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In preparation for the forthcoming fall season it is important that we prepare. Preparation requires us to take a close look at all fundamental aspects of our landscape. Flowers & mulch take the lead as they are the most effective at punching up our curb appeal.

Mulch serves to provide three primary benefits. Aesthetic improvement, moisture retention and reduction of weed growth. The thickness of the mulch applied is very important. If no mulch is present the industry standard is a static 2”-3” thick layer of mulch. Once you have a mulch base, a supplemental installation of 2” once or twice per year shall suffice.

Annual flower plantings can do more to punch up our curb appeal than any other single enhancement we can provide. Proper color selection, design and strategic placement of color beds must also be considered. Entrance features to communities and all amenity areas should take precedence when planning your design strategy. For large format color beds solids or two color combos create the most effective impact. Remember too, soil amendment and fertilization is ‘essential’ to get the most out your color program. Failure to amend and fertilize color beds will result in unwelcomed poor performance and subsequent losses.

We must give consideration to the balance of our landscape. This is a great time to trim, prune and adjust our landscape beds to ensure our intended design maintains integrity. While doing so, we should also take time to identify any deficient areas that may require filling in with additional shrubs or groundcover. Filling in all deficient areas is always recommended prior to the fall mulching. Ideally, forecasting annual landscape replacement budgets will help a great deal when planning this effort.

In preparation for the forthcoming winter season, fertilization should be prioritized. This supplemental feeding will boost your landscapes immune system and naturally boost color & vigor. While not a guarantee against possible frost damage, it will aid to minimize both initial damage and improve recovery time.

Fundamentally, the transition from Spring/Summer season to our Fall/Winter season can bring some welcomed changes. We will begin to see some dramatic changes. Days shall become both shorter & cooler. Therefore, all aspects of plant growth shall slow down. Additionally, rainfall shall also diminish providing a welcomed decline in plant pest and disease issues.

In summation, take time to review your fall preparation plan so you may continue to enjoy great curb appeal.

November 2010

South Florida has been plagued for nearly five years by nuisance whiteflies, but a new strain is turning leaves on ficus plants sticky and stained.

This new species is popping up “in pockets” across South Florida and leaving ficus hedges weakened or unsightly. It’s the third nuisance strain of whitefly to hit South Florida, but the others “never had this icky excrement,” said Michael Orfanedes, a commercial horticulture agent with Broward County Extension Education.

The new species, discovered locally in the past month, is called Bondar’s Nesting Whitefly. They look like white blotches on the top of ficus leaves. As they feed, the flies excrete a sticky goo that leads to black discoloration from sooty mold fungus, said Orfanedes.

It’s too early to know the extent of local damage and how much homeowners will have to spend to replace damaged plants, he said.

About four weeks ago Orfanedes said, he received a call from Charles Livio, the city horticulturist in Oakland Park, to investigate an “odd type insect infestation.” Orfanedes checked it out and thought to himself: “I don’t know what this is, but it doesn’t look good.” He sent a sample to state officials who said it “looked like what had been discovered in Collier County” – Bondar’s Nesting Whitefly.

The bugs leave a “sticky mess,” Orfanedes said. To counteract them, he said, some people are releasing “beneficial” insects like ladybugs and predatory wasps. Certain insecticides can treat the problem, or better yet, “replace the ficus hedge and be done with it,” he advised.

Livio said a city employee discovered the problem in a resident’s front yard.

“It’s very noticeable because unlike the previous whitefly infestations, this whitefly is also noticeable on the top surface of the leaf,” Livio said.

The flies present no health concerns for people, but “for ficus, it’s one more nail in the coffin,” Orfanedes said.

Written by Lisa J. Huriash, Staff Writer

Spiraling Whitefly Infestation Alert

If you live in South Florida you most likely know about the potentially devastating effects that Whitefly can (and might have already had) on Ficus. See below for examples of the damage that the Spiraling Whitefly can cause to plant life. Don’t wait for this to become a problem. Don’t wait for an infestation to […]

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