Beggar’s needle: an underappreciated Florida wildflower

Monday, March 10, 2014

You probably rip it out of your yard by the handful, but the humble beggar’s needle, Bidens alba, is an important native Florida wildflower, supporting our pollinators and native animals. Consider the attributes of this common “weed” before you curse it from your garden.

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Planting cycads will add spice to garden

Saturday, March 1, 2014

South Florida’s planting season is quickly approaching. I like to go with a theme. Maybe you want to plant a native garden or a butterfly garden. Or maybe you want to try something different.

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Some vanishing native orchids are being resurrected in labs

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Perhaps no other plant provokes such strong emotions as the orchid. People go to great lengths — some legal, some not — to possess them, with often disastrous results for wild populations.

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Learning to love leaf litter

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The health benefits of yard work and gardening are legion: a cardiovascular workout, increased muscle strength, joint flexibility and an improved mood.

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Growing your own chocolate

Saturday, January 18, 2014

We can grow so many unusual plants in our South Florida enclave. Even while most of the country — indeed some of Florida — is frozen, we can grow all but the most tender tropical plants out of doors. But did you ever think of growing your own chocolate? While it won’t produce little foil-covered bars, the Theobroma cacao tree does indeed produce the foundation for chocolate.

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Wild ‘Everglades’ tomato is ideal for South Florida gardens

Saturday, January 11, 2014

I cannot seem to grow a tomato to save my life. After purchasing some heirloom tomato seeds in fall 2013, I carefully sowed them in individual pots and placed them where they should be, receiving warm, morning light, sheltered from the extreme heat of midday.

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Caring for holiday gift plants

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Holiday plants are a common gift or token of appreciation for party hosts this time of year. A colorful foil-wrapped pot with a perfect poinsettia in bloom is classically holiday in spirit. But like so many other gift plants — bromeliads, orchids, tiny Norfolk pines — they tend to sit ignored, only to die and be discarded.

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This beguiling but invasive plant can kill

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A common invasive in the Southeast and across the tropics, rosary pea (Abrus precatorius) has been a pest in Florida for some time. It particularly likes to invade our rare pine rocklands, but it seems to be able to grow almost anywhere around the region.

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The right garden will draw painted buntings

Saturday, December 7, 2013

I will never forget the first time that I saw them. They were almost too colorful to be believed! My jaw dropped with amazement at the vision before me. Here was a small bird with an iridescent violet-blue head, green back and cherry-red chest and underbelly.

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Beware the invasive pongam tree

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Once upon a time, a seed sprouted in the corner of a suburban yard. The seedling grew and grew. Soon it overtook all of its neighboring plants and trees as they reached for the sun, competing for its life-giving light.

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