October Newsletter: What to Plant?

What to Plant?

“Trees are Planet Coolers”

Recently a forum was held at the University of Florida Gainesville campus on trees and their impact on the urban area. Concrete or hard surfaces radiate a lot more heat than greenery, and trees are an important component in capturing carbon, which is linked to Global Warming. A recent study has shown there to be a correlation between neighborhoods that are lacking trees and higher summer temperatures.

Drake Elm Tree

People sometimes complain about having to either, have trees on their property or cleaning up after them. However, keep in mind the benefits of the trees vs no trees.

Now is the BEST time to plant trees. Root growth does occur during our mild winters to begin establishment for spring flush. When selecting a tree for your home landscape always follow these simple guidelines;

1) How BIG do want this tree to be at MATURITY? Things grow fast in Florida.

2) What do want the tree for? Shade, flowering, screening or accent?

3) Do you want an evergreen or a deciduous tree? Sometimes it’s nice to have an energy saving deciduous tree whose leaves shade in the summer and when dormant in winter, lets the sun through for warmth. Crape Myrtles are the perfect deciduous trees.

4) Evaluate your site! Is it sun or shade, will the tree you select have adequate room, is it well drained or does it tend to stay wet, and lastly – always look UP for power lines, house eaves etc..

There are many reasons for planting trees, such as aesthetics, color, flowers and most importantly shade. Deciding what tree to plant is a good first choice, but even more important is deciding what tree to plant for the space you have in mind. Research the mature size of the any tree or trees that you have in mind and know what the root system will be like at a mature age.

When you plant trees, you should choose an area that is at least 15-20 feet from the house to prevent problems with roots going under your foundation, getting into your water pipes or branches hanging over the roof. If you are choosing a tree that has a significant root system such as Oaks and Magnolias, you should locate these well away from the house or any water lines that could be impacted.

In addition, always look up and check to see if your location will be under overhead electrical wires that run along the front of your house or run from the street to your house. Many trees are disfigured from being pruned radically to prevent them from causing problems with electrical wires.

Tree and large shrub roots can also impact your irrigation system with time. Knowing where your irrigation lines run is equally important if you do not want to end up with a large irrigation repair bill.

In summary, make sure you do all your homework before you choose a tree to plant. Having a good plan in place before buying a tree is a smart move!

Agave or Century Plants

Agave is a wonderful plant for a garden and it comes in numerous varieties however, in this part of the world the two most common varieties we see are Agave Americana- which is a bluish color and Agave Variegata which is a green with yellow stripe. You may even see some agave growing right on the dunes down at the beach.

If you are considering an agave, there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind:

1) They grow quite large- up to 4’-5’ high and wide. They are also very sharp so planting near a walkway is not a good idea.

2) All century plants produce offspring or pups underneath them. There are often a considerable number of them. These “pups” can be removed and replanted elsewhere if desired, or discarded. However, at least one or two should remain and be allowed to grow because when the main plant blooms (which can happen in a 5-10 year span or even earlier), the main plant dies. If this is not something you would like to see in your future, you should reconsider your plant choice.