Grandma Brown is 99 today!

March 1, 2009 by Rick

I have a vivid memory of the first seeds I planted as a very small child. These were the feed corn kernels on Grandpa and Grandma Brown's small home farm. They grew the corn for their hogs and chickens they raised to feed their family and supplement the income from their full time factory jobs. Grandma grew all the garden vegetables and fruits and nuts and berries and grapes and flowers. It was an amazing garden and without a  doubt she is the reason I have the passion for gardening and the connection with growing plants. Happy Birthday Marie.

A Letter to Governor Crist on Proper Pruning of Palms

March 1, 2009 by Rick

Dear Governor Crist,

There is a butcher on the loose and he is attacking our state tree, The Sabal Palmetto.

Actually there is an army of unqualified butchers destroying the health and aesthetics of the tree that symbolizes our great state.

With March designated as Florida Friendly Landscaping month, I would like to request that you somehow raise the awareness of the widespread improper pruning practices that lead to their poor health and decline.

Thank you from all the citizens of Florida who can see this abuse.


Rick Brown

Sabal palmetto improperly pruned

Gallon Color for Your Garden

February 28, 2009 by Rick

Why are more and more Florida gardeners relying on gallon size annuals and perennials as their primary size for their home gardens? The answer is Success and Value.

In this warm subtropical climate where soils are primarily sand and coral rock in south Florida it is difficult to build and maintain a rich organic soil for the best performance of annuals and perennials. Add to that the long dry season and the need to conserve water by limiting our irrigation days and you can see why larger pots filled with compost rich organic soils that hold water and nutrients are critical to your success.

Looking back over the history of bedding plants in Florida we see that in the early days gardeners had a choice of starting seeds or buying small 6 packs. As gardeners migrated to Florida from northern states they requested the familiar Michigan 6 pack. Trouble was the rich clay and loam soils from the temperate northern states didn’t exist in their new southern homeland. Faced with infertile, fast drying sand and marl rock instead of loamy soil the transplanted gardeners failed to make the 6 pack annual survive. The 6 packs often needed watering more than once a day for the first week then every day for the next 30-90 days. Rarely do we see them sold but newcomers from the north still request them. I even see letters to the editor about the absence of six packs and other weird sentiments about Florida not having any seasons. Some people just don’t adapt well to paradise.

The next phase was started in 1980 with the 18 pack landscaper tray and the 4.5 inch annual we see so many of in the stores today. Many more folks make these plants survive because they can set the timer to water every day and be assured of success. These 18 pack annuals and 4.5 inch are grown in ultra light artificial sterile media and are used to getting watered twice a day. Without daily water they are difficult to establish and that is why we have consecutive day water exemptions in many counties for our newly planted landscapes.

The evolution to planting gallon color solves most of these issues of water use for establishment, transplant failure, transplant shock and 1 day a week watering. This is especially true if you use plants grown in compost rich soils made with organic components and with water holding polymers like we use. The gallon plants still need a plan and attention to keep them moist and growing but this can be easily achieved with much less water wasted.

I want it now! The most significant change that led to the acceptance of gallon color is in our lifestyles. We are so used to fast food, instant credit, take it with you purchasing that it is just second nature for most people to want the instant satisfaction and assured survival that gallon color offers over small 18 packs and 4.5 inch pot. Start out with plants 3 to 5 times larger that are loaded with buds and bloom and you will get to enjoy them quicker, longer and as a sure thing. This trend is national and catching on in areas where the period between last spring frost and first fall frost is short. Compare the life expectancy, beauty and satisfaction you get from Florida Friendly gallon size flowering plants to a cup of Starbucks and decide which value makes you happiest.


Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

February 26, 2009 by Rick

For the 11th year, FNGLA will participate in the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival with an all-new concept and theme: Green Gardening for the family.  Focusing on two typical households, the garden will focus on two “families”: the I.B. Green household and the R.U. Wasteful family and the common practices of each.  

The “Green” family will showcase the concepts of “Right Plant, Right Place,” composting, water conservation, gardening for consumption and will include an area focusing on bio-fuel plants while the “Wasteful” family will highlight some commonly found non-green practices such as improper use of plant material, excess recyclable waste not being recycled and the like.  This new, cutting-edge, contemporary theme showcases FNGLA as a leader in the green sustainability movement bringing easy-to-implement green practices, focused on plants.

Opening Day is March 18 of the 10½ week festival ending on June 1. We will be volunteering along with other Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Associate members to share the wealth of knowledge available to go "Green"

What an interesting winter this has been

February 24, 2009 by Rick

The freezing weather of January and February changed the Florida landscape but that will soon be just a memory as gardens renew in this ideal climate we now have.  Gardening is a very rewarding hobby and that’s why it’s so popular. People who don’t understand how to garden in Florida often get frustrated. We hope to lessen that frustration and to make gardening easier and more successful as we relate the seasonal varieation in plant performance in many future posts.

“It’s too hot to garden in Florida.” Not so fast! If you plan the majority of your planting, mulching, and pruning around the incredible weather Florida offers from October through April you’ll develop a completely different view of gardening. My summer chores are just mowing and edging the little lawn I have. Less is best with turf and that will remain a theme of this blog. Less lawn makes gardening more rewarding and less like a constant chore. Do the math. The lawn is the costliest and most demanding area of your property. It takes more water than all the rest of the water you and your family use. It takes more equipment and energy than most things you do around the house. Consider the size of your lawn and the time it takes to care for it. Cut that amount down to just what you need for the kids, pets and recreation. Just planting a seed…

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Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Florida Friendly Landscape
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Vegetable Gardening Guide Hot off the Press

February 22, 2009 by Rick

It's HOT and loaded with newly updated variety and growing information and just after you Press the print button it will be Hot off your printer. How convenient is that? There are links contained in this document about fertilizing, organic growing, composting, nematodes, soil testing and more all from The University of Florida Extension Service. Some of this is easier in small spaces and for first time gardeners if you learn and use container gardening methods. Recycle your plastic Florida Friendly pots by growing vegetables in them. We will soon be showing you how to best use these containers in the garden in a method we describe as Pot-in-Pot gardening. Subscribe and check back often for tips to make your efforts successful and rewarding.

Carrots in a recycled container Red Leaf Lettuce Seedlings Red Onion Container Gardening

Categories: 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Container Gardening | Cool Season Gardening | Drip Irrigation | Pot-in-Pot Landscaping | U of F Cooperative Extension Service
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Ray Petunias - Simply the Best

February 20, 2009 by Rick

This year we are fortunate in having a brand new series of Petunia that is a gardeners dream. Botrytis (gray mold – the noble rot) and other flower diseases had been the main nemesis of Florida Gardeners for petunias. The Ray series is resistant! After a rain or cool foggy morning the Rays are clean and covered with bloom. The Rays also bloom all winter without the pause that other petunias have when the days are very short. The Rays have the perfect habit that gardeners have been looking for since the first petunias were introduced over a hundred years ago. Rays grow upright and mound while keeping the center covered with bloom and as they grow they begin to spread and fill the bed and stay just over a foot tall.


Rays come in White, Red, Purple, Candy Pink, Purple Vein and Sun Yellow. Red Ray is a true Red. All the colors perform the same if you want to mix them in your landscape. The significance of the Ray performance is that Florida Gardeners now have a alternative to planting impatiens for winter color that is much more drought and weather tolerant.

PetuniaRedRay PetuniaPurpleRay

PetuniaCandyPinkRay PetuniaPurpleVeinRay

With water restrictions limiting the use of impatiens, Ray petunias are up to the challenge. Try some this spring so you know how long (compared to impatiens) into the warm season they will thrive for you in your sunny garden. They are in your Home Depot from October through April. Then next fall plant Ray Petunias from gallon pots instead of 4 inch impatiens and have more flowers with less effort, less water and less care while planting on a wider spacing (18 to 30 inches center to center). Plan your Cool Season color garden with Red and White Ray Petunias next fall, Florida.


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Stardust glows in the garden

February 16, 2009 by Rick

Stardust Shasta daisy is unusual because it blooms every month of the year in Florida unlike other Shasta’s that are limited to late Spring bloomers. Grow Stardust as an annual in South Florida and as a perennial in North Florida.


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Categories: Cold Hardy Perennial
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Simple Steps to Home Garden Design

February 13, 2009 by Rick

1. Identify entry points and locations where color and texture would give your home the most impact. Start with planted containers that you can move around until you get a feel for what works. Experimenting with container plants is easy and inexpensive.

2. Determine which plants have the greatest appeal to you and your color scheme. Make sure they’re adapted to the light levels of the spots you want to “colorize.”

3. Start with focal plants that will anchor your design then experiment with other plants that compliment their colors and textures.

4. Fill in the spaces and enhance the containers. Use the Thriller, Filler, Spiller design concept to add interest and pop to your container and bed plantings. Start with plants you like and change or add to them as you find more colors and textures that add excitement to your design.

5. Use Repetition in your design. Repeating the same plant or plants across the design adds continuity and harmony to the landscape. Avoid a hodgepodge of one-of-everything that looks like a plant collection out of control.

6. Determine your water source and the needs of your plants and design before you begin to plant. Incorporate low volume irrigation systems into your plan.

In future posts, watch for ideas on how to create combination planters created from gallon pots, and our Classic Creations TM, Classic Selections TM and SausEdge TM. This will be an ever-changing part of this blog as warm season annuals and perennials come to the market.

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Categories: Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Florida Friendly Landscape | 9 Principles of Florida Friendly Landscaping | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Container Gardening | Florida Friendly Landscape | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept | Container Gardening | Florida Friendly Landscape | Thriller-Filler-Spiller Design Concept
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We have the cool-blue blues for you

February 9, 2009 by Rick

Delphiniums (also known as larkspurs) are wonderful cool color standouts for the winter/early spring garden. They tolerate winter warm spells and survive winter freezes in north Florida where they often perform as perennials. Combine larkspurs with complementary colored oranges or bright yellows such as Bush Daisies, Paper Daisies or the New Supertunia Citrus.

AfricanBushDaisycB0049P 0231 PetuniaSupertuniaCitrusProvenWinners

Categories: Container Gardening | Pot-in-Pot Landscaping
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