The Neighborhood Gardener – July

Cluster of large white trumpet-shaped flowers of wild olive

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Blood Lily

Bright red puffball of blood lily flowersHave you spotted any blood lilies this summer? Scadoxus multiflorus brings an arresting pop of color to the landscape. The globe-shaped flower heads seem to hover in mid-air and the leaves that appear later make an excellent ground cover. If you're looking for a plant that will set your landscape apart, this new article on blood lily will explain why it's the bulb for you.

Lawn Mower Care and Safety

Man working on upturned mowerMany of us spend a lot of time behind a lawn mower, especially in the summer. If you have a moderately sized yard, a manual reel or electric walk-behind mower could be just the ticket. Both are quiet and require very little maintenance. And with summer gas prices on the high end, your savings will rack up fast! This updated article on Gardening Solutions has maintenance and safety tips for electric and gas-powered mowers.

Chinch Bugs

Adult chinch bug is black and white with wingsSt. Augustinegrass is the most widely planted turfgrass species in Florida lawns. Also superlative is the southern chinch bug. This insect is the most damaging insect pest of turfgrass in the state. They are a major pest of St. Augustinegrass and attack zoysiagrass, too. Catching a southern chinch bug infestation early is the key to saving your turf. This article includes tips for identifying and managing this pest.

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy Wilber Our hot Florida summer is not disappointing us this year. Gardeners, please be careful in the heat. Only work outdoors during the cooler hours of the day, drink lots of water, and pace yourself. If the scorching summer temperatures get to be too much, schedule a long break somewhere cool. Heading for the mountains or a spot with a cooler climate is a strong plan B. If a getaway is in your plans you will need to vacation-proof your plants.

Plant of the Month: Papaya

Green papaya on the trunklike stalk of a papaya plantPapaya is a tropical tree-like plant native to Central America. The ripe fruit is soft, juicy, and sweet, like a mango or melon. Commercially, papayas are usually grown in South Florida. Papaya is not cold tolerant, and grows best in USDA Hardiness Zones 9B through 11. With care, however, gardeners in cooler parts of Florida can enjoy papayas in their home landscape, too (hint: think of it as an annual crop). Learn more about planting papaya.

Florida MGV Book Club Summer Selection

cover of book features purple orchid flowerIt's not too late to join the club! We've started reading journalist Craig Pittman's "The Scent of Scandal." This exciting title is the perfect summer read — orchids, Florida history, and true crime. Take a break from weeding, pour yourself a cold drink, and read along with the Florida MGV Book Club this July and August. Learn more about the book and our book club.

July in Your Garden

Palm tree in home landscapeKeep your flowering annuals irrigated if it's dry. It's too hot to start herbs from seed, but oregano and mint can be started from small plants. Gardeners in South Florida can continue to plant tropical vegetables, while those in the north and central parts of the state can start their Halloween pumpkins now. Hurricane season is upon us, but don't "hurricane" or "pineapple" prune palms. For tree and palm pruning, consider hiring an ISA-certified arborist.

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.