Gardening In The Panhandle

An Alternative to Invasive Ruellia

 

Individual Ruellia ‘Mayan Compact Purple’ flower. Image Credit: Matthew Orwat

Avid horticulturists often get frustrated when attractive, floriferous, versatile, durable, and easy-to-grow plants get sidelined because they have been declared an invasive species. Ruellia simplex (commonly known as Mexican petunia) was declared a category 1 invasive in 2001 by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council, described as “a plant that is altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives” (Source: UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants).

It produces copious amounts of seed year-long, which do not require exposure to cold weather (stratification) or mechanical damage (scarification) to germinate. Its excellent garden characteristics such as prolific flower production, and adaptability to varying light, temperature and moisture levels also increase its invasive potential.

Fortunately, recent developments in the field of plant breeding have developed several sterile Ruellia cultivars that have demonstrated low invasive potential in field trials. UF / IFAS researchers have developed the MayanTM series, which includes four distinct new cultivars: ‘MayanTM White’, ‘MayanTM Pink’, ‘MayanTM White’ and’ MayanTM Compact Purple’. They are available to the public through various licensed nurseries.

Three month old plant of Ruellia ‘Mayan Compact Purple’ in full flower. Image Credit: Matthew Orwat

This spring, UF/IFAS Extension agents were given the opportunity to try MayanTM Series Ruellia at their local offices. I opted to try the ‘MayanTM Compact Purple’ cultivar and so far it has been an excellent landscape plant. It is shorter than other Ruellia cultivars and has adequate branching throughout so as to not look leggy. It blooms regularly and flowers have a nice, purple hue. It does not mind full morning sun but benefits from afternoon shade, particularly during the hot summer months. So far, it seems like an excellent selection for plant borders or areas where a durable source of color is needed. Additionally, it produces no fruit and very little viable pollen, so it does not have potential to hybridize with naturalized Ruellia simplex populations.

Although this is a sterile selection, it can still multiply by rhizomes. While I have not observed any invasive behavior in ‘MayanTM Compact Purple’, I have just tested it in one location.

For more information consult this article from Florida Foundation Seed Producers and one from Hort Science on the ‘MayanTM Compact Purple’ cultivar.

Ruellia ‘Mayan Compact Purple’. Image Credit: Matthew Orwat

Ruellia ‘Mayan Compact Purple’ Image Credit: Matthew Orwat

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Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/18/an-alternative-to-invasive-ruellia/

Arborists Help Maintain Healthy Trees

Trees are a valuable resource. They add beauty to our community, serve as food and shelter for animals, filter the air, and cool urban environments. Trees can also be a liability when poorly maintained, damaged, or diseased. There are often times when an arborist is needed to help determine the best course of action for the tree.

There are many individuals who are involved in the tree care and removal business. Not all of these people are certified in the care of trees. Arborists are people who receiving training in the planting, care, and maintenance of trees.

Professional arborists have specialized training to create safe, structurally sound trees, even when damaged by storms. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County

Certified arborists go through a voluntary certification process with the International Society of Arboriculture which means that they have at least three years experience and have passed a comprehensive examination developed by tree experts. A certified arborist maintains certification by attending regular training courses.

An arborist may also be a member of another organization which helps professionals stay up-to-date on tree care techniques and information. These include the National Arborist Association and the American Society of Consulting Arborists.

Hiring an arborist to work on your trees is important for several reasons. An arborist can evaluate the tree and determine the steps necessary to create a healthy specimen. In regards to pruning, the professional will determine what type of pruning is necessary and remove branches properly.

Professionals will also perform tree care practices that are recommended by University research.   A few practices that the arborist would not perform include topping trees, using climbing spikes on trees which are not being removed, and making flush cuts against the trunk.

Flush cuts are damaging to trees and can create a future hazard in your landscape. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County

 

Finally arborists have the skills and equipment to safely and efficiently prune or remove trees.  This includes personal and property damage insurance and workers compensation insurance.

Next time you need tree work or advice, hire a professional for the job. It will definitely be worth the investment.

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Author: Beth Bolles – bbolles@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Escambia County

Beth Bolles

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/09/arborists-help-maintain-healthy-trees/

Hurricane Preparation in the Landscape

Hurricane Preparation in the Landscape

Trees are often among the first victims of hurricane-force winds. Photo credit: Mary Duryea, University of Florida.

Well, it is the peak of hurricane season (June 1-November 30), and this one is proving to be no joke. After having all summer to heat up, Gulf and Atlantic water temperatures peak in late August-mid September, feeding storms’ strength. Legendary hurricanes like Harvey, Katrina, and Andrew all made landfall during this time of year. The models for Irma show likely impacts in Florida, and due to its extreme size, most of the state is in line to endure heavy rain and wind regardless of location.

From a landscaping perspective, hurricanes can be truly disastrous. I will never forget returning home after evacuating from Hurricane Ivan and realizing all the leaves had been blown from nearly every tree in town. Mid-September suddenly looked like the dead of winter. A Category 3 storm when it landed near the southwest corner of Escambia County, Ivan was responsible for a 40% loss of tree canopy in our county.

Even if the Panhandle is not directly impacted by a storm, it is always smart to prepare. Research conducted by University of Florida arborists and horticultural specialists have yielded some practical suggestions.

To evaluate trees for potential hazards;

  • Know your tree species and whether they are prone to decay or wind damage (more below).
  • Look for root or branch rot—usually indicated by very dark spots on the bark.
  • Tree structure—is there a single, dominant central trunk? Are branches attached to the trunk in a U-shape (strong) or V-shape (weak)?
  • Smart pruning—never “top” (cut the tops from trees) but instead prune crowded limbs and remove limbs that are dead, dying, or hanging above power lines.

As for species selection, keep in mind that pines generally do not perform well in gale-force winds. Longleaf pines are quite strong, but common slash pines often snap or lean in storms. Even if a pine tree survives, it can be vulnerable to damage or death from pine bark beetles. It is wise to monitor pines for up to 2 years after a storm.

In addition, a survey conducted throughout the southeastern United States after hurricanes from 1992-2005 yielded important information on the most (and least) wind-resistant tree species. Live oaks and Southern magnolias topped the list, while pecans and cherry laurels performed poorly. This full, user-friendly report from the study is a useful tool.

For more hurricane preparedness information, visit the UF IFAS Extension Disaster Manual online or contact your local Extension office or Emergency Management agency.

 

 

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Author: Carrie Stevenson – ctsteven@ufl.edu

Coastal Sustainability Agent, Escambia County Extension

Carrie Stevenson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/09/hurricane-preparation-in-the-landscape/

Weed Spotlight: Chamberbitter, the “Little Mimosa”

Summer annual weeds are taking their last stand against Panhandle lawns before fall arrives. Rain and humid temperatures of late have boosted their growth spurts. Chamberbitter is a prime example.

Chamberbitter (Phyllanthus urinaria) is found as north as Illinois and as west as Texas, but thrives in lower southeastern states. It’s a headache for homeowners as well as pasture managers. This is an annual broadleaf weed that emerges in summer months. The foliage resembles that of the mimosa tree (Albizia julibrissin) and can be confused with the native mimosa groundcover, known as powderpuff mimosa (Mimosa strigillosa). This plant grows upright and develops a long taproot. Wart-like seeds can be found on the underside of the branch.

Figure 1: Chamberbitter, a common annual weed.

Credit: Mary Derrick, UF/IFAS Extension Santa Rosa County.

To control Chamberbitter in a lawn, one must not allow the seed to disperse. This plant germinates in warm soil temperatures. Therefore, it’s best to treat your lawn by applying a pre-emergent herbicide around April. An atrazine herbicide has an 80% effective rate. However, once weeds have germinated, a post-emergent herbicide would need to be applied. Turfgrass herbicides with 2,4-D (with dicamba & mecoprop or MCPP) or atrazine have good results. These are common chemicals and are represented by many brand names. However, both products need to be applied in cooler temperatures. Consecutive days of temperatures of less than 90 degrees are sufficient; otherwise the chemical will harm the turfgrass. Be aware, some formulations will injure or kill centipede and St. Augustine, but are safe to use on bermuda, bahia and zoysia. Be sure to read the label and follow the directions and precautions.

Non-selective, post-emergent herbicides, like glyphosate (Roundup) can be used in thick patches or for spot treatment. When using a non-selective herbicide, remember to protect turfgrass and other plants from spray drift or any contact, especially regarding ornamental plants and trees. Hand pulling of these weeds is an option, especially in flower beds. Do not shake the soil from the roots. In doing so, you may inadvertently spread seeds.

Soon, temperatures will be low enough to use a post-emergent herbicide for a control method. If you are having issues with chamberbitter or other summer annual broadleaf weeds, remember to plan to apply a pre-emergent herbicide this coming spring. Contact Gulf County Extension at 639-3200 for more information.

Information for this article is from the Clemson Cooperative Extension publication: “Chamberbitter”, Bulletin HCIC 2314: http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/pests/pdf/hgic2314.pdf

UF/IFAS Extension is an Equal Opportunity Institution.

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Author: Ray Bodrey – rbodrey@ufl.edu

Gulf County Extension Director, Agent II Agriculture & Natural Resource, Horticulture, Sea Grant

Ray Bodrey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/09/08/weed-spotlight-chamberbitter-the-little-mimosa/

Fall Vegetable Production Workshop – Combating Insect Pests September 12, 2017

Fall Vegetable Production Workshop – Combating Insect Pests September 12, 2017

On Tuesday, September 12, 2017 UF / IFAS Extension Washington County will be providing a insect pest identification and management workshop for vegetable producers and home gardeners throughout Northwest Florida.

Entomology specialists from the University of Florida and Extension agents will be leading hands on sessions focusing on insect pest management in vegetable production. This workshop is relevant to anyone growing vegetable crops in any season, but will have a special focus on fall vegetable pests. 

Lunch will be provided and  CEUs for pesticide license holders will also be available.

Cost: $ 15.00

Address: Washington County Ag Center East Wing, 1424 Jackson Ave, Chipley FL 32428.

Time: 8:30am-3:00pm

Pre Registration required for count: Contact Nikki or Cynthia at 850-638-6180 or email Matthew Orwat at mjorwat@ufl.edu

or register online at eventbrite HERE !

Agenda

  • Welcome and Introduction  8:30am-8:35 Matthew Orwat, Washington County Cooperative Extension,  Amanda Hodges, University of Florida

  • True bugs in Fall Vegetables-Identification and Management                      9:00am-10:15am

  • Cowpea Curculio                                                                                           10:15am-10:30pm

  • Break                                                                                                             10:30am-10:45am

  • Whitefly Management                                                                                    10:45am-11:10am

  • Invasive Species problems in North Florida Vegetable Production        11:10am-11:30am

  • Invasive Stink Bugs and Related True Bugs                                                  11:30am-11:50pm

  • Lunch    11:50pm-12:30pm

  • Tomato leafminer Tuta absoltua                                                                     12:30m-12:45pm

  • Old World bollworm and Exotic Spodoptera Pests                                         12:45pm-1:05pm

  • Common Vegetable Plant Diseases in the Florida Panhandle                       1:05pm-1:35pm

  • Pest and Pathogen Walk                                                                                 1:35pm-2:05pm

  • CAPS Exotic Corn Diseases of Concern                                                         2:05pm-2:35pm

  • Sample Submission, Arthropod and Disease samples                                    2:35pm-2:50p

 

 

 

 

 

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Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/26/fall-vegetable-production-workshop-combating-insect-pests-september-12-2017/

Measure Your Lawn the Easy Way

Measure Your Lawn the Easy Way

After you have chosen the right fertilizer, fungicide, herbicide or insecticide to apply to your landscape, the question becomes: how much do I buy? Labels on these products will tell you how many square feet it will cover – so that leads to the next question: how many square feet of lawn do I have?

Here’s an easy way to determine your square footage. This online tool from Sod Solutions uses GIS mapping to figure it out from the comfort of your lounge chair.

On this front page, search for your address.

A bird’s eye view of your property comes up. Zoom in by using the + sign in the lower right corner of the screen.

Plot points on the area you want to measure. This makes it so easy to measure those curved and odd-shaped areas!

The calculation of the area in square feet, yards, and acres is displayed on the left side. The perimeter is also calculated; that might be handy for determining the length of a fence line.

For more information:

Your Florida Lawn website

The Florida Fertilizer Label

Interpreting Pesticide Label Wording

 

 

 

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Author: Mary Derrick – mderrick@ufl.edu

Residential Horticulture Extension Agent for Santa Rosa County

Mary Derrick

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/25/measure-your-lawn-the-easy-way/

Permaculture Practices for the Home Landscape

If you’ve attended any of our landscaping classes, then you’ve probably heard the phrase “Right Plant, Right Place”.  This phrase is a simple reminder to research plant growth habits and growing conditions before making selections for your landscape.  This not only holds true for ornamental plants, but for edible crops as well.  A term used to describe the use of edibles as ornamentals is “Permaculture”.  Now this is an extremely simplified definition of the term, but permaculture comes from a combination of the words “permanent” and “agriculture”.  The thought behind permaculture is to fashion an edible landscape after a natural ecosystem.

There are a number of strategies to becoming a successful permaculturist.  Below you will find a few examples.

  • Site Observation and Analysis – The slope, orientation to the sun, and sectors of your yard should all be documented.
    • Slope – Identifying the slope of your yard can help you determine the natural flow of water and nutrients.  For example, if you have a hill in your back yard you may want to install some plant beds between the peak of the slope and your house.  These beds will help absorb water and nutrients before they have a chance to reach the house.
    • Orientation – Think about the location, relevant to your house, of each of your edible landscape areas.  The eastern side of your house receives morning sunlight, which is much cooler than the western side of your house that receives sunlight in the afternoon.  A tomato plant will be much happier if it can avoid the afternoon heat.
    • Sectors – While walking your property, you will notice differences in soil texture, soil moisture, and the plants and weeds growing in these different areas.  You can divide your yard based on these characteristics along with slope, orientation, and shade percentage to develop sectors of your property.
  • Cover Crops and Living Mulch – Cover crops are planted in areas that you would normally allow to go fallow.  Living mulches are plants that are planted alongside edible plants to help fill voids.  The benefits of both are listed below.
    • Weed Supression
    • Erosion Control
    • Produce and/or Scavenge Nutrients
    • Nematode Supression
    • Harbor Beneficial Insects
clover flower

Clover is an excellent cover crop choice and has a beautiful flower. Photo Credit: University of Florida/IFAS.

  • Space Utilization – The third criteria is to mimic a forest.  Just like any good forest, your “forest garden” will consist of different layers of vegetation.
    • You can start by planting large deciduous trees such as pecans or pears farthest from the house.  These trees will allow filtered light to penetrate the layer below.
    • Next, you can plant smaller fruit trees such as citrus or peaches along the understory of the larger trees.
    • Then, you can plant your vegetable and herb garden around your fruit tree plantings.
    • Finish by planting root and vining vegetables such as carrots or sweet potatoes at the edge of the forest.
a mix of vegetable plants

A mixed vegetable garden. Photo Credit: eXtension.org.

We’ve just scratched the surface of the concept of permaculture, but I encourage you to dig a little deeper.  What could be the harm with being able to eat your landscape?  Just don’t eat too much or you may lose your landscape entirely!

An “Intermediate Permaculture” class is scheduled for Saturday, September 23 at the Jackson County Extension Office.  For more information, please call (850)-482-9620 and ask for Matt.

For more information on permaculture please visit the NC State Permaculture Page.

For more information on “Right Plant, Right Place” please visit the UF/IFAS Florida Friendly Living Site.

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Author: Matt Lollar – mlollar@ufl.edu

Matt Lollar is the Jackson County Horticulture Agent. He has 5 years of experience with University of Florida/IFAS Extension and he began his career in Sanford, FL as the Seminole County Horticulture Agent. Matt is originally from Belle Fontaine, AL. He earned his MS and BS degrees in Horticulture Production from Auburn University.

Matt Lollar

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/25/permaculture-practices-for-the-home-landscape/

Struggling to Grow Fruit Trees? Try These Lesser Known Florida-Friendly Edible Options!

Northwest Floridians are lucky.  We get to bask in the warm sunshine at least eight months of the year, consider it cold weather when we have to break out the fleece pullover and none of us live more than a few hours’ drive to the whitest sand you ever saw.  However, those conditions have consequences.  That warm sun and plentiful rain yields heat and humidity, a perfect breeding ground for all manner of pests and diseases, not to mention seriously cutting down on necessary chill hours required by many species.  We’ll never be able to grow peaches like they do in Georgia.  No one is in any danger of mistaking a Florida apple for one from Michigan.  Pomegranates, olives, and nectarines like California?  Forget about it.  All of those species will mostly survive and grow but in most cases, the inputs of labor and protective chemicals greatly outweigh the output of fruit.  For most of us it is just not worth the time and effort to turn a crop!

We have a couple of adapted, well-known stalwarts to turn to though.  Any gardener worth his salt has a few productive rabbiteye blueberries (Vaccinium ashei), a pear (Pyrus communis), an old reliable fig tree (Ficus carica), and a citrus or two of some kind (though with the devastating disease known as Citrus Greening looming on the horizon, backyard citrus may decline in popularity in the near future).  However, hobby fruit growers aren’t often content to stick to those standards though.  We tend to be an adventurous, progressive lot, always looking for new species to grow and constantly pushing climatic and adaptation limits of species, with varying success. For the Panhandle backyard fruit orchardist looking for a little variety but demanding a high probability of success, there are three unusual Florida Friendly trees requiring little winter chill that fit the bill perfectly:  Pawpaw (Asimina triloba), Japanese Persimmon (Diospyros kaki), and Loquat (Eriobtrya japonica).

Pawpaw fruit

The pawpaw (yes it’s pronounced exactly like you think it is) is an altogether unusual tree.  For starters, it is one of the most adaptable plants in cultivation, growing native from New York all the way down to the Sunshine State.  It would be a beautiful tree if it never produced a single fruit; the large leaves droop naturally, lending a decidedly tropical feel to the garden and the understated purple-brown flowers are some of the more attractive of our native spring blooming trees.  But, to be sure, the fruit are the real attraction here.  Technically berries, the bluish-green, three to five inch long, oval-shaped fruit ripen in the late summer (August-October) and have an extremely unique taste often likened to banana or custard.  Pawpaws occur naturally in moist, well-drained soils and thrive in both shade and sun; site accordingly and this unusual little native fruit tree should perform admirably for you!

While more common than Pawpaw, Japanese Persimmon still has not reached the cosmopolitan status of pear or fig or the like for reasons unclear to me!  Native to eastern Asia, Japanese Persimmon is right at home in the Panhandle where it rewards gardeners each fall with outstanding reddish/orange foliage and a reliable crop of beautiful, baseball-sized, orange fruit possessing a crisp, sweet taste that can be eaten fresh or used in cooking.  I especially like the fruit when it is made into a cakey “bread” similar to banana bread.  It is a remarkably forgiving tree, growing and fruiting reliably with little help from the orchardist.  Japanese Persimmon is generally sold as one of the selected cultivars, ‘Fuyu’ being the most common and probably the best.  The species prefers full sun and moist, well-drained soil but does just fine without irrigation once it reaches establishment.  A bonus, you only need to plant one as Japanese Persimmon does not require a pollinator!  (Note:  Persimmons can be astringent or non-astringent.  If you plant an astringent cultivar, be sure to let the fruit ripen completely before eating as they are unpalatable until that point.  Most are probably better off going with a non-astringent cultivar such as ‘Fuyu’.)

Persimmon fruit

A lesser-known gem of the coastal south, Loquat is hard to beat.  It’s a great addition to the landscape, the cinnamon colored bark, foot-long “cabbagey” textured leaves and early spring flowers outdo many purely ornamental species.  The yellowish-orange fruit that follow are outstanding picked and eaten fresh off the tree.  Flavor is reminiscent of citrus with a sweet taste and a soft texture.  Loquat flourishes in full sun and once established needs little to no supplemental fertilization or irrigation.  As with Japanese Persimmon, Loquat is self-fertile and does not need a pollinator so just one tree will do (trust me, one healthy loquat will make enough fruit to feed a small army)!

Loquat fruit

If you are indeed a backyard orcharding enthusiast and want to expand your horizons to include more than the same old standard species that everyone else grows or maybe you’re just frustrated with trying to grow popular but ill-adapted species like peach and apple, you could do a lot worse than including one or all of Pawpaw, Japanese Persimmon, and Loquat into your garden!  For more information on fruit trees and any other horticultural questions you may have, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.  Happy gardening!

 

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Author: Daniel J. Leonard – d.leonard@ufl.edu

Horticulture Agent, Walton County

Daniel J. Leonard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/25/struggling-to-grow-fruit-trees-try-these-lesser-known-florida-friendly-edible-options/

Northwest Florida Rose Symposium Saturday September 16, 2017

Northwest Florida Rose Symposium Saturday September 16, 2017

On Saturday, September 16th, 2017, from 9AM to 12PM, UF / IFAS Extension Washington County will be providing a rose gardening workshop for gardeners across the Panhandle. Many roses are hard to grow in the Florida Panhandle without investing considerable time and energy into spraying for insect and disease problems. This workshop will teach attendees how to select and sustainably grow roses adapted to the hot-humid conditions of the Southern Gulf Coast. There will be opportunities for outdoor learning and hands-on activities. 

Topics include:

  • Selection of disease resistant rose cultivars adapted to the lower South
  • Resources to obtain hard to find easy care rose cultivars
  • Soil and Nutrient Management
  • Disease and insect management
  • Irrigation
  • Rose Propagation

Participants will be given the opportunity to propagate their own rose and take home their own propagation assembly to grow their own roses from scratch.

Refreshments will be provided and a door prize will be available.

Address: Washington County Ag Center Auditorium, 1424 Jackson Ave, Chipley FL 32428.

Pre Registration required for count: Contact Nikki or Cynthia at 850-638-6180 or email Matthew Orwat at mjorwat@ufl.edu

or register online at eventbrite HERE !

 

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Author: Matthew Orwat – mjorwat@ufl.edu

Matthew J. Orwat started his career with UF / IFAS in 2011 and is the Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County Florida. His goal is to provide educational programming to meet the diverse needs of and provide solutions for homeowners and small farmers with ornamental, turf, fruit and vegetable gardening objectives. Please feel free to contact him with any questions you may have.
http://washington.ifas.ufl.edu/lng/about/

Matthew Orwat

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/24/northwest-florida-rose-symposium-saturday-september-16-2017/

Plants Don’t Live Forever

A New Yorker cartoon shows a lady shopping a garden center bench for plants. She has three choices at three price points: annuals, $ 6; perennials, $ 10; eternals, $ 749.95.

No matter what the cost, plants don’t live forever. And if they did, what would they cost? They’d probably cost more than $ 749.95. Even though we know plants don’t live forever, we still don’t want a plant that we purchased, planted and cared for to die an early death.

All too often, I find myself in the position of reminding a person of this fact of life – plants don’t live forever.

Palm in decline.
Credit: Edward F. Gilman, UF/IFAS.

There are extremes, though. The bristlecone pine can live thousands of years. There is one that was named Methuselah, which, at one time, was believed to be the oldest living tree on record approaching more than 4,800 years of age in central California. But in the 1970’s, offspring of Methuselah all died because they were sent to low-altitude locations. The parent tree’s location in the White Mountains is two miles above sea level.

Even though the bristlecone pine can live thousands of years, misplacing it (planted at too low an altitude) results in the tree living a fraction of its potential life. The point is to plant the right plant in the right place. Make sure the plant is well suited for Florida and to the site conditions: that wet site, that dry site, that salty site, that high pH site, that shady site, that sunny site, etc.

The second point is to have realistic expectations based on the plant species. Some plants genetically will live longer than others. One of our longest-lived tree species in Florida is the live oak. There are live oak trees in Florida that are hundreds of years old. But don’t expect a silver maple to make it that long. It’s a shorter-lived tree species. In Florida, a thirty-year-old silver maple is probably in a state of decline due to old age.

The third point is to learn how to correctly plant and maintain the plants you have. For example, most woody plants (trees and shrubs), will live a much shorter life simply from being planted too deep. And an over fertilized centipedegrass lawn will go into a state of decline resulting in the lawn living a shorter life.

Plant the right plant in the right place, learn what it likes and provide it. And when the plant reaches the end of its life, replace it.

Many homeowners spend more than $ 749.95 attempting to turn a short-lived plant into an eternal plant.

PG

Author: Larry Williams – llw5479@ufl.edu

Larry Williams is the County Extension Director and Residential Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County.

Larry Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/08/18/plants-dont-live-forever/

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