Shift gears for the new year

EILEEN WARD

January is here and we will still experience cold temperatures since it is the second coolest month of the year. The average will be in the 65 degree range with highs in the 70s or low 80s and lows in the 40s or 50s.

Frost is always a possibility. In fact we had frost at this time last year. Frost will do more damage than cold events to our lawns, flowers and more tropical plants.

What to do? Don’t run a mower over lawns damaged by frost or cold as this can do even more damage to the blades. Only mow as needed every 10 to 14 days; less after cold spells.

Resist the urge to cut away the dead and damaged branches. Wait until spring as the cold will do even more damage to new buds or tender growth on the terminal ends of your branches.

Careful not to over water your landscapes. There can be a lot of brown in our lawns as a result of the cold. Your plants, trees and palms may have many yellow and brown leaves and these will begin to shed. Remember this is cold damage and not from a lack of water. These damaged plants will go into a dormancy and the trans-evaporation rates will be very low.

When cold, keep your sprinklers at once a week or less until the hot, dry weather of spring arrives in April or May.

Many flowers and vegetables can be damaged by cold or frost but fortunately you can still plant some new ones in the month of January. If the damage to your flowers is minor you might be able to prune the tips for a new flush of flowers rather than replanting the beds completely. If the flowers and vegetables are wilted to the ground, it is best to remove them and start again.

Hibiscus plants have a tendency to bloom profusely after a good cold spell. Azaleas will also begin blooming in January. Plant azaleas so they get some sun but are not in the full sun. It is also a good month to plant rose bushes. Remember to look for roses grafted onto Dr. Huey or Fortuiana root stock. This under stock is nematode resistant and roses grafted on it can live as long as 50 or 60 years.

January is one of the months to fertilize citrus. Be sure to fertilizer citrus before they begin to bloom in the spring. The citrus industry is being hard hit as the cold moves farther south. Fertilize mangos when they begin to bloom whether it is in December, January or February. If you have had problems with diseased mango fruit or blooms spray the blooming tree weekly with copper, alternating with another fungicide to prevent copper toxicity, for disease free blooms and fruit.

Watch for spider mites especially on true evergreens like arborvitae, juniper and Italian cypress. Treat with a miticide for control.

Many people with poinsettias cannot bring themselves to throw away these plants after the holidays. These can be planted but they can be a very large plant so care must be taken when deciding on a location. It should be a place free of light at night to help with the flowering for next season.

As we begin a new year, we should all try to be better stewards of our land. Use good horticultural practices which will help you use less fertilizer and pesticides and most importantly water. Learn to identify invasive exotic plants which damage our natural areas. Plant some native plants and embrace the wildlife that surrounds us by giving them a place in your yard.

Marco Island is truly a special paradise we are all fortunate to share with Mother Nature. Let us not forget that it why we all love it so much. I wish you and our island all a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Eileen Ward and her husband Peter have owned and operated Greensward of Marco, Inc., a lawn maintenance and landscaping company since 1981. Watch Eileen’s gardening videos on MarcoIsland-TV.com. Eileen is an FNGLA Certified Horticultural Professional, has a Commercial Pesticide license in Natural Areas Management and is a registered Dealer in Agricultural products in Florida.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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