April through September are the months’ many folks who have been enjoying the Florida sunshine return to their northern habitats. There still are, of course, people who stay in Florida year-round and many of these are gardeners who must learn how to garden in high temperatures and lots of summer rain. It rains some almost every afternoon for much of July and August. Here follow some helpful tips for lawns, palms, ornamentals, and citrus during the hot months:
Lawns: As summer approaches the application of fertilizer should slow to a stop unless there is a definite need for fertilizer meant for hot weather and then use it sparingly. Watering becomes a top priority. However, with the heavy mid-summer rain showers, the need to water will slow down. Hurricanes in August and September will also affect the amount of watering. Too much water promotes lawn disease, and weeds so keep an eye out for both. Harmful insects such as mole crickets, white grubs, and cinch bugs enjoy a Florida summer so should be watched for and eliminated when found. Mow as needed, usually once a week, keeping the grass blades tall enough to withstand high heat. July is the best month to plant new sod.
Palms: Palms are Florida’s signature tree, but even they need special care during the hot months. Disease is common during these months, so watch for brown spots on leaves, bud rot, and frizzled tops. Discolored fronds should be removed. Water once a week except in heavy rain. You can fertilize palms every other month to keep the trees strong and healthy. Planting palms are best done in June and September.
Ornamentals: Finish pruning started in March and continue to do light pruning during the summer. Checking for insects, including aphids, scale, whiteflies, and spider mites is most important during the hot months as the damage they cause can ruin plants and shrubs. Plant flowers and shrubs suited to your particular area and keep them watered and fertilized as necessary. You can begin planting fall flowers in September. Keep a layer of mulch over garden areas to help keep moisture in. Trees and shrubs are best planted in July. High temperatures and too much water may cause leaves to be yellow. You should remove the yellow leaves. And last but not least, be diligent with removing weeds.
Citrus: April is suitable for severe pruning. Water once a week until heavy rains begin. Too much water can cause small fruit, leaf loss, and root rot. Insects, especially whiteflies, scales, and aphids, can be a problem, so check for insects regularly. Lightly fertilize in August. Prune again in September to ready for the cooler months.
As a side note, September is a good month to start your fall vegetable and herb garden.
Gardening is a great way to enjoy the outdoors and get plenty of exercise. Once you get used to the Florida summers, you and your garden will thrive, and even the excess heat and rain won’t spoil the results of your tender love and care. Be sure to read part two of this blog series to learn about gardening in the cool months of Florida.