Sugar Belle mandarin cultivar. Mix of sweet Clementine and Minneola varieties. UF/IFAS File Photo.
Florida is known for citrus and many homeowners love to grow and enjoy it. However, a devastating disease known as citrus greening or HLB has taken a toll on commercial and residential citrus since it first was discovered in Florida in 2005.
Sugar Belle is a cultivar of mandarin citrus developed by the University of Florida citrus geniuses and is tolerant of citrus greening disease if it is properly planted and cared for. Tolerance of the disease does not mean that it doesn’t get citrus greening, rather it means that this cultivar can get infected but still be healthy and productive. The fruit of infected trees is safe to eat as the bacterium that causes it does no harm to humans.
Our chilly winters can be detrimental to many kinds of citrus, but Sugar Belle can withstand temperatures down to 14°F once the tree is well established. That is good news for us in the panhandle. Even so, it is best to choose a spot in your landscape with a southern exposure, preferably with a wind block from northwest winds. Avoid low areas as cooler air falls into those areas.
Symptoms of citrus greening on leaves show a blotchy mottled pattern. UF/IFAS photo.
Make your purchase from a certified nursery to make sure you are getting the right cultivar and a disease-free tree. Spring and fall are the best seasons of the year to plant citrus. When planting, make sure to make slices in the rootball if it is rootbound or if circling roots are present. The rootball should be slightly above the ground level after planting. All weeds and grass should be removed under the canopy of the tree to as they compete for water and nutrients with your newly planted tree. Never place mulch against the trunk as it can hold moisture there and promote disease. Water often the first year until well-established; after establishment citrus has some drought tolerance and may only need supplemental irrigation in times of heat and drought.
A good quality citrus fertilizer with micronutrients is crucial for a healthy tree with good quality fruit. The first fertilization should be about 3 weeks after planting and then follow the label directions for subsequent fertilizations. Newly planted trees should be fertilized 6 times in the first year and the fertilizer should be evenly broadcast under the tree canopy.
The only pruning in the first 3 years should be the removal of suckers that grow from the base, water shoots that grow quickly and straight up, and dead wood. Be sure to clean your pruning tools before and after each tree to avoid spreading any possible disease. First rinse off any dirt or other organic matter and then use a 3% bleach solution or alcohol for sterilization.
For more information:
UF/IFAS Research on Development of Sugar Belle YouTube
Citrus Culture in the Home Landscape
On August 12, 2021, our panel answered questions on a wide variety of landscape topics. Maybe you are asking the same questions, so read on!
Ideas on choosing plants
What are some perennials that can be planted this late in the summer but will still bloom through the cooler months into fall?
Duranta erecta ‘Sapphire Showers’ or ‘Gold Mound’, firespike, Senna bicapsularis, shrimp plant, lion’s ear
Where can native plants be obtained?
Dune sunflower, Helianthus debilis. Photo credit: Mary Salinas UF/IFAS Extension.
Gardening Solutions: Florida Native Plants – see link to FANN: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/native-plants.html
What are some evergreen groundcover options for our area?
Mondo grass, Japanese plum yew, shore juniper, ajuga, ferns such as autumn fern.
What are some ideas for partial morning sun butterfly attracting tall flowers to plant now?
Milkweed, salt and pepper plant, swamp sunflower, dune sunflower, ironweed, porterweed, and salt bush.
I’m interested in moving away from a monoculture lawn. What are some suggestions for alternatives?
Perennial peanut, powderpuff mimosa, and frogfruit.
We are new to Florida and have questions about everything in our landscape.
Florida-Friendly-Landscaping TM Program and FFL Web Apps: https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/
UF IFAS Gardening Solutions: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/
What are some of the top trends in landscaping today?
Houseplants, edible gardens, native plants, food forests, attracting wildlife, container gardening, and zoysiagrass lawns
Artwork broccoli is a variety that produces small heads. Photo credit: Mary Salinas UF/IFAS Extension.
What vegetables are suitable for fall/winter gardening?
Cool Season Vegetables: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/edibles/vegetables/cool-season-vegetables.html
North Florida Gardening Calendar: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/EP451%20%20%20
Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/vh021
How can I add herbs to my landscape?
Herbs in the Florida Garden: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/edibles/vegetables/herbs.html
My figs are green and hard. When do they ripen?
Why Won’t My Figs Ripen: https://www.lsuagcenter.com/profiles/rbogren/articles/page1597952870939
What is best soil for raised bed vegetable gardens?
Gardening in Raised Beds: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/EP472
And there are always questions about weeds
How can I eradicate cogongrass?
Chamber bitter is a troublesome warm season weed in our region. Photo credit: Brantlee Spakes Richter, University of Florida, Bugwood.org
Is it okay to use cardboard for weed control?
The Cardboard Controversy: https://gardenprofessors.com/the-cardboard-controversy/
What is the best way to control weeds in grass and landscape beds?
Weed Management Guide for Florida Lawns: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/EP141
Improving Weed Control in Landscape Planting Beds: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/EP/EP52300.pdf
Can ground water be brackish and stunt plants?
Reclaimed Water Use in the Landscape: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/ss545
How can I prevent erosion from rainwater runoff?
Stormwater Runoff Control – NRCS: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/wps/portal/nrcs/detail/national/water/?cid=nrcs144p2_027171
Rain Gardens: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/design/types-of-gardens/rain-gardens.html
What is the best time of the year to propagate flowering trees in zone 8B?
Landscape Plant Propagation Information Page – UF/IFAS Env. Hort: https://hort.ifas.ufl.edu/database/lppi/
Which type of mulch works best on slopes greater than 3 percent?
Landscape Mulches: How Quickly do they Settle?: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/FR052
When should bulbs be fertilized?
Bulbs and More – UI Extension: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/bulbs/planting.cfm
Should I cut the spent blooms of agapanthus?
Agapanthus, extending the bloom time: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/agapanthus.html
Monarch caterpillar munching on our native sandhill milkweed, Asclepias humistrata. Photo credit: Mary Salinas, UF IFAS Extension.
I planted native milkweed and have many monarch caterpillars. Should I protect them or leave them in nature?
It’s best to leave them in place. Featured Creatures: Monarch Butterfly: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/IN/IN780/IN780-Dxyup8sjiv.pdf
How does Vinca (periwinkle) do in direct sun? Will it make it through one of our panhandle summers? Can I plant in late August?
Periwinkles and No more fail with Cora series: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/plants/ornamentals/periwinkles.html#:~:text=Plant%20your%20periwinkles%20where%20they,rot%20if%20irrigated%20too%20frequently.
Insect and disease pests
What to do if you get termites in your raised bed?
The Facts About Termites and Mulch: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN651
How to combat fungus?
Guidelines for ID and Management of Plant Disease Problems: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/mg442
Are there preventative measures to prevent diseases when the humidity is very high and it is hot?
Fungi in Your Landscape by Maxine Hunter: http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/marionco/2020/01/16/fungi-in-your-landscape/
If you missed an episode, check out our playlist on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bp0HfdEkIQw&list=PLhgoAzWbtRXImdFE8Jdt0jsAOd-XldNCd
For those of you who tuned into the July 29 edition of Gardening in the Panhandle LIVE, beneficial insects was the topic of the day. Here are links to the publications our panelists talked about.
Mantid. Photo credit: David Cappaert, Bugwood.org.
How do I identify the kind of insect I have?
Recognizing beneficial bugs: Natural Enemies Gallery from UC Davis http://ipm.ucanr.edu/natural-enemies/
How to distinguish the predatory stink bug from the ones that harm our crops: https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/FL-pred.jpg
How to tell difference in stink bugs and leaf footed insects. Are both harmful? UF/IFAS Featured Creatures: leaffooted bug – Leptoglossus phyllopus (Linnaeus) (ufl.edu)
How can I tell bad beetles from good ones? Helpful, Harmful, Harmless Identification Guide is one resource available: http://ifasbooks.ifas.ufl.edu/p-153-helpful-harmful-harmless.aspx
How can we encourage beneficial insects?
How can we encourage the beneficial insect species?
- Plant more flowers attract pollinators that also feed on insects.
- Diversity of plants in the landscape.
- Use softer or more selective pesticides to minimize damage to beneficials.
Is it helpful to order beneficial insects such as lady bugs? Encouraging Beneficial Insects in Your Garden OSU: https://catalog.extension.oregonstate.edu/sites/catalog/files/project/pdf/pnw550.pdf
How effective is buying predatory insects to release in your greenhouse? Natural Enemies and Biological Control: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/IN120
Can I buy beneficial insects to start breeding in my garden? Natural Enemy Releases for Biological Control of Crop Pests: https://www2.ipm.ucanr.edu/agriculture/natural-enemy-releases-for-biological-control-of-crop-pests/
What benefit would result by planting city right-of-ways with native wild flowers? https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/in1316; https://adamgdale.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/gcm_feb2020.pdf
Can an individual gardener sustain an ecosystem for beneficial insects? Penn State Article on beneficial insects that mentions some flowering plants that help support predators and parasitoids: https://extension.psu.edu/attracting-beneficial-insects
How do I get rid of mole crickets? UF/IFAS Mole Crickets: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/entity/topic/mole_crickets
Are wasps really beneficial? Beneficial Insects: Predators!: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/sarasota/gardening-and-landscaping/horticulture-commercial/integrated-pest-management/beneficial-insects/
Is a dish soap solution effective against wasps? Soaps, Detergents, and Pest Management: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/pests-and-diseases/pests/management/soaps-detergents-and-pest-management.html
How to control leaf footed bugs? Handpick them, attract beneficials, create diverse plantings in landscape, accept some damage, and control them when in the juvenile stage.
Can you tell me about praying mantids? Praying Mantids: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/files/efpdf2/ef418.pdf
Are there any beneficial insects that keep mosquito populations down? Dragonfly larvae in water, mosquitofish
What are the little insects that hop out of centipede grass? Are they beneficial?
Spittlebugs and your lawn: https://nwdistrict.ifas.ufl.edu/hort/2020/05/27/spittlebugs-and-your-lawn/
How to stop Eastern Black Swallowtail Butterflies laying eggs on parsley – the hatched caterpillars eat it all. Plant extra or put a screen over plant.
Extra fun video!
Take a look at this video of parasitic wasp attacking aphids: Parasitic Wasps | National Geographic – YouTube
Brown-eyed Susan makes a nice addition to a pollinator garden. This one is visited by a scoliid wasp, a parasitoid of soil-inhabiting scarab beetle larvae. Photo credit: Mary Salinas, UF/IFAS Extension.
Black-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia hirta, has been a very popular garden perennial for generations. Fewer gardeners have experience with, or even heard of its’ close relative, brown-eyed Susan, Rudbeckia triloba. So, what is the difference between them?
- Brown-eyed Susan has more numerous flowers and generally flowers for a longer period in spring, summer, and fall.
- Black-eyed Susan has bigger flowers and bigger leaves.
- Both species are perennial, but the brown-eyed Susan tends to die out sooner after a few years. The good news is that both readily spread through seed to replace older plants.
Brown-eyed Susan. Photo credit: Mary Salinas, UF/IFAS Extension.
Brown-eyed Susan is native to the eastern and central United States and, although native to Florida, it has only been vouchered in the wild in 5 counties in Florida. Gardeners can find seed and plants readily online and at a few native plant nurseries. It is best to try to source wildflower seed from plants grown in the same region. Brown-eyed Susan seed from plants grown in Nebraska or Michigan may not be as well adapted to the Florida environment as locally grown seed.
If you want to add this pollinator attracting perennial to your garden, choose a spot that is sunny or partly sunny. Although it prefers moist soil, brown eyed Susan adapts to most soil types and is drought tolerant after establishment.
Crapemyrtle bark scale are often found in branch crotches and wounds to the bark. Photo credit: Gary Knox, UF/IFAS.
There is a new pest in the western panhandle of Florida. Crapemyrtle bark scale (CMBS) is a scale that is found on the trunks, branches, and twigs of crapemyrtle. It is the only known scale insect found on the bark of crapemyrtle. There are other scales that occur on the leaves.
When scouting for this pest, look for very small (2 mm or 0.08 inch) white or light gray spots on the bark of crapemyrtle. The adult females do not ever move once they have found a place to feed and reproduce. Under her protective covering, she lays eggs that hatch into ‘crawlers’ that then crawl away to find their own spot to settle down. When squished, they exude a pink goo (the eggs or newly hatched crawlers). Males are winged and travel to find their mates. See this comprehensive information on their interesting biology.
While the scale does not outright kill the trees, it lessens their landscape value and can reduce flowering. And like other scale, CMBS secretes lots of honeydew; black sooty mold then feeds and grows on the honeydew. The black sooty mold does not harm the plants directly, but it is unsightly and can interfere with photosynthesis if present on the leaves.
Crapemyrtle bark scale are white to gray and ooze pink when squished. Photo credit: Gary Knox, UF/IFAS. ,
Unfortunately, CMBS has also been found on a very popular native bush, American beautyberry, Callicarpa americana, and it is yet unknown whether CMBS will expand its host range to other plant species in our country. In Asia, this pest has been found on some economically important crops like pomegranate and persimmon.
CMBS is a tough insect to control. And it is best left to the professionals. Dr. Adam Dale, an entomologist at the University of Florida, recommends using pyriproxyfen (in the product Distance) or buprofezin (in the product Talus). These are insect growth regulators that have shown to provide great control of CMBS and other similar scale insects on trees and other woody plants. Although these products are not systemic, they are translaminar, which helps increase their control and reduce any non-target effects on beneficial insects like bees. Two applications 7–14 days apart are suggested. However, these products can only be applied by licensed pest control applicators.
Severe infestation of crapemyrtle bark scale and sooty black mold. Photo credit: Gary Knox, UF/IFAS.
Systemic insecticide drenches are effective but pose a dangerous hazard to bees and other pollinators as the poison also gets into the flower nectar. The product labels prohibit application of these type of products to flowering plants for that very reason.
Routine close inspection of your crapemyrtle trees is critical for CMBS control. Early treatment will help prevent heavy infestations as seen in some of the photographs. When pruning your crapemyrtles, thoroughly clean your tools between plants to prevent any accidental spread.
Prevent this scale from coming into your landscape in the first place. Inspect all new plants you are considering adding to your landscape for any sign of CMBS or other insect or disease presence.
If you have any questions on making the correct identification of CMBS, or any other insect, contact your county extension office.
Lastly, consider reporting the presence of this new scale to enable researchers to track its spread.
For more information:
Stop CMBS Website
UF/IFAS Featured Creatures: crapemyrtle bark scale