The Neighborhood Gardener – May

Purple hanging bell shaped flowers of jacaranda tree

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Hurricane Landscaping

Hurricane Irma on radarForecasters at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center will release their predictions for the 2022 hurricane season soon. While we wait, our focus in May is on hurricane preparedness. One thing you can do to protect your family and home is to hurricane-proof your landscape. This article includes tips to help you get started.

Planting Okra

Yellow flower of okra plantA staple of Southern cuisine, okra came to the Americas from Western Africa. Florida gardeners appreciate its extreme heat tolerance and long growing season. And for anyone noticing that the okra bloom looks like a hibiscus flower, excellent detective work! Okra is a member of the hibiscus family. Learn more about Abelmoschus esculentus and how to grow this Florida-Friendly edible.

Common Landscape Pitfalls: Tree Root Problems

Mushroom growing on the base of a tree trunkRoot problems are difficult to detect, often hidden below ground. This article covers a few common root problems: depth of planting, girdling roots, traffic damage, and clashes with hardscapes. Some of these issues can be addressed by homeowners themselves but when in doubt, call a certified arborist in to assess the safety of your tree.

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy Wilber This year the spring rains have awakened the beasts in my yard, namely invasive plants. The environmental impacts of invasive plants are huge, as they can permanently eliminate native species and reduce Florida's biodiversity. As the problem has grown, the language and terminology around invasive plants has become more complicated over the years. Luckily for us, a team of IFAS researchers and extension agents have put together new invasive species terminology that will help to reduce confusion, misuse, and misinterpretation. Read on for helpful terminology and the identity of Wendy's "beastly plants."

Plant of the Month: Chayote

Pale green pear-shaped fruitA heat-loving, tropical vegetable, chayote is perfect for Florida's steamy summers. It's also known as the vegetable pear, mirliton, and mango squash. Native to Guatemala, chayote (Sechium edule) is a cucurbit and is closely related to melons and squashes. Chayote vines climb and require support, such as a trellis or an arbor. The fruit have a texture similar to mature zucchini. Chayote can be planted throughout the state. Read the newly expanded article on Gardening Solutions.

Florida MGV Book Club Summer Selection

cover of book features purple orchid flowerTake a break from weeding, pour yourself a cold drink, and read along with us this summer. Our 2022 title is the perfect summer read — orchids, Florida history, and true crime! Journalist Craig Pittman's "The Scent of Scandal" covers the Florida orchid-smuggling outrage that led to search warrants, a grand jury investigation, and criminal charges. Learn more about the book and our book club.

May in Your Garden

Yellow flowers of Mexican tarragonThe calendar might not yet say summer, but Florida gardeners know that the heat is on! Now's the time for heat-tolerant annuals like salvia, coleus, wax begonia, and vinca. Plant herbs like basil, oregano, Mexican tarragon, and rosemary. Watch for damage from chinch bugs in St. Augustinegrass and begin scouting for newly hatched mole crickets in Bahia lawns.

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.