The Neighborhood Gardener – August

Cluster of simple five-petaled plumbago flowers that are pale lavender-blue

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Florida's Oaks

A white oak tree in the fall so all of its leaves are red and orangeFlorida is home to many types of oak trees, both common and rare. They are economically important, provide visual interest in the landscape (especially in the fall), and supply wildlife with a food source and cover. Read on to learn more about a few of our favorite oaks, and perhaps find a few that would be suited to your yard!

Cherry Tomatoes

Several round red cherry tomatoes in a small green basketThe spring planting window for large-fruited tomatoes can be short — after the chance of frost, but before temperatures get too high for fruit to set. However, cherry tomatoes give most Florida gardeners the chance to plant and enjoy tomatoes throughout our hot summers. There are many varieties to choose from, including the popular Everglades tomato that is particularly hardy and flavorful. Learn more about the best cherry tomato varieties for Florida gardens.

Groundcovers for Shade

A super close view of the teeny tiny flowers of fruit fruit, a groundcover.While we may be gardening in the Sunshine State, many gardeners still face the challenge of growing in the shade. Fear not, there is a right plant for every place. Many groundcovers are an excellent alternative, especially in shady spots where turf does not thrive. Groundcovers also help increase soil moisture, while preventing weeds and soil erosion. Check out our list of recommended groundcovers for shade (bonus: the majority are native).

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy WilberThe Southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) is our featured plant this month. This interesting tree has long captivated my curiosity. They have very dense, strong wood and can seal off rot more efficiently than other oaks. Their lumber for ship building was so valued that naval live oak reservations were established to preserve the trees for future use. To the delight of my travel companions I have been known to drive miles out of our way to visit special live oaks. Find out what live oak was worth the drive.

Plant of the Month: Live Oak

Live oak photographed from far away so as to fit it in the frame as it's wider than it is tallThe live oak is one of those plants that is inseparable from Florida’s identity. Since they live for hundreds of years, several generations get to enjoy each majestic, sprawling tree that is draped with moss. These trees provide many ecosystem services, and they are an excellent choice for homeowners who are searching for sturdy, wind-resistant trees. If you've got the room, live oaks can be planted in zones 7B through 10B. Learn more about Quercus virginiana.

MGV Book Club

A close look at a lime swallowtail caterpillar rearing up and showing off its fake red hornsWe’re wrapping up our virtual MGV book club next Friday, August 18 at 1 pm, with a live Zoom meeting! This is an opportunity for us to discuss the book and connect with you in real time. Whether you’ve been following along with us this summer or maybe you read the book a year ago, all are welcome to join the discussion.

August in Your Garden

red cayenne pepper on the plantThe hottest days of summer limit planting now to only heat-tolerant annuals like vinca, salvia, celosia, and coleus. It's time to start your fall vegetable garden; consult the What to Plant in August infographic on Gardening Solutions. Pinch back poinsettias and mums before the end of the month to allow time for buds to form for winter bloom.

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.