September Newsletter 2019
September Gardening in the Greater Jacksonville Beaches area!
This is the gardening calendar created just for you, so you know exactly what to do in your yard or property this time of year. You can print this or save it as a Word document to add notes to track what you’ve done each month. You might consider occasionally noting the weather or what’s in bloom.
USDA Cold Hardiness Zone 9 (Average minimum temperature 20°)
AHS Plant Heat Zone 7 or 8 (Both zones occur in the Jacksonville Beach area)
Zone 7 (61-90 days with temperatures >86°)
Zone 8 (91-120 days with temperatures >86°)
September’s Climate Data:
Average Total Precipitation: 7.53″
Average High Temperature: 85.5°
Average Low Temperature: 74.3°
Average First Frost Date for the season: Dec. 11 to Dec. 20.
What to Plant
Annuals (Or Grown As Annuals): Chrysanthemum season begins about now, and Rockaway will have a variety of colors and sizes. See our handout on Chrysanthemums for tips on how to keep these flowering longer and prettier. CLICK HERE! Some of the flowers you planted last spring, such as angelonia and pentas, may still be flowering or can be replanted this time of year. You can also plant marigolds (Tagetes) for a long bloom season, caladium, cleome, floss flower (Ageratum), melampodium, verbena, and zinnia. You can continue planting begonia, blue daze (Evolvulus), celosia, coleus (Plectranthus), gold dust (Mecardonia), purslane (Portulaca), sunpatiens (Impatiens), sweet potato vine (Ipomoea) and Vinca (Catharanthus) for a short time. This is a great time of year to purchase a pre-planted container of colorful fall flowers, or let Rockaway put something together especially for you.
Perennials: African iris (Dietes), Agapanthus, asters, baptisia, blanket flower (Gaillardia), bulbine, canna lily, cone flower (Echinacea), coreopsis, creeping Jenny (Lysimachia), day lily (Hemerocallis), dune sunflower (Helianthus), elephant ear (Alocasia, Colocasia), ferns, gaura, iris, Mexican petunia (Ruellia), ornamental grasses Regina iris (Neomarica) and yarrow are a sampling of perennials which can be planted now. You can install groundcovers and border plants like ajuga, Asiatic jasmine (Trachelospermum), autumn fern (Dryopteris), Aztec grass (Liriopogon), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium), blueberry flax (Dianella), creeping fig (Ficus), foxtail fern (Asparagus), holly fern (Cyrtomium), lily turf (Liriope), mondo grass (Ophiopogon) and society garlic (Tulbaghia). Plant Amaryllis bulbs indoors for holiday flowers – see our handout on growing Amaryllis CLICK HERE!. Also see the plants listed below (Nectar Plants).
Nectar Plants for Migrating Hummingbirds and Monarchs:
This is an important time of year to ensure that the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and Monarch Butterflies that migrate south from our area have enough fuel to complete their journeys to Mexico or the Caribbean. Flowers which both will feed on include agastache, bottlebrush (Callistemon), butterfly bush (Buddleia), cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), lollipop verbena (Verbena bonariensis), Mexican sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia), passion vine (Passiflora), both red and blue porterweed (Stachytarpheta), salvia ‘Black and Blue’ (Salvia guaranitica) and zinnia. Milkweed (Asclepias) continues to be a crucial plant for Monarchs as the caterpillars used it as their only food source earlier in the year, and now it provides nectar for the adults. Native milkweeds are the safest to use as there is some controversy over the use of tropical milkweeds (Asclepias curassavica) posing a risk to the butterflies. However, tropical milkweeds can be safely used if cut back periodically. Hummingbirds will also feed on milkweed. Additional flowers that hummingbirds are particularly attracted to and should be flowering at this time are beebalm (Monarda), cape honeysuckle (Tecoma capensis), firebush (Hamelia), firespike (Odontonema), jacobinia (Justicia carnea), lantana, powderpuff (Calliandra), many salvias including scarlet sage (Salvia splendens), Mexican bush sage (S. leucantha) and Wendy’s Wish salvia, shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeana), tropical hibiscus, trumpet creeper (Campsis), and yellow bells (Tecoma stans).
Succulents: Succulents are always useful. Cold hardy succulents can be planted outdoors and tender succulents make great indoor plants where bright light is available.
Vines: Vines which can be planted this month include blue sky vine (Thunbergia), Carolina jessamine (Gelsemium), confederate jasmine (Trachelospermum), coral honeysuckle (Lonicera), crossvine (Bignonia), English ivy (Hedera), morning glory (Ipomoea), native wisteria, passion vine (Passiflora), railroad vine (Ipomoea) and yellow butterfly vine (Mascagnia). Coral honeysuckle and crossvine are favored hummingbird plants but not mentioned above as they flower in May/June.
Palms, Shrubs and Trees: September rains help establish new palms, shrubs and trees. Unless they are considered tropical or subtropical, it is generally a good time to plant. Most tropicals would need more time to maximize their growth and establishment before winter if planted in-ground. Rockaway’s signage identifies the hardiness of plants for your convenience.
Plant trees and shrubs blooming at this time such as Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia), so you can get a first-hand look at the flower. Camellias will also be blooming soon. Remember to ‘Dial Before You Dig’ (811) if the hole is deeper than your shovel blade.
Vegetables and Herbs: Start seeds of cool season vegetables such as radish, lettuce, mustard greens, spinach, kale, arugula, beets, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, Mexican tarragon, celery, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, Swiss chard, endive, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, collards, and turnips. Some crops with roots may be difficult to transplant so should either be direct sown into the garden or started in decomposable pots. Others like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and lettuce are more reliable and easier to space as transplants. It’s time to plant onion sets and garlic bulbs. You can also begin planting strawberries. Some of these vegetables, like spinach, carrots, kale and Swiss chard, can survive in your garden all winter. Early September is probably the last time to plant large pepper and eggplant transplants, bush beans, pole beans and squash. See our handout Planting Guide for North Florida Vegetables for vegetable growing information. CLICK HERE!
With the worst of the summer heat over but still time to produce before frost, tomato transplants can be planted. Plant them deeply; only about 4 inches of the top of the plant needs to extend above the soil. This is the only vegetable you can plant this way, but it allows the stem to produce more roots to feed the plant. Very tall transplants can be laid on their side in a trench with just the top above ground. Leave a small depression around the plant for a water reservoir. See our handout What Matters with ‘Maters to help you decide which tomatoes to grow CLICK HERE!
These herbs can be started as seeds now, or planted as transplants: chives, Cuban oregano, oregano, rosemary, salad burnet, sage, thyme, winter savory, culantro, lemon balm, lovage, ‘Phenomenal’ lavender, Spanish lavender, and mint. Dill, parsley, and nasturtium can be started this month from seed, and bay laurel, African blue basil, basil and sorrel can be planted as transplants. Some of these herbs will grow through winter. Of the more commonly grown herbs, parsley, chives, cilantro (too early to start this month), Cuban oregano, dill, some mints, oregano, rosemary, garden sage and thyme can survive freezing temperatures. Less hardy into fall and winter are basil, culantro, Cuban oregano and stevia. See our handouts Planting Guide for North Florida Culinary Herbs CLICK HERE! and Herbs for North Florida CLICK HERE! for more growing and use information.
What to Do
What to Do for Specific Plants
Avocados – You may want to apply a final fertilization of your avocado tree for the season. Fertilizer requirements change with the age and fruiting status of the tree. The amount of fertilizer should be proportionate to the size of the tree, not to exceed 20 lbs per tree per year. Use a fertilizer with a 6-6-6 to a 10-10-10 ratio with added 4-6% magnesium for young trees. Increase the potassium (third number) to 9-15% and reduce phosphorous (second number) to 2-4% for bearing trees. Trees should also receive a nutritional spray of copper, zinc, manganese, and boron this month, unless the tree is older than 5 years. Trees older than 5 years shouldn’t need copper.
Azaleas – Although the nutritional requirements of azaleas are low compared to most shrubs, they can benefit from frequent light applications of an acid-forming fertilizer containing iron and other micronutrients, in sandy soils. Frequent late summer rains may leach out nutrients – if leaves begin to yellow, they may indicate a need for pH adjustment or nutrition.
Bananas – Feed ½ to 1 lb. dry fertilizer in a ratio of 3-1-6 plus magnesium every 1-2 months for plants under 6 months, 1 to 2 lb. for 6-12 month-old plants, 2-3 lb. for plants 12 to 18 months old and 3-4 lb. for those plants over 18 months. This should be done throughout the year, or at least during the growing season in zone 9. One to two foliar applications of a nutrient spray containing magnesium, manganese and zinc should be applied between April and October so September would be a good time. Also, iron should be applied to the soil once or twice between April and October. Monitor banana stalks for weevil infestation and the leaves for sigatoka, a fungal leaf-spot disease. Prune out developing suckers to maintain 3-4 stalks of different ages – one that may be left to flower and fruit, another about half the size and 1-2 more suckers.
Blueberry – Maintain several inches of acid-forming mulch such as pine bark, pine straw, or oak leaves.
Camellias – Feed a final application of fertilizer this month, with moderate nitrogen and phosphate, and higher potassium numbers. For camellias in containers, use one of the organic sources of nitrogen, such as cotton seed meal, applied once a month all year long.
Cane berries – Blackberries: During the second year of growth and thereafter, fertilize in the summer after harvest with ¼-½ lb 10-10-10 with micronutrients per plant or about 10 lbs per 100 feet of row.
Citrus – Fertilize citrus with a balanced fertilizer either this month or in early October for a final feeding during the growing season. If the weather has been rainy, do not use soluble nitrogen as rains will leach it from the soil too quickly. See our handout Citrus Care Guide for more information. CLICK HERE!
Containers – Follow recommendations for the plant that is in the container. Nutrient leaching is a bigger problem in containers because of more frequent watering. A slow release fertilizer will provide steady release of nutrients, but it may need to be supplemented by more frequent soluble fertilizers about every 2 weeks, depending on the plant.
Drift Roses – Prune a final time for the season in late summer/early fall to remove older looking foliage and encourage a new flush of foliage and flowers for fall. Drift roses can be fertilized at the same time. For more details, see our handout Drift Rose Care. CLICK HERE!
Fig – If fig rust is active, control with a Bordeaux spray (5-5-50 ratio of copper sulfate, lime and water) applied every 2-3 weeks.
Fruiting shrubs and trees – Fruiting shrubs and trees generally need more fertilizer during the year than other shrubs and trees. Recommendations for fruit tree products and frequency depends on the type of tree, but a peach/pecan or citrus formula can be used for most following harvest.
Gardenia – Give gardenias a final seasonal feeding this month with a granular acid-forming product that is at least 30-50% slow release nitrogen.Gardenias bloom on both new and old wood, with different varieties blooming predominantly differently on one versus the other. The safest time to prune to lightly shape but avoid affecting next year’s display is just after blooming and before October 1st. If you have an old gardenia that is overgrown or become spindly, it should be renovated in 3 steps. Pruning should begin in early fall but should be light (removing about one fourth of the foliage) so it’s less likely to suffer cold damage. Plan to prune again next year in early March and a third time after blooming, around mid-summer. Follow calendar instructions for those months next year.
Ginger- If nights become cool enough this month for the foliage to die back, dig up the roots, which will have multiplied. Harvest some and plant some back into the ground for next year’s crop.
Hibiscus – Scout your hibiscus regularly for pests such as aphids, whiteflies and mealybugs. If caught early they are easily controlled with insecticidal soaps or horticulture oils. You should never use the pesticide malathion on hibiscus. Hibiscus do best with frequent, light feedings during active growth, in an approximate N-P-K ratio of 17-5-24. Never fertilize a hibiscus in dry soil.
Holly – Fertilize newly planted hollies, and established hollies if nutrient deficiency is suspected (the second of two seasonal applications). Use a holly, azalea or camellia fertilizer. If the holly is part of a hedge, you can still shear it at this time of year.
Hydrangea –Flower buds are forming now on oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia), and on mophead and lacecap hydrangeas (H. macrophylla), including reblooming varieties that also flower on new wood. Pruning is inadvisable; also resist simple deadheading or cutting late blooms for arrangements, unless cutting above the first set of large leaves.
Late summer and fall may bring a leaf spot disease which appears as small brown or purple spots on leaves. It does not usually threaten plant health and can be controlled by removing dead and diseased leaves and avoiding overhead irrigation. Powdery mildew can also occur in fall, also not usually threatening plant health. The best way to prevent this is by using resistant varieties.
Knockout Roses – Prune a final time for the season in late summer/early fall to remove older looking foliage and encourage a new flush of foliage and flowers for fall. Knockout roses can be fertilized at the same time. For more details, see our handout Knockout Rose Care. CLICK HERE!
Landscape beds – Although organic matter can be added any time of year to improve the quality of the soil and provide a nutrient reserve, many gardeners add 1-3″ in fall so that by spring, soil organisms will have worked the compost into the soil. Move your mulch out of the way and after adding organic matter, replace deteriorating mulch with a new 2-3″ layer. This will moderate soil temperatures, retain soil moisture, reduce erosion and weeds and add additional organic matter as it decomposes. Mulch also creates an attractive unified look to highlight your plantings. Florida’s warm and often wet weather can lead to rapid breakdown of mulch. We can help you determine how much mulch you need for a specific area.
Continue to fertilize annuals and perennials to extend the bloom season into fall but take care not to over-fertilize. Select a fertilizer with at least one third of its nitrogen as a slow release (non-water-soluble) form. GreenEdge is a superior, environmentally sound, slow release fertilizer with organic nitrogen in a 16-0-8 plus 1% Mg formula for your garden.
Rockaway also carries Nitroganic fertilizer, a milorganite-type product which contains slow release nitrogen at a lower concentration, and which can be applied at 10-week intervals for slow, consistent fertilizing. It is non-burning and feeds the soil while feeding the plants.
Continue to monitor disease in landscape beds. Fungal disease can occur almost any time of year, especially if the landscape is over watered or watered at the wrong time of day. Watch for powdery mildew late in the growing season. Remove all the infected plant parts and destroy, do not compost, them. Follow with a spray of fungicide. Effective organic fungicides for treating powdery mildew include sulfur, lime-sulfur, neem oil, and potassium bicarbonate. Bonide Infuse Systemic Disease Control is a chemical fungicide useful for preventing and controlling fungal growth.
Also continue to frequently scout landscape and garden beds (indoor plants too!) for insects such as scale, whiteflies, aphids, mealy bugs and leaf beetles as they are easier to control when first noticed. Pest pressure may be high for fall crops. Aphids can sometimes be controlled with sprays of water or by picking them up with a vacuum or sticky tape. Insecticidal soaps can also be used but these will harm Monarch butterflies and their young, so typically aren’t used on Butterfly Weed/Asclepias. Spinosad is particularly effective on thrips and caterpillars (also leafminers, spider mites, mosquitoes, ants and fruit flies) and lasts up to 4 weeks. Additionally, it is safe for people, beneficial insects and adult butterflies, and safe for bees once it has dried.
Spray spider mites with good coverage of a horticultural oil or use insecticidal soap in several applications. Neem oil is a good combination product that can be used to combat insects, mites and fungus.
Beneficial insects such as ladybug beetles and lacewing can control soft-bodied insect pests. To maximize the effectiveness of these natural enemies, provide habitat and relief from high temperatures by increasing the amount and diversity of plants in your landscape. Rockaway currently has ladybug beetles in stock. Refer to our handout Ladybugs, for storage and release information. CLICK HERE!
Be aware of areas that collect water so you can minimize breeding sites for mosquitos. Dump and flush manageable containers at least weekly. Flush clogged gutters. Use dunks containing Bt to control larval development. Many insect problems require a combination of pest management products and techniques. Rockaway has products specifically for all these problems, including products safe to use for your vegetable garden. But keep in mind that for any problem, it may occasionally be less costly and more environmentally friendly to replace infected plants with another species that would be more appropriate for the site. Don’t be reluctant to remove a plant that just isn’t working.
Lawns – Continue to mow but less frequently when the weather begins to cool and days get shorter. Never remove more than 1/3 of the leaf blade at a time and mow to the highest recommended height to support root growth. Here are the recommended mowing heights for several N. Florida grasses: Bahia grass at 3-4 “, Zoysiagrass coarse textured varieties at 2 to 2½” and fine textured at 1″, Centipedegrass at 1½ to 2½”, Seashore Paspalum at 1½ to 2″, and St. Augustinegrass at 2½” for dwarf and semi-dwarf cultivars such as Delmar, Seville and Captiva, and 3.5 to 4″ for standard St. Augustinegrass, especially if growing in shade. To maintain at a height of 4″, grass should be mowed before it grows to a height above 6″. Sharpen mower blades frequently, even monthly, to avoid damage to the grass which could allow disease to enter. Avoid mowing when grass is wet.
The fertilizer recommendation for low maintenance lawns is to receive 2 fertilizations yearly (no more than 2-4 lbs.) with the final application in September. However, specific direction depends on the species of turf, it’s current nutrition and fertility of the soil. An annual soil test can prevent over and under-fertilization of lawns, both of which can be harmful. Use a product that has equal amounts of nitrogen and potassium and no more than 2% phosphorous (15-0-15, 20-0-20 or 18-2-18 for example), unless a soil test shows a need for phosphorous. A fertilizer containing controlled-release nitrogen, like GreenEdge or Nitroganic, will give a longer lasting, more consistent result.
Fungal disease continues to be a problem in early fall as in summer, when Florida receives the majority of its rain. Take-all Root Rot is prevalent this time of year, can occur in any warm-season turfgrass and is intensified by any type of stress. Initially, yellowish foliage eventually turns brown and wilts. As the turf thins, brown, irregular patches develop from 1 to more than 20′ in diameter. The roots of infected grass are usually blackened and rotted. You can tell the difference between Take-all and Large Patch disease by the stems. Grass blades with Large Patch have rotten stems which can be slipped easily from the base of the plant.
The best action against fungal diseases is proper lawn care. Adjusting the soil pH to neutral or slightly acidic levels may reduce Take-all Root Rot over time. Fungicides such as Bonide Infuse Systemic Disease Control can be useful to control Take-all Root Rot and other fungal diseases once they show in your lawn, but preventive applications need to begin about June, before symptoms appear. If your lawn has experienced this disease, you can plan for prevention next year.
For the best weed prevention and control in lawns, follow mowing, irrigation and fertilization recommendations. Hand-pull weeds that are setting seed, to ensure seed removal. Post-emergent herbicides are less effective if the weed is mature, producing seed, under drought stress, or if mowed within several days of herbicide application. But if herbicides are required, Fertilome Weed Free Zone is a post-emergent herbicide for broad leaf weeds useful in 45-90°F temperatures. It shouldn’t however be used on the Floratam variety of St. Augustinegrass. Fertilome Selective is useful for spot treatment in temperatures between 50-85°. To control nut-sedge and dollar weed, make sure you’re not creating favorable conditions by over-watering your lawn. Best herbicidal control of these are with young, growing weeds. Always choose an herbicide that lists your lawn type on the label and follow instructions carefully as they can vary.
Although it will probably come next month in October, be prepared to take advantage of the window for pre-emergent treating of weeds. These herbicides should be applied when temperatures at night are 55-60°F for several consecutive days.
Southern chinch bug, fall armyworms, mole crickets and tropical sod webworm can be present in lawns during September.
Chinch bugs prefer hot, dry conditions. They suck the juices from St. Augustinegrass at or just below the soil level. Yellowish to burnt-brownish patches are often first noticed in sunny areas along sidewalks and driveways, or in poorly irrigated areas. To help control the problem, limit nitrogen fertilizer and reduce thatch thickness to minimize the bug’s habitat.
Newly hatched larvae of tropical sod webworm skeletonize grass blades while older larvae chew on grass blades near soil surface. Small patches of grass may look ragged and irregular. The adult moth does not cause damage but the life cycle from egg to adult only requires 5-6 weeks at 78°F.
Fall armyworm caterpillars skeletonize grass blades then later create bare spots.
Younger caterpillars of both armyworm and webworm are more easily controlled with reduced-risk products like B.t., halofenozide and spinosad. Bifenthrin also targets both these caterpillars and chinch bugs. Rotate combination products to reduce resistant populations and spot treat when possible.
Adult mole crickets are about 1 1/2 inches long, light brown, and have enlarged forelegs that they use to dig in soil. They feed at night during warm weather, after rain or irrigation. They also fly for 1-2 hours at dusk so outdoor lighting may attract them to your yard. Mole crickets cause damage by tunneling (dislodging and drying out plants), and by feeding on grass roots and blades. Small mounds of pushed up soil, reduced turf density and patches of bare soil may be seen. A number of cultural, biological and chemical controls are useful in combination against mole crickets, but chemical treatments are best done by mid-June when they are small.
In weedy areas and open fields, Lubber Grasshopper adults may be found from March to November. It may be possible to avoid the use of an insecticide by hand-picking the grasshoppers and mowing vegetation to appropriate heights.
Proper lawn care involves many tasks. A landscape maintenance program is a convenient way to keep up with the needs of your lawn.
Palms – Fertilize palms about every other month during the growing season, so if you didn’t fertilize last month then do so this month. Palms need a high potassium to nitrogen ratio plus added magnesium so an 8-2-12 fertilizer with 4% magnesium works well. Prune out only dead leaves (when they occur).
Persimmon – Fruit drop is common for persimmons and is caused by the tree trying to self-regulate its fruit load or by over-fertilization of nitrogen. For the first two years after transplanting, a persimmon should get 3 applications of fertilizer during the growing season, the third one in September, using 1/2 to 1 pound (1-2 cups) of 10-10-10 with micronutrients per year of age. Consider skipping the September application if the tree is in its third year.
Pomegranate – For a newly planted young tree, use 1/3 to 2/3 cup of a balanced 10-10-10 formula fertilizer this month. Scratch it lightly into the soil at the tree’s root zone, in a circle 1 or 2 feet in diameter, or larger if the tree is older. If the tree is in its second year, use about twice as much fertilizer, and about 3 times as much in the third year and beyond.
Strawberries – Strawberries are best planted in September (through November) in north Florida and grown as an annual because of our summer heat. Outside of Florida, most strawberry plants are grown over several years (perennial) so appropriate guidelines to grow them are difficult to find in the general information base. Plant in mounds or otherwise well-draining soil that is also high in organic matter. Without a soil sample, mix 1-2 pounds per 100 square feet of a balanced ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium 6″ into the soil before planting. At least one-half of the nitrogen in the fertilizer should be in a slow release form. If you prefer growing organic strawberries, blood meal can be used to increase nitrogen, bone meal can be used to increase phosphates and a wood ash mulch can be added for potassium.Too much N causes malformed fruit, excessive vegetative growth and fewer fruits. Excess K leads to smaller and fewer fruits. Boron is a micronutrient that may be deficient in your soil for strawberries.
Remove runners as you notice them start to develop. This will direct more energy to berry production.
Fungal problems may start with wet weather. Most diseases on leaves, flowers, or fruits can be controlled with fungicides for home garden use; make sure the label specifies it can be used on strawberries. Sulfur can control powdery mildew but make sure temperatures are cooler than 80°F before applying sulfur to avoid burning fruit and foliage.
Turmeric – Harvest bright yellow underground rhizomes in fall when the plant goes dormant.
What to Do in General:
Start a fall garden – If you haven’t already, now is the time to start your fall vegetable garden. You can refer to our handouts Start a Fall Vegetable Garden CLICK HERE! and Starting Plants from Seeds Indoors CLICK HERE! to get you started. If you’ve had previous crops, you should consider some crop rotation to avoid building pests in your garden. See our handout Planting Guide for North Florida Vegetables CLICK HERE! for family designation of crops so you can avoid planting successive families. The What to Plant section of this calendar lists the appropriate crops to start this month.
Clean out the summer crops that are spent and remove any other debris. Don’t compost anything that looks diseased as the heat may not kill certain diseases and nematodes. Reinforce raised bed structures if needed or clean up the boundaries of your beds. A soil test would be advisable at this point; you can use the Duval County Extension Service (http://soilslab.ifas.ufl.edu/ESTL%20Home.asp). Based on test results, add recommended amounts of fertilizer. Next add organic matter. Compost improves soil and plant growth regardless of the type of soil you’re adding it to. Spread a 3-4 inch layer over the bed and lightly work in. Refer to our handout Start a Fall Vegetable Garden CLICK HERE! to complete planting.
Feed vegetables a slow/continuous release organic fertilizer applied every 3 to 4 weeks (herbs at half strength). In general, even though it’s a little costlier, try to use a slow release fertilizer or fertilizer with at least 30% as a slow release component. These feed plants more consistently and lessen pollution.
Irrigate – Complete watering restrictions and schedules for Duval County can be found at this link: www.sjrwmd.com/wateringrestrictions. Adjust automatic irrigation based on rainfall and apply no more than 1/2 to 3/4″ at a time, to avoid runoff. To determine how long it takes to deliver the correct amount of water to your landscape, you can use the ‘can method’ suggested by the University of Florida http://gardeningsolutions.ifas.ufl.edu/care/irrigation/calibrating-your-irrigation-system.html. Alternatively, Rockaway, Inc.’s Maintenance Service Division can check the operation and delivery for you.
During periods of consistent afternoon thundershowers, it may be better to run automatic irrigation systems manually to avoid overwatering, or to use a Shut-off Device that detects rainfall. There are even devices and apps that allow you to control your irrigation from offsite. If you are concerned whether your landscape is receiving enough water, look for these symptoms of drought stress:
- In turf, grass leaf blades folding in half lengthwise.
- In turf, grass taking on a blue-gray tint rather than maintaining a green color.
- In turf, footprints or tire tracks remaining visible on the grass long after they are made.
- In landscape plants, plant wilting may be observed.
When drought stress becomes apparent in 30-50% of the yard, then water should be applied on the next allowed watering day. Always water in the morning.
It’s a good idea to check your sprinkler system for any breaks or misaligned spray heads at least monthly.
Prepare for possible hurricanes – Prune any dead limbs and open up trees to allow for better airflow. Install lightning protection on tall high value trees. Have a plan to remove and store, or tie down, garden art, pots, hanging baskets, bird feeders, grills and other yard structures. If a hurricane is imminent, remove debris from storm drains to ensure a clear path for storm water. Clean out gutters and downspouts. Remove coconuts and large palm seeds that could release in the storm and cause serious damage. Turn automatic sprinkler systems off. Do not empty your pool; protect your pump and pool equipment.
When planning your landscape, avoid planting fast growing trees that have brittle wood. Wind resistant trees for North Florida include Live Oak, Sand Live Oak, Dogwood, Dahoon Holly, Yaupon Holly, Inkberry, American Holly, Crape Myrtle, Southern Magnolia, Podocarpus and Cabbage Palm. Most palms in general, except Queen Palm and Washington Palm, are more resistant than broad-leaved and conifer trees.
Harvest – Fig trees should be fruiting now. Persimmons, satsuma tangerines and dwarf navel oranges should be in season or will be soon, along with the usual everbearing limes, lemons and limequats. Nantahala raspberries may be fruiting now. Also expect to find pomegranates and pecans. And of course, continue to harvest any vegetables if you haven’t switched to a cool season garden yet.
Divide – Multi-stemmed clumping perennials or bulbs may need to be divided if they haven’t been rejuvenated in 5 or 6 years. Amaryllis are best dug and divided in fall after blooming and leaves have started to yellow and die back. Most varieties of daylilies should be divided in September once they have finished blooming so they’ll have a long season to establish new roots. Agapanthus can also be divided in early fall after flowering if they need it. Offsets from yucca and agave plants can be removed from the original plant at any time, although well-rooted and larger offsets result in faster establishment.
Take Cuttings- You may want to take stem cuttings from cold sensitive plants in your garden to be able to plant them again next year. This method works for most of these plants: take 4-6″ pieces of stem from branch tips, removing at least an inch of the lower leaves. The cut end can be dipped in a root stimulator powder and placed ½ to 1″ into moist potting soil in small pots. Keep moist but not soggy, and in the shade until needing to move them to a bright indoor location.
Meet the Author!
Trisha Vecchio, Consultant for Rockaway, Inc. Trisha writes plant signage, newsletters and informational handouts to empower Rockaway’s customers to make informed gardening choices that benefit them and the community, support Grow Your Own gardening and promote interests in gardening and crafting with the natural world. She also tracks and facilitates development of Rockaway’s retail system.
Trisha has Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Emory University, Plant Science degree from the University of Rhode Island and Master Gardener’s certification from Oregon State University. She has worked or interned in 8 major zoos in animal management and horticulture, a number of other environmental organizations and botanical gardens and 4 garden centers across the U.S.