Sweet Alyssum: The Unsung Hero of Pollinator Crops

Sweet Alyssum: The Unsung Hero of Pollinator Crops

In the realm of pollinator-friendly plants, Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima) often flies under the radar despite its remarkable qualities. This delicate flowering plant, with its clusters of tiny blooms, not only adds beauty to gardens but also serves as a vital resource for pollinators.

An exemplary instance is the hybrid series, Easy Breezy™, known for its compact size and remarkable heat tolerance, allowing it to thrive well beyond the spring season. Available in white, pink, and purple variations, this cultivar stands out. Another hybrid, known for its exceptional heat tolerance, is the white-flowering Lobularia ‘Inlbusnopr’, frequently marketed under the trademarked name Snow Princess®.

Let’s explore the many benefits of sweet alyssum as a pollinator crop and why it deserves a place in every garden.

Attractiveness to Pollinators

Sweet alyssum’s petite blossoms, exude a sweet fragrance that acts as a magnet for bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects. Its nectar-rich flowers provide a vital food source for these creatures throughout the growing season.

Extended Blooming Period

One of the standout features of sweet alyssum is its prolonged blooming period, which often lasts from spring through fall in favorable climates. This extended flowering season ensures a consistent supply of nectar for pollinators, especially during times when other floral resources may be scarce.

Low Maintenance and Versatility

Sweet alyssum is renowned for its adaptability and ease of cultivation. It thrives in a variety of soil types and is tolerant of both drought and heat, making it an excellent choice for gardeners seeking low-maintenance pollinator-friendly plants. Whether grown in garden beds, containers, or hanging baskets, sweet alyssum adds charm and functionality to any landscape.

Companion Planting Benefits

Beyond its role as a pollinator crop, sweet alyssum offers additional benefits to gardeners through companion planting. Its compact growth habit and dense foliage act as a natural ground cover, suppressing weeds and conserving soil moisture. Furthermore, sweet alyssum is known to attract beneficial insects such as hoverflies and predatory wasps, which help control garden pests.

Encouraging Urban Pollination

In urban environments where green spaces may be limited, incorporating sweet alyssum into landscaping projects can play a significant role in supporting local pollinator populations. Whether in public parks, rooftop gardens, or community plots, the addition of sweet alyssum provides essential forage for pollinators and contributes to urban biodiversity conservation efforts.

Sweet alyssum’s unassuming beauty and pollinator-friendly characteristics make it an excellent educational tool for teaching about the importance of pollination and ecosystem dynamics. They may be small in stature, but its impact as a pollinator crop is undeniable. By incorporating this humble yet vital plant into our landscapes, we can create havens for pollinators and contribute to the preservation of biodiversity for generations to come. Let us embrace sweet alyssum as the unsung hero of pollinator crops.

For more information on sweet alyssum, contact your county Extension office.

Useful links:

Sweet Alyssum – University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (ufl.edu)

Flowering Annuals for Georgia Gardens.PDF (uga.edu)

The Art of Propagating Yarrow: A Guide to Successful Growth

The Art of Propagating Yarrow: A Guide to Successful Growth

Yarrow (Achillea millefolium) is a versatile and resilient herbaceous perennial known for its feathery foliage and clusters of vibrant flowers. Propagating yarrow is a rewarding endeavor that allows gardeners to multiply their plant stock and enjoy its numerous benefits. This guide will explore the various methods of yarrow propagation, shedding light on the steps to ensure successful growth.

Understanding Yarrow

Before delving into the propagation techniques, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of yarrow. This hardy plant is native to Europe and Asia but has adapted well to various climates around the world. Yarrow boasts fern-like leaves and flat-topped flower clusters that can be white, pink, yellow, or red, depending on the variety.

Photo Credit: Alicia Lamborn

Propagation Methods

Yarrow can be propagated from seeds, providing a cost-effective and straightforward method. Collect seeds from mature yarrow plants in late summer or early fall. Sow the seeds in well-draining soil, either directly in the garden or in seed trays indoors. Keep the soil consistently moist until germination occurs, typically within two weeks. Once seedlings are large enough to handle, transplant them to their permanent locations.

Division is a reliable method for propagating yarrow while rejuvenating older plants. Divide established yarrow clumps in the early spring or fall when the plant is dormant. Using a sharp spade, separate the clump into sections, ensuring each division has both roots and shoots. Replant the divisions in well-prepared soil, spacing them appropriately to allow for future growth.

Other methods that are often used but not as popular include root cuttings and softwood cuttings.

Care Tips for Propagated Yarrow

Regardless of the propagation method used, certain care practices contribute to the success of young yarrow plants:

  • Yarrow thrives in full sun and well-draining soil. Ensure that the planting site receives at least six hours of sunlight daily and use soil that allows water to drain freely.
  • While yarrow is drought-tolerant once established, newly propagated plants require regular watering. Keep the soil consistently moist until the roots are well-established.
  • Apply a layer of mulch around yarrow plants to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature.
  • Yarrow generally doesn’t require heavy fertilization. A balanced, all-purpose fertilizer applied in spring can support healthy growth.

Propagating yarrow can be a rewarding process that allows both novice and experienced gardeners to expand their yarrow collection. Whether through seeds, division, root cuttings, or softwood cuttings, understanding the specific requirements of each method is crucial for success. By following these propagation techniques and providing proper care, you can enjoy the beauty and versatility of yarrow in your garden for years to come.

For more interesting facts on this plant, you can visit “yay for yarrow” | Gardening in the Panhandle (ufl.edu) or consult your local extension office. Supporting information for this article can also be found by clicking the link below Yarrow.pdf (ufl.edu).

Unwelcome Guests: Managing Kudzu Bugs in Your Florida Home

Unwelcome Guests: Managing Kudzu Bugs in Your Florida Home

The kudzu bug, an invasive pest, has been a significant concern in soybean cultivation in the southeastern United States since 2009, particularly in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Alabama. Beyond its impact on agriculture, the kudzu bug proves to be a nuisance to homeowners and outdoor enthusiasts during both early spring and fall. In the winter months, the kudzu bug becomes inactive and actively seeks overwintering sites in the fall.

Credit: Worrel Diedrick, Florida A&M University.

If you observed a substantial number of small, greenish, round, flattened insects on the exterior walls of your home, there is a likelihood that you, like many others in your community, were visited by the kudzu bug. This relatively new invasive insect from Asia has become an unexpected guest for numerous residents and business owners, as it landed on homes and other structures in search of suitable overwintering sites.

Fortunately, the overwintering flights of the kudzu bug are relatively brief, lasting only a few days in the fall. However, if your residence becomes one of their chosen landing sites and they manage to infiltrate by crawling into cracks and crevices, the issue may escalate to the interior of your dwelling, posing a more significant problem than their presence on the exterior.

Kudzu Bug Habitat

Outdoors, kudzu bugs tend to congregate in gaps under the bark of trees, gaps under the siding of homes, and higher elevations such as fascia boards and gutters on the edges of homes. They are attracted to light-colored surfaces, with a particular fondness for white. Kudzu bugs will congregate on white siding, white cars, or white attire. In early fall, they often gather on light-colored exterior walls before moving into gaps and cracks, seeking shelter and warmth for overwintering.

To mitigate the possibility of infestation, the most effective preventive measure is to seal all openings where kudzu bugs could potentially enter your dwelling using caulk. While insecticides might be considered for control, it’s crucial to note that this option is challenging to time accurately and often proves mostly ineffective in addressing the problem.

For the more information specific to kudzu bug in Florida, consult your extension office.

Supporting information for this article can also be found by clicking the link below.

The Kudzu Bug – UF/IFAS Pest Alert (ufl.edu)

Kudzu Bugs – Will They Overwinter in Your Neighborhood? – UF/IFAS North Florida Research and Education Center

Growing Date Palm in North Florida

Growing Date Palm in North Florida

Interest in cultivating date palms in North Florida is on the rise. Highly regarded by gardening enthusiasts, the date palm is grown as an ornamental and for its delicious fruits with the added bonus of medicinal properties.

Growing date palm in North Florida poses challenges due to the region’s moist and cooler climate with temperatures occasionally dipping below freezing. Date palms, which typically thrive in hot, arid conditions, include two notable species: True date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) renowned for its tasty fruit and the Canary Island date palm (Phoenix canariensis), known for its substantial size and edible but less flavorful fruits. There is also (Phoenix sylvestris), known as the Sylvester date palm or wild date palm.

Characterized by a slow growth rate, date palms can, in certain environments, grow to towering heights of up to 80 feet. Their pinnately compound leaves, ranging from blue-green to gray-green, can stretch up to 20 feet in length, featuring leaflets of 1 to 2 feet that form a distinctive “V” shape along the rachis. Date palms possess ornamental appeal, thanks to its textured trunk, striking blue-green foliage, and vibrant orange inflorescences. However, date palms do generate some concern because of the litter created by its fallen fruits. Its wide crown offers limited shade due to its relatively sparse canopy.

To flourish, date palms require well-drained, neutral to acidic soil and an abundance of direct sunlight. A plus is their ability to thrive in confined root spaces. North Florida’s sporadic frost and cold spells necessitate protective measures for date palms during the colder months, such as covering them with frost cloth or employing mulch around the base to insulate the roots. Some palm enthusiast grows them in sheltered location but occasional freeze damage to foliage can be expected.


Gardeners in North Florida seeking a cold-hardy alternative might try the pindo palm (Butia odorata), which is an excellent choice. Although it isn’t a true date palm, its feathery fronds provide a tropical ambiance to the landscape. Other palm species adaptable to North Florida’s wintry conditions include windmill palms, needle palms, and sabal palms. These options vary in their ultimate height and visual characteristics.

While it’s possible to grow date palms in North Florida, it’s important to understand that success may not be guaranteed, and you may need to provide extra care and protection to help your trees thrive in the region’s climate.

For more information contact your local extension office or visit:

Date Palms and Alternatives – Gardening Solutions – University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (ufl.edu) 

ENH1094/EP359: Palms for North Florida (ufl.edu)




The Rare Conifer: Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia)

The Rare Conifer: Florida torreya (Torreya taxifolia)

In a tranquil forest area beside a pond, within the confines of the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, stand two rare Florida Torreya trees, safely enclosed within a fenced perimeter and safeguarded by securely locked gates. As one approaches, a prominently posted sign on the fence conveys a message. “Once abundant in this area (Chattahoochee Ravines and Forests) thousands thrived until the 1950s when a disease nearly wiped them out. Small specimens were left either diseased or stunted. After decades of research, Atlanta Botanical Garden has developed a disease resistant specimen for replanting in its native habitat (Chattahoochee). This tree is a research specimen Chattahoochee, F.S.H and Atlanta Botanical Garden are partners in this effort. Enjoy the Torreya’s beauty but please DO NOT DISTURB.”

As we toured the site where the trees are planted, it was evident that members of the Chattahoochee Women’s Club worked diligently and patiently tending to these two rare trees, sparking my desire to further explore this rare beauty. In the Apalachicola drainage area of Gadsden and Liberty counties, along with southern Decatur County in Georgia, you can encounter Florida Torreya trees, which are also known as stinking cedar or gopher wood. Additionally, a group of these trees can be observed west of the Apalachicola River in Jackson County.

This evergreen tree has an upright, pyramid-like shape and features slender branches that gracefully arch downward and has unique needle-like glossy, dark green leaves. These trees can reach heights of up to 40 feet, with a canopy that spreads about 20 feet, and they are known for their notably slow growth rate.

The torreya tree, often regarded as one of the rarest conifers in North America, has witnessed a persistent decline spanning several decades, dating back to the late 1930s where the initial decline was noticeable, until the 1960s where no adult tree could be found. This decline can be attributed to various factors, including diseases, alterations in ecosystems, and other contributing factors. However, the primary cause has been identified as diseases caused by two fungal species of fusarium, specifically leading to leaf spots and stem cankers. Collaborative endeavors between various organizations, including government agencies, academic institutions, horticultural groups, and dedicated volunteers, continues to focus on conserving and safeguarding this endangered species. The future of the Florida Torreya hinges on understanding the disease-causing agent, Fusarium as well as the ongoing joint efforts of all stakeholders involved.

For more information visit: Florida Torreya – UF/IFAS https://extension. Extension: Solutions for Your Life (ufl.edu) ;

ENH-801/ST644: Torreya taxifolia: Florida torreya (ufl.edu)