“The Neighborhood Gardener” is the monthly e-newsletter from the UF/IFAS Florida Master Gardener Volunteer Program.
If you’re curious about citrus but don’t know where to start, then kumquat is the perfect tree to begin with. It’s praised for its frost tolerance and low maintenance once established. Kumquat produces tiny, tangy fruits that can be consumed skin and all. It also has ornamental value, especially if you plant one of the variegated varieties, such as ‘Centennial’. Read more about the citrus so popular it has its own festival.
With spring gardens on the horizon, now is a good time to test your soil! As of February 15, 2023 you will have two options for soil testing. The UF/IFAS Soil Testing Laboratory is still open for testing as usual, but now there is another option called SoilKit®. Both are based on the same science, but the new one is designed to be especially user-friendly with results that are easy to understand. Read more about your options and learn how to take an accurate soil sample.
Beets are highly nutritious vegetables that are easy to grow. From the ground up they look exactly like Swiss chard, but underground they also produce a tasty taproot. But like Swiss chard, you can eat beef leaves as well; some varieties, like ‘Bull’s Blood’, are popular for their deep red foliage. If you want something different from the classic red or purple beets, try planting a golden variety. Learn more about growing beets.
I was fortunate enough to attend the Tropical Plant Industry Expo (TPIE) last month in Tampa, Florida. This trade show has been going on for the last 50 years thanks to the hard work and creativity of the nursery industry and their professional association, FNGLA. As a kickoff speaker they brought in trends analyst Christine Borland from Amsterdam. She shared her take on new ideas and cultural trends for 2023. Read on to learn what’s trending in the garden (and home).
Golden dewdrop is an evergreen shrub or small tree that makes an exciting backdrop or privacy barrier. It sports bright green foliage, tubular flowers that come in a range of colors, and striking yellow fruits that hang from the plant like densely clustered strands of pearls. Plus, it also attracts birds and butterflies to your yard. Golden dewdrop grows to a maximum height of eight to 15 feet and is hardy in USDA zones 9B through 11. Learn more about Duranta erecta.
Plant annuals that thrive in Florida’s mild winter, like dianthus, impatiens, and dusty miller. Vegetable gardening is in full swing in North and Central Florida, and there’s still time to plant in South Florida. Prune roses this month to remove damaged canes and improve the overall form. After pruning, fertilize and apply a fresh layer of mulch. Blooming will begin 8–9 weeks after pruning.
For more month-by-month gardening tips, check out the Florida Gardening Calendar. Three different editions of the calendar provide specific tips for each of Florida’s gardening regions—North, Central, and South.
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