Garden Talk

with Rebecca Jordi


Leave a comment

Q: Can it prune my Ti plant? It is getting too tall and blocking my view.

Ti Plant

Ti Plant

A:  The colorful Ti plant, Cordyline terminalis, is perfect for creating a tropical landscape effect, with its smooth, flexible leaves ranging in color from variegated light greens and pinks to very dark reds. Performing well in full sun or partial to deep shade, Ti plants need fertile, well-drained soil and can tolerate only brief periods of drought. Leaf coloration is more pronounced in sunnier locations. This is truly a tropical plant specifically for cold hardiness zones 10-11.  If we receive a cold winter, this plant will need to be protected.  You can prune it down to 12 inches from the ground and it will regrow.  Spring is the best time to do it, so make your pruning cuts now.  http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fp141

 

Advertisements


Leave a comment

Q: I am having trouble growing cilantro. Can you give me a couple of hints?

Cilantro Leaves

Cilantro Leaves

A:  Cilantro, Coriandrum sativum, also known as Chinese parsley, is a form of coriander. While coriander is grown as an herb primarily for its seeds, the type of coriander referred to as cilantro is grown for the leafy portion of the plant. Cilantro leaves can be harvested early, once the plants reach 6 inches tall, and continuously thereafter until the plant dies. Cilantro should be grown in full sun to part sun and in well-drained soil, with a pH of 6.2 to 6.8. In Spanish-speaking areas, cilantro (also spelled culantro) usually refers to the plant, but may also refer to coriander seed. The main problem you are having is the time of year. Here in Florida, we consider cilantro a cool herb. This means we will be limited to growing it in the fall and late spring. Once temperatures get above 80°F the leafy portion will fade out but you can continue to allow it to grow and produce the coriander seed in the warmer weather. Ground coriander seeds are the main ingredient in the Indian “garam masala” spice mix. The roots are even used in Thai curries. Many of us taste a soapy flavor when we eat the cilantro leaves.  It is believed to be caused by a specific fat molecule called aldehyde, which is also found in soaps.  Some scientists believe the soapy flavor is caused by an odor the herb displays.  Regardless, for many people cilantro is just not an herb they will be warming up to any time soon.   http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mv051


Leave a comment

Q: I need some ideas on plants rabbits won’t eat.

Marsh RabbitA:  Unfortunately, if the animal is hungry enough they will eat most anything. They particularly like vegetable garden plants and most anything in the rose family which includes many of our fruit trees. However, there are a few plants rabbits seem to avoid such as agaves, aloes, Gaillardia spp., cucumber, shrimp plants, euphorbias, plumbago, rosemary, squash, verbena or yucca.  Now, I know someone will call me and tell me they know one of those plants listed was eaten by a rabbit, but remember, if the rabbits are hungry enough anything edible is susceptible. You can use one of the repellents which may help reduce or prevent rabbit damage. These products work by creating an unpleasant odor, taste, or stickiness.

 Apply repellents before damage occurs, and reapply them frequently, especially after a rain, heavy dew, or sprinkler irrigation or when new growth occurs. In all cases, follow the label directions for the repellent.

 The usefulness of repellents is limited. Most, except for some of the taste repellents, can’t be used on plants or plant parts humans eat. Repellents often fail when used in a vegetable garden even if the repellents are registered for use on edible crops. The story of Peter Rabbit should be a warning to us; rabbits will get into a garden – it is just too tempting. 


Leave a comment

Q: Can I grow cinnamon fern here?

Cinnamon Fern

Cinnamon Fern

A:   You certainly can grow the native cinnamon fern, Osmunda cinnamomea, here in Northeast Florida.  Cinnamon fern has a compact, horizontal rhizome which is easy to grow but prefers moist to wet soil in sun or shade.  This is why you often see cinnamon fern growing in the swampy areas.  It may go dormant with dry soil and be slow to establish but it is a long-lived plant. One other important note – it is seldom damaged by deer. It can grow to about 2 feet tall but will die back in the winter.  It’s most distinctive feature is the bright cinnamon colored fertile fronds, produced in late spring which will die by mid-summer. 


Leave a comment

Q: What can you tell me about the muhly bamboo grass?

 

Bamboo Muhly

Bamboo Muhly

A:  I am hoping to have some Bamboo muhly, Muhlenbergia dumosa, at the Master Gardener plant sale on May 13.  Bamboo muhly blends the look of bamboo with the easy versatility of an ornamental grass. With its billowy, light green foliage, bamboo muhly can anchor a perennial bed, serve as a screen, or give height to a container planting.  The upright or arching stems can reach four to six feet tall, and the plant can reach up to five feet wide as the clump slowly spreads. Be sure to allow for the necessary spacing. Bamboo muhly is native to Arizona and northwestern Mexico and is somewhat drought tolerant, once the plant is established. This means it should not be planted under the eaves of houses if the eaves have no gutters. Bamboo muhly is usually evergreen, though the foliage will likely die back if the plant is exposed to freezing temperatures. If this happens, prune back the brown foliage just before growth starts in the spring. Older canes of bamboo muhly can also be removed periodically to give the plant a fresh look and to encourage new growth. It was one of the 2010 Florida Plants of the Year.


Leave a comment

Q: My husband says I am crazy but I believe I have seen a black pig in our neighborhood. Is that possible?

Wild Hogs

Wild Hogs

A:   You are not crazy and you most certainly could have seen a wild pig in the Northeast part of Florida.  There are indeed wild pigs in the Northeast Florida. Florida’s wild hogs are often referred to as feral hogs or swine and are of three general types. The first type is the free-ranging swine from domesticated stock, the second are the Eurasian wild boar, and the third are hybrids of the two.  Although technically the term “feral” refers to free-ranging animals descended from domesticated stock, all wild hogs are typically referred to as feral in Florida, whether they descend from wild boar or from domesticated stock. Likewise, all wild hogs in Florida are considered the same species, Sus scrofa. Wild hogs are in the family Suidae (true wild pigs), none of which are native to the Americas. Wild hog size and weight are variable, and depend on genetics and local conditions. Typically, male hogs (called boars) weigh 200+ pounds and stand 3 feet at the shoulder.  Females, called sows are much smaller than male hogs. Hogs have 4 continually growing, self-sharpening tusks (2 in the upper and 2 in the lower jaw; upper and lower tusks rub against each other, which keeps them sharp).  All wild hogs have an excellent sense of smell and good hearing, but relatively poor vision. Hogs prefer large forested areas with abundant food, particularly acorns, interspersed with marshes, hammocks, ponds, and drainages. The list of foods hogs eat is diverse and includes grass, forb, and woody plant stems, roots, tubers, leaves, seeds, and fruits, fungi, and a variety of animals including worms, insects, crustaceans, mollusks, fish, small birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians Humans are the main predators of wild hogs, but large carnivores such as alligators, black bears, and Florida panthers may be capable of preying on adult animals. Piglets are also preyed upon by smaller predators including foxes, coyotes, and bobcats. Hunting is an important control method for wild hogs because it provides recreational opportunities, is inexpensive, and can be useful at reducing numbers of adult animals. Trapping is usually a better method of controlling hog numbers than hunting, especially when the animals are active at night. For more complete information check out the UF/IFAS publication “Wild Hogs in Florida: Ecology and Management” from which I obtained the above information: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/uw322