Tips for Your South Florida Home Garden

Creator: J Golby photo via https://www.active.com/

One of the many blessings in living in South Florida is that the warm, sunny weather is conducive to year-round gardening, and not just spring or summer time as in states with colder weather.

However, despite the ideal climatic conditions, there are guidelines for ensuring your garden is lush and beautiful year-round.

From information gathered from the website www.South-Florida-Plant-Guide.com, these tips are offered for your gardening care.

Buying Plants

Plants are sold all over South Florida. Plants can be purchased at large box stores, discount stores, grocery stores, flea markets and specialized garden shops or nurseries.

However, it is recommended that plants be purchased at specialized garden shops or nurseries. In this way, you can seek advice from experts regarding the specifics the plant requires from it is planted until it blooms and flourishes.  These specific include soil type, types of fertilizers and insecticide, and watering, trimming and pruning schedules. 

While box stores, for example, sell plants bought from nurseries or imported, most good nurseries sell the plants they grow themselves. These plants are usually not tainted with plant pests that tend to come with commercial plants.

Planting Tips

Plant the potted plant in a hole one and a half times as wide and as deep as the pot the new plant was in. Plant the plant with the soil it was in originally in its pot ensuring you don’t damage the plant’s roots. However, since South Florida’s soil is sandy you’ll need to add soil nutrients or amendments to the soil when the plant is placed in the hole. These amendments include topsoil, composted cow manure, or organic pet humus. Seek the nursery’s advice for what is the appropriate soil amendment for respective plants.

Make sure the hole is effectively watered.

When the plant is inserted in the hole, fill the hole with the dirt that was removed to make the hole. Impact the soil with your hands or a gardening tool like a spade. Now, water the newly planted area thoroughly.

If you want to, much can be added to the earth around the plant, but keep the mulch at least 6 inches from the base of the plant.

Plant spacing

The look of your garden when the plants are grown depends on the spacing given when they were planted. Always remember not to place plants too close to each other as they do need space to grow effectively. Proper spacing during the planting process ensures long-lasting plants and a beautiful garden. If you are impatient and want your garden fully grown in a short time buy and plant larger plants. But, the larger the plants the more space should be given between each plant.

Initial Watering

Some home gardens tend to stunt their plant’s growth by overwatering. Initially, new plants should be watered once daily for the first five days, then reduce this to twice per week particularly during the dry, summer months.  

For large plants, palms and trees, it’s suggested a through or gutter is placed at the base of the plant. The gutter should be filled with water at least once daily up to five days for new plants down to once a week after the first week. The gutter can be replaced with earth after a month.

Staking

Some plants need the support of bamboo or wooden stakes to which the plant is loosely tied or taped to support them from breaking from the wind as they grow. This support is particularly useful for tall plants like palms. In addition, from protection from the wind, the stakes help the plant to grow straight. 

Plant Trimming

 When the plants are fully grown, they will likely need to be trimmed to maintain the height or shape you want or to remove dead or dying fronds or leaves.

In South Florida, there is no special time to trim a plant. It all depends on how fast the plant grows and the leaves or limbs spread.

However, when pruning a plant, which means cutting the size of the plant significantly sometimes to half its side it is recommended that this be done between mid-March to mid-October.

It is also recommended that most plants be pruned once a year, and before a plant is significantly pruned it is thoroughly watered at least an hour before it’s pruned. 

Trimming Palm Trees

While the fronds of the palm tree the trunk and head of the tree should never be cut or it will kill the tree. It’s best when trimming a palm tree to remove the dried or brown fronds. Of course, some palm trees grow too tall to be trimmed by the home gardener and may need a professional landscaping company with the appropriate equipment to do so. This also applies to other tall trees that need trimming.

Trimming shrubs

Most home gardeners can trim the leaves and stems of hedges consisting of varieties of shrubs using manual or electric hedgers. However, if they need the hedges to have unique shapes and styles it may be best to use a professional landscaper.

Watering grown plants and lawns

Because Florida can be very dry and humid, grown plants and trees still need watering at least one-hour, once weekly, water restrictions notwithstanding.

Plants often indicate when they need water. When a plant or a tree displays leaves that wilt or curl or have a  grayish tint to the leaf color, and/or appear brown and dry it needs watering.

For lawns, the grass blades fold up lengthwise, the grass has a gray or brown tint. Also when one walks on the lawn if the resulting footprints are visible for a long time, the lawn needs watering.

Controlling weeds 

The warm, humid weather in South Florida always fosters weeds in gardens and laws. It’s not unusual to spend long hours in their gardens trying to get rids of weeds.

More often than not so-called chemical weed killers only remove weeds temporarily. Some weed-killers like ‘Roundup’ are effective for killing weeds at their roots. However, weeds can be better controlled by the following methods:

Mulching: Mulch serves to prevent the weeds from getting sunlight. Just don’t place the mulch too close to the plant’s base or roots.

Weed mat or groundcover: A black landscape fabric lets that can be placed in a lower bed or around a plant. It allows air and water through, but not light which weed needs.

Weed control for lawns

Weeds can be very stubborn on lawns. To prevent weeds from taking over the lawn try to set the mover at the right height to reach and remove low-growing weeds, and mow the lawn often, at least once weekly. Also, ensure the lawn is fertilized often and well since weeds love infertile soil.

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