Tropical South

December, 2003
Regional Report

Keep Alert for Spider Mites

Spider mites are the primary pests of winter and can defoliate plants that are located under the house eaves. Favorite targets include copperleaf, croton, roses, and large-leaved trees like citrus, avocado, and mango.

Locating Deciduous Plants

People often think plants have died if they have a bare period before leafing out again. We expect plants to be evergreen here. Crape myrtles and musseanda are two plants with extra long dormant periods. Do not locate these plants in prominent positions if you worry about bare stems. Their spectacular blooms more than make up for a winter rest.

Watering

Rain is unreliable in the dry season so keep up with your irrigation. New plants need daily watering for 2 weeks till they get established. After that period, watering twice a week is usually sufficient.

Be Prepared for Freezes

Freezes are a normal part of Florida weather patterns. We had our last major freeze in 1989 and many tender plants were killed. Keep alert as we are heading into the main freeze period from now until the end of February or early March.

Consider the Bark When Choosing Trees

Some people overlook beautiful bark as an ornamental feature, but many of our plants have exceptional bark. Native plants such as sycamore and river birch are well known for their bark. Strawberry guava, crape myrtle, Simpson's stopper, and rainbow gum add great beauty to the landscape with their colorful trunks.

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