It has been an interesting 2022 gardening year beginning with a hard freeze and finishing up with a hurricane, but 2023 is ready for cultivation and planting! Take time for some personal horticultural reflection and goal setting in the gardening department! The New Year is a great time to make some horticultural resolutions that will benefit any landscape. Let’s look at some tips, techniques and strategies that will make your landscaping experience in Southwest Florida the best in 2023 – we can help!
Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ for 2023 This year is an ideal time to take that blank slate of a yard after the devastation of Hurricane Ian and turn it into a Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ work of art. All of the horticultural information that we provide revolves around the best management practices of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™. For instance, a low-maintenance home landscape starts with putting the right plant in the right place. Analyze your site so that you pick Florida-Friendly plants and turfgrass that match your local conditions. Keep in mind mature plant size when you make your purchases, and aim for a mix of trees, shrubs, and groundcovers. Properly selected and installed, and once these plants are established, they can be sustained with minimal amounts of supplemental water, fertilizer, or pesticides, saving you time and money. Attention to this detail will pay off big dividends in your future landscape! People often ask us, “What is one resource that I could use to familiarize myself with recommended local landscape planting materials?” I would answer that you need to see this publication – https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/fflifasufledu/docs/FFL-Plant-Guide_v03222022_web.pdf – The Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Guide to Plant Selection & Landscape Design. This on-line guide not only has pictures of the plants, but also hardiness, sun or shade requirements, salt and drought-tolerance, size, etc. to help with your selections. Everyone with a Florida yard needs to see it! To complement this, please also see – https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/fflifasufledu/docs/FFL-Handbook_03172022_web.pdf – The Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook, where the Principles of common-sense landscaping are outlined and discussed.
Our Tree Canopy Every time we have a large hurricane, home gardeners reevaluate their tree canopy (or what, if any, is left of it) and begin to rebuild their landscapes. The success of your trees involves proper site selection, tree species evaluation, and seemingly simple tasks such as planting the tree and aftercare. Thereafter, proper pruning can help the future tree perform better in windstorms – a must in our area. A properly situated and managed tree pays off in shade, beauty and landscape diversity.
Part of Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ is proper pest identification before applying any type of pesticide Positive identification is so important to help solve a plant pest problem. The problem could be an insect or a non-insect. The issue could be a disease – a virus, fungi or bacteria. The problem could be a weed which is really just a plant out of place. It could even be a nematode or something totally unrelated such as a nutritional deficiency, an environmental factor – a freeze or heat issue, flood or drought, lightning strike – or even an off-target herbicide application. Once identified, then we can make the best recommendation whether it is cultural, biological, mechanical or even chemical – it all depends. The answer may as simple as hand-picking, but we will always begin with the least-toxic option first.
Visit Our Publication Website – EDIS – Often! I say this every year – practically all of the research-based, unbiased information that UF/IFAS has is stored here. Just like last year, I love to promote EDIS publications. EDIS is the Electronic Data Information Source of UF/IFAS Extension, a treasure-trove of information on topics relevant to you and a gateway to information. This site is packed full of horticultural fact sheets (as well as other topics) on practically every subject matter with good, ready-to-use information specifically geared for Florida – please check here – http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/. You can also visit our office website by clicking on this link – https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/charlotte/.
Let Us Help You! We are just a phone call, e-mail or office visit away. Our Staff of experts, associated UF/IFAS Specialists, and Master Gardener Volunteers can help you solve landscape problems involving insect pests, plant disease, cultural problems and even household pests. Our new office at 1120 Centennial Blvd is found within the new Centennial Park Facility just south of North Port on Rt. 41.
So, don’t go dormant – be perennial – in the giant garden we all live in here in Southwest Florida! The New Year is here and with it many gardening improvements, innovations and plant palette options. Let us help you in 2023 with America’s number 1 hobby – gardening! For more information on all types of gardening topics in our area, you can also call the Master Gardener Volunteer Helpdesk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1 to 4 pm at 764-4340 for gardening help and insight into their role as an Extension volunteer. Ralph E. Mitchell is the Director/Horticulture Agent for UF/IFAS Extension – Charlotte County. He can be reached at 941-764-4344 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with us on social media. Like us on Facebook @CharlotteCountyExtension and follow us on Instagram @ifascharco.