Video: Perennial Peanut Considerations as a Lawn

Video: Perennial Peanut Considerations as a Lawn

Turfgrass remains a popular groundcover for most home landscapes. Perennial peanut offers potential as a turfgrass companion in North Florida. Learn the pros and cons of using perennial peanut with existing turfgrass with UF IFAS Extension Escambia County.

Video: Collecting a Quality Plant Sample

Video: Collecting a Quality Plant Sample

Having a quality turf or plant sample is important to help us at UF IFAS Extension diagnosis a problem or identify a plant. Learn how to collect a sample of both turf and plant material if you will be bringing a sample to your local UF IFAS Extension County office.

A Favorite Native Shrub

A Favorite Native Shrub

Strawberry bush with new spring growth. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County.

When I was first planting a landscape in 2001, I wanted to include some interesting native plants to provide a natural look for the back edges of the property.  I was able to find a few less commonly sold natives from a small local nursery including a Bigleaf magnolia, Vaccinium, Sourwood, Cinnamon fern, and Strawberry bush.

Twenty years later, I am still enjoying these natives in my landscape and they are doing well despite my sandy, well drained, nutrient poor conditions.  One of my favorites of this group is the Strawberry bush, Euonymous americana.

Strawberry bush is a deciduous shrub that grows about five feet tall. It has multiple stems with new stems forming each season.  Since my yard is so dry, my clump is by no means out of bounds after 20 years of growth.  Small pale green flowers grow from the nodes in spring.  For most of the year, you forget about this plant until one day in the fall, you notice brilliant red fruits that split open to show orange seeds.  Another common name is Hearts-a-bustin’.

Fall color with Strawberry bush. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County.

Despite one of its common names, Strawberry bush is not grown as an edible for people but serves as a wildlife food source.  Deer may enjoy leaves and twigs and many birds and small mammals will eat the seeds.

If you find a local nursery that is growing a few, consider adding Strawberry bush to a shaded spot in your landscape.

Growing Tomatoes: GIP Live Reference Materials

Growing Tomatoes: GIP Live Reference Materials

The February Q&A on Growing Tomatoes offered valuable tips for the home gardener to be successful with tomatoes in 2022.  Below are the reference materials related to specific questions that were asked.

Let’s start out with the panels favorite tomatoes including hybrids and heirlooms.

Evan:  Supersweet 100, Sungold
Larry:  Amelia, Brandywine, Cherokee Purple
Sam: Better Boy, Tasti Lee, Sweethearts
Matt: Mountain Magic, Mountain Rouge, Bella Rosa
Daniel: Black cherry and Big Beef

Why are tomatoes red?

Can we grow tomatoes year around?

I have very sandy/loamy soil. Do I have a chance at successfully growing tomatoes?

What is the best time to start tomatoes in North Florida?

If one grows in raised beds, should one rotate where in the bed tomatoes are planted?

If you plant tomatoes in mid-March, how long will they continue to produce fruit?

I’m thinking of trying hydroponic gardening on a few tomato plants this year. Do you think a 50/50 mix of perlite and vermiculite would be a good approach for a soil medium? I’d like to use 5-gallon buckets and keep maintenance to a minimum.

What tomatoes grow best in inland Bay County? Coastal vs inland considerations.
Best type for all day sun (speak to tomatoes light requirements)

What is the best tomato variety for Northwest Florida? I need one go-to variety for both regular tomatoes and cherry type.

How to get more tomatoes, less vine?

My tomatoes get black on the bottom and rot. What causes this and how do I prevent it?

Do tomatoes need a lot of water?

Why do my tomatoes split/burst/crack while on the vine?

Any suggestions for how to handle especially wet years like last summer? My tomatoes really suffered.

How do I keep the leaves from getting dark spots that spread and kills foliage? 

How do you string tomatoes vine to a stake?

What causes catfacing?


Every year I’m having trouble with an amazing amount of insect infestations on my tomatoes & peppers I grow in containers. What can I do to help?

How do marigolds (which variety) or basil aid tomatoes?

Please talk about save tomato seeds to grow. Some can’t afford to buy potted tomato plants.

Can you add nutrients into the soil from last year’s tomatoes to reuse again this year?

Leopard Plant is Made for the Shade

Leopard Plant is Made for the Shade

Several years ago the Escambia County Master Gardener Volunteers added a Leopard plant, Farfugium japonicum to the office demonstration gardens.  This was a new plant for me and I was immediately impressed with look and performance of this plant in a filtered shade garden.

Leopard plant’s attractive leaves and flowers make it an accent in the shade garden. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County.

Although not native to the United States, Leopard plant make an interesting addition to the Florida garden.  The large green leaves can provide a tropical look throughout the entire year since it is hardy in growing zones 7-10.  An added bonus of the Leopard plant are spikes of bright yellow flowers in the fall and winter months. When you use Leopard plant as a mass planting, it certainly becomes the focus in our cooler months.

Leopard plant on display in Downtown Pensacola. Photo by Beth Bolles, UF IFAS Extension Escambia County.

There are many cultivars of Leopard plant and the selections with white (‘Argenteum’) or yellow (‘Aureomaculatum’) patterns on the leaves give the plant it’s common name.  There are also cultivars with curled or crinkled leaves.  All plants will thrive in partial shade with some additional water when rainfall is lacking.  The clumps will continue to enlarge so you can often share a piece with a friend after a few years.