It’s time to ‘Spring Clean’ your plants and clean up the garden before planting others! For small perennials like Lantana, Salvia’s, Pentas, Blu My Mind etc. simply trim it back to new growth at the base of the plant- taking off all the dead parts. For woody shrubs like Hibiscus, Allamanda, Bougainvillea etc., also clip branches back until you reach green stems or to where new growth is emerging. If no new growth is evident yet, wait awhile to see where it will emerge.
Unfortunately for Crotons and other really tropical plants, due to the three freezes we had, these plants may or may not come back. Be patient though as it may happen after a couple of more weeks of warmer weather. While you’re there, lightly work the soil around your plants to break surface tension for good water and fertilizer absorption into the soil. If your soil has not been amended and your plants performed poorly last growing season top-dress around your plants with a little mushroom compost or aged manure. After pruning, weeding, and lightly working the soil- FERTILIZE!
This is the ‘growing season’ and plants need food to grow. We cannot stress enough the importance of fertilizing your plants and palms. Florida sand has no nutrient holding capacity and as plants begin to grow they need nutrients for healthy growth, flowering and fruiting. A healthy plant will ALWAYS fare much better from freeze or insect damage than a weak, nutrient deficient plant. For years we have recommended the Nurserymen’s Sure Gro slow release fertilizer blends that will last 3 months. It’s what we use on our own home landscapes because it works!
For palms and basic landscape shrubs apply the 8-4-12 Palm. For flowering shrubs, trees and perennials apply the 6-8-10 Bloomer, for citrus and fruits apply the 8-4-8 Citrus and Fruit. Never apply the fertilizer on the top of the root ball or crown of plant where burn may occur. It is the ‘feeder’ roots of the plant that is your target to take up the nutrients.
Fertilizations should be done March, June and September. After fertilizing, water in well and apply fresh mulch if needed to retain moisture and control weeds.
Azaleas are starting to put on their show now and this is a great time to plant them! Formosa varieties can reach heights and widths 5’-8’ if left unpruned and bloom large, clusters of flowers in abundance. The most popular varieties are G.G. Gerbing (white), Lavender Formosa (bright purple-pink), Red Formosa (red wine color) George Tabor (light pink with dark pink blotch), and Southern Charm (bright pink-purple). The mid size varieties that do well in our area are Fashion (salmon-pink).
Azaleas bloom from the end of February through most of March. Fashion azaleas will bloom heavy in spring and then sporadically up until winter. Azaleas prefer relief from the hot afternoon sun so areas that receive morning sun and afternoon shade, or, shifting, dappled light are perfect. They like soil on the acidic side and have a low salt tolerance. They don’t like sandy soil so incorporate potting soil and mushroom compost in the planting hole.
Camellias are STILL blooming from winter! If you have a shady or dappled light area and need a larger growing, cold hardy blooming shrub Japonica Camellia is the perfect plant. Flowers are large and showy and range from red to different shades of pinks.