Butterfly World - A Florida Treasure

December 22, 2009 by Rick

MOSI _ Tampa’s Butterfly Garden

December 1, 2009 by Rick
There are always butterflies nectaring on the plants in their gardens. You can teach children the amazing life cycle of the butterfly and the moth at MOSI. Watch as larvae feed on milkweed and other host plants and see them change before your eyes.

Support Ag in the Classroom

November 29, 2009 by Rick

Buy a car tag to show support of a program that exposes kids to an important part of Florida’s economy and a satisfying career choice towards a sustainable future.

Florida AITC - Rainbow Chicks and Students

Image via Wikipedia

 

 

 

Scarlet Milkweed are magnet plants attracting Monarch and Queen butterflies for nectar in the flowers and as a larval host food when they eat the leaves. These milkweed are available year round at most Florida Home Depot stores. Bring butterflies into your yard or patio in a container garden. Watch for the complete life cycles of these wonderful creatures to develop before your eyes. Use these plants as a way to connect with your children and to get them outside and connecting with nature on a regular basis.

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Plan and Plant Wildflower a Garden part 2

November 20, 2009 by Rick
http://www.floridawildflowers.com/index.htm

U of F Teaching Garden on Plant City Campus

November 14, 2009 by Rick
Experience a beautiful garden and learn what grows well in Florida and how to grow it. Open 7 days a week for you to wander in and enjoy the park like setting while observing some very diverse garden and plant types.
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Categories: Drip Irrigation | 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Environmental Awareness Education | Butterfly Garden | Turf Substitute | Cold Hardy Perennial | U of F Cooperative Extension Service | Container Gardening | Cold Hardy Perennial | Design | Container Gardening | Drip Irrigation | Design | Environmental Awareness Education | Drip Irrigation | Environmental Awareness Education | Turf Substitute | Turf Substitute | U of F Cooperative Extension Service | Cold Hardy Perennial | U of F Cooperative Extension Service | Container Gardening | Design | Drip Irrigation | Environmental Awareness Education | Turf Substitute | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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Plan and Plant Wildflower a Garden

November 2, 2009 by Rick

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Categories: Butterfly Garden | Environmental Awareness Education | Turf Substitute | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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Discover Florida Wildflowers

October 13, 2009 by Rick

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Categories: Butterfly Garden | Environmental Awareness Education | Turf Substitute
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Beautiful Butterfly Images

September 22, 2009 by Rick

At the University of Florida Museum of Natural History Butterfly Gallery you will find images of more butterflies than you probably knew existed. These are searchable by common and scientific name, country, photographer and other classifications so you can learn and find what you are seeking. This is a good bookmark for anyone starting their backyard or community butterfly garden or anyone who appreciates the beauty in nature.

Monarch and Queen Butterflies Nectaring on Scarlet Milkweed which is also their larval food source.

This year has been particularly good for butterflies. Traveling around Florida I have noticed more species in a larger quantity than previous years. They seemed to be everywhere. It could be that Florida had above average rainfall and the dry season ended earlier than normal this year. Hoe and Shovel has some excellent new images (Butterflies Galore) of different life stages that are worth a look.

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Categories: Butterfly Garden | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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Turn that Brown Thumb Green

August 19, 2009 by Rick

Gardening Basics

As Penny Carnathan, Tampa Tribune Garden Writer - The Dirt, is fond of saying about one of her gardening friends. "Her thumbs are so green she can grow rocks".

Some folks rely mostly on organics. Why do they work so well for these green thumbs? Plant-soil-microbe-fungus relationships are highly complicated and studied but the truth is science has a hard time quantifying and isolating the tremendous number of complex interactions involved. We do know quite a bit about many interactions. We know that the good fungi and bacteria outnumber the bad many times over and when good fungi and good bacteria loose their overwhelming advantage things can go wrong. Compost and organic matter support good fungi good bacteria good nematodes and many other good microorganisms and earthworms with the good bacteria in their hyperactive gut. Too much salt based fertilizer upsets the balance and kills the good guys that are working in the organic system.

Compost and Organic Matter support the good micro organisms that naturally control bad nematodes. Most of the nematodes in the world are good guys. Nematodes account for 90% of the living multi-celled organisms on the planet yet you can't see them with the naked eye. They are really small but interrelated to the natural processes in more ways than we will ever know. So you have to take it on faith or experience that relying on organic processes will help turn your brown thumb green. Here is the scoop on Nematodes for Bedding Plants in Florida.

In contrast to gardening in soil rich in organic matter, we can grow plants in our nutrient poor sandy soils that have very little organic matter. This is where you need to add timed release salt based fertilizer. This is always more cost effective than liquid or fast release 6-6-6 granular that only seem cheap. Don't feed your plants a 3 month's supply of the cheap stuff only to have it wash away in one rain when you can give them a 3 month supply of timed release fertilizer in one application that releases a little with each irrigation. and not pollute the downstream environment!

Pot-in-Pot Landscaping is a great way to turn a brown thumb green. You should try this and report back on the color of your thumb. Ask away and we will answer questions to get you on the right garden path.

9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping

We share through numerous posts our enthusiasm and experience as long-time Florida gardeners and horticulturists. Our hope is that your gardening efforts will be successful and enjoyable.  We share ways to make your yards and patios beautiful while following the University of Florida's Nine Principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping:

1) Right Plant, Right Place: Plants selected to suit a specific site will require minimal amounts of water, fertilizers and pesticides.

2) Water Efficiently: Irrigate only when your lawn needs water. Efficient watering is the key to a healthy yard and conservation of limited resources.

3) Fertilize Appropriately: Less is often best. Over-use of fertilizers can be hazardous to your yard and the environment.

4) Mulch: Maintain two to three inches of mulch to help retain soil moisture, prevent erosion and suppress weeds.

5) Attract Wildlife: Plants in your yard that provide food, water and shelter can conserve Florida’s diverse wildlife.

6) Manage Yard Pests Responsibly: Unwise use of pesticides can harm people, pets, beneficial organisms and the environment.

7) Recycle: Grass clippings, leaves and yard trimmings composted and recycled on site provide nutrients to the soil and reduce waste disposal.

8) Reduce Storm water Runoff: Water running off your yard can carry pollutants, such as fertilizer, pesticides, soil and debris that can harm water quality. Reduction of this runoff will help prevent pollution.

9) Protect the Waterfront: Waterfront property, whether on a river, stream, pond, bay or beach, is very fragile and should be carefully protected to maintain freshwater and marine ecosystems.

More details can be found here: http://fyn.ifas.ufl.edu/homeowners/strategies.htm

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Environmental Awareness Education | Florida Friendly Landscape | Pot-in-Pot Landscaping | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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To Pinch or Not To Pinch - When is the Question

August 16, 2009 by Rick

The answer is detailed on our web site http://www.floridafriendlyplants.com/ on the Successful Gardening page under Maintenance by the need to do so and the reasons. Recent strong windstorms topple many fast growing soft stemmed plants like Coleus and Persian Shield.

Remove a few at time 

Time to take this coleus growing in partial shade down a bit at a time to stop it from flowering and accentuate it's shape and strength.

Flowering buds for removal

Look for the flower buds which appear at different stages depending on the coleus variety.

A good length to remove

Pinch a few tips each visit to your garden and sculpt and shape your plants to your liking.

Removing some tall falowering tips

Cup of coffee in one hand and a few pinches in the other.

 

Pinched Finger Paint Coleus

Finger Paint Coleus after a pinch at the right time still looks stunning. Don't wait until it is too tall and starting to fall apart.

Coleus Finger Paint Sports yellow red and painted leaves

Finger Paint is a red and yellow bicolor coleus that sports some all yellow and some all red branches and leaves. You can pinch the variants so you don't end up with all one color.

Pinche Defiance the most popular coleus

Coleus Defiance growing in the full sun looks good after a careful pinch to reduce height and create a fuller stronger plant.

 

These plants respond quickly to frequent pinching. If you remove the tender tips you will see new shoots develop from the sides of the stems below the pinch point. How much you pinch really depends on how fast the plant is growing and what the desired ultimate height is. Often you just don't know where you want the plant height to end up. A better rule is to pinch regularly and get a feel for how fast it is growing between pinches. If you don't pinch at all the plant may split open or fall over  under the wet conditions we have been having this summer. This is especially true if it is an aggressive grower like coleus or the Persian Shield pictured below.

Time to pinch Persian Shield

Pinching and pruning are tasks that are learned by doing them. Once you get the feel for how plants respond you will have some knowledge that you can carry with you for a better gardening experience and something worth sharing with another generation of gardeners.

pinch Pentas seed heads

Once the butterflies have pollinated all the individual florets, the florets fall off just leaving seed capsules exposed. The seed is generally not viable so you might as well pinch the seed clusters off so the plant can develop new nectar rich flowers faster. Italians are known to be the best pinchers.

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Butterfly Garden | Warm Season Gardening
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