The Neighborhood Gardener – May

Creamy white petals of the Southern magnolia

Happy gardening!

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Gardening for Bees

A golden bee with a metallic green head Did you know that Florida is home to more than 300 species of native, wild bees? And about 29 of these species are endemic — found only in Florida. Buzzing bumblebees come to mind, but there are also carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, sweat bees, and hundreds more. The suggestions in this article will help you create a garden that welcomes native bees to your landscape. This article describes the major components of a successful bee garden.

Heat-tolerant Summer Crops

green pearshaped squash hanging from vineRather than leave your garden fallow in the sunniest season, consider planting one of these heat-tolerant vegetables. What Florida lacks in traditional crops it more than makes up for in vibrant and delicious tropical fruits and vegetables. Exotic plants like these help Florida gardeners celebrate and enjoy what makes our state unique! This article suggests several "Better for Florida" crops.

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy WilberSpring is in full swing for us Florida gardeners. Once again I find myself walking around a garden center with a wagon filled with plants. These retailers have my number — they load the front of the nursery with lots of colorful annuals, edible plants, and a few things I haven't seen before and I can't grab a cart fast enough. Before I know it I have more plants than could possibly fit in the yard, let alone my car. Luckily for you gentle reader, you have more restraint than I do. But you should probably read Wendy's suggestions on plant shopping with a plan in mind, just in case.

MGV Book Club

Cover of the Palmetto BookNext month is our live meeting with Jono Miller, author of "The Palmetto Book" — mark your calendars for June 18th at 1:00pm! If you haven't read this season's book club pick, it has been a lot of fun. We're noticing cabbage palms everywhere and learning a good bit about our local history, too. It's not too late to pick up a copy and join us for next month's live meeting. However you decide to connect, we're excited to grow with you. Learn more about the book club.

Plant of the Month: Horsemint

Flower with whitish lavender bracts that resemble petalsHorsemint is popular with pollinators and appealing to people, too! The fragrance of the leaves and flowers add a new dimension to a landscape. Also known as bee balm, horsemint is a native herb worth adding to your garden. It grows wild throughout the US from USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9. Gardeners interested in hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies will be delighted by the variety this plant attracts. Learn more about Monarda punctata.

May in Your Garden

(Editor's note: Were you looking for the "June in Your Garden" or "July in Your Garden"? Our apologies for the incorrect link.)

Tiny brightly colored hot peppersThe heat of summer has already arrived in Florida, so choose plants that can handle high temperatures: vegetables like sweet potato and tropical "spinaches," herbs like basil and rosemary, and bedding plants like wax begonias, salvias, and ornamental peppers. As the temperatures rise, insect pests become more active, so scout your plants often for damage. Oleanders should be checked for caterpillars. Get your landscape ready for hurricane season now; it starts June 1st.

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.