The New Year is a great time to make some horticultural resolutions that will benefit any landscape. Let’s look at some tips, suggestions and strategies that will make your landscaping experience in Southwest Florida the best in 2024 – we can help!
Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ for 2024
The overarching “mother ship” of all of our horticultural recommendations and educational outreach is Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ . When we look to troubleshoot or provide the best research-based, unbiased information for a landscaping, nothing falls outside the nine Principles of FFL: 1. RIGHT PLANT, RIGHT PLACE, 2. WATER EFFICIENTLY, 3. FERTILIZE APPROPRIATELY, 4. MULCH, 5. ATTRACT WILDLIFE, 6. MANAGE YARD PESTS RESPONSIBLY, 7. RECYCLE YARD WASTE, 8. REDUCE STORMWATER RUNOFF and 9. PROTECT THE WATERFRONT. To review more details on this, please see our on-line resource – https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/fflifasufledu/docs/FFL-Handbook_03172022_web.pdf – The Florida Yards & Neighborhoods Handbook, where the details of common-sense landscaping are outlined and discussed. One additional resource to familiarize yourself with concerning recommended local landscape planting materials is 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!
Try Annual Flowering Plants
Although the word “annual” tends to mean one-year, In Florida, many annuals only last for a season. While annuals can be purchased as ready-to-plant transplants, starting them from seed gives you many more options in regard to types and colors. Keep in mind also that some flowering plants we use as annuals, are actually biennials or short-lived perennials which wear out in a season. Seasonal selection knowledge will help you pick the best annuals for the time of year. As an example, cool season annuals may include snapdragons, petunias, and geraniums, while warm-season annuals are plants such as moss rose/portulaca, Angelonia, celosia, and coleus. Please see here for more details – https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/MG319 – GARDENING WITH ANNUALS IN FLORIDA.
Butterfly Gardening – Flying Flowers
Planting flowers in your garden to attract butterflies and other pollinators is just a way of life here in Southwest Florida. As our mild temperatures allow for almost year-round butterfly activity and flower production, this is a natural serendipitous by-product of gardening. Gaining a knowledge of what butterflies like as far nectar plant sand what their caterpillars require for food will lead you on a road to success with this popular hobby. Expect to learn a great deal by observation and tapping into resources to help you – https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/UW057 – BUTTERFLY GARDENING IN FLORIDA
Visit Our Publication Website “Ask IFAS – Powered by 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 want to promote EDIS publications which I have provided several samples above. 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, UF/IFAS Specialists, and Master Gardener Volunteers can help you solve landscape problems involving insect pests, plant disease, cultural problems and even household pests. Photographs of your gardening inquiries are welcome and can help speed up our diagnostic turnaround time. Our relatively new office at 1120 Centennial Blvd is found within the new Centennial Park Facility just south of North Port on Rt. 41.
Whether you are an annual or perennial gardener, don’t go dormant 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 2024 with America’s number 1 hobby – gardening! For more information on our services, or to ask a question, 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
by Ralph Mitchell