· Check irrigation systems for coverage and missing heads. Prune any branches or foliage that are blocking irrigation. Reliable rains should resume in June.
· This is the month to get rid of winter annuals. Replace with marigolds, caladium bulbs, zinnia, coleus, torenia, vinca, portulaca or amaranthus for summer color. Plant vegetables such as sweet potato and okra. You can plant any permanent plant in the landscape as long as water is available. Watering is critical with new as well as established plantings. New plants are growing vigorously and need water to avoid wilting. The rains of June are just around the corner.
PLANT OF THE MONTH
Gardenia (Gardenia jasminoides)
Most gardenias are big growers and should not be planted close to doorways or in other tight areas. I planted my gardenia from a 3-gallon pot in 1982, and it is now 10 feet tall and 12 feet across. Gardeners who plant them in the wrong places find they have to prune them back. Since they bloom at the ends of the branches, pruning eliminates flowers.
In Florida, gardenias must be grafted if they are planted in the ground because microscopic nematodes can clog up the root system and kill them. They are grafted onto Gardenia thumbergia, a nematode-resistant stock.
Look for the main show of flowers from mid-April to mid-May. A scattering
of flowers will continue through August if the plants are well fertilized.
Fertilize in March, June and October with an ixora/gardenia fertilizer
to combat nutritional problems. Try the small growing `Vetchii' gardenia,
which grows to about 4-5 feet and blooms off and on throughout the year.
The flowers are much smaller that those on the larger plant, but the fragrance
is the same. Big growing varieties include: Miami Supreme, Glazerii, August
Beauty and Mystery.
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