Skip to main content

New year’s gardening resolutions for 2020

By Ralph E. Mitchell

Time for some personal horticultural growth and goal setting in the gardening department!  The New Year is a great time to make some horticultural resolutions that will benefit any landscape.  Let’s look at some tips, techniques and strategies that will make your landscaping experience in Southwest Florida the best in 2020 – we can help!

If you are not up to speed on Lethal Bronzing in palms, here is your chance in 2020.  The publication – Lethal Bronzing Disease – please see here – https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/PP/PP16300.pdf – is an important read for the New Year.  There are presently sixteen different palm species that can contract this disease.  The disease is carried by an insect vector and the palm shows observable symptoms as the disease progresses.  While palms can be tested for the disease, (please see here – https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/IN/IN119700.pdf –  Sampling Palms for Lethal Yellowing and Texas Phoenix Palm Decline Phytoplasmas) it may be too late to treat.  Decisions on using antibiotics as preventatives may have to be made – please see here – https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/IN/IN124000.pdf – Oxytetracycline Hydrochloride (OTC-HCl) Application for Control of Palm Phytoplasmas.  While the disease is present in Charlotte County, it appears to be more common north and east of us.  Decisions on preventive measures may be based on costs and targeting the highest value and/or showcase palm plantings in your landscape.

Test Your Soil.  Our UF/IFAS soil testing services are very accurate and have changed a bit.  The price is now $10.00 for a complete test, but you also now get several micronutrients tested in addition to the standard analysis.  You can either come into our office and get a form and a baggie, or just download it from the UF/IFAS Soil Lab website here  – http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/SS/SS18700.pdf .   If downloaded, simply fill out the form, enclose a check for the correct amount, use a zip lock baggie for your sample and your own small cardboard shipping box – you take the sample as per the form instructions and send it off.  There is no more than a 2 week turn-around time for the results.  We also get a copy in case you need help with interpretation.

In 2020, make good use of your landscaping service costs.  If you are a in an HOA, and have a Landscape Committee, or are just looking at purchasing landscaping services and need to make good decisions, a tool to help you with this task can be found here  – https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/EP/EP34700.pdf – Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guidelines for Community Associations: Considerations for Selecting a Landscape Contractor and Writing an Effective Landscaping Contract.  This publication takes you through questions and considerations that help you become an informed consumer of landscape services.

Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ for 2020!  People may ask “What is one resource that I could use to familiarize myself with recommended local landscape planting materials?”  I would answer that you need to see this publication – https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/FYN_Plant_Selection_Guide_2015.pdf – The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design.  This on-line guide not only has pictures of the plants, but also hardiness limitations, sun or shade requirements, salt and drought-tolerance, size, etc., to help with your selections.  Everyone with a Florida yard needs to see it!  To complement this, please also see –  https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/materials/FYN_Handbook_2015_web.pdf – The Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook, where the Principles of common-sense landscaping are outlined and discussed.  And speaking of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™, please feel free to contact our new Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Specialist, Sara Weber.  You can contact Sara at Sara.Weber@charlottecountyfl.gov for more information on this all-important and overarching concept that will bring you success in your own landscape.

One Last Thought Would be to Visit Our Publication Website – EDIS – Often!  Just like last year, you may have noticed that I have already been promoting EDIS publications within this article.  EDIS is packed full of horticultural fact sheets (as well as other topics) on practically every subject matter with good, ready-to-use information specifically geared for Florida – please check here – http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/.  You can also visit our office website by checking the “Local Offices”  tab.

The New Year is coming and with it many gardening improvements, innovations and new plant palettes.  Let us help you in 2020!  For more information on all types of gardening topics in our area, please call our Master Gardener volunteers on the Plant Lifeline on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer.  Just as a reminder, we have moved to our new office at the North Charlotte Regional Park at 1120 O’Donnell Blvd, Port Charlotte FL 33953. The Plant Lifeline will also be at our new site starting in 2020.    Our phone numbers and email addresses continue to remain the same.  Don’t forget to visit our other County Plant Clinics in the area.  Please check this link for a complete list of site locations, dates and times – https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/sfylifasufledu/charlotte/docs/pdf/Plant-Clinics-Schedule1.pdf. Our Eastport Environmental Demonstration Garden is always open to the public outside the gate at 25550 Harbor View Road and will continue to be in operation.  Master Gardener volunteers tend this garden on Tuesday mornings from 8 to 10 am and are available for questions.  Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for the UF/IFAS Charlotte County Extension Service. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or ralph.mitchell@charlottecountyfl.gov.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *