Gardening in the Panhandle

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Improve Your Life with Panhandle E-Extension Newsletters and UF/IFAS EDIS Resources

If you are a regular reader of Gardening in the Panhandle, you know that this e-newsletter covers many topics related to ornamental and vegetable gardening, Florida-friendly landscaping, pest management, and lawn and garden fertility. But did you also... Read More

Happy Thanksgiving from your Gardening in the Panhandle Team !

Happy Thanksgiving from your Gardening in the Panhandle Team !       Facebook0Twitter0Google plus0

Backyard Sugarcane in the Panhandle

Do you want to add a little something different to your landscape? How about something edible, as well as a focal point in your garden? Backyard sugarcane may be just what you are looking for. Sugarcane, genus Saccharum,... Read More

Winterizer for North Florida Lawns?

If you’ve been to a local garden center lately, there’s a good chance you’ve seen some displays marketing winterizer fertilizer for your lawn. Many of these displays are quite shiny and state all sorts of reasons why you... Read More

He’s Bored, But He Didn’t Kill Your Tree

Sometimes you don’t realize a tree is dying until it is dead.  A few weeks ago, we got a call from a client who said he had insects killing his trees.  Before having someone drive out to the... Read More

Cilantro – Great for Cool Season Gardening

Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) is a short-lived annual herb with bright green, feathery, flat leaves that look very similar to flat-leaved parsley. Leaves can be harvested at will after they grow to a mature size and then continuously as... Read More

Name That Holiday Cactus

Is your grandmother’s pass along Christmas cactus blooming really early? Do the leaf segments have “teeth” along the edges?  Are the “stringy things” sticking out of the flowers yellow in color? Well, I hate to tell you this,... Read More

Lessons Learned from Farmers: Fire Ant Control

As I near the three-year mark of being an Extension Agent, I think about how fortunate I am to have a career that not only encourages me to meet all our local farmers, but also to learn from... Read More

Be on the Lookout for Rose Crown Gall

For gardeners, rose enthusiasts and rosarians, each of the many rose diseases is as important as the others. But we can say for sure Crown Gall is one of the most unsightly of the many rose diseases that... Read More

Fall into Composting

Fall is the time of year many of us spend countless hours raking leaves and pine straw, piling them up, watching kids jump into the piles (then re-raking!), and bagging them up for disposal. However, what you may... Read More

Growing Winter Strawberries Workshop

Where: Washington County Agriculture Center 1424 Jackson Ave When: Saturday November 11, 9:00am-12:00pm Cost: $10.00. Refreshments Served Limit 30 participants Strawberry plant plugs will be provided to participants ! On site demonstration ! Pre Registration required for count:... Read More

Controlling Brush & Invasive Species Workshop

Encroaching brush, whether native or invasive, can be a problem for properties large and small. Fighting woody brush and other hard-to-kill weed species can be challenging for property owners. Many factors affect the effectiveness and efficiency of control... Read More

Mysterious Growths on Bald Cypress

Bald cypress Taxodium distichum is a native tree that is commonly planted in landscapes because it is adaptable to many sites and grows quickly. It is an interesting tree because it has soft flat leaves that fall off... Read More

An Easily Preventable Tree Planting Problem

Trees are a landscape asset for many homeowners. When a new tree is installed in our landscapes, we can’t wait for it to mature to provide shade or landscape interest.  The heartbreak for many homeowners comes when this... Read More

Readying Your Raised Beds for Northwest Florida’s Best Gardening Season

I had to do a hard thing last week.  My battle-worn okra, eggplant and pepper plants that had produced so reliably since June and endured all the summertime challenges (heat, insects, disease, and a hurricane to name a... Read More

Fall Wildflowers of North Florida Roadsides

The network of backcountry roads winding through north Florida offer pleasant views of rolling pastures, fields of cotton, old tobacco barns, and, occasionally, a scenic overlook of our local “hills”. Many of these roads follow the original trails... Read More

Golden Fall in the Panhandle

Each fall, nature puts on a brilliant show of color throughout the United States. As the temperatures drop, autumn encourages the “leaf peepers” to hit the road in search of the red-, yellow- and orange-colored leaves of the... Read More

Whiteflies Invade the Panhandle

Over the last month or so, home gardeners and commercial growers alike have noticed what look to be large dust particles floating through the air. It’s probably not uncommon to have inhaled a few or even a few hundred of... Read More

Gear Up for Leon County Extension’s Garden Educator Training Series

  By Tiffany Torres Tiffany Torres is the Family Nutrition Program Northwest District Food Systems Specialist with UF/IFAS Extension. With the cooler months of fall upon us, school gardens across the Panhandle are beginning to awaken from their... Read More

Smart Sampling

One of the roles of a Horticulture Extension Agent is to help identify pests found in the landscape. Weeds are fairly easy for people to sample, simply take some pictures or dig it up and bring it into... Read More

Fig Leaves Dropping Early?

Hopefully, by this time of year, most north Florida gardeners have harvested their figs and are enjoying fig preserves or fig bars. But if you’ve noticed your fig leaves dropping a little early, it may be a sign... Read More

Hurricane Preparation in the Landscape

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... Read More

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... Read More

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... Read More

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... Read More

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.... Read More

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... Read More

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... Read More

Plant Cupheas for Summer Flowers, Hummingbirds, and More

  Cupheas are perennials that produce bright orange, red, yellow or purple flowers all summer and fall.  Some species are called cigar plants due to their tubular, cigar shaped flowers tipped in red or yellow (like a lit... Read More

Grass Worms

If you are one of the many that have taken advantage of the frequent rain in order to establish a new lawn, keep an eye open for “grass worms”. Though truly caterpillars, not worms, these destructive, chewing insects... Read More

Summer Irrigation Tips

July’s hot summer weather has given way to August’s 31 days of what will likely be temperatures and humidity equally elevated and intense. Wishes for November’s cooler thermometer reading are already creeping into daily conversations. The lawns and... Read More

Surefire Shrubs for Containers

Growing in containers can be one of the most versatile ways to add color, texture and mobility to the landscape.  However, gardeners generally reach for finicky annuals to fill their pots with pizzazz.  The problem with this strategy... Read More

Ethnobotany: Where History and Medicine Meet the Forest

Ethnobotany lies at the intersection of culture, medicine, and mythology. The “witch doctors” and voodoo practitioners, the followers of the Afro-Cuban religion of Santeria, and the wise elders of ancient Chinese civilizations are all ethnobotanists. So, too, are... Read More

Safety and Best Management Practices Essential for Pesticide Use

Many folks may not realize it at first, but everyone is using pesticides. Have you recently used a mold or mildew removal cleaner in your bathroom? Do you apply flea & tick powder to your pet? It is a misconception that... Read More

Recent Weather Fueling Fungi

Florida’s panhandle has received quite a bit of rain this summer. In the last three months, depending on the location, approximately 15 to 35 inches of rain have come down, with the western panhandle on the higher end... Read More

Pickleweed – A Novelty Plant

I encountered pickleweed (Salicornia sp.) on a recent trip to Utah. I first noticed the plant growing in the bank of a pond at a salt factory. A sample was pulled for further investigation and it was determined... Read More

The Grass is Getting “Hungry”

Northwest Florida’s weather patterns can present challenges to maintaining a health lawn. Heavy rains promote fast growth and relentless sunshine causes lawns to fade.  In the last 200 days we have received at least 68 days of rain. ... Read More

Mowing Your Lawn Correctly

Northwest Florida has experienced an enormous amount of rain this summer. The western panhandle has received over 29 inches of rain since the beginning of May according to the Florida Automated Weather Network station at the West Florida... Read More

Small Cockroaches Flying Into Homes

The Asian cockroach was first identified as a newly introduced species in the U.S. in Lakeland, Florida in 1986. I started seeing this small cockroach in our area about 17 or 18 years ago. They’ve done well recently... Read More

The Predatory Praying Mantis

  Summertime is bug time in the Florid Panhandle.  The weather has provided enough rain for the bugs which depend on a supply of foliage and the temperatures have been ideal for a population explosion. Stink bugs, leaf-footed... Read More

Why Don’t My Plants Match?

When designing landscapes, it is popular to create lines and masses of plants for high visual impacts. Plants are carefully selected to be similar in size and shape at the time of installation. They are all grouped together, so... Read More

Ponder the Antiquity of Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables have undergone various forms of domestication for thousands of years. Throughout this time, selective breeding of wild forages has allowed humans to develop crops with many desirable traits, such as increased size, higher sugar content,... Read More

Rain Gardens – A Solution for Runoff

Tropical Storm Cindy’s early arrival soaked northwest Florida this month, followed by even more heavy rain. Homes in low areas and along the rivers flooded and suffered extensive damage. That being said, we are just entering our summer... Read More

African Blue Basil: A Pollinator Favorite

Basil is a favorite plant in the summer herb garden and an absolute must for those who enjoy fresh leaves for a sandwich or delicious homemade pesto. While we grow basils as a food enhancer, an added benefit is... Read More

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... Read More

Algal Leaf Spot Common on Magnolias and Camellias

Algal leaf spot, also known as green scurf, is commonly found on thick-leaved, evergreen trees and shrubs such as magnolias and camellias.  It is in the genus Cephaleuros and happens to be one of the only plant parasitic algae... Read More

New Resource on Integrated Pest Management for Shrubs

IPM for Shrubs in Southeastern US Nursery Production Volume II is the third book released by the Southern Nursery Integrated Pest Management Working Group (SNIPM) and includes chapters on hydrangea, loropetalum, holly, rhododendron (including azalea), Indian hawthorn, and... Read More

Tips on How to Manage Water in Your Landscape

    Although we’ve received much-needed rainfall of late, it’s still a struggle to manage moisture levels in our Panhandle landscapes this summer. During wet summer seasons, one recurring issue is that watering plants too much can have as much... Read More

Workshop on New and Re-emerging Rose Diseases and Pests, July 11, 1-5 pm.

Come to this free workshop to learn about the latest results of University of Florida and national research on roses. Receive hands-on training on symptoms and management of rose rosette disease, rose mosaic disease, crown gall, and rose... Read More

Celebrating and Attracting Pollinators

Unfortunately, reports from the National Research Council say that the long-term population trends for some North American pollinators are “demonstrably downward”. Ten years ago the U.S. Senate unanimously approved and designated “National Pollinator Week” to help raise awareness. ... Read More

It’s Raining, It’s Pouring ……..

Recent rains in the panhandle have kept many gardeners indoors. While we’re mostly watching the rain from inside, there are some lawn and landscape tasks to consider.   The most obvious is to turn off any automatic irrigation... Read More

Florida Natives: Stokes’ Aster

Florida is home to some of the most beautiful flowering perennials. An exceptional one for the panhandle landscape is Stokes’ aster (Stokesia laevis) as it is showy, deer resistant and easy to care for. Unlike other perennials, it... Read More

Frequent Rains Induce Slime Mold in Panhandle Lawns

Although black or white streaks are shocking when they appear on an otherwise healthy lawn,  slime molds are rarely harmful. Slime mold is actually caused by the reproductive structures of an array of different organisms, classified as plasmodia or Protista, which are... Read More

Plan Before Fertilizing a Lawn

Fertilizing a lawn properly in the summer can enhance the landscape without inducing disease or harming the environment . One universal activity is seasonal lawn and landscape maintenance. While some consider it a chore, many view it as a means... Read More

Landscaping in Coastal Areas

People from other parts of the country often move into Florida with expectations of their landscape beyond its capabilities. Those gorgeous peonies that grew up north or the perfect tomatoes they grew in California seem to wither in... Read More

Not all Palm Fertilizers are the Same

It is common in Northwest Florida for palms to show signs of nutrient deficiencies. In general our sandy soil is often nutrient poor and available nutrients can easily move out of soils with frequent rainfall.  In landscapes where... Read More

Healthy and Delicious, Oyster Mushrooms Can be Grown at Home

Oyster mushrooms (Pleurotus ostreatus) – which have nothing to do with oysters besides their similar shape – are some of the most delicate, subtlety flavored, and easiest to prepare mushrooms of the culinary world. They can easily be... Read More

Butterfly Gardening

Have you been thinking about creating a butterfly garden but don’t know where to start? Afraid it’s too much upkeep or has to look wild and untamed? Spend a Saturday morning with the UF/IFAS Master Gardeners of Bay... Read More

Avoid Pitfalls in the Care of Newly Planted Trees and Shrubs

This time of year, people flock to nurseries and garden centers to purchase trees or shrubs that will enhance their landscapes. However, there are certain management measures to keep in mind to ensure plant establishment. Depending on the... Read More

My Tree Has Tumors

As oak trees are now fully leafing out and people start hanging out in the shade of the canopy, many of you are noticing strange growths on the branches. They look like potatoes, spiky cones and fuzz balls... Read More

Tired of Turf? Try Groundcover Alternatives Instead!

If you’re like me, growing turfgrass is often more of a hassle than anything else.  Regardless of the species you plant, none tolerates shade well and it can seem like there is a never-ending list of chores and... Read More

Bark Stripping Squirrels

The squirrels are at it again! This time they are stripping the bark from the trunks of my Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia) trees. Squirrels feed on the bark of a number of other different tree species including oaks,... Read More

Landscape Pruning

Pruning is something all homeowners and landscapers know is one of the many chores to be completed in the landscape. Everyone recognizes that pruning needs to be done on occasion, but it can be confusing to know how... Read More

Farmers Prepare for the New Food Safety Standards

If you are a farmer, you have most likely heard about the Food Safety Modernization Act, or FSMA, by now. If you are not a farmer, you probably do not know that food safety regulations are going through... Read More

Benefit from Beneficial Insects

A number of summers ago, I noticed whiteflies on a confederate rose plant in my landscape. I considered using an insecticide to control the whiteflies but decided against doing so after taking a closer look. What I found... Read More

Love Blueberries? Thank the Blueberry Bee!

This time of year, blueberry bushes are flowering and small fruit are coming onto the wild and cultivated bushes in north Florida. Many of us, myself included, look forward to the late-spring harvest of blueberries, taking our children out... Read More

Tick Tips

You’ve probably heard some tips to prevent picking up ticks in the past, but did you ever wonder why some work and others don’t? Understanding the life cycle and behavior of common ticks can help you succeed with... Read More

Drama in the Garden with Amazon Dianthus Series

We may shy away from drama in our lives but drama in the garden is always welcome. One plant series that will be a prominent feature in any garden bed is the Amazon Dianthus series. Although we normally... Read More

Impatiens for Sun and Shade

  Impatiens are a very popular annual, bedding plant that provide a nice burst of color in the landscape. The traditional Impatiens (Impatiens walleriana), or touch-me-not, is the one that most gardeners know as needing part shade, but... Read More

Full Steam Ahead for Vegetable Garden Soil Prep

If you haven’t already, it’s time to prepare the garden space for the summer bounty of fresh vegetables. The following information will help you get started. Just remember, as the soil preparation goes, so goes the vegetable production.... Read More

A Shrub that Likes it Shady

Almost every landscape has a problem area where the sun just doesn’t shine and many plants won’t make it, maybe it’s the north side of your house, under a small tree, or tucked away in an oddly-shaped alcove. ... Read More

Dig Safely: Call 811

This month, recognized by the Senate and Florida’s governor, reminds diggers why calling 811 before all outdoor digging projects is important to your safety. Before installing a mailbox, fence, deck, garden or tree make sure to call Sunshine... Read More

Increase Crop Diversity to Improve Your Garden

Most of you plant a spring vegetable garden with a number of different vegetable types. However, you may not realize that you are improving the health of your soil and your crops by planting a diverse garden.  Intercropping... Read More

Monitoring for Common Lawn Insects

Mole crickets, chinch bugs and spittlebugs are common lawn insect pests to begin watching for this time of year. Mole crickets can be active in lawns spring through fall, but the best window of opportunity to control them... Read More

Landscaping for Children

I recently had the pleasure of visiting Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida and experienced one of their newest additions, a children’s garden. As much a playground as a place for growing plants, it was full of whimsical... Read More

Permaculture Workshop – April 29

The Jackson County Master Gardeners are hosting “Permaculture: An Introduction” on Saturday, April 29. Join us from 9AM to 2PM on Saturday, April 29 at the Jackson County Extension Office (2741 Penn Ave., Ste.#3, Marianna, FL) to learn... Read More

Tips for Transplanting

When I think of the end of winter and the hot temperatures that will soon be here to stay in the Florida Panhandle, I often feel a little melancholy. But the one silver lining that always picks me... Read More

Put Some Thought into Tree Placement

It’s really tempting to buy a tree and plant it in the middle of your lawn or directly in front of your picture window, but instead take some time to choose the best spot first. Several considerations such... Read More

Native Shrub Option for Sandy Soils

We often talk about sandy, nutrient poor soil in Florida and how difficult it is for growing many favorite landscape plants. Gardeners may spend considerable time and money amending soils with organic matter to improve quality. The low... Read More

Prevent Asparagus Fern Escapes

As an extension agent, I’m always curious of what plants folks are using in the landscape. One plant I’ve been noticing more and more of in north Florida, both in containers and in landscape beds, is asparagus fern.... Read More

Are Your Dogwoods in Decline?

Everyone, or at least everyone fortunate enough to grow up in the South, has a fond memory tucked away of a sight or smell of a plant that reminds them of the good old days. Maybe it’s the... Read More

Spring Festival of Flowers April 7-9, 2017!

About the Spring Festival of Flowers The University of Florida, IFAS and the Pensacola State College Milton Campus invites you to join them for one of the largest festivals of the season. This is a popular event that... Read More

Get Those Fairies Off My Lawn!

Mushrooms often are grouped in a circle in your lawn.  This is due to the circular release of spores from a central mushroom. “Fairy Ring” is a term used to describe this phenomenon. Fairy rings can be caused by... Read More

Inspect and Wash to Prevent Azalea Lace Bug Damage

Now is the time to prevent your azaleas from being attacked by lace bugs. The azalea lace bug, Stephanitis pyrioides, overwinters as eggs on the underside of infested leaves. Eggs hatch in late March and early April. The... Read More

The Visual and Delectable Appeal of an Edible Landscape

Edible landscaping has become a trend for many gardening enthusiasts. A combination of edible plants along with traditional ornamentals can create an artful presentation. There are some challenges when designing such a landscape, but in those challenges opportunities’ may... Read More

Take Steps to Minimize Mosquitoes

It is an often made wish of summer that the cold weather of winter will kill all the mosquitoes, gnats and no-see-ums. This climactic fete would spare people, pets and livestock the irritation of encountering these low flying... Read More

Choosing a Lawn Maintenance Company

Lawns in northwest Florida are really starting to get going early this year. It is early March but feels much later in the year and many feel behind on their lawn maintenance and various other landscape chores. Maybe... Read More

Florida Natives: Florida Red Anise

Springtime brings small but very pretty red blooms on an outstanding native shrub/small tree, Florida red anise (Illicium floridanum). It occurs naturally in the wild in the central and western panhandle of Florida and west along the gulf... Read More

There Is Still Time To Prevent Spring Lawn Weeds

Now that March is here the lawn becomes less of an abstraction and more reality. The lawnmower is no longer silent, meaninglessly taking up space as the grass wakens from its seasonal stupor. Alas, the dormant state has ended as... Read More

Raised Bed Gardening 101

Want to start a vegetable garden, but don’t know where to start? Are you seeing rectangular boxes popping up all over your neighbors’ yards and wondering why? Well, I am here to spread the news of raised-bed gardening!... Read More

Keys to Growing Tomatoes in Florida

Florida farmers produce more fresh tomatoes than any other state. Yet Florida home gardeners find it difficult to grow tomatoes. By changing a few basic practices, home gardeners can increase their chances of success. My philosophy of growing... Read More

Why A One Size Fits All Approach to Lawn Care is a Bad Idea

Regardless of what the tag says one size does not fit all. As with clothing, a piece will undoubtedly be too large for some and too small for others. Trying to go with a “one size fits all” approach... Read More

Observing Springtime Cycles in a Warming World

It’s mid-February, and regardless of the groundhog’s prediction, spring seems to have arrived in northwest Florida. In my neighborhood, all the azaleas have bloomed. While beautiful, it’s something that usually doesn’t happen around here until well into March!... Read More

Beautiful Daffodils in Bloom

Daffodils are blooming in the UF/IFAS Leon County Extension Demonstration Garden. Daffodils, including paperwhites and narcissus, are in the Amaryllis family and have been cultivated for centuries. The Greeks and Romans admired the beautiful flowers and the plant’s... Read More

Dooryard Citrus Care for February

Dooryard citrus enthusiasts may be uncertain about late winter management of Satsuma and other citrus trees.  Several questions that have come in to the Extension Office recently include: Should I prune my trees? Why are the leaves yellow? How... Read More

Lack of Winter Chill a Problem for Fruit

Many of us are enjoying warmer temperatures this winter, but many deciduous fruit crops really need cold temperatures in order to break dormancy for the year.  In areas that experience cold temperatures, plants have evolved the ability to... Read More

Large Limb Removal Tips

There are a number of reasons to remove large limbs from mature trees. The three most common reasons are to either remove dead wood, to keep limbs from interfering with one another and rubbing or growing together, or... Read More

Hydroponic Gardening Workshop – Marianna

BASIC HYDROPONIC GARDENING WORKSHOP Learn hydroponic gardening basics. Identify suitable plants for hydroponic gardening. Learn plant food recommendations for hydroponic gardens. Go home with equipment for a small portable hydroponic garden. WHEN:              ... Read More

Annual Bedding Plants This Time of Year?

Yes, even with cool weather setting in, much can be done on the flower gardening front. Let’s kickoff 2017 by being the envy of the neighborhood with flower beds that are rich and vibrant in color. Annual bedding... Read More

Warm Winter Influences Spring Bloom Times

  This winter’s exceptional weather has deceived some popular springtime ornamental shrubs and fruit trees into flowering prematurely. Azaleas, for example, began blooming because of winter temperatures mush warmer than average. There are number of variables which determine... Read More

Plan to Reduce Summer Weeds

Remember last summer? The hot, dry days.  Grass drying up and turning brown.  Yet, the weeds are green and doing fine.  However, every herbicide label warns against applying when the temperatures are above 85 degrees and especially under... Read More

Why Are There Holes in My Tree?

Have you noticed strange rings of pencil-sized holes on the trunks of certain trees in your landscape recently?  If so, take heart that these holes are not emanating from an infestation of destructive insects but rather from a... Read More

Acorns Abound!

Do you have more acorns than you know what to do with? When oaks produce loads of acorns, it sometimes is called a “mast” year. Do you remember the oak tree pollen and all those catkins that fell... Read More

Enabling Technique for Raised Bed Gardens

Now is the time to start planning for a spring garden! There are many different methods of successful gardening but here I’d like to discuss raised bed gardening. A few advantages of raised beds: Raised bed gardens provide an... Read More

An Important Tip When Installing Sod

It won’t be long before homeowners start thinking about sodding a new lawn or renovating areas of their existing turf. Although sodding when turf is dormant is acceptable, it is best to install sod that is green. One reason... Read More

What Plant is This?

A common diagnostic service offered at your local UF/IFAS Extension office is plant identification. Whether you need a persistent weed identified so you can implement a management program or you need to identify an ornamental plant and get... Read More

Arbor Day: An American-born Celebration

Arbor Day has a 145-year history, started in Nebraska by a nature-loving newspaper editor named J. Sterling Morton who recognized the many valuable services trees provide. The first Arbor Day was such a big success that Mr. Morton’s... Read More

Poinsettia Care

It’s Christmastime and time to pull your poinsettias out of the closet. Oh, you don’t have poinsettias left over from Christmas’ past? Well, if you follow some simple steps then you may be enjoying this year’s crop for... Read More

Tips for Christmas Tree Care

Although there are many types of artificial Christmas trees these days, live or cut trees are still very popular. Given the proper care, your natural tree can maintain its festive look throughout the holidays, keeping your safety in... Read More

Don’t Be Afraid to Disturb the Rootball

A new tree or shrub is an investment for the future. When we pick an ornamental plant, we have the hope that it will survive for many years and offer seasons of beauty that enhance our landscape.  Time... Read More

Christmas Trees with “Presents”

Christmas is coming. So much to do. Picking out the perfect, fresh-cut tree is one of the important tasks. Every family member has their specific requirement. “It has to be a certain species.” It has to be a... Read More

When Do Winter Vegetables Require Frost Protection ?

In Northwest Florida gardeners are fortunate since it is possible to grow ample supplies of vegetables throughout the winter months. While the Florida Panhandle does receive the occasional hard freeze, many winter vegetables such as radish, onion, lettuce, carrot and the... Read More

Reduce 100 Bags of Fall Leaves to Ten

Billions of leaves blanket the fall landscape and are bagged by hundreds of homeowners to be placed curbside for local trash pick-up. Many of these leaves could be easily turned into valuable mulch or compost. Why do all... Read More

Grow Shiitake Mushrooms in Your Backyard

Growing up, I was never too fond of mushrooms. To me, their only purpose was to ruin a perfectly good pizza. As I got older, I started to warm up slightly toward raw button mushrooms in salads –... Read More

American Beech–an American Beauty

During a recent hike through wooded property in Walton County, our Florida Master Naturalist class came across a stunning example of an American Beech tree (Fagus grandifolia). As we looked closely at its thick, sinewy trunk (often compared... Read More

Something’s Been Eating in My Yard!

Missing rose buds, pulled up pansies, and damaged tree trunks are all signs that something has been visiting your garden while you are away. But what could it be? Most gardeners are familiar with leaf spots caused by... Read More

Look More Deeply for Causes of Leaf Wilt

Plants have specific ways of telling gardeners that there is a problem, but not all plant symptoms lead us directly to the cause. During drier conditions, we often use wilting leaves as an indicator that water is needed. ... Read More

Want Fall Color? Plant These Trees !

  Florida has so much to offer!  It is home to the world’s most beautiful beaches. It has one of the largest agricultural economies nationwide.   But among all these things, Florida is lacking in one area that... Read More

Saltbush – A Late Blooming Native Shrub

  If you have noticed bursts of white-flowered shrubs along roadsides, trails, and other natural areas the last couple of weeks, there’s a good chance that it was saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia). Saltbush is a native shrub in the... Read More

Brussels Sprouts Can Change Gardening Minds,….and Taste Buds

Want to try something different in your winter garden this year? Well, when it comes to Brussels sprouts, you either love them or hate them. They’re not commonly grown in the Panhandle, but if you’re looking for something... Read More

Firespikes for Fall Color and Hummingbird Food

Looking to add something to brighten your landscape this autumn?   Firespike (Odontonema strictum) is a prolific fall bloomer with red tubular flowers that are very popular with hummingbirds and butterflies.  It’s glossy dark green leaves make an attractive... Read More

What’s Eating My Tree?

The Chinese elms in my yard are under attack.  They are dropping leaves and the temperature’s still in the 70s.  Upon closer look, they aren’t just dropping leaves but the tips of branches too.  What is going on?... Read More

Look What’s Blooming Now!

When many of our summer blooming plants start fading, yellow cassia, Senna bicapsularis, becomes a show stopper. Late fall and early winter is when it blooms and dazzles. The bright yellow flowers appear in numerous clusters at the... Read More

Vegetable Gardening Makes Sense and Saves Dollars

  Vegetable gardening has many highly desirable benefits. These positive features range from being a good source of exercise, an opportunity to produce fresh produce which may be hard to find in retail establishment, and being able to... Read More

Fall: An Ideal Time for Shrub Installation

It was a hot summer that has continued into Fall.  We hope cooler temperatures are on their way to the panhandle of Florida.  Fall can be a great time to spruce up your landscape with some new shrubs.... Read More

Gardening Baby Steps with Radishes

If you’ve considered starting a vegetable garden but are intimidated by the idea, this time of year is a great time to give radishes a try. Radishes are a cool season crop and will grow well in the... Read More

Jackson County Daffodil Sale!

The Jackson County Master Gardeners are selling daffodil bulbs.  Bulbs are sold in paper bags for $5.00 per bag.  Bulb counts vary per bag based on bulb size.  For descriptions of available bulbs please see the attached flyer.... Read More

Growing Ginger Root in North Florida

Fall is finally here and we are beginning to enjoy our first few bursts of cold air coming in from the northwest. For many, this inspires us to prepare dishes with all of our favorite seasonal spices –... Read More

Learn to Relax with Gardening Advice from UF/IFAS Extension

  With fall weather finally giving us a break from the heat of summer, this is the perfect time for North Florida residents to get outside and try their hands at gardening. Not only is gardening rewarding for... Read More

Scary Things are Happening in Our Landscapes this Halloween

The reality of what happens deep down in the darkness of a fire ant mound hidden to human eyes or in the tunnels of a mole cricket where only creepy crawly things dare to enter may be too... Read More

November 9th Green Industries Best Management Practices Class

Wednesday November 9th, 8am-4pm. Green Industries Best Management Practices Okaloosa County Extension 3098 Airport Rd. Crestview, FL. Click Here for flyer.   Facebook0Twitter0Google plus0

Pro Hort Series: Tree Pruning

  Thursday, November 3, 8am-12pm. ProHort Series: Tree Pruning. Escambia County Central Office Complex 3363 West Park Place Pensacola, FL 32505   16_santarosa_tree_pruning_flyer_email Facebook0Twitter0Google plus0

Persimmon: A Dooryard Fruit

  A recent visit to the North Florida Research and Education Center reminded me of a fruit that is often low profile in Northwest Florida, the Oriental persimmon. The Oriental, or Japanese, persimmon (Diospyros kaki) was introduced to the... Read More

How to Care for Palms After the Storm

A common question after a tropical storm or hurricane event is will my palm tree recover? Palms grow different from other trees, so there’s definitely a different way to care for them post-storm. The growing point of a... Read More

Spiny Spiders

The year’s mild winter and frequent rain showers have created lush lawns and gardens with an abundance of insects. As a result, we are seeing many predator arthropods taking advantage of the available feast.  One of the morning... Read More

The Color of Fall in the Panhandle

Each fall, nature puts on a brilliant show of color throughout the United States. As the temperatures drop, autumn encourages the “leaf peepers” to hit the road in search of the red-, yellow- and orange-colored leaves of the... Read More

Gardening for Pollinator Conservation Workshop – October 13th, Quincy FL

A “Gardening for Pollinator Conservation” Workshop will take place Thursday, October 13, at the UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC) in Quincy. Pollinators are important in conserving native plants, ensuring a plentiful food supply, encouraging biodiversity... Read More

Sod Webworms May Soon Be in a Yard Near You!

Tropical sod webworms (Herpetogramma phaeopteralis) have recently been encountered in a number of yards in the Panhandle. The worms usually feed in large groups and unfortunately, the first, and basically the only, sign of damage is often a... Read More

Fall Turf Issues

The crisp air of fall is upon us. Maybe. We live in northwest Florida and we are not experiencing the change in weather just yet. With the change in weather coming, we are having specific issues in turfgrass lawns... Read More


The daylily is a popular flowering perennial with East Asian origins which has adapted well to Florida landscapes. Plants are available in a wide variety of growth habits, flower shapes and colors, including yellow, orange, red, pink, purple,... Read More

Is It a Salamander or Pocket Gopher?

Pocket gopher is a furry animal known by many locals as “sandy mounder.” It was given this name because of the sandy mounds of excavated earth that the gopher pushes out of its underground burrows. The name sandy... Read More

Florida Wildflowers: Blazing Star

The Florida panhandle has a treasure of native wildflowers to enjoy in every season of the year. In the late summer and fall, blazing star, also commonly known as gayfeather, can be found blooming in natural areas and... Read More

Echo Your Architecture

One of the most overlooked aspects of landscape design, particularly on DIY projects, is the idea of enhancing the architecture of your home by using plants that echo the shapes and features of the structure. The use of... Read More

My Fall Vegetable Garden

Fall is fast approaching, and that means my favorite season for gardening has arrived! September is the month we get to start all of our fall favorites. For me, this means starting lettuce, kale, broccoli, and collards by... Read More

Saltbush–a Native Beauty, of Sorts

In the spring and summer, no one notices the little green shrub hidden among wax myrtle and marsh elder at the edge of the salt marsh. However, if I’m leading a group of students or a Master Naturalist... Read More

Attract Pollinators with Dotted Horsemint

If you are looking for a late summer blooming plant that attracts pollinators and survives in a tough spot, dotted horsemint (Monarda punctata) is for you! This native plant thrives in sunny, well-drained sites but will also tolerate... Read More

Best Seasons for Planting Coming Up

By the look of the crowded nurseries during March and April, springtime seems to be the best time for planting. This is the case for our frost tender annuals and perennials but we are actually heading into our... Read More

Perennial Peanut, a Great Choice for Panhandle Pastures and Landscapes

Driving through rural panhandle counties this time of year, one finds pastures with thick green canopies, exploding with yellow-gold flowers. Perennial peanut is in bloom. This is a highly nutritional forage option for livestock and also makes for... Read More

Distorted Plants

Plants can become distorted for a wide variety of reasons. Sometimes nutrient deficiencies or toxicities can cause plants to become distorted. Sometimes excessive amounts of water or sunlight can cause plants to become distorted. And sometimes insect feeding... Read More

Go Native: Rainlilies!

Florida is home to many gorgeous and desirable native plant species. One to consider for your landscape is the rainlily, Zephyranthes and Habranthus spp. They are easy to care for and are bothered by few pests. As the... Read More

Welcome the Air Potato Leaf Beetle

A small, but brightly colored beetle has appeared in north Florida: the air potato leaf beetle (Liliocetis cheni), a native of East Asia. The beetle, less than half an inch long, has a candy apple red body that... Read More

Panhandle Vegetable Gardeners Seeking the “Organic” Option

Being a gardener in the panhandle has its advantages. We’re able to grow a tremendous variety of vegetables on a year-round basis. However, in this climate, plant diseases, insects and weeds can often thrive. Usually, chemical measures are... Read More

Skunkvine – A Stinky Invasive Plant

North Florida gardeners have many non-native, invasive plants to deal with, but none quite as stinky as skunkvine (Paederia foetida). As the name implies, skunkvine has a noticeable smell, especially when the leaves are crushed, and it is... Read More

A Cool Good Bug

With all the media discussion of “bad” insects, like mosquitoes, many of the good guys are forgotten. One that has been very active this summer is the blue mud dauber, Chalybion californicum. These wasps are metallic blue, blue-green or... Read More

Consider Landscape Fabric Carefully

Homeowners and horticulture professionals spend time to develop an attractive ornamental bed only to have weeds take over months or a few years later. One common method in the attempt to prevent weeds is to apply a landscape... Read More

Fire Ants in the Garden

  There’s nothing worse than sinking your fingers into your garden soil to dig up a potato, plant a seedling, or pull up a radish, and be met with a sharp, painful sting, and little red critters rocketing... Read More

Multiple Uses for Mint

Mint is very easy to grow in the right place, sometimes a little bit too easily.   It’s reputation for being aggressive is well deserved. As with any other plant you use in your landscape, you need to be sure... Read More

Upcoming Fall Gardening Program Series

Click below for more info Upcoming Fall Gardening Workshop Series August 25th – September 22   Facebook0Twitter0Google plus0

Try Container Grown Annuals to Brighten Bare Spots

There are areas in most landscapes where it is not practical or possible to bring in the tiller and create a flowerbed. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have color in those areas. A little imagination, a decorative... Read More

Fence Row Weed Control…Optional?

Nothing looks better than a fence clean from weeds right?  It all depends on the goal you have in mind.  If you want to one day receive the infamous honor of “yard of the month”, than you might want... Read More

Common Live Oak Problems and Solutions

  The Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) is one of the most iconic figures of the Deep South. Mentioning the words Live Oak invokes all sorts of romantic nostalgia of yesteryear and the reputation is not unearned. In fact,... Read More

The Fig

Summer is full of simple pleasures—afternoon rainstorms, living in flip flops, and cooling off in a backyard pool. Among these, one of my favorites is walking out my door and picking handfuls of figs right from the tree.... Read More

Fall Vegetable Gardening Workshop August 6

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When is Half an Inch a Big Deal?

Sometimes when we talk about the size of things we like to estimate and don’t worry too much about being precise, but there are times when as little as a half inch really is a big deal. When... Read More

Support Your Local Growers’ Markets

When you think of farmers’ markets, what is that comes to mind? Is it the customers perusing the tables, the vendors organizing their displays, the variety of colors of the fruits and vegetables, the aromas of many types... Read More

Plant Mutations

Many of the plants in our gardens have been developed and discovered that offer interesting characteristics. These may include leaves with variegations, dwarf growth habits, or even contorted stems.  We enjoy these plant differences and many of these... Read More

Avoid Mosquitoes Abroad and in Your Own Backyard

The Zika virus has made us all more aware of the need to avoid getting bit by mosquitoes when we travel to those destinations that have confirmed reports of Zika infected mosquitoes. The Centers for Disease Control and... Read More

Peppers Get Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus Too!

Peppers and tomatoes are in the same plant family – solanaceae or more commonly known as the nightshade family – and can be susceptible to some of the same diseases. This is true of Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus... Read More

The Forgotten Fruit and the Forgotten Coast

It’s safe to say that almost everyone equates citrus with the state of Florida. It just goes hand in hand. Most people first think of citrus as being oranges and grapefruit. Even by traveling south on I-75 or... Read More

What’s Wrong with My Plant…Picture

Homeowners and businesses will often send in plant and insect pictures to the Extension Office. This is a convenient practice for both clientele and Extension Agents, but sometimes it may make diagnosis more difficult and more time-consuming. More... Read More

Do Your Plants have Problems?

  Many gardeners get stumped when a favorite plant of theirs comes down with a strange “something”. Many of these gardeners know about UF/IFAS Extension and call their local horticulture and agriculture agents for assistance in figuring out... Read More

Summer Blue Flowers Enjoyed by People and Bees

The showy chaste tree makes an attractive specimen as the centerpiece of your landscape bed or in a large container on the deck. Easy-to-grow, drought resistant, and attractive to butterflies and bees, Vitex agnus-castus is a multi-stemmed small... Read More

Fighting Fireblight

Gardeners in Northwest Florida were blessed this spring with conditions conducive to great gardening, mild weather and plenty of rain. However, with those pleasant conditions has come an unusually high occurrence of Fireblight. Cases of Fireblight have been... Read More

How to Water to Establish a Lawn

When watering to establish a lawn or when renovating (redoing, patching, reestablishing, starting over, etc.) a lawn, we normally call for 2-3 “mists” throughout the day for the first 7-10 days until roots get established. These are just... Read More

Mowing Matters

Mowing is an important and often overlooked landscape best management practices that can increase lawn health. Most of us mowed lawns to earn some spending money as kids. As long as it was shorter when we finished than... Read More

‘Tis the Season for U-Pick Blueberries!

There is something almost magical about picking vibrantly blue blueberries off a bush and eating them fresh. If you watch the blueberries develop, you see them go from shades of pale green and blush red to dark and... Read More

Know Your Patented Plants

Gardeners love to share plants. My yard, like many of my gardener friends, is filled with plant gifts that were started from a cutting or division of a favorite plant.  These two methods of growing new plants is... Read More

Zoysiagrass Becoming More Popular in the Panhandle

If you’ve been researching lawn grass options recently, you’ve probably come across a not so traditional variety known as zoysiagrass. There’s no mystery why zoysiagrass has become a hit with lawn enthusiasts in the Panhandle. This variety is... Read More

Don’t be a Sap! Knowing the difference between Florida pines

Pine trees are so common in the southeastern United States that they are often taken for granted. They are usually the first to be cut down when homeowners are nervous about storms, and unless you’re in the tree-growing... Read More

Control Grasshoppers When They Are Young

The Eastern Lubber Grasshopper, also known colloquially as the “Georgia Thumper,” can be highly destructive to a variety of vegetable crops. This May many growers and vegetable gardeners have reported unusually high numbers of nymphs, the juvenile form... Read More

Purple Triangles in the Trees

From time to time I am reminded of how little I know.  Honestly, I am reminded on a daily basis. A few weeks ago someone asked me about the purple things hanging from the trees. Luckily, the person... Read More

What’s in Your Manure?

Humans have used animal manures to fertilize food crops for thousands of years. Manures are an organic source of plant nutrients and are often a waste byproduct that must be properly managed when raising animals. Today, many farmers... Read More

Pond Management Trainings Tuesday Evenings May 31st and June 7th

Ponds can be a source of great enjoyment. However, properly managing them to meet your desired goals can be challenging. Panhandle Pond Management, a two part series being offered by UF/IFAS Extension, is designed to help pond owners/managers... Read More

Leaving the Tree Isn’t Saving the Tree

As cities expand, wooded lands and property with mature trees are being developed into commercial and residential sites. Unfortunately, the construction process can be deadly to nearby trees.  In most cases, the trees don’t die immediately.  Several years... Read More

Does Your Lawn Guy Need a License?

If your lawn and landscape care professional applies fertilizer as a part of his/her services, then the answer is yes. Since January 2014, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has required that all commercial fertilizer... Read More

Caterpillars in the Vegetable Garden

In the last few weeks, more garden pests have arrived! It is a fact of life in northwest Florida that we will have a few things in our garden including heat, moisture (humidity and rainfall), and BUGS! With a... Read More

Lawn Burweed: Back Again for a Second Act

This spring, lawn burweed has been an especially noticeable problem in lawns. Extension offices throughout Northwest Florida have been fielding many questions and finding solutions to lawn burweed infestations! On the top of my list of lawn related... Read More

Coral Ardisia, A Pretty Problem

Coral ardisia is also known as coral berry, spice berry, and scratchthroat. It was introduced into Florida in the early 1900’s for ornamental purposes. In the ensuing years it has since escaped cultivation and become established in hardwood... Read More

Cool, Wet Spring Favors Azalea and Camellia Leaf Gall

Do you have azaleas or camellias with leaves that are thickened, curled and waxy in appearance? This is fairly common this year and is caused by a fungus. Exobasidium vaccinii is a fungus that causes leaves, and in... Read More

Biological Control in Action!

Every day, if I get home before the sun goes down, I like to walk around my garden and see how things are growing. At this time of year there are always new surprises in the garden –... Read More

Citrus Choices for the Panhandle

The panhandle of Florida is a great place to grow citrus with our plentiful sunshine and sandy soil. But some varieties do better than others. Here are some that thrive in the more northerly climes of Florida: Satsuma... Read More

Beneficial Ants

Believe it or not, there is a beneficial ant that is found in many landscapes. If you see an interesting mound shaped like a small volcano, you likely have the pyramid ants. These ants form small nests in... Read More

Don’t Be Duped By Plant Tags!

People are, by nature, skeptical. Humans are and have always been questioners of the world around them and that’s a good thing! For instance, when one reads a sensational article on Facebook or watches an infomercial selling a... Read More

Don’t Think You Have a Green Thumb? Try Container Gardening!

Interested in having a garden, but have limited space? Maybe you live in an apartment, have poor soil quality, or you just don’t have many areas that get enough sunlight. Maybe you’ve tried gardening, but given up, labeling... Read More

Continuing the Eye-catching Azalea Bloom

You could certainly argue that the azalea bloom is the symbol of the southeast during spring time. This time of year, yards across the panhandle explode with vibrant colors of this unmistakable flower bloom. Even though Florida’s azalea... Read More

What’s Wrong with My Camellia Leaves?

Recently, a home gardener brought in some strange looking new leaves on his camellia. The youngest leaves were thick and fleshy and looked more characteristic of a succulent type plant than a camellia. What’s wrong with these leaves?... Read More

Experience the Mountains in Northwest Florida

If you are lucky enough to live on the southern Alabama edge of northwest Florida, you may want to see if you can find mountain laurel blooming now near the wooded creeks.  Its native range stretches from southern... Read More

Ashe Magnolia, Rare Beauty of the Florida Panhandle

The huge flowers and leaves of Ashe magnolia make it one of my favorite native flowering trees. Individual flowers may be 6 – 12 inches in diameter and are white with purple blotches at the bases of the... Read More

Tipping the Scales

                    Last week as I was basking in the shade of the Chinese Elms (Ulmus parvifolia) in my yard, I noticed some strange lumps on the twigs.  Upon further... Read More

Discover the Beauty and Role of Native Aquatic Plants – in Your Own Pond

A stand of purple flowers called “False Dragon-Heads (Physostegia spp.) growing along the St. Marks River. They are behind a stand of pickerelweed (Pontederia cordata) that has not yet bloomed.  Photo by Judy Biss This is the time... Read More

Keep It Covered with Mulch

Do you have a bare spot that you would like to see go away? How about a problem getting something to grow in a particular area? I’m not talking about that receding hairline or bald spot, I’m talking... Read More

Properly Water to Establish a Lawn

When watering to establish a lawn or when renovating (redoing, patching, reestablishing, starting over, etc.) a lawn, we normally call for 2-3 “mists” throughout the day for the first 7-10 days until roots get established. These are just... Read More

Got Compost? Leon County Offering Hands-on Workshops

Got Compost? Please join UF/IFAS Leon County Agricultural and Horticultural Extension Agents for a hands-on composting workshop. Extension Agents Mark Tancig and Molly Jameson will lead participants through: An in-class presentation on composting science and research based composting... Read More

Stop and Take Notice of Beneficial Insects

This spring, most garden plants are putting on lots of tender new growth. The lush foliage is like a free lunch to aphids, whiteflies, mealybugs and thrips. Before broad spectrum insecticides are used to control these pests, consider the impact on... Read More

Northwest Florida–Where the Plants Eat Meat!

Among the most fascinating natural phenomena in our area are the presence of dozens of species of carnivorous, or meat-eating, plants. Found in bogs, meadows, and seepage slopes with mucky, acidic soils and low levels of nutrients, these... Read More

New Twist on an Old Favorite – Abelia

Abelias have been a landscape staple in the Southeastern United States for over a century. Numerous types have been used over the years, but two of the oldest forms still used in landscapes are Glossy Abelia Abelia x... Read More

Pollinating Solitary Bees

The mining bees or adrenids are often seen in areas of landscapes that have little ground vegetation and loose soil. After mating, the female bee will excavate a very small tunnel in the ground that has several small... Read More

“Limbed Up” Loropetalum

One of the major issues homeowners face in their landscapes is selecting a tree that in maturity will be in scale with the rest of their garden and home. While we have several actual trees that fit the... Read More

Evergreen Wisteria – An Excellent Alternative for Chinese Wisteria

Are you looking for a way to jazz up a fence, trellis, or arbor? Are you looking for year-round color in your garden? Are you looking for wonderful, fragrant blooms in the summer? Than evergreen wisteria (Millettia reticulata)... Read More

Native vs. Invasive Plants

  According to the Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants, there are more than 4,200 plant species naturally occurring in the state.  Nearly 3,000 are considered native.  The Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) defines native plants as “those species... Read More

Start Planting the Spring Vegetable Garden

With weather warming up and daylight savings time right around the corner, we are in the midst of prime time for planting spring vegetable gardens. Gardeners routinely growing vegetable gardens should note that it is best to rotate... Read More

Why Do People Apply Sand Over Their Lawns?

Q. I see some folks putting a layer of lawn dressing (usually sand) on their lawns in the spring. What’s the purpose for this and is it a good practice? A. Routinely applying a layer of soil or... Read More

Leon County’s 2016 Backyard Gardening Series

Please join UF/IFAS Leon County Agricultural and Horticultural Extension Agents as they present the:     The series will run from 6:00-8:00 PM on March 24 and March 31, 2016 at the Leon County Extension Office, located at... Read More

Insects Take a Break in Winter, Which Will Soon Be Over !

A common question about insects when cold temperatures arrive is whether or not the cold will kill many pests. Although temperatures will occasionally drop below freezing in north Florida, it is normally not cold enough to significantly impact... Read More

Right Plant, Right Place, Right Time!

Those familiar with the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Principles know that the number one rule is Right Plant, Right Place. But proper timing is important and should not be discounted! Experienced gardeners recognize that certain flowering and annual vegetable plants have distinctive seasons, but... Read More

Planning Ahead May Reduce Home and Landscape Damage

When we think of bad weather in Florida, hurricanes are typically the first thing that comes to mind. In reality, Florida is 4th in the nation in tornado frequency—and when adjusted for frequency per square mile, we are... Read More

Daffodils – A Sign That Spring is Near

Few plants seem to signify the freshness of spring quite as well as daffodils. The name “daffodil” is derived from “addodell” a variant of Asphodel (a plant of the Asphodelus genus.) In historical documents and the common language... Read More

“Big Old Squash” (Gete-okosomin) Unearthed in Wisconsin

About an hour’s drive northwest of Green Bay, Wisconsin in the land of the Minominee Tribe, a tiny clay pot was discovered by archaeologists. The clay pot was nothing out of the ordinary, but its contents revealed a... Read More

The ‘Star’ of Magnolias

Magnolias are well known plants to gardeners and many are familiar with the foliage and flowers of these plants. If you are looking for another earlier bloomer, you may want to consider adding a specimen selection to your... Read More

Sprinkler System Check Up

Lawns and landscapes require water to flourish and provide the green surroundings desired around homes and recreational areas. Often nature provides water for the landscape in the form of rain, but that is not always adequate. Turf and ornamental plants in the establishment stage need... Read More

Gardening Success Begins with Choosing the Right Plant

Last Week’s temperatures have confirmed the winter of 2016 is not 100% over. Now is the time to plan that spring garden!. Garden catalogs from every part of the nation are finding their way into many area homes. Their pages... Read More

Start Fertilizing Citrus in February

As you have read in other articles in this blog, it is too early to fertilize your lawn; however, this is a good time to start fertilizing your citrus to ensure a healthy fruit crop later in the... Read More

Pre-Emergent Herbicide Now for Spring Weed Suppression

Weeds grow everywhere, especially in manicured lawns and landscapes despite the best efforts of owners who have spared no expense to remove the offending flora. The reality, at least about the herbicides, is different from perceived appearances. Herbicides... Read More

February is not “Fertilizer Time” for Lawns

It It’s too early to fertilize our warm-season lawn grasses now. This includes the use of fertilizers contained in weed-and-feed products. There are a number of reasons why it’s best to wait to fertilize your lawn. First, the... Read More

Now through Early March is the Time to Cut Back Last Year’s Perennials

Although it is quite cold outside right now, spring is just around the corner. Many of us have perennials we enjoyed all summer and fall, and have been faced with their ugly dead stalks all winter. Perennials that... Read More

Farmers Market Symposium on March 8, 2016

On Tuesday, March 8, 2016,  UF/IFAS Extension Escambia County will hold a Farmers Market Symposium from 8:30-3:30.  The meeting will take place at the Langley Bell 4-H Auditorium, 3730 Stefani Road Cantonment FL 32533. EDUCATIONAL SESSIONS INCLUDE: • Overview of... Read More

Panhandle Turf Fertilization Workshop: March 4th or 11th

    March 4th Workshop, Gulf Breeze Location, Registration on Eventbrite March 11th Workshop, Panama City Location, Registration on Eventbrite   AGENDA   9:00-9:25 Opening Session: Introduction to lawn fertilization, when to fertilize and why proper timing is important, the importance... Read More

Add Potatoes to Your Florida Garden

A common misconception is that all potatoes come from the Midwest. However, select Irish potato varieties are produced commercially in Florida on over 20,000 acres. Potatoes can also be grown in Florida home gardens if care is taken... Read More

Florida Master Naturalist Courses Provide Unique Perspective into Natural World

Do you love the outdoors? Wish you knew more about the plants and animals native to our area? The Florida Master Naturalist Program is a course offered by Extension agents throughout the state, including the northwestern counties. Three... Read More

Pollination of Vegetable Crops – Maximize Your Crop’s Potential

It won’t be long until row crops and vegetable gardens are planted and thriving once again next spring. A sometimes taken for granted, yet critical element of any prosperous crop is successful pollination. Most of us know what... Read More

Cold Weather is a Good Thing for Fruit Trees

We may be suffering from the recent low temperatures, but temperate fruit trees such as peaches and apples require a period of cold weather in order to become cold hardy and produce a good crop. What is Cold... Read More

A Better Search Engine for Gardeners

So often, we are searching for research-based information to solve our gardening questions but the search engine turns up all sorts of sites that we may or may not know and trust. There is now a better way... Read More

Still Time for Parsley

Parsley is one of the most well-known herbs, and if you missed the fall planting, there is still time to choose a preferred selection for late winter/spring planting. An herbaceous biennial, parsley is an easy herb for containers... Read More

Palms Can Suffer in the Cold

While palms may survive, or even thrive, for years in climates cooler than those to which they are native, eventually they will experience temperatures cold enough to cause injury. Here in Northwest Florida, it was January 2014.  Unfortunately,... Read More

Spring Vegetable Garden Preparation

It is cold right now…at least it is this week. Even though the winters in northwest Florida do not have consistent cold temperatures, it is not warm enough to grow warm season vegetables all year around. The cold spells... Read More

Prepare Now to Protect Delicate Shrubs and Tropical Plants

North Florida’s gardeners are facing a new set of challenges dealing with the effects of cold weather. However, a little planning and creativity can make plant protection in the landscape a relatively simple process. Many homeowners and landscape... Read More

Leon County Extension Launches “Adopt-a-Garden” Volunteer Program

Have you ever been interested in volunteering at a school or community garden? Are you involved with a garden that could use some help? Well, UF/IFAS Leon County Extension recently started an Adopt-a-Garden program for volunteers to “adopt”... Read More

Dormant Sprays Useful for Insect and Disease Management in Fruits and Ornamentals

During cold January weather, one doesn’t often think about spraying fruit trees and ornamental shrubs for spring insects and diseases. It’s just not on the radar. The fact is January and February are the best time to apply... Read More

Time to Plant Pecan Trees

Pecan trees are well adapted to our area, making beautiful large shade trees. And, if the correct varieties are planted, they can provide pecans. Only those pecan varieties that show some real resistance to disease problems are recommended... Read More

Too Much of a Good Thing?

Information on gardening practices is freely shared between gardeners and many times the good advice is helpful in plant selection and improving plant growth. There are some passed along practices that are not always suitable for every situation... Read More

Angelina Sedum Shines in Winter Landscapes

Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ is an evergreen perennial that adds some pizazz to winter landscapes. This low growing plant performs well in sunny, well-drained spots in the landscape but will also tolerate some shade. In the summer, the foliage... Read More

Gardener’s To Do List for December

Though the calendar says December, the weather in Northwest Florida fluctuates between winter and spring temperatures. The nice days are wonderful opportunities to accomplish many of those outside landscape chores in preparation for spring.  But, it is also... Read More

Is That Cotton Growing in My Trees?

With the cotton harvest coming to an end, it’s not unusual to see cotton littered on the sides of the road.  You may also think you see it hanging in the trees, but you will be pleasantly surprised... Read More

A Plant Favorite Comes South

A visit to a nursery and homeowners will see so many new selections of plants for the landscape. Some of these plants are new plant developments and may include plants we could not previously grow in Florida’s heat... Read More

Time to Plant Trees & Shrubs

The cooler weather in the wintertime makes it a great time to plant trees and shrubs. That is why Arbor Day in Florida is the third Friday in January. In 2016, that event is January 15. Start your planning now... Read More

Plant Combinations for Fall Gardens

You may have heard “group plants with similar needs together” but struggled to come up with some combinations that work. The most important things to consider when creating functional garden space is the cultural needs of the plants... Read More

Harvesting Tips for Extending Your Fall Vegetable Garden

    In North Florida, December can mark the peak in fall vegetable gardening. Early lettuce varieties are beginning to head and your later varieties are coming on strong. Radishes are starting to erupt out of the ground,... Read More

Why Should I Wait to Cut Back Perennials?

Although it seems like summer outside, especially with such warm weather the week before Thanksgiving, winter temperatures will be coming. Possibly sooner rather than later. Perennials that are meant to die to the ground each winter look ugly... Read More

Yaupon Hollies Are a Great Fit and Tasty Too!

Yaupon hollies (Ilex vomitoria) are evergreen, provide great fall/winter color, and can adapt to numerous landscape situations.  They are also very durable and can survive extreme drought. Characteristics Yaupon hollies are dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are... Read More

Camellias Beginning to Bloom

 Camellia sasanquas begin blooming this month.  Their three-inch diameter blossoms of pink, white, rose or red displayed over glossy, dark green foliage will come into their full glory in November.  This robust and stylish aristocrat of the garden... Read More

The 2015 Peanut Butter Challenge is in Full Swing

Next time you are in the grocery store, consider purchasing an extra jar or two of peanut butter and donating it to your local Extension office as part of the annual Peanut Butter Challenge.  The Challenge is a food... Read More

How Can I Control Those Pesky Mosquitoes?

Are you plagued with mosquitoes in your yard? Does it seem like you have a greater infestation than your neighbors? There may be some solutions to solve the problem other than using pesticides that negatively impact beneficial insects... Read More

Waxmyrtle, an Overlooked Landscape Shrub

Myrica cerifera Southern Waxmyrtle, Bayberry is a large shrub to small tree that is now native to much of Florida and much of the Southeastern United States. It was introduced to Europeans in the 1700s and is considered native by many botanical... Read More

Evaluate and Enjoy Your Landscape This Fall

Fall is a good time to evaluate your landscape, learn from what has and what has not worked and formulate plans to improve your landscape. Before your lawn and landscape plants go dormant, do a walk through of... Read More

Cold Protection for the Winter Garden

While most of Florida does not have to worry about freezing winter weather, the Florida Panhandle is certainly an exception. North Florida experiences a few hard freezes – temperatures less than 28°F for over five hours – every... Read More

2015: International Year of Soils

Dirt, earth, humus, terra firma, soil—no matter what you call it, the ground below us is one of the most important substances on, well, Earth. As children, most of us stomped in mud puddles, dug holes, and played... Read More

Novice Gardeners Should Consider Herbs!

If you have ever thought about gardening but feel too intimidated to give it a try, consider starting with a herb garden! Culinary herbs are generally very easy to grow and very forgiving of the neglectful gardener. They... Read More

Rayless Sunflower

Fall is a wonderful season for viewing wildflowers and there are many flower colors brightening our landscapes and roadsides. Amongst all the color there is one wildflower, the Rayless sunflower (Helianthus radula) that may not be nearly as... Read More

Why Should I Try to Protect Florida’s Water?

Contrary to popular belief, stormwater runoff—not industrial discharge—is the primary source of water pollution in Florida.  During a rain, anything on the ground can be picked up, carried via water, and taken downstream to the nearest body of water. ... Read More

Bacterial Gall: A Detrimental Disease of Loropetalum

Warm and wet weather in the Florida Panhandle presents the optimum conditions for the development of bacterial gall on loropetalums.  Shoot dieback is usually the first and most noticeable symptom of the disease.  The dieback can be followed down... Read More

Fall Color Without Harming the Habitat

As the trees begin to turn various shades of red, many people begin to inquire about the Popcorn trees.  While their autumn coloration is one of the reasons they were introduced to the Florida environment, it took years... Read More

Camellia Season Approaches

Are you looking for an evergreen shrub with showy flowers in the fall or winter? Look no further than an old Southern favorite, the camellia. Large camellias dot landscapes of historic homes throughout the Florida Panhandle, and although... Read More

Time to Plant Strawberries

It’s time to bed up some earth and plant strawberries! That right! Fall is the proper time to set out strawberry plants for a spring harvest. It is a common misconception that strawberries should be planted in the... Read More

Solutions for Cogongrass!

A U.S. Forest Service grant is again available to assist non-industrial private landowners with the cost of controlling cogongrass. Applications will be accepted starting October 15, 2015. The program reimburses landowners for 50% of the cost for two... Read More

It is Futile to Fertilize After September

In Northwest Florida, all of our lawn grasses begin to fade and slowdown in growth during fall.They are supposed to go dormant. Some will go dormant earlier than others based on species, location and  management. The grasses we... Read More

Lawn Burweed: Prevention is Easier than Cure

On this bright and sunny early fall morning I was thinking about all of the great gardening opportunities the cooler fall weather is bringing us in the Florida Panhandle. However, my thoughts drifted to the annoyances that the gardeners find... Read More

Crop Rotation in the Garden

The kids are back to school and you know what that means – everyone in the house will soon come down with the sniffles and a sore throat. But what if when the kids came home, Jack went... Read More

Can Your Landscape Support Breeding Butterflies?

Adult butterflies are pretty easy to attract to your landscape if you provide flowering plants, but getting them to lay eggs in your garden is a little trickier. Butterflies go through complete metamorphosis which means that they have... Read More

Art and Plants Come Together at the “Art & Garden Fall Family Festival”

The University of Florida/IFAS presents Art & Garden Fall Family Festival, October 3, at the North Florida Research and Education Center (NFREC), Quincy Campus. Join us that day and discover creative ways to explore visual art and the... Read More

Florida Wildflowers: Coreopsis

In our demonstration garden we are enjoying the small but vibrant blooms of our state wildflower Coreopsis, also commonly known as tickseed. After many years of its use in the Florida highways beautification program, Coreopsis was adopted as... Read More

Fall Color with Muhly Grass

As September rolls into October and we finally experience cooler temperatures, I always look forward to seeing one of my favorite native grasses in full bloom. Muhlenbergia capillaris, or Muhly grass, is an extremely versatile plant in the... Read More

Armyworms Wage War Via Guerrilla Warfare

Armyworms come in a wide range of colors and sizes.  A few of the prominent species living in Florida are beet, southern, and fall armyworms.  And the term “living” is not an exaggeration,  because Florida is one of... Read More

Why Is My Grass Dying Again?

“We have replaced this grass several times over the past few years; and it’s dying again.”  I have heard this complaint too many times this summer.  Last summer’s heavy rain, the stress of January’s icy weather, and this year’s extended... Read More

Conditions favorable for Brown Patch

Beautiful weather and pleasant cool temperatures have made their way into the Florida panhandle in the last week. They will not stay long. It will be scorching hot again this year before the relief of fall settles in... Read More

How Did Those Weeds Get in My Landscape?

Just when you think your battle against weeds is over for the summer, cooler nighttime temperatures and shorter days spark the beginning of a new crop of your least favorite plants. The question of many homeowners is: how... Read More

Saving Seed

You’ve grown some wonderful vegetables, annuals or perennials and you would like to save some of the seed from those plants to have for planting in the future. This is a great way to get more of the... Read More

Divide Perennials in the Fall

After a few years, many perennial plants have grown so large that they need to be divided in order to be revived. Overcrowding causes them to bear fewer flowers and, sometimes, to die in the center. Fall is... Read More

Composting Made Easy

What if I told you there was a way to create compost indoors? No pitchfork required, no hot steamy temperatures, a simple mix of ingredients, and it would fit right under your kitchen sink? As long as you... Read More

Time to Start a Fall Garden

As the days get shorter and temperatures decrease, it is time install your cool season vegetable garden. Many vegetables can be grown in Florida, but it is important to understand what the climatic requirements are for each crop... Read More

It’s Wise to Prepare for Storms

Tropical storm season officially ends November 30. I’m not predicting a storm but even with our average winds during a typical thunderstorm, you’d be wise to prepare. Falling trees and flying landscape debris during a storm can cause... Read More

Growing Shiitake Mushrooms on Logs

Mushrooms are an excellent low calorie food with a high fullness factor (they fill you up).  But the “common” or “button” mushroom lacks natural flavor.  On the other hand, shiitake mushrooms have all the benefits of button mushrooms,... Read More

There’s a Coyote in the Front Yard!

About two years ago, my son was mowing the lawn when he came across something orange and furry lying in the grass. He backed away and yelled for his dad, but the damage had already been done—he had... Read More

Beating Pests with Plant Chemicals

It would seem that landscapes are filled with pests ready to devour our favorite plants. We can often see evidence of pest damage in the form of leaf curls, stippled leaves, or chewed holes in foliage. How do... Read More

How Do I Easily Determine the Square Footage of My Lawn?

When you know that your lawn needs an application of fertilizer, herbicide, insecticide or fungicide, the question becomes how much to buy and put down. For these products, success stems from applying the right amount, not too much or... Read More

Leyland Cypress…not the best choice

Leyland cypress, x Cupressocyparis leylandii, has been hugely popular over the past 20 years as an ornamental landscape tree. It has the reputation of being a beautiful evergreen that can grow at a rate of up to 3 to 4... Read More

UF Monitoring the Buzzing in Your Ear

  University of Florida researchers maintain a constant vigilance on the potential for mosquito-borne illness concerns.  UF/IFAS Florida Medical Entomology Laboratory in Vero Beach tracks rainfall, groundwater levels, mosquito abundance, wild bird populations and virus transmission to animals... Read More

Build Your Own Floating Hydroponic Garden

Building a floating hydroponic garden as a fall project could be rewarding and delicious. In the fall, lettuce, cabbage and greens are ideal for floating hydroponic gardens. Watch a video by UF / IFAS Extension Agents to learn how to... Read More

Weeds are Getting Ready For Spring 2016

Weeds are growing everywhere, especially in manicured lawns and landscapes despite the best efforts of owners who have spared no expense to remove the offending flora. Herbicides to control the weeds seem to be less effective as August... Read More

Muscadine Grape: a Popular Fruit for North Florida

The muscadine grape is a popular fruit that grows very well here in North Florida.  It has smaller leaves than bunch grapes and fruit are harvested singly, rather than in bunches.  Theses grapes can be enjoyed fresh and also... Read More

Common Azalea Lace Bug Can Be Controlled

When azaleas are in a garden, azalea lace bugs are sure to follow. The good news is these insects, that discolor the leaves of azaleas, can be controlled. Lace bugs live on the underside of leaves and damage their hosts by piercing... Read More

Reference Books for Gardeners and Landscapers Alike

As our world and our lives become more centered on technology it seems that all the information we need is just a touch screen away. After all, you are most likely reading this article from a laptop, smart... Read More

Recycle By Cleaning Your Container Pots

Most likely, we all have them-garden pots. These typically are made of plastic, clay or wood. Garden pots should be sanitized if they were previously used or if they exhibit signs of mold or fungal growth. Whether they... Read More

Beat the Summer Heat with Energy-Efficient Landscaping

Late summer brings hot, humid temperatures, and many Floridians are retreating from the heat into their air-conditioned homes. Unfortunately, those comforts of home also come with a price tag. When people think about energy efficiency, practices like turning off... Read More

Getting to Know Your Backyard Pests

Any seasoned gardener knows that even a well maintained garden will eventually face a pest issue. Pests come in all shapes and sizes and may include weeds, disease, insects, moles, rabbits, birds, and deer. Although some gardeners may... Read More

Native Grass for Moist Soils

Native plants can more readily be found in local nurseries to enhance landscape plantings. Not all natives are suited to every habit so it is still important to match the plant’s requirements with a suitable area in the... Read More

Figs in the Summertime!

July always brings the blessing of abundant figs on my trees. A new crop waits to be picked and enjoyed every day for nearly a month. The tender sweet fruit can be enjoyed fresh, prepared into jams or... Read More

Native Yuccas: Low Maintenance, Slow Growing and Attractive Blooms

Being sharp is usually considered a complement. It implies the recipient of this assessment has the intellectual ability and the mental acuity to handle with ease the rigors of contemporary life. In north Florida’s native plant world the... Read More

Deadheading Keeps Summer Perennials Beautiful

  During these “dog days”, full of hot temperatures punctuated with intermittent rain, gardeners can lose the motivation to get out there and get things done. One task, deadheading, can make a huge difference in the appearance of... Read More

Southern Field Peas, a Summer Delight

Cowpeas are one of the most important food legumes in the semiarid tropics covering Asia, Africa, Southern Europe, and Central and South America. A drought-tolerant and warm-weather crop, cowpeas are well adapted to the drier regions of the... Read More

Fall Tomato Selection

One of the many great thing about living in Florida is the long growing season that the climate affords to gardeners. For up to 8 months a year warm season vegetables can be grown. The colder months are... Read More

You Can Propagate Memories

There are a number of plants in my landscape that bring back fond memories – plants that I propagated. There’s a mulberry tree in my backyard that I rooted years ago. I took the cuttings from an old... Read More

Protecting Precious Species From Pesticides

There are more than 100 species of plants and animals living in Florida that are in danger of extinction.  These trees, flowers, reptiles, amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and invertebrates are listed as either threatened, endangered or species of... Read More

Old Habits Die Hard

If you’ve been gardening for more than a few years, you may be confused by UF/IFAS recommendations that conflict with practices you’ve used for years. You aren’t imagining things, we do change recommendations based on the most current... Read More

Giving Young Wildlife a Chance

A few weeks ago, the neighbor boys came running over to show my children the baby birds they found in their front yard. We expected they would lead us to a tree and point out fledglings in a nest, but... Read More

Southern Purple Mint Moth

One very popular herb for the backyard garden is the evergreen Rosemary, Rosmarinus officinalis which serves as an attractive landscape shrub in addition to its culinary uses. Rosemary grows best in full sun and well-drained soils. When planted... Read More

Crapemyrtle Cultivars for North Florida

  Crapemyrtle flowering is set to be spectacular this year! While most other garden plants droop from summer’s heat, humidity and heavy rains, crapemyrtle thrives and puts on an outstanding show of flowers all summer and fall. Thanks... Read More

Enjoy an Evening Garden

Many of us are working during the day and are not enjoying our gardens during the daytime. And maybe it is just too warm in the summer to be outside during the heat of the day.  That leaves... Read More

Beetles to the Rescue

Air potato (Dioscores bulbifera) is a perennial, herbaceous self-twining vine that can grow over 60 feet in length, enabling it to climb over and smother many native plants. The Florida Exotic Plant Pest Council (FLEPPC) lists air potato... Read More

Summer Lawn Review

  Time is flying! June has reached its halfway point and lawns are having to be maintained often. Let us take a few minutes to review some things that need to be considered when properly maintaining the lawn. 1.... Read More

Conenose and Kissing Bugs: Necessary, But Not Fun If Contacted

While it is not exactly a jungle “out there” in the landscape, there are some occasionally encountered insects which can inflict pain. The kissing bug and the blood-sucking conenose are native insects which are best not physically encountered.... Read More

The Danger Within… What’s Hiding in Our Woods

As summer comes to its apex you may find yourself longing to move your activities outdoors and commune with nature. However, as you are reveling in the warm weather while hiking, camping, biking, gardening, etc. remember that there... Read More

21st Annual Gulf Coast Turfgrass Expo & Field Day

  21st Annual Gulf Coast Turfgrass Expo & Field Day                 Facebook0Twitter0Google plus0

Caterpillars with a Sting

The four major stinging caterpillars occurring in Florida are the Puss Caterpillar, Saddleback Caterpillar, IO Moth Caterpillar and Hag Caterpillar.  Some less common ones also occur in the state.  These caterpillars do not possess stingers, but have spines... Read More

Brighten Bare Spots in Your Landscape

There are areas in most landscapes where it just is not practical or possible to bring in the tiller and create a flowerbed. A little imagination, a decorative container and appropriate plants can turn a bare spot into... Read More

Garden Torches

If you are looking for flower colors to match the heat of June, Red hot poker, Kniphophia uvaria has the blooms that match the season. Also known as the torch lily, this perennial performs well in full sun areas... Read More

Tree Care in Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season began June 1. While storm experts are predicting a slower year due to El Nino conditions, it only takes a single storm landing nearby to cause millions in damage, uprooting trees and lives. Tree damage to... Read More

Baldcypress for Tough Sites

Considering planting a tree in your landscape, but not sure what will do well? Baldcypress, Taxodium distichum, is one tree you should consider for your Florida landscape. This deciduous conifer is native to North America and is suited... Read More

Tips on Controlling Ants

The proverbial picnic scene aside, ants are pests all of us have to deal with from time to time.  Both inside and outside our homes, they feed on and contaminate our food, they build ugly mounds on our... Read More

Succulents Thrive in Summer Heat

Summer is here, along with its heat, humidity, drought and stress! One easy way to garden during summer is to use succulents and other drought adapted plants. Succulents are heat-adapted, water-efficient plants often associated with deserts and dunes.... Read More

S.H.A.R.E. During National Pollinator Week – June 15-21, 2015

Everyone with a landscape can make a difference for pollinators.  Simply Having Areas Reserved for the Environment enables homeowners, land managers, farmers, individuals, corporations, schools, roadside managers, and golf courses to increase the number of pollinators in the... Read More

Tent Caterpillars: An Unwelcome Spring Guest

Uninvited guests can sometimes be fun and entertaining, bringing spontaneity to an otherwise predictable schedule. Sometimes the surprise guest is just an unpleasant distraction with no redeeming virtues. The unanticipated knock on the door can bring both scenarios... Read More

Try Dwarf Lantana for a Summer and Fall Blooming Perennial

  With the heat of summer already here, we all know that our pansies, petunias and snapdragons are on their way out. This leaves us wondering what we could plant that will give us color throughout summer and... Read More


An easy to care for perennial to add to your flower garden is the coneflower, Echinacea purpurea. The daisy-like flowers stand tall above the foliage on sturdy 2 to 4 foot stems. Blooms appear about the last part... Read More

Grow an Herb Garden!

Herbs are plants that are grown for the special flavor and aroma of their various parts.  They are used mainly to season, enrich, or otherwise improve the taste or smell of certain foods. Since they are not classified as... Read More

Purple Hyacinth Bean – What’s Old is New

Everyone is interested in growing an easy plant that offers interest all throughout the warm season. Look no further than an old favorite, the purple hyacinth bean, Lablab purpurea. An warm season annual vine that grows easily from seeds plants... Read More

Easy Roses for Small Spaces

Growing roses in the South can have challenges and many gardeners think that they are just too high maintenance to plant. Plant developers are aware of this opinion and have worked to develop low maintenance roses that can... Read More

Learning from the Floods

Just over a year ago, southwest Alabama and northwest Florida experienced a devastating storm that left hundreds without access to their homes and businesses, flooded out and stranded by a hurricane-force storm that didn’t come with the luxury... Read More

Why Do My Azaleas Have Weird Growths?

Fleshy distortions are appearing on some azaleas this time of year. What is responsible for this? A fungus, Exobasidium vaccinia, likes our cool, wet spring weather and infects azalea leaves and flower petals. This disease likes a cool,... Read More

Insectary Meadows Provide Food for Pollinators and Homes for Good Bugs

Bees have been disappearing at an alarming rate and continue to vanish without a trace. Why should anyone care? Well, they matter a lot more than most people think. Bees are the overwhelmingly dominant pollinator for most food... Read More

How to Space Plants in your Landscape

Most people know that an attractive landscape adds to the value of a home.  For most of us, the landscape also represents a hefty investment of money, time and work so it’s important to know enough about landscape... Read More

Tomato Foliar Diseases

With the over abundance of rainfall the western panhandle has seen in recent weeks, tomato gardeners need to be aware of foliar diseases that could appear.  Tomato leaves are an ideal host when moisture is present on the... Read More

Blueberries Likely Early This Year – What You Need To Know To Keep Them Happy

In all North Florida Counties, blueberry jam, blueberry cobbler and fresh blueberries seem to be a staple. This is because there are many home gardeners are able to consistently grow a top quality product. This year blueberries are very large... Read More

Monitor for Mole Crickets

Many people treat their lawn with an insecticide when they see mole crickets in the spring or at the first sign of a brown area in their lawn. What they don’t understand is the biology of this pest. ... Read More

What To Do with All This Rain? Plant a Rain Garden!

Rain gardens are an easy way to return water to our aquifer, reduce erosion, and help prevent stormwater runoff. Running down the driveway or patio, rainwater can pick up lawn chemicals and pesticides. A rain garden is basically... Read More

Evergreens for the Shade

Trying to grow turfgrass in shaded areas is a losing battle but that doesn’t mean you have to settle for mulch in those dark areas of the landscape.  There are many plants that will tolerate shady conditions found... Read More

Plan Carefully with Indian Hawthorn

One of the most commonly used shrubs in landscapes is the Indian hawthorn, Rhapheolepsis indica. Although not native to Florida, it can be a very attractive shrub when used properly in landscapes. Plants offer spring flowers in pinks... Read More

Bat Roosting Season Begins Soon!

As spring commences and young wildlife of all species are born, everyone’s favorite flying, furry mammal begins roosting season. Ideally, bats will find homes in trees, caves, abandoned buildings, and bat houses, but sometimes they end up in... Read More

Just Say No to Chinese Wisteria

Maybe you have been seeing the Chinese wisteria, Wisteria chinensis, sporting its lavender blooms along the roadways this time of year. This vine may add a pleasant splash of color to the green leafy backdrop, but this is... Read More

Be on the Lookout for Crapemyrtle Bark Scale!

Crapemyrtle bark scale, Eriococcus laqerstroemia, is a new pest of crapemyrtle and is emerging as a major threat to crapemyrtles throughout Florida and the Southeast U.S.  This pest was first discovered in the Dallas TX area in 2004... Read More

Formosan Termites

As the ant and termite swarm season begins, here is one species to be aware of. The red dots on the map indicate the known distribution of the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, in Florida, as of... Read More

Which Turf Should I Choose?

Some times the lawn just gets away from us.  It can be completely invaded by weeds or have a devastating disease or insect pest cause total destruction.  If your lawn is problem prone there are many cultural practices that... Read More

Pollen and Allergy Season: The Price We Pay for Living in a Lush Landscape

It’s that time of year again, that time when your car changes color like a chameleon in order to mimic the surrounding landscape. Anything that stands still long enough will become coated with a light green to yellow... Read More

Onions: Taste Good, Easy to Grow, and Many Varieties from which to Choose

The winter weather is finally giving way to springtime. While temperatures have been erratic, the rain has been sufficient. There are still plenty of cool season leafy garden crops in production, but they will not last long as... Read More

Wait Until Mid-April to Fertilize North Florida Lawns

It’s too early to fertilize our warm-season lawn grasses now. This includes the use of fertilizers contained in weed-and-feed products. There are a number of reasons why it’s best to wait to fertilize your lawn. First, the soil... Read More

Waterfront Landscaping

A taste of spring weather has arrived, and people will soon be filling the home improvement stores and getting ready for outdoor projects. If you live on the water or near a storm drain, it’s worth considering buffer... Read More

Upcoming Okaloosa County Lawn & Garden Seminars

Upcoming lawn & garden seminars   With spring on its way, your local University of Florida Extension Office in Okaloosa County is providing lawn and garden seminars for the public. Plan Before You Plant Seminar: Take the guesswork out... Read More

Annuals Provide Summer Color

  As the weather warms and we approach the last expected frost date, it’s time to start planning our warm season annuals. Annuals are plants that complete their life cycle in one season.  In North Florida, we recognize... Read More

A Cherry for the Southern Garden

Although we are not able to grow edible cherry trees in more southern climates, there are a few ornamental relatives of the cherry that are worth adding to the landscape.  The Bush cherry, Prunus jacquemontii, is an attractive... Read More

Now is the Time to Prune Roses

  Many rose enthusiasts ask every season? When do I prune my roses? The general recommendation is February 15th. If that recommendation is followed it’s usually not harmful, though climate can be very different from the coast to the state line . Therefore,... Read More

Attract Birds to the Backyard

The sight and sound of birds in the yard reconnects us to the wonder and beauty of nature. Providing food, water and shelter can bring the joy of our feathered friends into outdoor spaces. Leave behind the standard... Read More

March – Time for Lions and Lambs

“If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb?” Weather sayings can be quite colorful. Some of them may be connected to scientific observations, while others are more superstitious in nature. What the... Read More

Late-flowering Magnolias Avoid Freeze Damage

This winter’s recurring freezes and frosts have played havoc with early flowering plants like magnolia. While buds are freeze-resistant, open magnolia flowers can quickly turn brown after exposure to temperatures about 30°F or lower. One way to avoid... Read More

Pruning Azaleas for Colorful Springs to Come

Soon beautiful blooms will come forth from one of the great landscape shrubs that characterize the South. Blooms of many colors will be produced from the azalea. It will be a magnificent show as it is every spring. Annual... Read More

Smilax: Easy to Find Now, but Hard to Endure

The yo-yo thermometer readings make it confusing for the panhandle’s human residents when choosing proper wardrobe selections. With few exceptions, the deciduous plants and trees continue to wait for consistently warmer weather and longer days before covering their... Read More

Keep Your Love Alive: Preserving Cut Flowers

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. You were likely showered with gifts from loved ones; gifts covered in chocolate, gifts of the stuffed variety, and more than likely the kind covered in petals. And as you languish in... Read More

Don’t Let Spring Fever Cause a Lawn Headache

With a few nice late winter days, many people get a good dose of spring fever. But be careful when the fever hits you. Don’t fertilize your lawn too early. The fever may turn into a lawn “headache”.... Read More

2015 Beekeeping in the Panhandle Short Course March 9th

  UF/IFAS Extension 2015 Beekeeping in the Panhandle Short Course March 9th       The UF/IFAS Extension Panhandle Agriculture Team is pleased to once again offer a Beekeeping Short-Course in March, 2015. These classes will be offered... Read More

Property Law and Tree Damage

After storms and when homeowners are doing “spring cleaning” around their yards, Extension agents are routinely asked about whose responsibility it is to maintain a tree along a property line. This becomes particularly important in a situation where... Read More

Plan Carefully Around Home Foundations

Variety is the spice of life and more homeowners are incorporating this philosophy into the design of their homes. Windows especially are becoming more of a design feature, so we should change our philosophy on landscaping around them.... Read More

The Smart Approach to Pest Management

When talking about pest issues in the landscape, green industry professionals often refer to IPM or Integrated Pest Management. So what is IPM and why should it be used? IPM is a combination of methods used to manage... Read More

Encore® Azaleas – Add One More This Spring

Nothing signals spring in the south like the reds, pinks and whites of azaleas in full bloom. Nearly every yard has one. For two weeks out of the year there are flowers everywhere. But the glory fades fast.... Read More

Avoid Crapemyrtle Mutilation

As the holidays fade and the New Year begins, we often see crapemyrtles being “mutilated” from improper pruning: main stems that are several years old are cut back, often leaving branch stubs 2 – 5 inches or more... Read More

Now is the Time to Prevent Summer Weeds!

So often, homeowners wait until weeds have overtaken their lawns in mid-summer before looking for a course of action to control them. Unfortunately, when weeds get to maturity and start producing flowers and going to seed, they are... Read More

Get an Early Start on Spring Veggies

  Growing spring vegetables in northwest Florida can be challenging!  Sometimes failures seem more numerous than successes.  Extreme cold events in the winter and blistering hot summer days make it tough on vegetables.  One suggestion is to get the garden... Read More

Soil: What’s Alive Beneath Our Feet?

You’re digging up a ridiculously stubborn patch of Florida betony when an earthworm crawls across your path. As you break apart the soil in your hands a world of active organisms is being sifted through your fingers. Fertile... Read More

Leaf Litter: Do the Benefits Outweigh the Work?

For the homeowner who feels the need to rake leaves and pine needles, the task can be something of a minor nuisance. The showers of earth-toned leftovers appear suddenly and at inconvenient times, and their removal is never... Read More

How Dead Trees Benefit Wildlife

One of the management issues that any landowner will face at some point is what to do when a tree dies in the landscape.  The logical response is “cut it down,” but depending on the location and the... Read More

Start the Year Off Right — Plant a Tree!

Most of us begin a new year with resolutions–to exercise more, to eat right, to spend our time more productively–but few things have as many lasting impacts for the future as the simple act of planting a tree.... Read More

Chinese Privet

The Chinese privet, Ligustrum sinense, is a plant that is well known to many people as a great nuisance in the landscape. It is also a Florida noxious weed because of its invasive nature. Originally grown as an... Read More

Time of Reflection and Resolution

  It’s December!  2014 is coming to an end, and with it, our success and failures with our gardens and lawns are in our past.  Maybe your garden or lawn experienced a great resurgence this year or was set... Read More

If it is “Frozen”, “Let it go” ’til Spring

  When you look out at your landscape nobody has to tell you that winter temperatures in Northwest Florida Afterwards, the temperatures warm up and you feel compelled to do something about it. You just need to “turn... Read More

Poinsettia Do’s and Don’ts

Poinsettias are one of the most popular plants during the Holiday Season. Poinsettias grow as shrubs in their native southern Mexico but have been bred to become compact, bushy plants perfect as container ornamentals. The showy “flowers” of... Read More

Those Falling Leaves Are Useful

This is the time of year when leaves are turning shades of yellow and red and falling from the trees. And this spurs homeowners to get out there with their rakes and rid them from their lawns. This... Read More

Cold Protection: Preparation is the Key to Success

Panhandle Florida gardeners face a new set of challenges annually dealing with the effects of cold weather. A little planning and creativity can make plant protection in the landscape successful. Many homeowners and landscape managers want to know... Read More

Evergreens for Holiday Decorating

Now that we’ve all been stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey, it’s time to transition into the final and, arguably, most ornate holidays of the year. Right now you can hear your mantles and door frames crying out to... Read More

Trees with Winter Appeal

From about mid November or December to March, deciduous trees have little to no foliage making us more aware of their shapes, forms and barks. Here are a few trees to consider for adding winter appeal to your... Read More

Video – Finding the Perfect Christmas Tree

Looking for the perfect Christmas tree to celebrate your Holidays? Join Wendy Wilber, UF/IFAS Extension Alachua County Environmental Horticultural Agent, as she offers tips on finding and preserving your fresh-cut Christmas tree throughout the Holiday Season.    ... Read More

Reduce Maintenance and Improve Palm Health!

Many people picture sugar sand beaches, emerald green water, and gorgeous palm trees swaying in the breeze when they think about visiting or moving to Florida. The panhandle offers the beautiful Gulf of Mexico and sugar sand beaches,... Read More

Gardening Patience for Cold-Damaged Plants

Our recent cold weather was not only a surprise for many locals but also for many plants that still had plenty of green growth. After a couple of nights of freezing temperatures, even deciduous trees that had not dropped... Read More

Camellias: Color Through the Cold

Camellias have been a part of the landscape in the Southeastern United States for over 200 years. They are native to Asia and were introduced near Charleston, South Carolina in 1786. The common name camellia refers to varieties... Read More

Happy Thanksgiving from the Gardening in the Panhandle Newsletter Team


Make your Christmas Tree Truly Evergreen!

As the holiday season comes upon us, many folks will be spending their weekends scouring tree farms and mall parking lots for the perfect Christmas tree. There are many very realistic-looking options for artificial trees these days, and... Read More

Gardens of the Big Bend: A New Botanical and Teaching Garden in North Florida

Gardens of the Big Bend is a new botanical and teaching garden located on the grounds of the University of Florida/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center in Quincy. The goals of these gardens are to evaluate new... Read More

Planting Trees Correctly

Often in Extension we are asked to look at unhealthy plants in the landscape.  We see every problem under the sun.  Whether it is diseases, insects, or cultural problems we run into them all.  One problem that seems... Read More

Mothballs are a Pesticide

Many homeowners and gardeners think of mothballs as a quick fix when trying to control indoor pest problems or wildlife incursions. There are problems with using mothballs for this purpose. Mothballs are made up of Naphthalene. The EPA... Read More

Florida Wildflowers: Blue Mistflower

  Here’s a beautiful native perennial wildflower that is easy to grow and generally available in the independent nursery trade. In the wild, you can encounter them at the edges of woodlands and ponds as they prefer moist... Read More

There Is Much You Can Do For Your Lawn, Even Now

Even though it is not officially winter and the landscape is becoming dormant. With the exception of live oak trees, all the plants and trees which lose their leaves are now dropping them to the ground. For the... Read More

Deep Freeze On the Way for Northwest Florida

Tuesday November 19th and Wednesday November 20th, substantial freezing weather is expected How cold does it have to get before citrus in Northwest Florida needs to be protected? A concrete answer to this question does not exist. Growers and home... Read More

Plants change with the season

As the season changes, plants change as well. This is true in evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs as well as our lawn grasses. The cooler night temperatures and the shorter day length of fall result in changes... Read More

The Secret Life of Plants

As winter approaches, short days and cool temperatures cause many plants to slow down and enter a suspended growth phase known as dormancy. Dormancy in plants is similar to the way bears hibernate during the winter. You may... Read More

New Flowers, Incredible History

Since 2005, multiple varieties of Diascia have added to the U.S. fall market of winter flowering plants. Its delicate flowers are far from ordinary though.  In the early part of the last century most British gardening encyclopedias listed just one... Read More

Green Lynx Spider

Take a walk through the garden or woods this fall and you are sure to pass by a Green lynx spider. Unless you are very observant though, you will probably not realize that this common spider is perched... Read More

Community Butterfly Habitat

I recently met with a group of community volunteers who are interested in providing more butterfly habitat in our public areas. Monarchs migrating to Mexico this time of year use northwest Florida as a stopover and feeding site,... Read More

2015 Small Farms Series coming in January!

    2015 Small Farms Series coming in January! The three week series will be offered at 12 locations from Mobile, Alabama eastward to Jefferson County, Florida via interactive video conferencing.  This technology allows state specialists to reach... Read More

Paraná Pine, An Ancient-Looking Conifer for Modern Landscapes

  Paraná Pine, Araucaria angustifolia: An ancient-looking conifer for modern landscapes Paraná pine is a primitive-looking conifer valued for its unusual horizontal branching, sharply pointed triangular needles and neat, symmetrical form. The primitive appearance of this evergreen tree... Read More

Insects Take a Break in Winter

A common question about insects when cold temperatures arrive is whether or not the cold will kill many pests. Although temperatures will occasionally drop below freezing in north Florida, it is normally not cold enough to significantly impact... Read More

Fruit Splitting in Dooryard Citrus

Citrus trees require a lot of care and attention to produce good quality fruit, yet even the most careful gardeners may run into the problem of split-fruit on their citrus trees.  Split-fruit is a condition which strikes citrus... Read More

Pest Alert! Cross-Striped Cabbageworms

Panhandle gardeners have their fall gardens planted and our growing rapidly.  What the gardeners may start noticing is shotgun damage to cabbage leaves in their garden.  The suspect for this damage is the Cross-Striped Cabbageworm. The Cross-Striped Cabbageworm... Read More

Florida Native Plants: Beautyberry

This autumn you may notice shrubs with long, arching branches sporting clusters of shiny purple berries. That beautiful sight is the Beautyberry, or Callicarpa americana. This native is found throughout Florida and the southern United States, west into... Read More

Armadillos: Midnight Lawn Marauders

It can be pretty discouraging to step out one morning to find a lawn pock-marked like the lunar surface. Stunned surprise then anger is usually the owner’s response. The offender is not the neighborhood teenager with a reputation... Read More

Flies That Help Our Garden Grow

When someone mentions flies, we think of buzzing around our heads, maggots in decomposing materials, and unclean conditions. It is time to change those thoughts, at least in the garden. There are several flies commonly found in landscapes... Read More

Learn from UF/IFAS Extension experts at 37th annual Sunbelt Ag Expo

By Brad Buck, 352-294-3303, GAINESVILLE, Fla. – You can find out when to plant crops, how to can foods safely and how to use paper to pot plants from University of Florida experts at the 37th annual... Read More

Bold Colors for Your Fall Landscape

I think it’s safe to say fall is officially here. Shouts can be heard from local football stadiums, occasionally a crisp fall breeze will send us looking for a light jacket, and coffee shops are pushing all things... Read More

The Sweet Scent of Fall

Sweet Olive Osmanthus fragrans is a versatile evergreen that produces fragrant flowers from the fall through the winter months.  This upright-growing large shrub or small tree has medium green leaves and small white flowers that form in the... Read More

Watch Out for the Saddleback Caterpillar

In Florida, there are a dizzying array of caterpillars that turn into beautiful or interesting moths or butterflies. Most are harmless except to the plants they munch on. There are a few that will cause humans pain if they... Read More

Thinning Vegetable Seedlings

Some vegetables and herbs like lettuce, carrots, collards, basil, and radish have very small seeds. It is difficult to plant these seeds so there is space between emerging plants for proper development. These plants will often need thinning... Read More

Enjoying Wildlife Safely and Responsibly

Last week, the Okaloosa County Health Department issued a rabies alert after three bats were determined to have the illness. A “drive-through” rabies vaccine clinic was organized for pets, and warnings were issued throughout the region about making... Read More

Firespikes are Blooming!

  Looking to add something to brighten your landscape this autumn?   Firespike (Odontonema strictum) is a prolific fall bloomer with red tubular flowers that are very popular with hummingbirds and butterflies.  Its glossy dark green leaves make an... Read More

Preparing Your Vegetable Garden

Healthful outdoor exercise, a feeling of accomplishment, and potential saving on the family food bill are good reasons why more and more Floridians are turning to home vegetable gardening. Usually, the most physically challenging part of a vegetable gardening... Read More

Florida Wildflowers: Narrowleaf Sunflower

In the midst of your September strolls through natural Florida, you may come across this native beauty, the narrowleaf sunflower, Helianthus angustifolius. Another common name is swamp sunflower. I found this gorgeous patch in the photo close to... Read More

When Fertilizing, Read the Label

You can’t judge fertilizer by appearance.  Fortunately, state law requires each fertilizer label to include specific content facts.  However, these can be confusing.To obtain the proper types of fertilizers for various applications, you must understand the label.  At... Read More

Start Thinking about Muscadines: A Native Northwest Florida Fruit

Mother always said “never be late” but in the case of certain muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia) cultivars, it’s good to be late. Although muscadine harvest can begin as early as July, gardeners with late bearing muscadines are still reaping... Read More

Don’t Drown Your Lawn with Kindness!

Many of us have a tendency to want to spoil those we care for – our significant other, our pets, our children, even our lawns. Some homeowners who long to have a lush, green, healthy lawn tend to spoil... Read More

What’s Eating My Lawn?

What’s eating my lawn? Does your grass look ragged in areas, as if someone randomly used a weed-eater here and there? Are you noticing brown patches that have a closely clipped appearance compared to other areas of your lawn?... Read More

Confederate Rose is Not a Rose

What plant is found mostly in older landscapes but is poorly available in most local nurseries, is closely related to okra and cotton but is called a rose and produces showy fall flowers that turn from white to... Read More

Emerald Coast Home Show Includes Lawn & Landscape Seminars

The Emerald Coast Home Show, Health Fair and Business Expo will include lawn and landscape seminars and an information booth hosted by the Okaloosa County Master Gardeners. This event will take place September 13 and 14 at the Emerald... Read More

Blue Butterflies

Many species of butterflies are flitting through summer gardens but a special butterfly has recently made its appearance in perennial gardens. The Blue butterfly bush, Clerodendrum ugandense is a mid to late summer blooming plant that has unique flowers... Read More

Growing a Fall Garden in Escambia County

A hands-on workshop will be offered for novice gardeners to learn the basics of Fall and Winter vegetable gardening. The entire class will be outside utilizing raised beds and in ground planting areas. Participants will be learning about... Read More

Fall into Vegetable Gardening Series

Need some advice to get started with a fall garden?  The horticulture agents of the Northwest Extension District are pleased to present an interactive video series for the beginning gardener. The schedule is as follows: September 9th – Starting a... Read More

Plant Purple Passionflower Vine for Gulf Fritillary Butterfly

Gulf Fritillary caterpillars have a voracious appetite for purple passionflower vine Passiflora incarnata!  This native vine is a host for the Gulf Fritillary Butterfly Agraulis vanilla larvae, is easy to grow, and readily available in garden centers. Like... Read More

Plants Poisonous to Pets

Is your pet one of those that likes to nibble on or gobble down new plants in your home or landscape? If so, it would be wise to make sure that the new plants you introduce do not... Read More

Stressed Pines Being Attacked By Beetles

Pine bark beetles are frequent pests of stressed pines in the southern United States. The five most common southern pine bark beetle species include three in the genus Ips. Ips beetles usually colonize only those trees that are... Read More

New Resource for IPM of Rose, Camellia and Other Major Shrubs

A new IPM guide is making it easier to grow five common southeastern shrubs. Growing five southeastern shrubs is now easier thanks to a free, new IPM resource from the Southern Nursery IPM Working Group. IPM for Shrubs... Read More

Vegetable Crops for Fall Color

Color can make a landscape.  Color highlights features of the landscape and draws the eye as a focal point itself.  Spring color is dominated by lush new green growth, Summer brings on flowers of all kind, and fall... Read More

Plants to Beat the Heat!

Most people appreciate a colorful landscape, but may not have a lot of time or money to invest into keeping it looking good.  Add to that the low nutrient soils that do not hold water that are common... Read More

Phyllosticta Causes Unsightly Spotting of Ornamentals

The high humidity experienced in the Florida Panhandle during July and August has provided perfect conditions for fungal disease development on the leaves of a variety of ornamental species. One particularly noticeable pathogen is Phyllosticta.  Fungi of the... Read More

Bring Life to Your Garden with Butterflies!

Attracting Butterflies into Your Landscape Have you been itching to add some life and color into your landscape? Why not plant a butterfly garden?! Butterfly gardens are a great way to add movement and life to an otherwise... Read More

Wasps Have a Purpose

  I respect the fact that wasps can sting when threatened or disturbed. But I also respect the fact that they are beneficial.   Every time I’ve been stung by wasps, I either accidentally disturbed a nest that... Read More

Dog Days of Summer – A Good Time to Plan for Fall

The “Dog Days” are the hottest, muggiest days of summer. In the northern hemisphere, they usually fall between early July and early September. The actual dates vary greatly from region to region, depending on latitude and climate.  ... Read More

New Crapemyrtles with Burgundy Leaves from Spring through Fall

Burgundy-leaved crapemyrtle is one of the most exciting breeding accomplishments in years. Unlike previous selections, many new crapemyrtle cultivars have leaves that retain dark burgundy coloration from spring budbreak through fall leaf drop. These plants add bold leaf color to a... Read More

Pesticide Safety Tips

You hear it all the time. Be sure to read the label before using any pesticide. Honestly though, is this a practice you really follow? It should be. Sometimes we do not consider pesticides dangerous since we can... Read More

An Unwanted Beach Visitor: Beach Vitex

Now that summer is in full swing, many of us are spending more time on our gorgeous Gulf beaches. Sea turtles are nesting and everyone gets excited at sightings of dolphins, sharks, and the Blue Angels. However, we... Read More

Florida Betony: Both Edible Native and Weed

Florida Betony (Stachys floridana), commonly called rattlesnake weed, is a Florida native plant. It’s thought to have been confined to Florida until it was moved to other Southeastern states during the 1940s or 1950s in nursery containers. It... Read More

Soybeans: A Surprise Vegetable

I am sure you are familiar with soybeans, but probably not in the way we’ll describe it.  If you frequently visit health food stores, or the health food section of your supermarket, you’re bound to have seen this... Read More

How Do I Find Plants to Suit My Landscape?

We all seem to have this dilemma: A desire to re-landscape or just add a few plants to an area, but not knowing what would be the best choice. Plants need to be compatible with their location. The... Read More

You Don’t Have To Pamper Pampas Grass

You don’t have to pamper pampas grass!  This attractive perennial, which is native to Latin America – Brazil, Argentina, and Chile, is practically trouble-free.  It’s well adapted to all areas of Florida.  Pampas grass grows in large clumps,... Read More

Fruit Rusts Ruin Harvests

This is the season for fruit harvesting, particularly for those fruits in the rose family such as plum, quince, peach, pear and apple. Many avid home horticulturists have been enjoying the fruits of their labor, but some have been... Read More

Wild Wisteria

Question: We planted Wisteria for its beautiful spring flowers and it grew and grew and took over everything. Now we’re trying to get rid of it. New plants are sprouting everywhere – up to ten feet away from... Read More

Florida Wildflowers – Historically Resilient

The summertime often reminds us of our uninhibited spirit. With Independence Day not far off, Floridians will be celebrating the freedom of our nation while battling the oppressive climate you can’t seem to escape this time of year.... Read More

Pecan Tree Visitors

Panhandle residents have seen caterpillars in abundance this June. One common visitor to pecan trees is the Walnut Caterpillar Datana integerrima. The walnut caterpillar has a very narrow host range and feeds only on trees in the Juglandaceae... Read More

Vacation Care for Plants

Summertime is vacation time for people, not plants! While getting ready for that long awaited trip, it’s easy to forget about your lawn, landscape, vegetable garden and house plants. A little time spent preparing your leafy friends for... Read More

Phosphorus – Know Your Soil

In our area of Florida, soils will vary in the amount of nutrients they hold. In general, we think of our soils as nutrient poor because sand is often the highest component. Sandy soils have large pore spaces... Read More

Everyone Lives in a Flood Zone!

Since the heavy flooding in late April of this year, many property owners have expressed concern to me and their local government officials about their neighborhood’s vulnerability to flooding.  Homes and landscapes are most people’s largest investment, and... Read More

A Fluffy Woolly Mass on Woody Plants

Homeowner accounts of white fluffy woolly masses on woody ornamentals have been on the rise.  They can appear on the ends of a wide variety of woody ornamental branches in the landscape.  A closer inspection of these white... Read More

Purple Sunset® Pomegranate

Purple Sunset is a new ornamental cultivar of pomegranate, Punica granatum. Purple Sunset pomegranate is distinguished from fruiting pomegranate by a bushy, compact habit and numerous flowers followed by small, ornamental, purple-black fruit. Native to southeastern Europe and... Read More

4Rs of Fertilizer Application

The old cliché is “April showers bring May flowers”, but April deluges create weak plants and yellow grass. You were following the UF/IFAS recommendations and waited until April 15th to fertilize. You followed the Urban Turf Rule and... Read More

Growing Blueberries in the Edible Landscape

Blueberries are native to Eastern North America. They are one of the few crop plants that originated here. The rabbiteye blueberry occurs mostly in certain river valleys in Northern Florida and Southeastern Georgia. The high bush blueberry is... Read More

The Technology Garden

In this age of tablets, smart phones, and whatever they come up with next, even the gardener can benefit from new technology.  Although gardening and landscaping to beautify our surroundings is a way to connect with the past, there... Read More

Tree Cattle are Harmless

Many people are noticing small insects on trunks and branches of their trees. When disturbed, these insects move in a group and are commonly called tree cattle because of this herding habit. They are ¼ inch brownish-black insects... Read More

Gardening in Containers

In a world of limited time and space, container gardens seem to make more and more sense. Poor soil and no place to put plants in the ground are no longer good excuses for not being able to... Read More

Beneficial Bugs

  The most numerous animals on the planet are insects and although less than 1% cause damage to our landscapes, most are viewed as pests.  Many insects perform clean up tasks that keep our environment from being littered... Read More

Alert: Ambrosia Beetles !

Winter injury and stress to many trees has attracted granulate ambrosia beetles to landscapes. These beetles mostly prefer weakened trees and cut stumps/logs but have been found to attack some healthy trees as well. Adult beetles are very... Read More

Rain Gardens Offer Option for Problem Areas of Yard

Northwest Florida experienced record-setting floods this spring, and many landscapes, roads, and buildings suffered serious damage due to the sheer force of water moving downhill. That being said, we are just entering our summer “rainy season,” so it... Read More

IPM 2-day Workshop, NFREC, Quincy, FL. June 10-11, 2014 13 Pesticide CEUs Available

Nursery IPM Workshop   North Florida Research and Education Center May Building Seminar Room and On -site Outdoor Nursery Facilities 155 Research Road Quincy, Florida 32351 June10-11, 2014 Don’t miss this hands-on, 2-day workshop focused on integrated pest... Read More

Watch Out For Tomato Problems

One of the most common tomato problem home gardeners encounter in the late spring and early summer is blossom end rot. The good news is that blossom end rot can be prevented with the use of drip irrigation... Read More

Daylilies: A Low-Maintenance Landscape Plant

The daylily is a popular flowering perennial that adapts well to Florida landscape statewide.  Plants are available in a wide variety of growth habits, flower shapes and colors, including yellow, orange, red, pink, and purple, near white and... Read More

Mexican Sycamore – Platanus mexicana

Mexican sycamore (Platanus mexicana) is a fast growing, drought tolerant tree boasting smooth white-and-tan bark and large maple-like leaves with velvety, silver undersides. Native to northeastern and central Mexico, this tree’s cold hardiness is not well defined. However,... Read More

Success with Houseplants: Watering Correctly

Plants add color, interesting textures and, of course, beauty to our indoor living environments. The air is freshened with the oxygen they provide. Keep them healthy by watering correctly. Plants have differing water requirements so take a moment... Read More

Preventing Heat Stress: Plant and People Considerations

As we begin to approach our North Florida hot summer months, Gary Wade with the University of Georgia College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Cooperative Extension reminds us that, “temperatures in the high 90s and several weeks without... Read More

Take-All Root Rot

Last summer’s heavy rain and the stress of January’s icy weather have contributed to widespread outbreaks of Take-All Root Rot, a soil-inhabiting fungus Gaeumannomyces graminis var. graminis that causes yellow grass patches ranging in diameter from a few... Read More

Despite Heavy Rainfall, Central Panhandle Blueberry Harvest On Track

  Although the central Florida panhandle has been hit with excessive rainfall this spring, the blueberry yield this year is on track to be above average. Colder winter temperatures coupled with wet spring weather has enhanced the yield... Read More

Purple Nut Sedge & Wet Weather: A Challenge To The Perfect Landscape

The spring season in panhandle Florida is colorful. Every location from frequently manicured gardens to untended fields and pastures are exploding with hues and tones pleasing to the eye. These heralds of the warmer weather to come are... Read More

Select Recent Rains Exacerbate Pesky Palm Problems

Palms can be difficult to manage in Northwest Florida.  To have healthy palms it is important to think about possible cold temperatures, disease, and nutrient needs of palms.  The panhandle of Florida was blasted with cold this winter... Read More

Landscape Issues Related to Excess Rainfall and Flooding

The last week of April 2014 brought with it 10-22 inches of rain across the panhandle in a matter of days.  Some areas had immediate flooding and standing water, while others may be in areas at risk of... Read More

Diagnosing Deficiencies in Your Landscape

Now that spring has finally sprung and summer is well on its way, you may find yourself taking a stroll through your landscape and assessing damage done by late cold spells. However, it may not be a frost... Read More

Beware of Too-Good-to-be-True Lawn Grass Seed Advertisements

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This phrase offers sound advice for the person looking for the “perfect” lawn grass.  It’s common to see advertisements for the perfect lawn grass. You should be... Read More

Growing sweet corn in the backyard garden

Sweet corn is a favorite among home gardeners. As long as the space is available, it’s not difficult to grow. Corn is a new world native crop, with archaeological evidence suggesting that it was first domesticated in Mexico.... Read More

Mowing Methods Make a Difference

Mowing is an important and often overlooked landscape best management practices that can increase lawn health. Most of us mowed lawns to earn some spending money as kids. As long as it was shorter when we finished than... Read More

Bat protection increased during spring and summer

As spring commences and young wildlife of all species are born, everyone’s favorite flying, furry mammal also begins roosting season. Ideally, bats will find shelter in trees, caves, abandoned buildings, and bat houses, but sometimes they end up in... Read More

Add This Shrub for an Edible Landscape!

A blueberry bush as a landscape shrub? Yes! Darrow’s blueberry, Vaccinium darrowii, is closely related to the other blueberries you know and love, but this little gem of a shrub is highly ornamental and will fit in with... Read More


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Rethinking the Eastern Mole

How can an animal that does such much to help rid your lawn of pests be so hated by most homeowners?  Such is the life of the mole. The beneficial mammal is a soil dweller that tunnels through... Read More

Wet Weather, Cool Nights Ideal For Powdery Mildew

  This spring powdery mildew has been prevalent on many non-resistant cultivars of ornamental plants, particularly rose and crapemyrtle. Ideal conditions for powdery mildew development, warm days and cool nights followed by rain, have been present for several weeks in Northwest Florida.... Read More

Prepare Lawns Now For Growing Season To Come

Spring is officially here, so this means it is time to get the lawn in shape for another growing season in north Florida. The first step is to develop an action plan which sets the path to achieving... Read More

Tomatoes at Twilight

Currently, there is an heirloom tomato variety trial being conducted in a high tunnel structure at the UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center.  Seven heirloom tomato varieties are being evaluated, along with one hybrid variety, for early season high... Read More

Large Carpenter Bee Management and Control

Every year beginning in mid-March to early-April, Extension Agents begin to receive inquiries about managing carpenter bees which are attacking barns, eaves, rafters, and other wooden structures.  The bee most commonly responsible for economic damages is typically the... Read More

Gardening in Small Spaces

Living in a condo, apartment, or home with small yard does not mean you can’t garden at home.  Whether you are interested in edible plants or ornamentals you can create a fit that is right for your space... Read More

Don’t Cut Corners When Renovating Lawn

Cutting corners during lawn renovation usually results in poor turf establishment and long-term lawn maintenance problems. Occasionally it is necessary to renovate a lawn or replant sections of a lawn. When replanting a lawn, it is best to... Read More

Titi In Bloom This Spring

         Black Titi (also known as Spring Titi or Buckwheat Tree (Cliftonia monophylla (Lam.) Britton ex Sarg. is a native shrub or tree that can be found growing along streams and boggy areas of the Florida Panhandle.  It can... Read More

Organic Gardening Starts With The Soil

What does it mean to grow gardens organically?  It depends upon who you talk to.  The simple answer is that organic gardeners only use animal or plant-based fertilizers rather than synthetic.  It also means use of natural pest control devoid of synthetically manufactured insecticides. In other... Read More

Wet Weather Brings Fungal Diseases

March may seem a little early to worry about fungal diseases, but recent prolonged wet weather and warmer temperatures have made the climate just right for a variety of leaf diseases in the Florida Panhandle. One in particular,... Read More

Crapemyrtle Bark Scale in China – – – and in the U.S.?

Given crapemyrtle’s reputation for plant vigor and pest resistance, I was shocked to see Chinese crapemyrtles noticeably affected by a previously obscure pest.   Last November I had the privilege of traveling to China with Dave Creech (Stephen F. Austin University),... Read More

Preventing Invasive Plants and Animals

The first week of March every year is designated “National Invasive Species Awareness Week,” an initiative to draw attention to the thousands of invasive plants and animals that move into our state and country every year. However, this is a... Read More

Pollinator Protection

  Landscapes will soon be transitioning from the dormant phase to actively growing and one of the most beneficial insects of all will be back in action.  As soon as flowers open, bees will be visiting to gather... Read More

Save Our Citrus!

All varieties of citrus – grapefruit, lemon, tangerine, kumquat and orange – are a vital part of our lives here in Florida. We love to grow citrus in our yards so that we can harvest the fruit fresh... Read More

Oakleaf Hydrangea – A Native Choice

Oakleaf Hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) make a beautiful choice for the home landscape.  They present great interest in all seasons of  the year.  Not only do they produce beautiful blooms in summer, but the plant also provides great fall... Read More

New Fertilizer Applicator Law in Effect, Training Offered

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Garden Catalogs

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Daffodils: A Reminder of Spring

Few plants seem to signify the freshness of spring quite as well as daffodils. The name “daffodils” is derived from “addodell” a variant of Asphodel (a plant of the Asphodelus genus.) In historical documents and the common language... Read More

Show Your Roses Some Love

Considering it is the month of Valentine’s, roses are an appropriate subject to discuss. Not bouquets couriered to various locations all over town, but bushes in the landscape that have been strategically neglected over the winter. Now their... Read More

So, You Have Alkaline Soil…

So you have alkaline soil… What next? Throughout the Panhandle, a common problem that often arises is finding a way to raise soil pH. This is due to the fact that we often encounter sandy, acid soils in this region. An often... Read More

Common Myths about Spanish Moss and Lichen

Spanish moss and lichen have earned an inaccurate reputation for damaging trees and shrubs in the Florida landscape.  Although they may be found in plants that are in decline or showing stress symptoms, they are simply taking advantage... Read More

Youth Gardening Grows Across the Country

Backyard gardens have increased in popularity the last few years, with record calls to Extension offices statewide on how to grow tomatoes and preserve produce.  Along with the boom in home gardening, schools have steadily added gardens to... Read More

Reliable Hollies

Looking for a new shrub or small tree this year?  Interested in one that is low maintenance and offers beautiful green color?  Why not try a holly. Hollies can be found in landscapes throughout North Florida.  Many times these... Read More

Aquaponics 101 Workshop

Aquaponics is an exciting system where fish and plants grow in harmony. The aquaponic system can be a fun project for the home gardener but can also become a successful farming venture.  Come and learn the basics of... Read More

Do Homework Before Choosing Fruit Trees

It is hard to believe with all of this recent cold weather, but now is the time to plant fruit trees in the Florida Panhandle. When planning what type of fruit tree to plant, correct cultivar selection should... Read More

Stop “Crape Murder”!

This is the time of year when we often see crapemyrtles unnecessarily topped:  main stems that are several years old are cut back, often leaving branch stubs 2 – 5 inches or more in diameter. Topping is sometimes called... Read More

Did the Freeze Kill My Palms?

The freezing rain last week across the panhandle left icicles hanging from street signs, rooftops, trees, shrubs and palms. Many people now wonder if their palms will survive the assault of the hard freeze. The chance of survival... Read More

Stone Fruit Winter Care

February is not a month many think of as a big gardening month, although the preparation and maintenance practices performed in February can be critical to the success of an orchard for the rest of the year.  Stone... Read More

American Snowbell: Native Flowering Shrub-Like Small Tree for Wet Areas in the Landscape

  Found throughout the North Florida Panhandle, the American snowbell, Styrax americanus, is a native small flowering tree.  In his book, The Trees of Florida, Gil Nelson describes the blossoms as charming with “the thin, reflexed (flower) petals... Read More

Care of Freeze-Injured Citrus Trees

  This week, Northwest Florida is once again receiving some bitter cold temperatures. The freezing weather two weeks ago resulted in some cold damage to some local citrus trees. Cold injured citrus trees can take a while to become evident.   What... Read More

Camellia japonica ‘Magnoliaeflora’- A Worthwhile Choice

 Recently, I was working on a camellia identification project in a forgotten camellia garden of about 60  plants. Most camellias I observed were not yet in flower but one in particular caught my eye. I later identified this... Read More

Rosemary Doesn’t Mind a Forgetful Gardener

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) is an attractive evergreen woody perennial and a culinary herb that grows well in the Florida Panhandle with very little attention. Rosemary is quite tough and thrives in hot, dry spots with well-drained soil.  All... Read More

Growing Potatoes in Your Florida Garden

The time to plant potatoes is now! Potatoes are a good way to usher in the growing season of your home garden. They are easy to grow and their harvesting date doesn’t coincide with many other vegetables. In... Read More

Cold Damaged Plant Care

January and February are typically the coldest months in Florida and plants can be damaged by low temperatures.  But with your help, cold-damaged plants can often recover. After a freeze, see if your plants are dry.  Even injured plants... Read More

Landscape Design–Now is the Time to Start!

Most people associate yard work with the spring and summer, but if you’re considering a major redesign of a home landscape, now is a great time to start.  Without the vegetation on deciduous trees, it’s easy to see... Read More

Trees and Shrubs for All Year Interest

Trees and shrubs often serve a distinct purpose in landscapes, other than to provide color. They are planted to provide shade, screen a view or noise, or to soften the hardscapes of the home. With a little planning, we... Read More

Top 15 Gardening in the Panhandle Articles of 2013!

The wordpress-platform version Gardening in the Panhandle began in May of 2012 and had 188 views from its inception through the end of the year. This was a new online version of a long running and award winning traditional print newsletter. 2013... Read More

Florida Panhandle Receives a Double Dose of Freezing Temperatures

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Plant Profile: Apalachee Crapemyrtle, Lagerstroemia indica × fauriei ‘Apalachee’

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:”Table Normal”; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:””; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;} ‘Apalachee’ crapemyrtle is a statuesque small deciduous tree with... Read More

Winter in the Vegetable Garden

In the Florida panhandle, we are fortunate to be able to grow crops throughout the year. The key is to know what to plant at the various times of the year. Vegetables that can be planted now include beets, broccoli,... Read More

Plant a Tree to Celebrate Arbor Day!

  [important]The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.  ~Chinese Proverb[/important] In Florida, Arbor Day is always celebrated on the third Friday of January. In 2014, Arbor Day falls... Read More

Thinning Vegetable Seedlings

Many common cool season vegetable garden plants are started in raised beds by direct planting of seeds. It is important to follow the guidelines in the ‘Monthly Vegetable Planting Guide’ (Page 6) for plant spacing and seed depth.  It is... Read More

Spring Into Vegetable Gardening

Dates:  Tuesdays, January 14- February 4, 2014 Time:  6:00PM-7:30PM (Central Time Zone)                                Cost:  $30 per person or $45/couple            ... Read More

Florida Arbor Day

  The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago.  The second best time is Arbor Day 2014.  Florida recognizes the event on the third Friday in January, so the next one is January 17, 2014.... Read More

Black Twig Borers in Local Trees

  Q. Small branches are dying in some of my trees. What’s causing this?  A. More than likely the culprit is the Black Twig Borer. This very small beetle, about 1/16 inch long, has been active this year. ... Read More

Fall Vegetable Variety Demonstration

This fall, the Gulf Coast Small Farms and Alternative Enterprises Team put in a fall vegetable demonstration at UF/IFAS West Florida Research and Education Center in Jay, Florida.  The demonstration had several fall crops such as spinach, swiss... Read More

Calculating the True Benefits of Trees

How much is a 400-year old live oak tree worth?  Can you buy one online, with free shipping, and charge it to the credit card?  Pick one up at the local home improvement store?  Ask Santa? Of course not.... Read More