When planting gardens and flower beds think cool season. Some great color can be provided by alyssum, calendula, dianthus, dusty miller, geraniums, pansies, snapdragons and violas. And if you really would like special flowers start seeds of California poppies, delphiniums, hollyhocks and annual phlox. In the vegetable garden continue to plant broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, lettuce, onions, collards, beets, carrots and peas.
If you are wondering why your poinsettias, holiday cactus and kalanchoe are not starting to show color it could be they are receiving too much light. When days are too long, these plants keep on growing and fail to flower. Each wants normal day lengths at this time of the year. If night light of any source hits the plants even for a short period time they may not bloom or be late flowering for the holidays. Move them into a spot with no nighttime light and you may still see blooms this season.
Day length and cool weather affect lots of plants and one portion of the landscape that may be showing the response is the lawn. Bahiagrass and zoysiagrass lawns are going dormant and may not need frequent mowing. The remaining lawn types can be expected to make pretty good growth until it gets really cold. You probably have noticed St. Augustinegrass starting to fill in the bare spots with runners and looking a good green color. If you have not fed your turf for fall a light feeding with a winterizer product could be used. Also keep the grass moist if you want growth and a green color. Most areas are under a once a week watering rule but you are usually permitted to water dry spots with a hand held hose if needed. Do check with your local University of Florida Extension Office to find out the rules in your area.
Here is something that came in handy for several zoysia lawn owners last year -- green paint. Yes, there is paint available to turn frosted or frozen lawns greens. It's available from commercial suppliers. It makes the lawns look pretty good.
Weeds are a constant problem in lawns and landscape plantings. Many can be pulled or dug out to make quick work of these pests. You can still apply liquid herbicides but the time for weed and feeds is over. Use the liquids if needed and follow label instructions. Among the ornamental plantings try removing the weeds and then adding mulch. Some herbicides are also available for preemergence weed control but follow the labels carefully.
Do take some time off from yard work to enjoy the holidays. It's a good time to join seasonal home tours and visit botanical gardens to get ideas you can use in the new year. Or you can also take a look at Tom's Gotta Dos:
- Lawns have a good green look but will need water during the drier months ahead.
- Operating a sprinkler systems is limited to once a week in most areas.
- Dry spots can be moistened as needed with a hand-held hose where permitted.
- pair bare spots left from piles of hurricane debris with sod or plugs.
- Fall is a good time to install new lawns or patch large areas due to weeds or insects.
- Feeding time is over but iron or minor nutrients can be applied to keep the lawns green.
- Brown or large patch has been spotted in St. Augustine & zoysia; control with a fungicide.
- Use chemical weed controls for patches of weeds that cannot be controlled by mowing..
- Mowing can be reduced to every other week in most landscapes.
- Over seeding with ryegrass is normally not needed except for a temporary winter lawn.
Fruit and vegetable gardening:
- Warm season crops may linger through fall due to late plantings after the hurricane.
- If crops stop producing or are affected by cold replant with the cool season crops.
- Soils were compacted by torrential rains; loosen and add organic matter before replanting.
- Small but successive vegetable plantings guarantee continual harvests.
- Tomatoes, peppers & eggplants stop producing during cool weather; replant in March. .
- Continue herb plantings in ground or in containers; they love the cool weather.
- Harvest herbs frequently to encourage fresh growth; preserve or share extras.
- Caterpillars and mites are frequent fall pests; control with natural sprays.
- Start seeds of the cool season crops as needed to have transplants available.
- Trellis peas and similar vining crops to harvest the most from garden plots.
- Gardeners with limited space can grow their favorite vegetables in large containers.
- Use clean containers and fresh potting soil to reduce pests and encourage growth.
- Feed vegetable gardens every 3 to 4 weeks with composted manure or a general fertilizer.
- Feed container plantings every other week or use a slow release fertilizer as labeled.
- Delay deciduous fruit tree prunings until next month; citrus pruning until mid February.
- Lots of twigs are hanging in trees; remove or let them gradually fall.
- Remove large limbs that may fall to damage property or injure residents and visitors.
- Wood chips from fallen trees are best added to compost piles to decompose before use.
- Thick layers of fresh wood chips bind up nutrients that inhibit plant growth.
- Fresh wood chips can be used as walkways and once decomposed in planting sites.
- Fall and winter are a good times to replace trees lost due to the hurricane.
- Replant with a majority of hurricane proof trees and shrubs.
- Shrubs heavily damaged by wind and debris many need pruning to near the ground.
- Revive dreary looking landscape with cool season color.
- Consider fresh color combinations like pink petunias, dusty miller & snapdragons.
- Avoid planting the same flowers each year in the same spot to reduce pest problems.
- Incorporate organic matter with older annual beds and sandy soils to encourage plant vigor.
- Add holiday poinsettias to the landscape in their pots to easily remove during extreme cold.
- Fertilize annual flowers monthly or use a slow release fertilizer as labeled.
- Apply a slow release fertilizer to container plantings for a winter feeding.
- Pruning time is over for most plants; out of bounds shoots can be removed as needed.
- Feeding time is over for all trees, shrubs and vines.
- Water new plantings plus annuals and perennials frequently to keep the soil moist.
- Divide and replant perennials.
Foliage & house plant care:
- Move container grown plants in landscapes, susceptible to cold, to a warmer location
- Remove yellow leaves from plants already affected by cold and give a warm spot to regrow.
- Look for poinsettia selections with new bact colors to display in the home.
- Give holiday plants a cool bright location away from air vents.
- Over watering Christmas & holiday cactus can cause them to rot; wait until the surface dries.
- Delay fertilizing holiday and foliage plants until the warmer weather returns in late winter.
Vegetables: Beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, horseradish, lettuce, mustard, onions, peas, radicchio, radishes, spinach, Swiss chard and turnips.
Flowers: Alyssum, baby's breath, bacopa, begonia, bush daisy, calendula, California poppy, candytuft, carnation, chrysanthemums, delphinium, dianthus, dusty miller, foxglove, geranium, goddetia, hollyhock, Iceland poppy, licorice plant, lobelia, million bells, ornamental cabbage & kale, pansy, petunia, salvia, shasta daisy, snapdragon, statice, stock, sweet pea, verbena and viola.
Herbs: Anise, arugula, basil, bay, chives, cilantro, coriander, dill, fennel, garlic, lavender, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary, sage, sweet marjoram, thyme and watercress.
Bulbs: African iris, amaryllis, anemones, bulbine, crinum, day lily, paper white narcissus, ranunculus, society garlic, spider lilies, rain lilies; refrigerate for future planting - Dutch iris, tulips, daffodils and hyacinths.