November chores to keep your Florida yard looking good4 min read
Fall in Florida is a time of change and an apparent lack of identity. We still get days near 90 degrees but may see freezing temperatures a few times at night. This means mmany plants in your yard go dormant for the winter while others start flush with new growth and blooms. Here are some tips to prepare for all of these changes in your garden.
Put seasonal plants to work
Many gardeners do not think about fall being a time for gardening but there are many fun ornamental plants we get to use that are usually only available in cooler months. Seasonal favorites such as mums and poinsettias flood many garden centers and can beused for decoration in planters and in the landscape. Both do best in moist, well-drained soils with full sun. Poinsettias are a bit more maintenance, requiring a location without artificial light, acidic soil, monthly fertilization and protection from frost to look their best.
Other cool season annuals can also be used throughout the landscape for some winter color, including pansies, petunias, snapdragons, ornamental kale and cabbage, dianthus and foxglove. Add them to dormant landscape beds or into containers for a beautiful display.
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Take a break from lawn care
Fall and winter are my favorite times for lawncare because I get to take a break. With winter dormancy, you can usually stop mowing for a few months and you should not be irrigating heavily or fertilizing during the winter.
With the transition out of Daylight Saving Time, you should only irrigate your lawn once a week. This is a regulation from the St. John’s Water Management District that should be followed to conserve water and improve the health of your grass. If your home has an odd address, irrigate on Saturday; if you have an even address, irrigate on Sunday.
Remember that these watering days are only if needed. If it’s been raining, you probably don’t need to irrigate at all.
Your turf does not need fertilizer at this time of year, so wait to put any nutrients on the lawn until at least April 15. Anything applied now will be a waste of your money and is likely to end up in local waterways or groundwater.
Remember that it is normal for your lawn to turn a brown color in the winter. The best thing to do is not worry and wait for it to green back up in the spring.
One major landscape pest we see on ornamental plants is scale. A wide variety of species can affect landscape plants and, with cooler weather, this is a great time to treat. These are smaller pest, often covered in a waxy coat, that attach themselves to leaves, stems or roots and siphon out sugars and nutrients. If you see scales on your garden plants, apply an oil spray to control them but be sure to read the label of any pesticide before using and follow all directions and precautions. If you need help with identification of pests or diseases, contact your local UF/IFAS Extension office.
Even with the threat of freezing temperatures, this is a great month to start vegetable gardens. Many crops thrive through the winter, such as cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, collard greens and lettuce. These can be a great way to add some fresh produce to your holiday meals.
For more information on vegetable gardens, check out the Florida Vegetable Gardening Guide at edis.ifas.ufl.edu/vh021.
Herbs are another way to integrate your garden into your daily meals. Many herbs will do well when planted in November, including dill, fennel, parsley, sage, thyme and cilantro. Herbs will do very well in container gardens with an organic, well drained soil. Keep them growing throughout the winter and just pinch off what you need to season your next meal.
Things to plant in November
Vegetables: Arugula, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collards, cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, endive, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, onions, radishes, spinach and turnips.
Herbs: Cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley, sage and thyme.
Annuals: Calendula, dianthus, delphinium, foxglove, larkspur, ornamental cabbage and kale, pansy, petunia, shasta daisy and snapdragon.
Bulbs, tubers, rhizomes, or corms: African lily, amaryllis, Aztec lily, calla lily, iris, Kaffir lily, lily, walking iris, spider lily and zephyr lily.
Wayne Hobbs is an extension agent in environmental horticulture for Clay County.