The Neighborhood Gardener – January

pale pink camellia flower

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Happy New Year, gardeners!

Gardening Highlights from 2022

Lime green wooden sign reading Flip My Florida YardWith the dawn of every new year, we like to reflect on the trends from the past year and share them with our readers. From landscape renovations, to the right way to plant a shrub, the wrong way to prune a palm, and much more in between, the research-based gardening information we shared with you last year sparked plenty of conversation. Please enjoy this countdown of our top five social media topics from 2022.


Head of white cauliflowerAre you looking to add a challenge to your vegetable garden? Look no further than cauliflower, the labor-intensive but rewarding crop. Cauliflower requires a little more vigilance against pests, disease, and even the sun (yes, really), but this tasty and nutritious crucifer can be worth it. For instance, cauliflower is high in vitamin C and a good source of folate. Learn how to grow cauliflower in your garden.


light green kidney shaped fruitPawpaw is a native tree with unique fruit and foliage that provides autumn color. This small tree produces fruit with cream-colored flesh and black seeds. The flavor has been described as a blend of banana and mango. If that's not enough to intrigue you, pawpaw species are the sole host plant for zebra swallowtail butterflies. Pawpaw is hardy in zones 5A through 8B (North Florida), grows in all light conditions, is moderately drought tolerant, and can even survive flooding. Learn more about North America's largest native fruit.

Wendy's Wanderings

Wendy WilberHappy 2023. January is a time for new beginnings, and it presents opportunities for sustainable changes in the garden and landscape. I am making a few gardening resolutions and you are welcome to join in along with me. My city has been piloting a successful compost waste pickup program. I am thrilled to bring my kitchen waste for weekly curbside pickup, but I also miss feeding my own compost pile. For 2023 I am going to keep my compost pile more active so I can use finished compost as a soil amendment for my landscape plants. Read on for more of Wendy's resolutions.

Plant of the Month: Sugarcane

A tall stand of grasslike sugarcaneFlorida gardeners looking for an attractive and tasty addition to their foodscape should consider sugarcane. This perennial grass ranges in color from green to red to purple and can grow well over ten feet. Some gardeners might grow a variety for syrup or to chew on, but you might just plant sugarcane to serve as a natural windbreak. Plant in a sunny location with good drainage, away from highly trafficked areas or pathways because the sharp-edged leaves can hurt people. Get detailed instructions on planting sugarcane.

January in Your Garden

woman planting treeFlorida Arbor Day is the third Friday of January (January 20th this year). Celebrate by planting a tree in your yard or community. Contact your county Extension office to see if there are Arbor Day tree sales or giveaways in your area. Many vegetables can be planted this time of year, including Irish potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, and kale.

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.