The Neighborhood Gardener – May


Happy gardening!

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Protecting Florida's Water

A waterway with lily pads and green tall grass along the sides The Earth is covered with water, but despite its abundance this resource is limited. In a state with so much access to water, it is easy to understand why we must all do our part to protect this vital resource. Gardeners can help protect and preserve the waters of Florida in many ways. Learn more about preserving our water resources in Florida and some of the Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Principles that address protecting water in the state. More

What Can Your Plants Do for You?

Tiny new fig leaf budding off a branch with the sun shining through itHave you ever sat and considered what your plants are doing for you? Plants can be used in a number of ways; they can provide you with fresh food, beautiful scenery, lovely aromas, and much more. Factoring in how a plant will be used when designing your garden will create a more functional, energy-efficient landscape. We list some of the functions plants can serve and how to pick the right ones to fulfill all your landscape needs. More


A hibiscus flower with ombre like color starting deep maroon in the center and lightening to orange and then yellow at the petal edgesHibiscus evokes an image of a vivid tropical paradise, with flowers that come in a rainbow of colors. Tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) is what's commonly seen in garden centers and landscapes. However, there are about 35 species of native hibiscus, also called rosemallows, in the United States. One hibiscus native to Florida, Hibiscus coccineus, is also known as the scarlet rosemallow, marsh hibiscus, or swamp mallow. Read more about the native and introduced hibiscuses that dial up the drama and bring a touch of the tropics to Florida landscapes.

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy WilberWhen you think of Sarasota you think of the beautiful beaches and lush tropical landscapes. Please also think of the amazing 150 Master Gardener volunteers there that share their passion of tropical landscaping, edible gardening, and community outreach with the residents of Sarasota County. The MGV group is led by Dr. Pat Williams and they are headquartered at the UF/IFAS Sarasota Extension Office off of Clark road. They were recently recognized by the Sarasota County commissioners for their impact in the community. More

Plant of the Month: Bird's Nest Fern

Birds nest fern with long strappy green leavesBird's nest fern can be grown indoors or outside. Large, stemless, bright-green fronds slowly uncurl from the center of this plant giving it a nest-like appearance. Native to tropical Asia, bird's nest fern thrives in Florida's humid climate in zones 9 to 11; plants in zone 9 will need freeze protection. Plant it in an area with partial to full shade and rich soil. This epiphyte makes a lush addition to the landscape, where it can shine as a specimen or a container plant, or indoors as a houseplant. More

Deadheading: Not as Scary as it Sounds

Leafy green coneflower plant with spindly orange and pink daisylike flowersKeeping your flowers looking fresh can help you be sure your landscape is looking its best. Deadheading can make a huge difference in your landscape with a minimal effort, something any gardener could rejoice over. Matt Orwat, Horticulture Extension Agent for Washington County explains the basics of deadheading. More
(Photo of coneflower, Matt Orwatt UF/IFAS Extension)

May in Your Garden

purple torenia flowerSummer is coming, and if you're adding plants to your landscape be sure they can take the heat. Coleus, salvia, torenia, wax begonia, and ornamental peppers are a few of the ornamentals that can handle the high temperatures in South Florida. For heat-loving herbs, try basil, oregano, Mexican tarragon, or rosemary.

For more month-by-month gardening tips, check out the Florida Gardening Calendar. Three different editions of the calendar provide specific tips for each of Florida's gardening regions—North, Central, and South.

What's Going On?

If your Master Gardener program or Extension office is having an event, be sure to share it with us.