed with a fungicide weekly and fertilized monthly. As a general rule, the sooner you solve problems by spraying, the less you will need to spray.
BLOOD LILIES, CALADIUMS, CANNA, CRINUM, DAHLIAS, DAY LILIES, GLADIOLUS, SOCIETY GARLIC, SPIDER LILIES and RAIN LILIES can still be planted.
Garden shops will have a good stock of annuals. Plan for banks of color to enhance your yard. Plant 6 to 12 or more plants of the same kind and color for large splashes of color. Plants for spring planting include: AGERATUM, BALSAM, CELOSIA, COSMOS, GERANIUMS, IMPATIENS, MARIGOLDS, PETUNIAS, SALVIA, VERBENA and ZINNIAS.
APRIL IN THE GARDENApril is a busy month in the garden. Most plants are growing well. By mid-month, day temperatures will be up in the 80's and most nights will be above 65 degrees.
Replenish mulches to conserve moisture and keep weeds down.
AZALEAS have about finished blooming. Now is the time to continue a care program to assure good blooms next year. Feed each AZALEA with a good, acid-forming fertilizer at the rate of 1/2 cup per plant per month. Prune and trim large AZALEAS, and pinch back branch ends until mid-June. AZALEAS, unlike most other plants, will branch wherever you cut them. If mites, insects or scale are a problem, spray now and in 30 days with Cygon and Summer Oil. Follow label instructions.
DAY LILIES are ready to start blooming. An application of a Bloomer fertilizer such as 2-10-10 or 10-30-10 will assure better blooms.
CRAPE MYRTLES already have extensive new growth. An application of a Bloomer fertilizer every 2 weeks will assure more and larger blooms. Mildew is a common problem on both leaves and blossoms, even in full sun.
ROSES are growing rapidly. ROSES are heavy feeders and require frequent watering. Regular fertilizing every 2 weeks in our sandy soils is not excessive. Spraying weekly with Funginex or Daconil will control Black Spot and Mildew.
LAWNS should be fertilized now if you did not fertilize in March. Use 16-4-8 with minor elements to stimulate rapid growth. Plug, sod or seed to fill in bare areas in your lawn or to start new lawns. Provide sufficient irriga- tion, within water restrictions, to give your lawn an inch of water in any week your lawn gets less than an inch of rain. Cut Bahia and St. Augustine grasses 3 to 4 inches high. If grass clippings are left on the lawn, the grass should be mowed more frequently than when clippings are removed.
Move ORCHIDS to shady outdoor locations and feed every 2 weeks. Move tropical plants outdoors. Feed all container-grown plants.
Bulbs for April planting include ACHIMINES, AMARYLLIS, AGAP ANTHUS, BLOOD LILIES, CANNAS, CALADIUMS, CRINUMS, DAHLIAS, GLADIOLI, GLORIOSA, GINGER and RAIN LILIES.
Warm season plants that will perk up flower beds include AGERTUM, ASTER, GBEGONIA, BLUE DAZSE, COLEUS, COSMOS, DAY LILIES, IMPATIENS, MARIGOLDS, PENTAS, PERIWINKLE, SALVIA, VERBENA and ZINNIA.
MAY IN THE GARDENMay is usually a dry month, so regular watering may be necessary. Lawns should have about 1 inch of rain or irrigation each week; bedded plants and shrubs about 1/2 inch every 4 days; and CITRUS and other trees 1 inch a week. Renew mulches to conserve water and keep down weeds.
Continue to prune and trim your AZALEAS and CAMELLIEAS for next year. Prune GARDENIAS after they finish blooming. It Mites, Thrips and/or Scale are present, spray with Cygon and/or Summer Oil. Feed monthly with an acid forming fertilizer. Small monthly feedings are better for most plants that fewer heavy feedings. Cut back perennials finishing their spring bloom. Continue to prune any dieback from winter damaged plants.
May or June is the time for a second application of lawn fertilizer. However, unless you are prepared to water heavily, if May is dry, I recommend waiting to fertilize in June, normally a wetter month than May.
Continue to seed, plug or sod to fill in bare areas in your lawn. Apply an iron-only fertilizer to re-green yellow Bahia lawns. Fertilize shrubs and flowers lightly with 6-6-6 fertilizer every 4 or 5 weeks.
Mole Crickets will be active in Bahia lawns this month. May is one of the best months to combat them. They tend to nest under concrete walks, driveways and stepping stones. They come out at night to feed. Mole Cricket Bait applied to a wet lawn in the evening is effective. Check St. Augustine lawns for Chinch Bugs. Treat infected areas about 10 feet beyond infestations when noticeable damage is occurring.
CRAPE MYRTLE, JASMINE, BOUGAINVILLEA, ALLAMANDA, GARDENIAS, QUEEN PALMS and other plants may show a yellowing of leaves because of a Manganese deficiency. Apply Manganese Sulfate to the soil at package recommended rates and water well.
NOTE: Manganese Sulfate will stain concrete.
Spider Mites can be a real pest during dry weather. While they seem to prefer JUNIPERS, MARIGOLDS and PYRACANTHAS, they can attack any plant. Look for them as a scorched area on leaves or fine webbing in crotches or leaf bases. You can blast them off with a hard stream of water or spray with a Miticide.
Take tip cuttings of shrubs and plants to root in Perlite and/or Vermiculite. Divide and re-pot Bromeliads, Orchids and other plants that have outgrown their containers.
Plant BLOOD LILY, CALADIUM, CANNA, RAIN LILY, DAY LILY, SPIDER LILY and CRINUM bulbs for summer color. Replace cool season plants with warm season plantings of BEGONIAS, BLUE DAZE, CELOSIA, COLEUS, GERBERA, IMPATIENS, MARIGOLDS, PENTAS, PERIWINKLES, SALVIA, TORENIA, VERBENA and ZINNIAS.
JUNE IN THE GARDENAlthough May has been somewhat dry, June should give us more rain. In a normal year, we get about 7 inches, mainly as afternoon and evening showers. An unobstructed rain gauge can save guess work, and sometimes a good deal of watering. Our flowerbeds and lawn need a minimum of 1 inch of water a week in our hot weather. If you do not get about 1/2 inch of rain during each 3 to 4 day period, you should water until about 1/2 inch of rain and irrigation has been applied.
Applying and/or renewing mulches and weeding will reduce water needs and help control summer weeds.
The increased rain and higher humidity will increase Black Spot and Powdery Mildew on ROSES , CREPE MYRTLE, ZINNIAS and other similar plants. Start a weekly fungicide spray program. This will also help control Spider Mites.
If you did not fertilize your lawn and Citrus in May, June is a good month to fertilize. Fertilize shrubs and flowers lightly with a 6-6-6 or 8-8-8 fertilizer every 3 to 4 weeks. If you have Bahia lawn, June is an excellent time to seed bare and thin spots. After sowing seed, apply a thin layer of soil. Water well and frequently when it does not rain.
June is one of the most active months for Mole Crickets-the scourge of Bahia lawns. Follow label instructions when you begin spraying or putting out bait. Spray or granules of Baygon, Dursban or Diazinon are effective. Water well after application. Mole Cricket bait applied on a damp lawn in the evening is also effective. Mole; they are usually active on the surface after dark.
Prune blueberry shrubs to shape them. Fertilize Bananas monthly. Harvest the stalk when the first row of bananas begins to yellow. Hang the stalk of Bananas in a shady spot to ripen.
Pinch back the tips of bushes and shrubs to develop more compact plants. Use the cuttings to root new plants for our plant sale or plant drawings. Do not prune or pinch AZALEAS or GARDENIAS after the end of June, or you will sacrifice some of next year's blooms. If plants are not a deep, rich green, feed with Chelated Iron, Iron Sulphate and/or Manganese Sulphate. Manganese Sulphate will also cure "frizzle top" on Palm Trees.
Root tip cuttings or CHRYSANTHEMUMS and POINSETTIAS - use 4 to 6 inch long cuttings with all the leaves left on the MUMS. Remove all but the tip leaves on the POINSETTIAS. When taking POINSETTIA cuttings, trim back each stem of the mother plant to 4 to 6 inches to keep plant compact.
Fruit drop from Citrus and some other fruit trees can be expected this month. The trees shed the fruit they cannot support. To reduce drop. Follow an established watering and fertilizer program.
Brighten your yard with warm seasonal plantings of BEGONIA, BLUE DAZE, CALADIUM, CELOSIA, COLEUWS, IMPATIENS, MARIGOLD, PERIWINKLE, PENTA, PORTULACA, SALVIA, VERBENA, VINCA and ZINNIA. June is also a good month to plant DAY LILIES and RAIN LILIES.
From Sally Scalera's article in May, 04 Florida Today.
Herbs that do well: basil, chives, dill, marjoram, mint (cut a 5-gal bucket to 9-12 inches high, no bottom, bury to rim and fill with rich soil or use a half barrel to keep the mint contained), oregano, sage, rosemary and thyme.
Vegetables to plant: Malabar spinach, cherry tomatoes, okra, southern peas, Seminole pumpkin and beans. Fertilize monthly. Prune blueberry shrubs to shape them, Trim black-berries to the ground. Fertilize bananas monthly. Harvest the stalk when the first row of bananas begins to yellow. Hang the stalk of bananas in a shady spot to ripen.
July in the GardenJune has brought much needed rain, and July is also expected to be a wet month with 7 to 10 inches of rain in north Brevard County. July will be very hot making it one of our most uncomfortable months for gardening. Despite the heat, routine garden maintenance should continue. Work early or late in the day, apply sunscreen and wear a head cover. Save water by turning off your automatic sprinkler system and operating the system manually as needed.
If you did not fertilize your lawn in May or June, it is still not too late to apply a good 16-4-8 fertilizer. If Bahia lawns still show yellowing, additional iron should be applied. Sod-web worms could arrive in July. They feed heavily on St. Augustine, but will attack other lawns. Watch for grass that is chewed close to the ground, as if cattle had grazed. Diazinon, Dursban or Thuricide are effective controls. Chinch bugs may also be active in July. Mole Crickets are active in Bahia and Bermuda lawns and should be treated now. Use Mole Cricket Bait, Diazinon or Dursban spray/granules. Follow label instructions.
CRAPE MYRTLES have been blooming beautifully, but this can be only the beginning. Prune back each cluster to reasonably large stems before seed pods form. Remember, strong branches can only grow from branches larger than themselves. Feed with a high, super-phosphate fertilizer every 2 weeks. If mildew occurs, spray with a good fungicide. In 4 to 8 weeks, you should have a second flush of blooms.
Continue to pinch new growth, except AZALEAS, CAMELLIAS and GARDENIAS to assure thick, compact plants. Use the cuttings to root new plants. Prune POINSETTIAS to develop compact plants. Divide and repot ORCHIDS and BROMELIADS. Fertilize shrubs and flowers lightly with a 6-6-6 or similar fertilizer every 3 to 4 weeks. Feed outdoor container plants every 2 to 3 weeks. Transplant PALMS and SAGOS during our rainy season. Remove weak or diseased tree limbs that could be damaged by storms. Make a weekly trip through your garden to check for insects, diseases or other problems. Watch for yellowing or scorching - a sign of Spider Mites. Blast them off with a hard stream of water or spray Mites with a summer oil home citrus spray which will help control mites, scale and whitefly. Use Natural or Organic sprays.
Hot weather plants that add color to the landscape include BEGONIAS, BLUE DAZE, CALADIUMS, COLEUS, IMPATIENS, MARIGOLDS, PENTAS, PERI- WINKLE, SALVIA and VERBENA. Add an additional thin mulch layer to flower beds to conserve moisture and control weeds.
August in the GardenJuly has been a hot month with a fair amount of rain. August will be as hot and hopefully bring as much or more rain.
Shrubs, flowerbeds and lawns need at least one inch of water per week to grow well during our hot weather. A good rain gauge can save much watering. If you do not get 1/2 inch of rain during each 3-4 day period, you should water to bring the total to 1/2 inch. Normally, plants in hanging baskets and pots will require daily rain or watering. Large hanging baskets and large potted plants in the sun may require two or more waterings a day.
You can make it easier on yourself if you prune most large shrubs. Groom trees and shrubs removing lanky, unsightly summer or storm damaged growth. Pruning will reduce the plantŐs water requirement, stimulate new growth, and make your shrubs and trees more compact and bushier. Prune declining CRAPE MYRTLE flower heads to reasonably large stems before seed pods form to encourage continuing bloom. Prune POINSETTIAS by the end of August for the best displays. Repot plants that are pot bound. Trim overgrown pots. Renew mulches to save water and help control weeds.
An August application of 6-6-6 with minor elements, or a similar fertilizer, will set shrubs, trees and annuals for September growth. Wait until next year to prune AZALEAS, CAMELLIAS and GARDENIAS. Pinch out the tips of CHRYSANTHEMUMS to produce compact plants and increase blooms. Feed weekly with 10-30-20 or similar fertilizer. Palms planted during our rainy season establish quickly.
Divide overgrown bulbous and tuberous type plants, such as AMARYLLIS, BIRD OF PARADISE, DAY LILIES and CRINUMS now or in September. GLADIOLAS planted at 10-day intervals will bloom in about 3 months.
Seed thin Bahia lawns. Plug or sod bare or weedy areas in St. Augustine lawns. Lawn insects are quite active now: Sod Webworms and Chinch Bugs usually in St. Augustine, and Mole Crickets usually in Bahia.
Seeds can be started in August for transplants for fall and winter flowers. Try CALENDULAS, COSMOS, DIANTHUS, PANSIES, PETUNIAS and SNAPDRAGONS.
Hot weather plants for summer color include BEGONIAS, BLUE DAZE, CALADIUMS, COLEUS, IMPATIENS, MARIGOLDS, PENTAS, SALVIA, PERIWINKLES, VERBENAS and ZINNIAS.
"Weed-Blocking Flowers" - by Elaine Schoch
When planting groundcovers to suppress weeds, the strategy of "the more, the merrier" holds true. Some plants that give weeds no room to move in are MOSS PHLOX, THYME and SPEARMINT. But, there's also taller helpers that grow to 2 feet tall. GOLDEN FLEECE is a dwarf GOLDENROD that is exceptionally stress tolerant. It has dark green foliage and bright yellow flowers throughout the summer into early fall. Native to North America, dwarf GOLDENROD brings even more color to your garden because it attracts butterflies.
For full soil coverage, set plants in the ground 9 to 12 inches apart. Some light weeding may be needed at the start until their foliage fills out. CREEPING THYME, OREGANO and SPEARMINT are vigorous spreaders, forming a compact mat at ground level which thickens again in early fall after flowering. Noted particularly for its pleasant fragrance. CREEPING THYME is also a good choice for dry conditions. All are fast spreaders, and they have dense leaf cover which prevents sunlight from reaching germinating weed seeds. The perennials tolerate weather extremes that would stress most plants: drenching rains and our current soggy soil, as well as periods of drought. To keep weeds from getting established in your flowerbeds, plant one of these top performers.
September in the GardenSeptember will be as hot and humid as August, and will bring about as much rain as last month. Changes that will affect our plants: night time temperatures will begin to drop and shorter daylight hours will induce some plants to set buds.
Because plants in Florida grow continuously, regular pruning is a must. Fall pruning and fertilizing should be done early to allow new growth to harden. Late pruning and fertilizing will stimulate new growth that could be damaged by cold in December or January. Final pruning and fertilizing of cold sensitive hedges and ornamentals should be completed in September. Prune declining fronds and flower stems from PALMS. Renew mulches to save water and reduce weeds.
Do not prune AZALEAS, CAMELLIAS or GARDENIAS their buds are already set. CAMELLIAS often set two buds side-by-side. If you would like larger but fewer blooms, pinch one of them off. Make sure you can distinguish between leaf and flower buds.
Give POINSETTIAS a final pruning before September 15th. Watch for mildew, white flies and tomato worms. Spray and prune ROSES, removing old flowers, hips and dead, damaged or spindly growth. Fertilize to encourage fall blooming.
Fertilize lawns now or in October with a good 16-4-8 plus iron so your lawn will be green all winter - barring frost. Operate sprinkler systems manually to conserve water, only watering when grass shows signs of distress.
Pinch CHRYSANTHEMUMS and spray for aphids, mites, mildew and blackspot. Feed with 10-30-20 or similar high phosphate fertilizer until color shows in the buds. Feed hanging baskets and orchids every two weeks.
Feed shrubs, perennials and container plants for Fall. CHRISTMAS CACTUS should receive their last feeding this month. Move them into partial sunshine and reduce watering until buds appear. Till and replant flower beds. If you did not start annual flowers from seeds, local nurseries or garden shops will have a selection of plants in 4-packs. Annuals that will provide color in your yard this fall and winter include ALYSSUM, CALENDULA, CLEOME, CORNFLOWER, DIANTHUS, GAILLARDIA, HOLLYHOCK, PERIWINKLE, PHLOX, SALVIA, SNAP- DRAGON & VERBENA. Wait another month to plant the first PANSIES and PETUNIAS.
October in the GardenNights are slowly turning cooler, and days are shorter and slightly cooler - a relief to us and to our plants. This is the last month to fertilize your lawn, palms and shrubs.
by Lisa Dugowson
Use a good 16-4-8 plus iron fertilizer on your lawn so it will be green all winter (barring frost). Give shrubs and hedges a final fall pruning. Remove suckers, low limbs and trim or remove damaged growth. Any pruning done after mid-October will stimulate new growth that could suffer cold damage this winter. Delay all pruning of vines and fruit trees until mid-winter. Operate sprinkler systems manually to conserve water. Water lawns when grass shows signs of stress.
Renew mulches as needed to conserve moisture during the dryer fall and winter months. To assure holiday blooms, relocate POINSETTIAS, CHRISTMAS CACTUS and KALANCHOES so no artificial light will fall on them.
If you expect to plant winter and spring bulbs such as TULIPS, CROCUS, DAFFODILS and HYACINTH - this is the time to begin the 12 weeks of refrigeration required by the bulbs in our climate.
If you like to pick your own strawberries, now is the time to start a bed with a bundle of 25 fresh, healthy plants from a nursery or garden center. Varieties that have given good yields in central Florida gardens include Florida 90, Tioga, Dover, Florida Belle and Douglas. They will also do well in full sun in a large wooden barrel, a pyramid or in hanging baskets using a good potting mix. Three plants in a 10-inch or 4 in a 12-inch basket will flourish in full sunshine if given adequate water and fertilizer.
If not already done, give Citrus and grapes a final feeding before October 15 using 6-6-6 with minor elements or a special Citrus fertilizer. Feed cool-season annual plants monthly for winter blooms.
Replant flowerbeds and hanging baskets with coolseason plants such as ALYSSUM, CALENDULA, CLEOME, CHRYSANTHEMUMS, CORNFLOWER, DIANTHUS, GAILLARDIA, GERANIUM, PANSY, PERIWINKLE, PETUNIA, PHLOX, SNAPDRAGON and VERBENA.
November in the GardenThis is a good gardening month with cooler nights and lower rainfall. Some cool days and cooler nights are needed to start dormancy in our plants for winter protection. Most plants other than hardy annuals will be preparing to go dormant for the winter.
Tropical plants and many plants that retain their leaves in the winter will need some protection from frost and winter cold. You can hill around the base of the plant with mulch, soil or Spanish moss to provide some protection. When frost is expected, cover tender plants with paper bags, cardboard boxes, trash containers, burlap or cloth. If you use plastic, keep it well away from plants. In severe cold, a small electric bulb (40 to 100 watts) at the base of covered plants can prevent freeze damage. Running sprinklers during freezing weather can save many plants. You can reduce damage from light frost by washing frost off lawns and tender plants early in the morning before the sun hits them.
Prepare lawns and woody ornamentals for winter by withholding fertilizer. Renew mulches to conserve moisture and to reduce cold injury. Shorter days and cooler temperatures have slowed lawn growth, but lawns and citrus trees should still be watered as needed. Bahia and St. Augustine lawns should continue to be cut 3 to 4 inches tall. Remove fallen leaves from the lawn. Lawn weeds that survive mowing should be controlled with a liquid herbicide. If your lawn is thin in areas, you can make it green by over-seeding with winter rye grass seed late in the month as the permanent grass goes dormant. Broadcast eight to ten pounds of seed per 1,000 square feet to get a good winter cover. Rye grass will grow in light shade and will need fertilizer, water and regular mowing.
DIFFENBACHIA, CROSSANDRA, EPISCIAS, PEACE LILY, LIPSTICK VINES and other cold sensitive plants will suffer if temperatures drop much below 55 degrees, so be prepared to bring them indoors or place them in a heated shelter. A few nights of 50 or even 45 degrees will not harm most ORCHIDS although it may retard flowering; however, most ORCHIDS will benefit if protected from temperatures below 42 degrees. This is a good time to control Scale on AZALEAS, CAMELLIAS, GARDENIAS, IVY, HOLLY, MAGNOLIA, LIGUSTRUM and many other plants. When the temperature is below 80 degrees, use dormant or lowtoxicity oil spray as directed on the container. Repeat oil spray in one month.
Hardy plants that will provide winter color in your yard include ALYSSUM, CALENDULA, CLEOME, DIANTHUS, LARKSPUR, PANSIES, PETUNIA, PHLOX, SALVIA, SNAPDRAGON and VERBENA. Remove faded blooms to extend flowering. Hardy foliage plants include DUSTY MILLER and ORNAMENTAL CABBAGE and KALES.
DECEMBER IN THE GARDENDecember is normally a dry month with about 2 inches of rain. While we may have heavy dew, lawns will still require about _ inch of rain or irrigation each week. AZALEAS and CAMELLIAS can suffer bud drop later if not watered as needed
Temperatures during December should have average lows in the low 50's and highs in the 60's and 70's. Night low tempera- tures may occasionally be in the 40's or even 30's with the possibility of frost or, although infrequent, even a freeze when a cold front moves through. Make sure the ground is moist before a frost or a freeze. Be prepared to move ORCHIDS and other cold sensitive plants indoors or provide protection when cold temperatures are predicted.
If not already done, December is the time to cover green- houses, lath and shade houses with plastic for the winter. Clear 4 to 6 mil polyethylene film provides an inexpensive cover. Check heaters or plan for heating if you expect to protect plants during infrequent freeze periods. Check those plants you bring inside for mites, mealy bugs and other pests.
This is a good month to add or transplant trees, shrubs and other plants and to divide perennials. Because of the cool weather, water loss through foliage will be low and above ground new growth minimal. Start flower and PAPAYA transplants.
Continue fertilizing hardy annuals and container grown plants monthly. Discontinue fertilizing other outdoor plants except vegetables. Delay any major pruning until winter. Renew mulch where needed.
Clean, oil and repair garden equipment. Drain gas tanks, change oil, clean and lubricate idle garden equipment and engines. Sharpen and paint tools for next year's use. A bucket of dry sand mixed with a quart of used motor oil makes an excellent long-lasting cleaning device for shovels, trowels and other similar tools. Just push the tool into the sand several times after each use.
Hardy annuals that will provide color in your yard and survive our normal winter cold include ALYSSUM, CALENDULA, CLEOME, DIANTHUS, PANSY, PETUNIA, PHLOX, SALVIA, SNAPDRAGON and VERBENA. Remove faded blooms to extend flowering.
Extend the life of holiday plants by putting them in a cool, bright location. Water them when the soil surface begins to dry
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