Tag Archive: Four

Four Must-Have Native Perennials for Summer!

Four Must-Have Native Perennials for Summer!

Let’s be honest with each other and have a moment of transparency, one gardener to another. Even though we are plant people, most of us get a lot less enthusiastic once the mercury explodes over 90 degrees each June. All the things that were fun in the spring (watering our favorite fickle plants, deadheading spent flowers, staking, tying, fertilizing, the list goes on) have ceased to be fun.  At this point, like a baby bird pushed out of the nest, the plants in our yards have to either fly or die.  Fortunately, if we select the correct, tough-as-nails plants to start with, our gardens do not have to decline when we retreat into the air conditioning!  The following are four of my favorite ironclad native perennials that will reward you with color, texture, and overall excellent performance all summer and ask very little in return!

Black-Eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’ (Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivanti ‘Goldsturm’)

There is no more reliable plant in the garden than plain old Black-Eyed Susan. This beauty delivers yellow-gold flowers with its namesake black, cone-like centers perpetually from May to frost in the Panhandle and returns like clockwork each spring to do it all over again! While not exactly native, the 1937 selection ‘Goldsturm’ is still easily the most popular Rudbeckia eighty years later, with good reason.  ‘Goldsturm’ improves upon the native Rudbeckias in almost every way.  It is a more compact plant, forming a spreading mass of flowers about two feet in height, sports larger, showier flowers than the species, and flaunts lustrous dark green foliage.  If low-maintenance, raw flower power is what you are after, Black-Eyed Susan ‘Goldsturm’ is right for you!

If the landscape calls for a plant with flowers hotter than the July sun, Scarlet Sage is hard to beat! This tough, prolific perennial boasts fire engine red, tubular-shaped flowers throughout the warm season in Northwest Florida and is one of the very best attractors of a host of pollinators including butterflies and hummingbirds. Growing this native couldn’t be easier, it is not picky about soil type and texture so long as it doesn’t stay waterlogged, it requires little to no supplemental fertilizer or water, and will thrive in full sun or partial shade.  A word of warning before planting Scarlet Sage however, be aware that the plant will self-sow prolifically, potentially appearing in unwanted places and becoming a nuisance.  Though with a plant this undemanding and pretty, I do not mind one bit if it decides to ramble through the landscape.

Scarlet Sage (Salvia coccinea)

Carolina Petunia (Ruellia caroliniensis) (note: Not to be confused with Mexican Petunia (Ruellia simplex), which, despite its popularity, is an invasive weed and should not be planted)

For those of you that lament hot weather because it means the decline of the showy annual petunias sold by the thousands at big box stores across the South, there is a summer solution for you! Carolina Petunia is a compact (growing to 24” in height), hardy plant whose many outstanding ornamental qualities, including soft purple flowers produced in profusion, make it a great addition to virtually any garden border.  It is not picky regarding soil and while flowering is best in full sun, it grows just fine in the dappled shade of pines or other taller perennials and shrubs.  Like Scarlet Sage, Carolina Petunia will seed around in the landscape but is easily managed and never wears out its welcome.

Dwarf Fakahatchee Grass (Tripsacum floridanum)








Ornamental grasses have gained in popularity over the last few years and with good reason! Ornamental grasses tend to be drought tolerant, laugh at the summer sun, and require little maintenance.  However, many popular ornamental grass species like Miscanthus, Muhlenbergia, Pennisetum, and others tend to grow too large for most gardens and end up being replaced a few years later.  Dwarf Fakahatchee fits this niche perfectly, with its emerald green leaf blades only growing 2-3’ in height and width.  It is also more adaptable than most ornamental grass species as it will thrive in sun or partial shade and is tolerant of both wet and dry sites!  While it lacks the colorful flower panicles of Muhly Grass or Miscanthus, Dwarf Fakahatchee does possess interesting brown flower stalks and seed heads as well!

All of these awesome low-maintenance, native perennial selections can be purchased at member nurseries of FANN (Florida Association of Native Nurseries) or local independent garden centers. As always, if you have any questions about this or other horticultural topics, contact your local UF/IFAS County Extension Office.



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/2017/07/05/four-must-have-native-perennials-for-summer/

What do the Four “H’s” Mean Anyway?


Old 4-H emblem, circa 1908

It happens to me all the time…the stranger standing next to me in line at the post office or grocery store sees the 4-H emblem on my shirt or name tag, and say “I’ve always wondered what the four “H’s” in 4-H stand for.”  Many people would be surprised to find out that originally, there were only three “H’s.”  O. H. Benson designed the first emblem in 1907 as a three-leaf clover with three “H’s” signifying head, heart, and hands. A four-leaf clover design with H’s appeared informally around 1908 with the fourth “H” standing for “Hustle.”  In 1911, during a club leader meeting in Washington, DC, leaders voted to adopt the fourth “H,” Health.  This emblem was patented in 1924, and in 1939 Congress passed a law protecting the use of the 4-H name and emblem.  This emblem continues to be highly valued and recognized on our country today, and because of that it became a federally protected mark, more valuable than a trademark or copyright.  Similarly valued emblems include the Olympic and Presidential Seals.  The “18 USC 707” that is written below the stem of the emblem outlines the United States Code that protects the emblem.

The best way to remember what the “H’s” stand for is by learning our pledge:

Today’s emblem, protected by Congress.

My Head to clearer thinking (life skill development through informal education)

My Heart to greater loyalty (emotional development and positive relationships with screened, trained and caring adults)

My Hands to larger service (growing compassion and civic responsibility through service to others)

And my Health to better living (learning how to make better choices)

For my club, my community, my country and my world.

Watch celebrity Aubrey Plaza explain what the four “H’s” mean by reciting the 4-H Pledge on national television.

Nostalgic about 4-H and want to introduce the next generation of youth to the program?  Consider becoming a 4-H volunteer!  Florida 4-H offers a wide variety of roles to fit both your interests and schedule.  Contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org for more information.

History of the 4-H Emblem

Guidelines for 4-H Emblem Use


Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/06/30/what-do-the-four-hs-mean-anyway/

4-H Grows Family Tradition for Four Generations

“When I was growing up 50 some years ago in West Gadsden County, I had no idea that the people that were a part of my everyday life would someday chart my path for the future.”

Angel (Clark) Granger showing her steer in Gadsden County, igniting a lifelong passion for 4-H.

Angel (Clark) Granger showing her steer in Gadsden County, igniting a lifelong passion for 4-H.

I didn’t realize until recently just how deeply my roots are tied to 4-H. Not only does my family represent four generations of 4-H (with the addition of my granddaughter joining this year), but because there were people I took for granted that were absolutely engrained in Extension and 4-H.

I was the first child of Nelson and Karen Clark. I grew up on a farm raising cattle and goats. My grandmother was Ruby Scott Clark and everybody called me “Little Ruby” when I was growing up. She taught me how to string tobacco, garden, ride horses, drive a car, and how to make hoecake. My Granny’s best friend was Miss Elise Lafitte, County Home Demonstration Agent in Gadsden County during the 1950’s. She introduced my aunt, Shirley Clark, a now retired FCS Agent, to my uncle, Scott Clark. My cousin Bernard Clark was an Extension Agent in Gadsden County who is in the Florida 4-H Hall of Fame. My uncle Charles Rowan was an Ag Agent in Dixie and Pinellas Counties. If you read the chapter regarding Gadsden County in the book commemorating the 100 year Anniversary of 4-H in Florida, “Florida 4-H, A century of Youth Success”, you will see my Dad, my sons and me highlighted for our three generations of 4-H participation.

Growing up, I never tried to figure out what Extension was or why we had 4-H, it was just always there. My 4-H Agent growing up was Dickie Bentley. She made monthly visits to Greensboro Elementary School to teach us about record books and 4-H projects. I learned about veterinary science, public speaking, and how to give a demonstration. I still have every ribbon and pin I earned.

I left high school in the eleventh grade to help save the family farm from foreclosure. I soon married my husband Anthony and we moved to Tallahassee to work. In 1985 we bought 10 acres from my Dad, and we moved back home. In 1988 my second child, Cody was born. From the time they were old enough to tote a bucket, my husband and I worked the farm with my dad and taught our sons the value of life on the farm and family traditions.

I have a 4-H Exhibitor Card that was my Dad’s for ears of corn he entered as a 4-H Exhibit, as well as pictures of him showing cattle as a

Angel still has her father's 4-H exhibit card for corn he grew and exhibited at the fair. circa 1956

Angel still has her father’s 4-H exhibit card for corn he grew and exhibited at the fair. circa 1956

4-Her. He made sure that I had those same opportunities in 4-H. He bought steers, hogs and feed for me to show as a child, and later also for my oldest son Cole. He and proudly watched Cole work with and show his first steer in 1994.

Sadly, I lost my Dad three months later. He was only 54 and had spent his whole life trying to keep our farm going. I watched my Dad struggle every day, working as a barber, a school bus driver, and a farmer to make ends meet. He bought cheap cattle, made poor decisions regarding crops, nearly lost everything to bankruptcy and soybean disaster, but he never gave up. I vowed the day I buried my Dad that I was going to find a way to help other people like my Dad, I just never dreamed it would lead me into Extension.

Angel's sons, Cole and Cody Granger, also grew up in the 4-H family tradition and reply on many of the skills they learned in 4-H in their jobs as civil engineers.

Angel’s sons, Cole and Cody Granger, also grew up in the 4-H family tradition and reply on many of the skills they learned in 4-H in their jobs as civil engineers.

After dad’s death, we continued what he started by keeping the boys in 4-H. I became the livestock club leader. My husband also volunteered to keep our boys active in 4-H showing cattle, hogs, and horses, and competing in county events until they both graduated high school. Both of my sons will tell you that 4-H played a huge role in making them the men they are today. They were part of clubs that had inclusive environments, they had opportunities to meet new people and were both able to use the skills they mastered to be successful in not only their college careers, but as professional engineers today.

After my sons finished high school and started college, I decided it was time to finish my education as well. Both of my sons graduated with degrees in Civil Engineering and I graduated with a degree in Agriculture with Emphasis in Animal Science. I had dreams of

Nelson Clark showing a steer, circa late 1940's/early 1950s

Nelson Clark showing a steer, circa late 1940’s/early 1950s

becoming an Extension Agent and working with farmers and families to help them make good decisions and have access to resources. After two years, I was hired as the 4-H Youth Development Agent in Jackson County (ironically my Granny was born and raised in Bascom, a small town in Jackson County). After a successful 32-year career with the Florida Department of State, I set out on another exciting 4-H journey. Every day I strive to honor the memory of my Dad (who would have been 76 years old this month), my Granny, and my other family members who have been part of the legacy of Extension. Most importantly, I strive to make a difference in a young person’s life just like my 4-H Agent did.

Are you part of a 4-H family tradition?  If not, consider starting one today.  4-H offers a broad spectrum of projects and activities to serve a variety of interests, skills, and knowledge.  Contact your local UF IFAS Extension office or visit http://florida4h.org to enroll as a youth member or adult volunteer!




Author: amgranger – amgranger@ufl.edu


Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/03/18/4-h-grows-family-tradition-for-four-generations/

Crapemyrtle Tests Yield Four New Selections With Commercial Potential

Current crapemyrtle cultivars are susceptable to a variety of diseases which detract from their appearance, and make sales more difficult.

Current crapemyrtle cultivars are susceptible to a variety of diseases such as this new bacterial spot disease caused by Xanthomonas sp., which detract from their appearance and make sales more difficult.

Four new crapemyrtle selections (“Lagerstroemia limii (OP1)”, “L. limii (OP2)”, “L. subcostata (MS))”, and “L. subcostata (CA)”) were evaluated and compared to 11 commercially available cultivars (“Arapaho”, “Carolina Beauty”, “Fantasy”, “Miami”, “Natchez”, “Osage”, “Party Pink”, “Red Rocke”, “Rhapsody in Pink”, “Tuscarora” and “White Chocolate”) for disease resistance by a multi-state team as part of a two-year project. The objective was to improve selections wholesale growers can commercially offer to consumers.

“Crapemyrtles have been propagated in the U.S. for over 150 years and have a long established track record as a popular landscape shrub,” said Dr. Mathews Paret, plant pathologist at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy, Florida. “While they are known for their colorful and long lasting flowers, unfortunately there are some disease issues which mar the natural beauty of this plant,” he said.

Almost three million crapemyrtles worth more than $ 42.8 million are domestically produced each year in the U.S. This genus is an important sector of the state of Florida’s commercial horticulture industry with production worth $ 7.2 million.

Dr. Paret and Dr. Gary Knox, also at the NFREC evaluated the resistance of various crapemyrtle germplasms to diseases in 2011 and 2012. The replicated field trials compared the performance of four new cultivars against eleven crapemyrtles which are currently grown at many nurseries.

A new disease on crapemyrtle, bacterial spot caused by Xanthomonas, was of particular interest. Other disease resistance traits evaluated included Cercospora leaf spot caused by Pseudocercospora lythracearum, powdery mildew caused by Erysiphe australiana, sooty mold and environmental diseases including Oedema and Rabbit Tracks.

The commercially available crapemyrtle cultivars “Arapaho,” “Carolina Beauty,” “White Chocolate,” and “Red Rocke” were resistant to all diseases tested for except bacterial spot. The new selections, “L.limii (OP1)” and “L. limii (OP2),” showed a higher resistance to all diseases except for Cercospora leaf spot.

The crapemyrtle cultivars “Fantasy,” “Osage,” and “Party Pink” were resistant to all six diseases in the 2011 and 2012 assessment period.  The new selections, “L. subcostata (CA)” and “L. subcostata (MS),” were highly resistant to bacterial spot, powdery mildew, sooty mold, and Rabbit Tracks.

Crapemyrtle cultivars “Natchez” and “Miami” were resistant to all bacterial and fungal diseases and Oedema.  “Rhapsody in Pink” and “Tuscarora” showed resistance to all diseases except bacterial spot.

Studies were also conducted in two Alabama locations. Funding for the project came from the Florida Nursery, Growers and Landscape Association (FNGLA).

Out-of-state project collaborators were Dr. Cecil Pounders, USDA-ARS and Dr. Austin Hagan, Auburn University.

Check Dr. Mathews Paret’s U-scout page for a picture database on all diseases of crapemyrtle in Florida: U-scout, Crapemyrtle Diseases – Plant Pathology Lab, UF/IFAS NFREC



Author: Les Harrison – harrisog@ufl.edu

Les Harrison is the UF/IFAS Wakulla County Extension Director. He began his work in the Northwest Extension District as the Sustainable Agriculture and Extension Technology Agent in Leon County on August 25, 2006. His career in agriculture extends back over thirty five years and includes work in business, government and academic positions. Prior to working with the Extension Service, he spent 16 years with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services in the Division of Marketing and Development. He worked in four of the division’s six bureaus. He has also managed farm supply cooperatives in Alabama and Virginia with annual sales over four million dollars, worked for an international grain company, and was a research associate for Auburn University’s Agricultural Economics Department. He has a Master’s of Science Degree in Agricultural Economics from Auburn University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Journalism from the University of Florida. He is the author of over 400 publications and has written professionally for print and broadcast media.

Les Harrison

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2013/10/05/crapemyrtle-tests-yield-four-new-selections-with-commercial-potential/