The dry season begins mid-month. As soon as you can, it's a good idea to check irrigation systems before their winter workouts. Fungal problems appear with the cooler weather, so make sure watering is restricted to the morning hours between 2 and 10 a.m. The dry season will last through May, so some supplemental irrigation will be necessary for lawns and bedding plants.
Green Thoughts: Fort Lauderdale's Riverland Civic Association has planted about 500 flowering trees throughout their neighborhood in recent years. Now Fort Lauderdale jail inmates are going to plant another 150 flowering trees in the neighborhood.
Ten inmates overseen by two correction officers planted the new trees. The city's Adopt-A-Tree program provided the trees. This is the best program I have heard of in recent years. The city will certainly be a more beautiful place as the trees mature and start to bloom on a regular basis.
PLANT OF THE MONTH
I often think how quickly we become jaded by the flower displays in south Florida. We forget how lucky we are compared to our northern neighbors. Jatropha, or perigrina is one of our most dependable bloomers in the small tree or large shrub category. It blooms reliably every day of the year. This plant has red flowers that appear at the end of every branch. Blooms are not large, but they make a decent permanent scattering of flowers over the entire plant.
The standard species plant is very open-growing and is good for a landscape where a small see-through tree is needed. This see-through characteristic is an excellent quality if you are designing a landscape with security in mind. The `Compacta' form is much tighter in growth habit and tops out in the 8 to 10 foot range. Most people will opt for the compact form.
Jatropha is relatively free of pests, but attacks by scale, mealybug and leaf miner are not unknown. Damage is usually temporary, and new leaf growth quickly follows. This plant is a must as a butterfly attractant and usually has many types flocking around. Hummingbirds are winter visitors.
I suspect we may see more color forms of perigrina as time goes on.
I have seen a pink form at some of the collector nurseries, but it is very
hard to find.
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