Nourishing Palm Trees
Slow-release fertilizers are best
Ubiquitous palms appear to be the ideal, no-maintenance landscape plant. However, they are just as likely to experience nutrient deficiencies as other native plants.
Research has indicated palms may take two to three years to fully establish themselves after fertilizer is applied. Their slow growth rate and sandy soils common to the area are causes of this time delay.
As such, slow-release fertilizer blends should be used. These products minimize the chance of nutrient leaching caused by excessive water and reduce the need for more frequent fertilizer applications.
When applying fertilizer, it should be scattered evenly under the palm tree’s canopy. Concentrating the nutrients in a hole or pile will minimize absorption by the roots and may chemically burn roots in the area of concentration.
Commercial palm fertilizers will likely have very little phosphorus (the middle number in the analysis) because area soils are naturally rich in this nutrient. These nutrient blends should contain magnesium, the most limiting micronutrient for palms in Florida.
The fertilizer label or tag on the container will provide information on the contents and its application.
Home gardeners strive to have a constant source of attractive color in their residential landscapes. Daylilies can help accomplish that goal.
The well-adapted and commonly available perennial shrubs begin to bloom in March and continue into June if the correct varieties are selected.
A rainbow of color choices is offered in early, mid- and late-season cultivars. There are blooms that exhibit a single color and others with a combination of tones.
Proper preparation is the key to a successful planting and colorful blooms. In Florida, daylilies can be planted any month, but the spring and autumn months are best.
Plant either potted or bare-root specimens in loose, well-drained soil. Saturated soils will encourage root rot and plant death.
As their name implies, these plants perform best in full sun exposure or filtered light. The lighter colors require the most sunlight. Too much shade will reduce the flowering potential. The soil should be rich in organic matter and mildly acidic. Peat moss is an excellent soil amendment, but compost will work. The organic matter adds slow-releasing nutrients and regulates the moisture content. Leave 18 to 24 inches between plants. The distance will assure the plants have the necessary space for at least three years before dividing is necessary. Mulch with pine needles or leaves to a depth of three inches. Daylilies are drought tolerant, but to get best performance they may require watering. Make sure they get between
1 to 2 inches weekly.
Sometimes it is obvious an unknown caller has visited the landscape. While there are many suspects, raccoons are one possibility. The masked marauders of wildlands and suburbia are spending the dark hours aggressively searching sources of food to sustain themselves. These omnivorous mammals are not picky about their meals, so human habitation, with all its waste, is especially enticing. Garbage cans, with all manner of leftover delicacies appealing to raccoons, are usually the main attraction for their rambunctious activity. Their extraordinarily dexterous front paws, with no webbing between the fingers, make opening these culinary prizes quite easy. Those nimble paws are tipped with non-retractable claws and give the raccoon both an offensive and defensive capability. Its carnivore-type teeth can inflict severe bites, too. Vegetable gardens, fruit trees and flowerbeds can attract foraging raccoons. Ripe and spoiled produce may be sampled along with grubs, slugs and worms. There is no effective repellent for these night stalkers, so the best defense is cleanliness. Keep trash secure and beyond the raccoon’s reach. Remove rotting fruits and vegetables, and suppress attractive pests that encourage midnight pillaging. In many cases, the only way to confirm the identity of nighttime intruders is by their tracks. Raccoon tracks, especially given the front paws with their long fingers, are very distinctive.
Les Harrison is a retired University of Florida/Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Wakulla County extension director.