More to do in the garden

Perennial Accent Plants Command Attention

Do you need a focal point for an area of your garden? Consider architectural perennials such as crinums, heliconias and bird of paradise. These tropical plants boast size and presence and serve as striking focal points, anchors, and transitions in the landscape. Queen Emma Lily (Crinum augustum) Named for the Hawaiian queen, it tolerates a wide variety of conditions but prefers well-drained soil and full to part sun. In shadier locations the purplish leaves revert to green. Long-lived and reaching over 6 ft. tall and 8 ft. wide, this crinum blooms almost year round.

Heliconia (Heliconia) Most of the 194 known species are indigenous to the tropical Americas; a few originate from Western Pacific islands and Indonesia’s Maluku islands. Bird of paradise (Strelizia) – Likes sun and dry conditions. Keep it trimmed. Orchids The American Orchid Society is a wonderful resource for everything about orchids. But the best advice for us probably comes from Dr. Martin Motes, author of Florida Orchid Growing. He provides month by month information about what to do for your orchids and you can sign up for his newsletters. I wish I were disciplined enough to follow Dr. Motes’ expert advice but I stopped fertilizing and coddling my orchids years ago and they bloom beautifully. Most grow on trees but I have avoided repotting my container orchids. This time of self-isolating is the perfect time to make up for all that neglect and set to repotting.

This has been an extraordinary year of profuse blooming for spring orchids. Here is information about what do for beautiful orchids in the next couple of months. Dr. Motes – St. Augustine Orchid Society

American Orchid Society

Monthly Care Recommendations

Seasonal Recommendations Gardenias Distinguish between the normal yellowing of older leaves and the yellowing of new growth, which usually indicates a micronutrient deficiency. Flower buds on the ground can indicate too much water, not enough water, or an insect called thrips. Gardenias require a fairly consistent moisture level in order to thrive. Four times a year is recommended - winter, spring, summer and fall. Acid fertilizers with an analysis of 6-0-6 or 8-0-8 are recommended. Use a fertilizer with minor elements twice a year but not more than that as the minor elements can become toxic to gardenias at relatively low concentrations on some soils. The most frequent cause of chlorosis in gardenias is due to a lack of iron, usually resulting from a high soil pH, which you can try to correct by lowering soil pH using sulfur. See Gardenias at a Glance

Lawns Lawn irrigation Resource Watch for damage from chinch bugs in St. Augustine grass and begin scouting for newly hatched mole crickets in Bahia grass lawns. See Turf grass Pest Insects

May is usually a dry month; do not mistake irrigation problems with a pest infestation. See Lawns and Drought and Prevent or minimize disease by following proper cultural practices. For help diagnosing a problem

Palms and Cycads Watch for nutrient deficiencies or other problems and use an appropriate treatment. Check king sagos for cycad scale, which begins as tiny white specks on the underside of fronds and can be controlled in the early stages by use of a horticultural oil spray. Keep lawn fertilizers well away from palm and cycad root zone. See Palm Care

Trees Prepare for hurricane season by checking trees for damaged or weak branches and pruning if needed. Hire an ISA-certified arborist. See: International Society of Arboriculture and Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs Pruning Lightly prune summer-flowering shrubs, like hibiscus, oleander, and crape myrtle, during the warmer months because they bloom on new growth. Do not prune thryallis, ixora or oleander any later than this month. Continue to prune dead and diseased wood from other trees and shrubs. Also prune water sprouts, suckers, and crossing limbs from trees and shrubs to maintain a clean appearance. See Pruning Landscape Trees and Shrubs

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