Landscape  Q & A

Landscape Q & A

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/

https://ffl.ifas.ufl.edu/resources/apps/

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

Edibles

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

Cogongrass: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/WG202

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

Landscape practices

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

And https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/pdf/articles/rain-garden-manual-hillsborough.pdf

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

http://blogs.ifas.ufl.edu/wakullaco/2020/10/07/extending-bloom-time/

Plant questions

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

 

Let’s Talk Beneficial Insects

Let’s Talk Beneficial Insects

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

Specific 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

Florida Wildflowers: Brown-eyed Susan

Florida Wildflowers: Brown-eyed Susan

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.

Look Out for This New Scale on Crapemyrtles

Look Out for This New Scale on Crapemyrtles

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

Turfgrass Q & A

Turfgrass Q & A

Worm mounds in bermudagrass. Photo credit Mary Salinas, UF IFAS Extension.

The April 8 program of Gardening in the Panhandle LIVE! was focused on turfgrass, quite a popular topic in the springtime as the weather warms and turf comes out of winter dormancy. Here are some of the questions asked of our University of Florida experts and the links to resources they shared.

To start with, two sites that have comprehensive information are Your Florida Lawn: http://hort.ufl.edu/yourfloridalawn/ and Gardening Solutions: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/

Turfgrass Selection

Q. What’s the answer to “I want a lawn like I had up north”? Remotely possible?

A. You can have a nice lawn, but it is going to be different in the panhandle. Don’t expect the same grass species or maintenance.

Q. What grass species is recommended for winter overseeding, and when should the grass be sown?

A. Overseeding has its problems and generally not recommended as it shades out the warm season turf as it is coming out of dormancy in the spring. Overseeding Florida Lawns for Winter Color: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/archive/hot_topics/lawn_and_garden/overseeding_winter_lawns.shtml

Q. How well do new turfgrass varieties thrive against weeds?

A. A healthy and properly maintained lawn is your best defense against weeds and other pests. Additionally, ProVista is a new cultivar of St Augustinegrass that can tolerate glyphosate so it makes it much easier to kill weeds in the lawn. ProVista is not yet widely available in the panhandle.

Q. How do I get a lawn started?

A. Preparing to Plant a Florida Lawn: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh012

Establishing a Florida Lawn: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/topic_lawn_establishment

Q. Can I have a native lawn? What are some recommended alternatives to a turf lawn?

A. Opinions are divided as to whether St. Augustinegrass is native. See these links for lawn Alternatives:  https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/lawns/turf-types/alternatives-to-turfgrass.html

https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/mastergardener/webinars/mg-update-june2018/ffl-lawn-alternative-mg-update-june-2018-handout.pdf

Fertilizing & Weed Control

Q. How long should I wait before fertilizing new sod?

A. Wait 30-60 days before applying fertilizer. See: Homeowner Best Management Practices for the Home Lawn: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep236

Q. Basic fertilizer for most lawns if no other information is available.

A. 15-0-15

Q. Are weed and feed products effective? Can you use a Weed & Feed like Scott’s Bonus S this late in the year?

A. Weed and feed products are not recommended.

Weed & Feed, Not Foolproof: https://ocmga.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/weed-and-feed-not-foolproof-by-larry-williams-ufifas-extension-agent/

Weed Management Guide for Florida Lawns: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep141

Lawn Maintenance & Renovation

Q. My husband overwaters the lawn. Remind everyone about correct watering.

A. Homeowner Best Management Practices for the Home Lawn: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep236

Watering Your Florida Lawn: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh025

Sprinkler calibration: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/irrigation/calibrating-your-irrigation-system.html

Q. What to do about bare spots in St Augustine turf in shade?

A. Rough up the ground and put ½ to 1” compost and let the grass fill in or plant plugs. St. Augustinegrass for Florida Lawns: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh010

Q. When is the best time to overseed? I have a centipede lawn that’s 15-16 years old and I’m trying to bring it back to health.

A. Be sure to be following good practices and centipedegrass should not fail. Overseeding may not be the best option. Centipedegrass for Florida Lawns: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh009

Q. How do I repair lawn areas ruined by piled up Hurricane Sally debris?

A. Homeowner Best Management Practices for the Home Lawn: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep236

Q. How do I care for a zoysiagrass lawn?

A. Zoysiagrass for Florida Lawns: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh011

Q. Should I mulch or bag clippings?

A. Unless you have disease or weed seeds, mulch the clippings onto the turf so you can return the nutrients and water into the soil. Mowing Your Florida Lawn: https://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/lawns/lawn-care/mowing-your-florida-lawn.html

Pest Management

Q. When is the best time to put out a pre-emergence treatment to control and prevent weeds in your lawn (warm and cool season)?

A. Summer Annual Weed Control Timeline: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/sfylifasufledu/escambia/horticulture/Summer-Annual-Lawn-Weed-Control-Timeline.pdf

Winter Annual Weed Control Timeline: https://sfyl.ifas.ufl.edu/media/sfylifasufledu/escambia/horticulture/Winter-Annual-Lawn-Weed-Control-Timeline.pdf

Q. How do I manage chamberbitter in lawns?

A. Chamberbitter: https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/chamberbitter/

Gallery, with the active ingredient isoxoben, has always been the best product to control chamberbitter. Another product, Gemini, adds prodiamine with isoxoben and also provides good control.

Q. How do you get dollar weed under control?

A. Control irrigation. Dollarweed loves lots of water so make sure you are not overwatering. See: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep389

Q. I used Image to help control Bahia in Centipede. Anything else that we can use?

A. Metsulfuron methyl, 3 applications every 21 days

Q. Which postemergence herbicide is safe and effective for reducing oxalis in a lawn?

A. Yellow Woodsorrel (Oxalis) Biology and Management in Turf: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep385

Q. What is the best non-poison weed killer?

A. If a product is a weed killer, whether it is organic or synthetic, it is a poison. Alternatives to Synthetic Herbicides for Container Plants & Homeowner Herbicide Guide: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep464 & https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep575

Q. How do I treat lawn fungus?

A. First you need to determine which fungus, if any, is responsible. Key to Identification of Landscape Turfgrass Disease: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh064

Then turn your attention to Turfgrass Disease Management: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/lh040

Q. How do I diagnose and control mole crickets?

A. Look at this UF guide: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in1021

This video shows how to do the soap flush to scout for mole crickets https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx_o4EMXsCo