March 2018 Newsletter: Butterflies & Humming Birds | Citrus & Fruit Bearing

Attracting Butterflies:

Use salvias, pentas, milkweed, cigar plant, and lantanas to name a few of the perennials that will attract butterflies. Salvias will stand a little taller than their other flower friends with Butterflies and Hummingbirds feeding on their nectar rich flower spikes. Milkweed and cigar plant will be taller with pentas and lantana being shorter.

Hummingbirds are back! (or will be soon!)

Everyone loves to see these tiny birds fluttering in the garden and nectar providing flowers are vital for these busy little ‘Hummers’! Males are arriving now and females follow a week later. Females will lay two eggs that hatch in 20 days. Females will hatch 2-3 times per year – which explains why they are so plentiful late summer and fall! While still in the nest the young feed on insects brought by their parents, but after only four weeks they leave in search of nectar. The most common hummer for our area is the ruby-throated hummingbird.

Because of their high-speed activity, they require nectar from flowers. Sugared water does NOT supply the adequate nourishment needed for these busy little birds. For their size, they have the largest appetites in the bird world. Adults feed primarily on nectar that they extract from flowers. They feed every 10 to 15 minutes from dawn to dusk, with the heaviest feeding time late afternoon. If you want hummingbirds in your garden plant some Mystic Spires Salvia, Salvia Coccinea Coral Nymph or Lady in Red, Dwarf Fire Bush, Pentas (especially red), Cigar Plant, Batface, Angelonia, Bottlebrush, Night Blooming Jasmine, Coral Honeysuckle, Cleome, and Shrimp Plant to name a few.

Citrus & Fruit Bearing Plants

Citrus are in full bloom now and it’s no wonder the sweet scented orange blossom was chosen as Florida’s state flower! The most popular orange variety is the seedless Navel – but don’t count out the Hamlin orange that is another tried and true favorite. Hamlin is the most popular juice orange, but, it is also a very sweet orange for hand eating. Ruby Red is the red grapefruit of choice, but again, don’t count out some the newer red varieties, Flame and Star Ruby, that are a deeper red and sweeter but the fruit is not quite as large as the Ruby Red.

The best tangerine varieties for our area are the sweet Dancy (one of the oldest tangerine varieties that have the easy ‘zipper’ peel), the sweet Honey Murcott and the cold hardiest of the citrus, Satsuma tangerine. Minneola Tangelo ‘Honeybell’ is the tangelo of choice. Lemons and limes are ever bearing and produce fruit and flowers almost year round. For lemons the Meyer is favored over all others.

Limes are the most cold sensitive of the citrus and risk of freeze damage was certain until the Limequat was developed for its cold hardiness by crossing a Key Lime with a Kumquat, thus the name Limequat. The fruit is the size of limes, turns yellow when ripe and when cut open is the greenish-white color with a lime flavor.

We are often asked if you have to have two citrus for pollination – the answer is NO. You do NOT have to have two citrus for a tree to bear fruit.

Peach, Nectarine and Pears, Plums are all starting to bloom and will set fruit once the flower drops. Fruit will mature and ripen early to late summer.

*Blueberries, Apples, Pears and Plums do REQUIRE TWO plants for pollination and fruiting. Fruits -Peach, Nectarine, Persimmon, Pomegranate and Fig do NOT require two plants. Some grape vine varieties do need two plants, but, the Muscadine varieties are self pollinating and only one is needed.

Here is a recommended spraying guide for the deciduous fruit trees:

• Green Tip Stage: when branch tips show green tissue- spray

• Pre bloom: when blossoms are present but not open-spray

• Full Bloom: DO NOT apply any product

• Petal Fall Stage: when the last petals have fallen off blossoms

• 1st Cover: 7-10 days after petal drop

Next Section: Pruning | Springtime Checklist