Staff »

DOUG CALDWELL

Title: Columnist - At Home
Contact: 239-353-4244 | Send DOUG an email

Recent Work

  • Doug Caldwell's Extension Column: Go to the movies with master gardeners Published 11/25/2011 at 4 a.m.

    Video is the best media for teaching. It is much more exciting seeing the caterpillars move and how the proper pruning cuts should be made.

  • DOUG CALDWELL: Has disease made citrus a short-term, high maintenance relationship? Published 10/07/2011 at 6 a.m.

    One reason I moved to Florida 10 years ago was to have the ability to leisurely stroll out the back door on a warm Florida winter day and pick a few tangelos and squeeze some fresh orange juice for breakfast. ...

  • DOUG CALDWELL: Hurricane cuts may be death blows to your palm Published 09/02/2011 at 1:53 p.m.

    There are a lot of opportunist “landscapers” wanting to offer you a bargain “hurricane cut” to save your trees when the big winds blow. But buyer beware! Never “hurricane-cut” palms. This practice does not protect your palm. Instead it weakens ...

  • DOUG CALDWELL: Spiraling whitefly hungry, but not here — yet Published 07/07/2011 at 11:25 a.m.

    In some horticulture circles one hears that native plants have fewer pests than other ornamental plants. This may have been true 50 years ago, but with all of the international trade and commerce, we constantly have new foreign pests, and ...

  • Getting bonked by a caterpillar? Bungee jumpers are out there now Published 05/13/2011 at midnight

    A little caterpillar can defoliate “black olive” and its finer textured variety “ ‘Shady Lady’ black olive” (Bucida buceras). Nuisance calls — complaints about the caterpillars, not the calls — usually start in mid to late April.

  • Yuck lawn: Crab grass or disease Published 01/13/2011 at 4:56 p.m.

    Cold temperatures came earlier this year, and so did the brown areas in our yards. Many homeowners are experiencing the typical late fall -early winter surprise of large brown areas in what they thought was a perfectly green and healthy ...

  • Low-growing hedges define, but don't strangle, the view Published 12/02/2010 at 5:13 p.m.

  • Turn unlikely plants into hedges Published 10/28/2010 at 4:11 p.m.

    If you’ve lived in southwest Florida for a year or so and have been obligated to look after your landscape with your very own sweat, blisters and time, you’ve probably arrived at the same conclusion I have: Plants grow year-round ...

  • Spanworms gobbling up hedge, but not terminally, it seems Published 08/26/2010 at 7 p.m.

    “What is happening to my snowbush hedge ... it seems to be fading away?” came the question. When I answered, the caller at first thought I had mentioned a new computer virus.

  • Moth problem? It may be tropical sod webworm Published 08/05/2010 at 5:27 p.m.

    This spring we have had a fairly widespread outbreak of a St. Augustinegrass turf-attacking caterpillar, the TSW: tropical sod webworm (Herpetogramma phaeopteralis). This may have been because of the cold weather killing a parasite or predator (“attack” insect) that normally ...

  • Diversify deliciously with Florida’s many fruit trees Published 07/15/2010 at 4:52 p.m.

    The No. 1 fruit tree people desire when they move to Florida is most likely some kind of citrus. That’s one reason I wanted to live here. Just imagine going outside in the morning and plucking a few Honey Bells ...

  • Now, before winds blow, think about your trees Published 07/08/2010 at 5 p.m.

    Now, before the storms are on the horizon, is a good opportunity to closely evaluate your trees. Proper pruning requires a keen eye to minimize storm damage to trees as well as damage to nearby homes or people from crashing ...

  • Royal poincianas deserve their own party in Naples Published 06/17/2010 at 5:28 p.m.

    After our prolonged chilly and cloudy winter of 2009-10, late spring has been thankfully heralded by the fantastic orange-red flowering canopies of the flamboyant trees (Delonix regia), aka royal poincianas.

  • Fertilizer ban starts Tuesday, under new Naples ordinance Published 05/27/2010 at 5 p.m.

    If you live in the city of Naples, homeowners and landscape maintenance personnel have until May 31 to make your final landscape fertilizer applications — specifically nitrogen and phosphorous — for the next four months, whether it be fertilizing a ...

  • Chills & fever: Aftermath of SW Florida’s cold winter tells tales in palm damage Published 04/29/2010 at 5:05 p.m.

    Ixoras started to leaf out about two weeks ago. That means it is easier to tell which twigs are dead, so pruning is easier. Then there are the crotons. I have a list of cold tolerant croton varieties, but I ...

  • Two winter villains are working on our lawns Published 03/18/2010 at 7:45 p.m.

    Many homeowners are experiencing the typical late fall-early winter surprise of large brown areas in what they thought was a perfectly green and healthy stand of turf.

  • Collier Extension: Are your ‘mow-’n-go’ landscape maintenance companies legally using pesticides? Published 03/11/2010 at 9:03 p.m.

    If you pay a landscape maintenance service to apply herbicides or insecticides, then that person or that person’s employer, by state law, needs to have a pesticide license and certificate, as well as a local occupational license.

  • Collier Extension Service: Copper fungicides may protect palms Published 02/11/2010 at 10:25 p.m.

    Some landscape companies have been pushing “protection” of potentially cold-injured palms with bud sprays or trunk injections of nutrients and fungicides. As far as I know, sprays of copper or fungicides, or injections after the damage has occurred are of ...

  • Extension service: Yellowing palm disease moves to new victims Published 01/21/2010 at 10:28 p.m.

    Palm lethal yellowing disease eliminated thousands of coconut palms on the east coast of Florida back in the early 1970s through the early 1980’s. Tourists were dismayed when they arrived at their beach destination to find no coconut palms along ...

  • Take care if you find Mexican clover in your grass Published 12/03/2009 at 9:32 p.m.

    Help — my lawn is pink! I have had a larger number of calls this year about the beautiful flowering “weed” that seems to have sprawled over many areas. This plant is largeflower pusley or Richardia grandiflora. Both of those ...

  • Never give your tree a crew cut, and other words of warning Published 11/19/2009 at 9:48 p.m.

    It is very important to watch your pruning technique in Collier County. “Hat-racked” (topping) and “over-lifting” (too many bottom branches removed and “gutting” or lion’s-tailing pruning styles are considered arboricultural malpractice and rightfully so. The Collier County Land Development Code, ...

  • A trio of landscape problems are showing up in our gardens Published 11/05/2009 at 8:56 p.m.

    We are seeing many types of plants with chewing damage which starts at the edge of the leaf and meanders toward the midrib. So many plants are chewed, that the destruction reminds me of hail damage on some properties. This ...

  • Extension Service: Trees bearing bouquets Published 07/29/2006 at 12:01 a.m.

    At the 2005 Collier County Extension Southwest Florida Yard and Garden Show, which was bumped into January 2006 because of Hurricane Wilma, Rob Bobson, president of the Tropical Flowering Tree Society, spoke about some promising species that should be tried ...

  • Extension Service: Yellowing still haunts local county palms Published 07/15/2006 at midnight

    The disease that denuded Key West of coconut palms during the 1930 to 1950 era and moved up to strip the Miami area in the early 1970’s is still active in Collier County. Another outbreak started in October, 2005, in ...

  • Extension Service: Palm problems likely came from Wilma versus young buds or overpruning Published 07/01/2006 at midnight

    Are you seeing all of the new “Compass” queen palms —the ones with their heads leaning south at a slight angle and some with their “heads” all the way over? We have about a dozen or so queens with this ...

  • Extension Service: Make your lawn care effective, environmentally aware and economical Published 04/22/2006 at midnight

    A recent opportunity to present landscape fertilizer practices to the Naples City Council earlier this month helped me boil down, in my mind, the multitude of recommendations that can be found in the FYN (Florida Yards and Neighborhood) program.

  • Extension Service: Watch your citrus and ornamentals for tiny insects that may carry disease Published 03/25/2006 at midnight

    The citrus industry was hit with more bad news in late August 2005. Another devastating disease, called huang long bing, “yellow dragon disease,” because of foliage symptoms — was confirmed in Miami-Dade County. This disease is commonly known as citrus ...

  • Extension Service: New live-oak cultivar tackles its size issue Published 03/18/2006 at midnight

    Although our Southern Live Oaks (Quercus virginiana) held up pretty well in Hurricane Wilma, some need to be replaced because they were so battered that they became hazard trees. At the same time, future communities are developing landscape plans with ...

  • Extension Service: Fruit flies, more breeds and more of them, are becoming too common Published 02/04/2006 at midnight

    The fruit fly populations are prospering as a common kitchen-counter annoyance this winter. These flies are also commonly referred to as vinegar flies and scientifically as, Drosophila melanogaster. They seem to literally appear from nowhere and in great numbers, on ...

  • Extension Service: Tropical how-to Published 01/21/2006 at midnight

    Forget those phony, plastic leis you put around your neck at a luau or pig roast party. You’ll be able to make your very own real lei from the petals of your very own frangipani (also called plumeria) tree, after ...

  • Extension Service: ‘Cute’ plants that eat your yard: Dayflower Published 01/07/2006 at midnight

    This is a continuation of a series started earlier this year in an attempt to warn homeowners about plants that come back to taunt. Earlier aspersions were cast on the tuberous sword fern (Nephrolepis cordifolia; see, edis.ifas.ufl.edu/AG120), a variety of ...

  • Extension Service: Searching for replacement trees? Check your landscaping regulations first Published 12/10/2005 at midnight

    I don't know about you, but Hurricane Wilma has given me an opportunity to do some unplanned landscape retooling. This is not something I wanted to do, but like a move to a new home, it forces one to tidy ...

  • Extension Service: Spare clippers before storm; even defronded palms will generally spring back Published 11/19/2005 at midnight

    There are plenty of beat-up palm trees following Wilma's 100 to 130 mile-per-hour winds on Oct. 24. On top of that, there appear to be certain streets that not only got the surprise backside winds after the eye had passed, ...

  • Extension Service: Mussaenda's tropical twist on hydrangea Published 09/24/2005 at midnight

    Hydrangeas don't take our climate and I really miss growing them. However, in July, I drove by a 10-foot plant that I thought resembled a small-panicle hydrangea in full bloom or a giant poinsettia.

  • Extension Service: Pit-making scales chew plant's supply lines Published 09/10/2005 at midnight

    Pit-making scales — Asterolecanium species and "Schillings" holly twig scale — are among those small scale insects that you really have to look close to find. And, unfortunately, by the time one thinks to look it might be too late ...

  • Extension Service: Beetles move in to kill mistreated, vulnerable pines Published 08/13/2005 at midnight

    This column originally appeared in the July 26, 2003 Naples Daily News. It has been resubmitted, with some updated information, to address calls to the Collier County extension office about dying slash pines.

  • Extension Service: Sidewalk stains mean your oak is bugged Published 07/30/2005 at midnight

    I've never lived so intimately with oak trees and didn't realize how messy they were. Oak foliage and other parts contain chemicals called tannins. One can tell certain events are happening within the oak canopy by the brown staining which ...

  • Extension Service: Do elegant bromeliads serve as mosquito farms? Yes, and no Published 07/16/2005 at midnight

    Strange looking things, and for four years I had avoided them. But finally after seeing some creative landscapes with different sizes and colors, placed together in a captivating plant collage, I finally surrendered and invested in about 20 bromeliads.

  • Extension Service: Spanworms won't kill bushes, but they're doing damage this year Published 07/02/2005 at midnight

    At first, the caller thought I had mentioned a new computer virus, but no — this is the snowbush spanworm, not "spam worm." Depending on your point of view, your snowbush shrubs (Breynia nivosa) may be getting a free pruning! ...

  • Extension Service: East Naples now on list of active yellowing palm disease trouble spots Published 06/04/2005 at midnight

    Palm lethal yellowing disease is still active in Naples. There is a new hot spot, south of Kings Lake in the Queens Park community. The county has removed infected palms and initiated the 100-yard radius inoculation zone.

  • Extension Service: New mystery ravages, kills queen palms Published 05/14/2005 at midnight

    So far I've heard of several communities in Collier and Lee counties that have lost 10 to 15 queen palms in the last six months. These include Calusa Bay, Pelican Landing and Colonade.

  • Extension Service: Brazilian Cherry or Grumichama, Eugenia brasiliensis Published 04/02/2005 at midnight

    Cherries in Florida? Certainly, and this is one fruit tree that should be seen more often. It is a lovely evergreen ornamental with its shiny dark green leaves and striking white flowers in mid-March. The white flowers have about 100 ...

  • Extension Service: Pretty blue flowers and a habit of popping up wherever it hits the ground Published 01/15/2005 at midnight

    Mexican petunia, Ruellia tweediana, is one of those infrequently occurring, brilliant blue flowering herbaceous shrubs that is abundantly used. Unfortunately, it is on the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council (FEPPC) list as a Category 1.

  • Porter weeds and some are yard-eaters Published 01/01/2005 at midnight

    In a previous column the invasive tuberous sword fern, Nephrolepis cordifolia was reviewed. This week, a nectar producer that is always included in the butterfly garden "must have" list is a plant in the vervain family, porter weed, Stachytarpheta species.

  • Extension Service: Scale is still a nemesis, but new control may be on the way Published 11/20/2004 at midnight

    In many areas of Naples the king and queen sago (cycad) populations have been nearly destroyed by Aulacaspis yasumatsui, a small white scale from Asia that arrived in Naples in 1997 or thereabouts. This scale settles on the undersides of ...

  • Extension Service: Four-season thorn bug can literally be a sticky pest Published 11/13/2004 at midnight

    The thorn bug is still active and swarming all over sweet acacia trees at the extension office. This insect is one of those cool bugs that resembles a part of the plant. And a part of the plant that one ...

  • Extension Service: Night-time defoliators lurk as denizens of the mulch Published 10/30/2004 at midnight

    The snail and slug populations are pretty much a year-round pest with all of the mulch and water and the buffet of tender plants in our Naples landscapes. Hopefully, populations will start to dwindle now that we are into our ...

  • Extension Service: Anthracnose blight visits variegated plant Published 08/14/2004 at midnight

    I visited a large landscape site on July 22. That was before all of the recent major rains. The landscape manager was concerned about defoliating and dying variegated "Goldfinger" scheffleras or, as they are referred to around here, arboricolas. Over ...

Features