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A New Beginning-Spring has Sprung

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Late to mid-February usually marks the end of frost danger in South Florida and signals a new beginning as plants slowly begin to wake from the slumber that the cooler weather wrought. Oaks will soon drop their old leaves and quickly put forth a new coat of glossy green splendor. Gumbos, native tamarinds, bulnesias and many others will also put forth new leaves to replace the ones they shed in December. Bulnesias are putting forth new growth in the sping The awakening of the trees will ...

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Herbicides- the good, the bad, the ugly and the alternative

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

As published in The Miami Herald All gardeners want the same thing- a vibrant, green garden full of lush vegetation and free of weeds. As gardeners, we spend a lot of time maintaining our plants, ensuring their health and happiness. So, it's no surprise that when aggressive weeds invade, we quickly become protectors of our collection. How should we stop these trespassers in their tracks without hurting our beloved flora? Before you grab the herbicides and make a mad dash to destroy the...

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Palm Outcasts are Actually Supermodels

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

As published in The Miami Herald Growing up, my parents told me that my characteristics that set me apart made me special. When I felt like an outcast, it was only because I had individuality, or so they said. In the palm world, there are quite a few palms that don't fit in. These palms have bizarre and rule-defying characteristics. Now I am the parent saying their differences make them beautiful. Palm enthusiasts, me included, have embraced these weirdos and believe that everyone should...

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Predators and Pests do Battle over Native Gumbos

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

As published in The Miami Herald The fast growing and sturdy native tree known as the gumbo limbo, (Bursera simaruba) has succumbed to a tandem of pests which have combined to turn this once beautiful tree into something belonging in a post-apocalyptic landscape. Gumbo limbos are under attack. The gumbo limbo was the first tree I ever wrote an entire article on and for as long as I have taught the class "South Florida's Top 40 Plants", the gumbo has sat proudly near the top of...

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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Soils, but Were Afraid to Ask

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

South Florida soil consists of rock, sand, marl and muck. The rock is known as Miami limestone, which is an alkaline calcium carbonate. It is not coral rock as some believe. Miami limestone is high in pH (7.8-8.1), does not retain water or nutrients well and makes growing many plants a challenge. Our type of limestone is very young geologically and is found only one other place in the world (Bahamas). It was formed when the shallow seas covering much of South Florida receded exposing the ...

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Proper Planting

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The right plant in the right location The right plant in the wrong location Planting There are many questions when it comes to planting a new tree or shrub. How large should the hole be? Is it necessary to amend the soil or to add fertilizer? The answers to these questions are simple and can generally be applied to most new plantings. Your first step is to dig a hole for your plant. The hole should be dug slightly larger than the container of the tree or shrub being planted. If the soil is ...

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Does Size Matter?

Monday, June 2, 2008

When I go to the nursery to buy a tree to plant in my yard, I remind myself, "David beat Goliath" and "the tortoise beat the hare" . . . and "a small oak, mango, or royal poinciana tree often will beat a larger tree of the same species." That it is advantageous to plant smaller, younger trees as opposed to larger, older trees is a realization that has grown as my knowledge of trees has grown. Over the last three years, I have watched trees planted when they were very small (rootballs 8 to ...

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Heliconia General Information

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

The genus Heliconia refers to a group of plants related to gingers, bananas, prayer plants and Birds of Paradise. There are an estimated 350 species of heliconia, the vast majority are found in tropical America. Oddly, six species have evolved in the islands from Sulawezi to the Solomon Islands. Descriptions of 13 Heliconia species. These are rhizomatous, herbaceous plants that range in height from 18 inches to more than 20 feet tall. The "stems" (pseudostem) are the concentric, sheathing...

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What's this white stuff on my cycad?

Monday, November 20, 2006

It's sneaky, it's deadly and it's everywhere. Many of the cycads in South Florida neighborhoods have yellow and brown leaves, and are encrusted with a white substance. You've never seen this before. What's going on here? Miami-Dade County is experiencing the results of a surging population of an insect known as the cycad aulacaspis scale or Aulacaspis yasumatsui. It seems to affect only cycads, particularly favoring cycads of the genus Cycas, which includes the common Cycas revoluta (king ...

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It All Starts With Dirt

Monday, November 20, 2006

Here in the Garden nursery, we are frequently asked what kind of potting soils we like to use for our plants. This is not an easy question to answer since there are many factors-the water holding capacity, aeration, pH, potential shrinkage and more-that have to be taken into consideration. Following are some of the components we use in the nursery with an indication of what they contribute to the mixture. You'll also find recipes for two of our most useful mixes. Please keep in mind that...

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