Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi


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Q: What kind of roaches are these?

 

German cockroach

German cockroach

A:   The bad kind – German cockroaches, Blattella germanica. While none of us like to have cockroaches in our house, the German cockroach is a true pest and the kind of insect that gives all insects a bad name.  It can be found in most any type of building throughout Florida especially multifamily dwellings (apartments). In Florida, the German cockroach may be confused with the Asian cockroach, Blattella asahinai Mizukubo. While these cockroaches are very similar, there are some differences that a practiced eye can discern. The German cockroach is found throughout the world in association with humans. They are unable to survive in locations away from humans or human activity. The major factor limiting German cockroach survival appears to be cold temperatures. Studies have shown that German cockroaches were unable to colonize inactive ships during cool temperatures and could not survive in homes without central heating in northern climates. The availability of water, food, and harborage also govern the ability of German cockroaches to establish populations, and limit growth. Insecticides in the organophosphorous, carbamate, pyrethroid, amidinohydrazone, insect growth regulator, inorganic, microbial, and botanical classes are available for controlling German cockroaches. Insecticide treatments are available in a wide variety of formulations including baits, sprays (emulsifiable concentrates, wettable powders, microencapsulated), dusts, and powders. Non-toxic and low toxic alternatives for German cockroach control are available. Sticky traps can be used to monitor or reduce population size. Improving sanitation by eliminating food and water sources and clutter can have a significant impact on reducing the chances of infestation population size. Finally, exclusion practices such as sealing cracks and crevices will reduce harborage space and also negatively impact population size. For more complete information, consider reading the University of Florida publication titled, “The German Cockroach.”  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in028


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Q: I am thinking about planting beach morning glory on my dune areas behind my beach house. What can you tell me about this plant?

Fiddleleaf Morning Glory

Fiddleleaf Morning Glory

A:  The common beach morning glory is generally not cold tolerant enough for our area as it typically grows in cold hardiness zones 10-11.  Perhaps consider planting Fiddle-leaf morning glory, Ipomoea stolonifera, which is a better choice for the Northeast part of Florida with cold hardiness zones 8b – 9a.  The fiddle-leaf morning glory is an herbaceous, evergreen vine native to the southeastern United States. This plant, unlike the beach morning glory, can be grown throughout Florida and along the coast. Fiddle-leaf morning glory attains a height of 4 to 6 inches but can spread along the ground to a distance of 75 feet. The small, thick, glossy green leaves are ovate-cordate in shape and densely cover the stems. Most leaves are divided into 5 lobes in a more or less star shape. This plant roots and branches at the nodes and spreads very rapidly. The white, funnel-shaped flowers of the fiddle-leaf morning glory are generally 2 ½ to 3 inches wide. They open in the early morning and close before noon each day during the blooming season; the flowers are borne in the summer and fall. Small, round seedpods contain four velvety; dark brown seeds appear on this plant after flowering. It grows in full sun, is highly drought tolerant with good salt tolerance.  Like so many of the species in the Ipomoea genus, it can be “weedy” but when the desire it to reduce soil or dune erosion – Fiddle-leaf morning glory might be a good choice.  For more complete information consider looking at the University of Florida following publication:  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp285


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Q: Please give me some alternatives to Boston fern.

A:  We have several different ferns which behave themselves to much better than Boston fern but still have similar light (shady) requirements.  Here are just a few:  Royal fern, Osmunda regalis, can be found growing in cold hardiness zones 3-10; shrives in rich, organic soils, can reach heights up to 6 feet but will generally die back in the winter.  Good news – the deer don’t seem to like it.  New growth in the spring is a pretty pale pink. Giant leather fern, Acrostichum danaeifolium, is a Florida native fern.  This can grow in cold hardiness zones 8b – 12b – definitely not a northern U.S. fern.  Individual fronds can grow up to 12 feet tall and the plant can spread to 5 feet wide. This fern prefers to grow in moist soil and is often found along fresh water swamps. To keep the plant looking its best in cultivated areas, consider removing old fronds and annual fertilization is not required. Maidenhair fern, Adiantum spp., is also a Florida native fern. Maidenhair fern has delicate fronds and is fund more often in Central and Southern Florida in cold hardiness zoned 9-11 but could be planted along the eastern coastline. This fern might be a good choice for smaller landscape areas as it grows 3 feet tall and 3 feet wide. The southern maidenhair and brittle maidenhair grow best in alkaline soils while others grow best in acid soils. With so many of our along the coast having high soil pH readings, this is a good plant to consider for shady sites. It will cascade over the side of a container in a shady garden spot. Some of the available species include: Adiantum capillusveneris, southern maidenhair, 1.5 feet tall; A. hispidulum, rosy maidenhair, one-foot-tall, young fronds rosy brown; A. pedatum, western maidenhair, 1 to 2.5 feet tall, most popular one grown; and A. peruvianum, silver dollar maidenhair, 1.5 feet or more tall, leaf segments quite large, up to 2 inches wide.  Then consider other common ferns such as holly fern, autumn fern, and staghorn fern. 

Giant leather fern

Giant leather fern

Osmunda regalis

Osmunda regalis