Growing Healthy Palms Workshop


University of Florida palm and disease Extension specialist Dr. Monica
Elliott will share information on palm installation and best management

  • Timing and techniques for proper palm planting.
    Establishing and care for palms through proper watering,
    fertilization, and pruning.
  • Learn the cold hardy palms to plant along the Gulf Coast and
    palm issues and diseases associated with cold weather
  • Where to focus your palm care when funds are limited.

Wednesday July 27, 2016

Pensacola (10-11:45am), Escambia County Central Office Complex, 3363 West Park Place Pensacola, FL 32505

REGISTER: Program is free but register for a spot by calling 475-5230 or emailing

Santa Rosa Beach (3-4:45pm), Walton County Extension Annex 70 Logan Ln, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459

REGISTER: Program is free but register by calling 850-892-8172 or emailing


CEUs to be available

It is time to monitor for Rose Rosette Disease in Florida

It is time to monitor for Rose Rosette Disease in Florida

Author: Dr. Mathews Paret

Rose Rosette (Photo Credits: Mathews Paret)

Rose Rosette (Photo Credits: Mathews Paret)

Caused by: Rose rosette virus (Currently not present in Florida; but previously discovered in three counties in Florida in 2013 and 2014 led to the successful destroyal of the infected plants)

Vectored by: An eriophyid mite species; Phyllocoptes fructiphilus (Not known to be present in Florida). Grafting or budding can also transmit the virus from infected to healthy plants

Why is monitoring for rose rosette disease in Florida important?

  1. Currently, Florida is the state with the largest value in wholesale production of roses in the U.S ($29.7 million)
  2. The landscaping industry in Florida heavily uses roses and especially shrub roses.
  3. The disease can affect all varieties of roses
  4. Currently, there is no known cure for Rose Rosette Disease, and hence early detection and eradication of infected plants is the key to prevent any establishment of the disease in Florida

Thus, monitor and report to the county extension agent or University of Florida, Plant Pathology Lab at NFREC, Quincy if suspicious plants are noted. This is critical in ensuring that Florida roses are well protected this year and in the coming years from Rose Rosette Disease.

Symptoms of the disease and details of the virus can be found in the following documents.


Rose Rosette Disease: A new disease of roses in Florida

IFAS Pest Alert: Rose Rosette Virus

Relevant information on all major diseases of roses in Florida can be also found at U-scout website of NFREC, University of Florida


Contact person:

Mathews Paret

Assistant Professor, Plant Pathology

University of Florida, NFREC, University of Florida, 850-875-7154

Too Late yet Too Early

Winter kill. Photo Credit: J. Bryan Unruh

Winter kill. Photo Credit: J. Bryan Unruh

Author: J. Bryan Unruh, Ph.D. – Extension Turf Specialist

Spring has sprung! With that comes the urge to ramp up spring landscaping projects – planting a garden; replenishing the mulch in the beds; planting summer annuals for color; preventing that nasty crabgrass from germinating; and fertilizing the lawn. STOP! WAIT! TIMEOUT!

“Weed-and-Feed” products are commonly marketed in most garden centers and box stores. However, the use of weed-and-feed products should largely be avoided in Northwest Florida. Here’s why. In northwest Florida, crabgrass typically germinates around March 1st – give or take a couple of weeks based on spring conditions (warmer = earlier) or whether you reside along the coast or in the northern reaches of your county. Consequently, with March almost behind us, we are beyond the window of opportunity to control crabgrass before it germinates. Crabgrass control measures now must rely on postemergence (after the weed germinates) options. For all of our turfgrasses, except Bahiagrass and St. Augustinegrass, a number of options are available. Refer to for more information. There are no postemergence crabgrass herbicides registered for use on St. Augustinegrass!

The “feed” side of “weed-and-feed” provides plant nutrition – through the application of fertilizer. However, UF/IFAS does not recommend lawn fertilization prior to April 15th in northwest Florida. There are a couple of reasons why UF/IFAS doesn’t recommend early spring fertilization. First, it is very common for portions of northwest Florida to experience heavy frosts through March and into the first week of April. We desire for the turf to remain “at rest” until after the first week of April. Fertilizing prior to April 15th nearly guarantees that the lawn will be awakened making it prone to severe damage should a late spring frost occur (Figure 1). Second, UF/IFAS scientists hypothesize that the turfgrass root system (the part you can’t see) lags behind the shoot system (the part you can see). When fertilizer granules are applied to the lawn, the granules dissolve and the nutrients become part of the soil solution (soil water + dissolved substances). Liquid applied fertilizers go directly into the soil solution. If the root system is not ready to absorb the nutrients, the nutrients are likely to leach below the rootzone and can potentially move into the groundwater as a pollutant. UF/IFAS research conducted near Pensacola and south of Gainesville conclusively showed that fertilizer applied around March 1st had elevated nutrient leaching. Conversely, when fertilizer is properly applied to a healthy lawn, the turf will assimilate all the applied nutrients and not cause environmental problems.

Patchy winter kill. Photo Credit: J. Bryan Unruh

Patchy winter kill. Photo Credit: J. Bryan Unruh

What about “weed-and-feed” products for broadleaf weeds such as dollarweed ( or Virginia buttonweed ( Generally, these weeds do not inhabit the entire property – they appear only in patches scattered throughout the lawn. Why then, would you apply chemicals to an entire lawn when only a small area needs to be treated? The answer is simple – you shouldn’t. Under this scenario, it would be best to use “Ready-to-Use” products or make a mix from a concentrated product and deliver through a pump-up type sprayer.

Bottomline – go ahead a start your spring gardening. Plant your garden. Refresh the plant beds. Plant those annuals and perennials to give you the color you want. If you haven’t fertilized yet – great. Wait until mid-April or later. If you have already fertilized and your lawn is green – hope that we don’t get a late-season frost!

Sprinkler System check up

Sprinkler System check up

Setting the sprinkler head for an irrigation system. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham

Setting the sprinkler head for an irrigation system. UF/IFAS Photo: Josh Wickham

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 supplemental irrigation during hotter months, especially in the sandy soils of northwest Florida, which can dry out at a rapid pace. February is typically a time when very little supplemental irrigation water is needed because most of the desired landscape plants and grasses do not use much water in the cooler temperatures. The warmth of spring and the heat of summer are around the corner and preparations should be made now to ensure that irrigation systems are working properly before being needed. Here are a few things to think about when prepping irrigation systems for spring:

    • Maintain, Repair, or Replace the Rotors, Nozzles, and Heads. Many sprinkler heads get damaged over time from riding lawn mowers, utility workers, vehicles, or other causes. To avoid having a geyser in the irrigation zone, it is a good idea to test run the system to make sure the rotor and heads are working properly and the nozzles have not been knocked loose. Many times broken rotor or spray heads can be replaced simply by taking the interior mechanical parts out and replacing them with new parts. This may not even require digging! Sometimes repairs are as simple as replacing a filter or spray nozzle that has popped off over time.
    • Calibrate the system to provide 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch during an irrigation event. Many Florida homeowners and horticultural professionals apply too much or too little water while irrigating. Most do not even know how much irrigation water is being applied. It is important to calibrate the irrigation system to apply only 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch of water during an irrigation event to promote a healthy lawn and landscape. To little water will stress the plants while too much water may promote disease and insect problems.  Irrigating improperly may also cause environmental issues, from soil and fertilizer runoff, to develop. Watch this short video on irrigation calibration.

    • Inspect and make sure the Rain Shutoff Device is working properly. In Florida, it is state law to have a rain shutoff device on an automatic irrigation system. Most systems have a device installed that utilizes a small cork disc that expands when wet and physically clicks a button to tell the system to skip the next automatic cycle. As the cork degrades over time, it will cause system malfunction and should be replaced periodically. It is best to skip using an automatic timer and instead watch the weather and the plants for symptoms of drought stress. If an automatic timer is used, a functioning rain shutoff device is essential for proper irrigation management. Other types of shutoff devices are available as well.

The following University of Florida / IFAS publications contains more information on proper irrigation management for landscapes:

Residential Irrigation System Rainfall Shutoff Devices

Using Reclaimed Water for Landscape Irrigation

Florida Lawn Handbook: Watering Efficiently

Controlling Weeds in Landscape Beds

Controlling Weeds in Landscape Beds

Author: Dr. Chris Marble, UF/IFAS MREC

While the bulk of most residential weed control programs focus on controlling weeds in turf, weeds can also be very problematic in landscape planting beds. Controlling weeds in landscape beds can be very difficult because unlike turf, planting beds typically contain several different ornamental species that can range from trees to shrubs to herbaceous annuals and perennials.

One of the most common ways to control weeds in landscape planting beds is to make “spot treatments” of glyphosate to control escaped weeds. While this method is effective, it is important to remember that glyphosate is a systemic herbicide, meaning that it can move through plant tissues. Ensure that none of the spray contacts any leaf or stem tissues of desirable plants either through direct contact or through inadvertent drift. If contact is made, the plant tissues that were sprayed will need to be washed or pruned off as soon as possible to avoid further damage. Be especially mindful when applying near species that are known to sucker near the ground such as crape myrtles. Glyphosate can also cause damage when applied to young tree bark or to some trees with very thin bark. Herbicides that have only contact action can also cause damage to ornamentals but these herbicides will not move throughout the plant and the injury will remain localized. Contact herbicides are not as effective on perennial weeds such as Florida betony (Stachys floridana) or nutsedge species (Cyperus spp.).

Nutsedge can be very difficult to control. Photo Credit: Chris Marble

Nutsedge can be very difficult to control. Photo Credit: Chris Marble, UF/IFAS

Mulching is one of the safest and most effective methods of weed control in landscape beds. Coarse textured mulches (such as pine bark nuggets) are typically preferred over smaller textured mulch because they provide a less favorable environment for weed seed germination. Mulch should be applied at a depth of 2 to 3 inches for best results. In addition to controlling weeds, mulch can also help to add organic matter to the soil and help to conserve water.

In addition to mulching and some postemergence herbicides, there are many preemergence herbicides that can be used “over-the-top” of hundreds of landscape plants. The same as with all pesticides, be sure to carefully read product labels before making a peemergence herbicide application to a landscape planting bed and make sure that your equipment is calibrated properly. Do not apply granular herbicides if plant foliage is wet and do not apply when the landscape plants have tender new flushes of growth. It is important to irrigate as soon as possible after applying preemergence herbicides to wash the herbicide off of plant foliage and to activate the herbicide. More information on specific herbicides that can be used in these areas and other precautions can be found at

As a final note, never apply “weed-n-feed” or other herbicides that are labeled only for use in turf areas to landscape planting beds. In most cases, these products can cause severe damage or death to landscape plants through drift and root uptake. Always be sure that the herbicide you are using is labeled for use in landscape planting beds and labeled for use on the ornamental species you have.