The Neighborhood Gardener – April

The pink-red bracts of the shrimp plant give it its name, but the white flower inside is the nectar source

Happy gardening!

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Let's Plant Pineapples

A golden ripe pineapple fruit ready for harvest Most people are familiar with the pineapple and its juicy fruit. But did you know pineapple plants can be grown in protected locations in landscapes throughout Florida? They are a slow-growing crop but, if you have a pineapple top bound for the garbage, growing pineapples can be a tasty experiment. This article will walk you through the process of bringing a taste of the tropics home with your own pineapple plant.
Photo: David Cappaert,

Aphids, Mites, and Thrips

deformed leaves on plantIn Florida, April showers are rare, and our ornamentals are in flower long before May. For us, spring means the battle with warm-weather pests begins again. Aphids, mites, and thrips are some of the hardest to spot of all the pests we encounter each spring. This article can help you identify and control them while keeping your garden's ecosystem happy and healthy.

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy WilberApril is volunteer appreciation month and at the University of Florida we do truly appreciate our Master Gardener Volunteers. We could not serve the tens of thousands of Floridians with the best researched-based horticultural information without our dedicated team of 4,500 MG volunteers. The past year has been a challenge for the Florida Master Gardener Volunteers. Yet we persisted, we pivoted, and we found a way to volunteer and stay connected because that is what strong volunteer programs do. Are you a Master Gardener Volunteer? You might see yourself in this celebration of a MGV.

MGV Book Club

Cover of the Palmetto BookThis spring we're excited to take a journey through Florida's natural history with a fresh-off-the-press title by a fellow Floridian. Join us as we read "The Palmetto Book: Histories and Mysteries of the Cabbage Palm" by natural historian, educator, and activist, Jono Miller. Learn more about the book club.

Plant of the Month: Sparkleberry

Three tiny white flowers hanging like bells from a twigFlowers are blooming, trees are budding, and our noses are running; it must be spring! One of our favorite springtime sights is sparkleberry in bloom. Delicate, fragrant flowers hang like bells from the new growth and bright green leaves emerge to welcome the season. Sparkleberry is attractive, but our favorite thing about it this time of year is its minimal pollen production. Learn more about this native plant.

Reading the Weeds

A low growing green plant with fuzzy leaves and small star-shaped white flowers Weeding is the perennial chore of any devoted gardener. Of course we would never dream of putting off this important task, but before you tromp dutifully off to deal with your plant pests, take a moment to "read" your weeds. Dollarweed, clover, plantain, and pusley are all trying to tell you something about your soil. This article can help you interpret their message.
Florida pusley photo: Rebekah D. Wallace, University of Georgia,

April in Your Garden

Coleus plant with sunset orange leavesThe April landscape is flush with new growth; now is a good time to monitor landscape plants for hungry pests like aphids on tender new leaves. Check for thrips if leaves or flowers of ornamentals like gardenias and roses are damaged. Expand or rejuvenate garden beds by dividing clumps of bulbs, ornamental grasses, or herbaceous perennials — and pass the bounty along to friends. Plant heat-tolerant annuals like coleus. New varieties of coleus do well in sun or shade and provide vivid colors and patterns for months.

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 Volunteer program or Extension office is having an event, be sure to share it with us.