Butterfly Gardening Resources

Butterfly Gardening Resources

We hope you were able to join us for Gardening in the Panhandle LIVE! Butterfly Gardening on July 9th to learn about attracting butterflies to your Florida gardens. As promised, we have compiled a list of butterfly resources that we talked about during the webinar and a few extra that we didn’t have time to cover.

If you were not able to join us live, you can still watch the videos on Facebook or YouTube

Click on the topic of interest for links to resources:

Don’t forget to tune in for our next Gardening in the Panhandle LIVE! on July 23rd for Prepping for the Fall Garden. Register for that webinar on Zoom or Follow our Facebook Event for updates.

For a full list of upcoming webinars visit Gardening in the Panhandle: LIVE!
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Video: Lilies in the Coastal South

Video: Lilies in the Coastal South

Lilies offer one of our most striking flowers in the garden.  Learn a few basics about growing lilies in your own garden with UF IFAS Extension Escambia County Master Gardener Volunteers.

Pruning Makes All The Difference

Pruning Makes All The Difference

I live in the woods, so I mainly have a “natural” landscape.  I remove trees, shrubs, and weeds as I see fit, but for the most part things just grow wild.  However, there are a few spots in the yard where the previous owners did a little landscaping.  Unfortunately, these spots have become a bit overgrown.  One spot in particular features some gardenia plants around the HVAC units.  At first, I was a little hesitant to prune these shrubs because they provide some shade to the units.  However, they have become overgrown and I know they will grow back.  I was patient to wait for them to finish flowering.

Gardenia Shrub

A gardenia shrub that has become a bit overgrown. Photo Credit: Matt Lollar, University of Florida/IFAS Extension – Santa Rosa County

As you can see in the photo above, this gardenia has become a bit leggy.  It is important to also note the good amount of branching and new growth at the base of the plant.  There are a few pruning options available for shaping shrubs such as hedging/terminal pruning, selective pruning, and renewal pruning.  While a tree form gardenia can be attractive, it wasn’t desired in this situation.  This particular case called for renewal pruning to improve the form of the plant.  Renewal pruning is probably the easiest type of pruning, because it requires the least amount of thinking.  It basically involves removing the majority of old growth.

A gardenia shrub that has been renewal pruned

A gardenia shrub that has been renewal pruned. Photo Credit: Matt Lollar, University of Florida/IFAS Extension – Santa Rosa County

The picture above is of the same shrub that has been pruned heavily.  Not only have the older, leggy branches been removed, but some of the newer growth has been removed to allow for better air circulation within the shrub.  This will help reduce the incidence of disease.

A gardenia shrub six weeks after renewal pruning.

A gardenia shrub six weeks after renewal pruning. Photo Credit: Matt Lollar, University of Florida/IFAS Extension – Santa Rosa County

Six weeks after being pruned, this shrub is flowering for a second time.  In a matter of short time it will be providing much needed shade for the HVAC units again.  (That is..if I remember to selectively prune throughout the year.)  For more information on how to prune and what to prune, please visit the UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions page on pruning.

Video: Diagnosing a Black Twig Borer Problem

Video: Diagnosing a Black Twig Borer Problem

The bay laurel tree in the Escambia County Demonstration Garden had some dead branches on the outer canopy.  Further investigation led us to the culprit, the black twig borer. Learn more In the Garden with UF IFAS Extension Escambia County.

Assassins of the Garden

Assassins of the Garden

Wheel bugs have large beaks and a distinctive semicircular crest on their backs resembling a cogwheel. Photo by Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State University, Bugwood.org.

Wheel bugs have large beaks and a distinctive semicircular crest on their backs resembling a cogwheel. Photo by Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State University, Bugwood.org.

As a gardener, the summer is the season you might feel it takes knightly status to grow fruits and vegetables. You put on your metaphorical armor, hold up your shield, and draw your sword to battle the stink bugs, squash vine borers, armyworms, green peach aphids, and more.

In these instances, it may feel like nothing in nature is on your side. But alas, there are a few insects out there that carry their own defenses. One of them is the ferocious assassin bug. These insects are predacious, loaded with powerful curved beaks called proboscises that pierce their unsuspecting prey. Once pierced, the assassin bug injects a toxin that liquefies the muscles and tissues of the prey. It then sucks out the liquefied tissue, killing its host.

Although milkweed assassin bugs vary in appearance worldwide, those found in the United States are distinctly orange and black. Photo by Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State University, Bugwood.org.

Although milkweed assassin bugs vary in appearance worldwide, those found in the United States are distinctly orange and black. Photo by Gerald J. Lenhard, Louisiana State University, Bugwood.org.

Assassin bugs feed on a wide range of insects, including many types of caterpillars, stinkbugs, aphids, flies, beetles, and even mosquitoes.

While assassin bugs are our garden allies, be mindful, as their injection does pack quite the punch! Fortunately, although a “bite” from an assassin bug is painful, they do not generally require medical attention. But do seek medical attention if it causes any type of allergic reaction such as swelling, itching, hives, or difficulty breathing.

There are nearly 3,000 known assassin bug species, including many in Florida. Common species you may come across in your Florida garden are the wheel bug (Arilus cristatus) and the milkweed assassin bug (Zelus longipes). Give them their space but know that they are on your side.

Learn more about wheel bugs and milkweed assassin bugs at the UF/IFAS Featured Creatures website: