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Frequently asked questions

Q: What's the best thing about gardening in warm climates?

It's the variety that makes “warm climate” gardening so exciting. Warm climate gardeners have available every color flower and incredible contrasting foliage.



Q: ...the worst?

The heat in the Summer, so be sure to do your gardening before 10:00 AM and after 7:00 PM. Don't forget the hat!



Q: What are the best bets for the Central Florida climate?













Q: What are your best general tips for keeping plants healthy?

  • Feed 3-4 times per year with granular fertilizer.

  • Use Black Kow cow manure and Epsom salts each season

  • Trim regularly in the Spring and Summer

  • Use the preventative Garden Rebel Tonics found in the Garden Rebel booklets on a regular basis. To order call 352-383-3303.



Q: What is a Central Florida garden's worst enemy?

Everyone thinks the worst enemy is insects, but they are only a close second! The real enemy is fungus. In order for fungus to thrive it needs heat, moisture and the pathogen... Central Florida has all three of these conditions.



Q: What are the essential tools?

The most essential tool is a good attitude, hybridized with enthusiasm and a desire to constantly add to and improve the garden. Essential mechanical tools include the shovel, rake, mulching fork, trimmers, and a hose-end sprayer!



Q: Are there any absolute rules for creating a garden?

Yes. Color, contrast and creativity!

I'm a big believer in adding hearty "meat and potato" shrubs, and then adding annuals in-between for seasonal color. The contrast refers to variegated and colorful foliage of various shapes combined to create a compatible, yet fascinating look.



Q: What makes a garden beautiful?

The flow. If it doesn't have balance and rhythm like a beautiful song, it's just a “hodge-podge” group of plants.



Q: What are your favorite flowering plants?

The Tabuela, Tibouchina, Magnolia, Firecracker, Pentas and the Bougainvillea.



Q: Where do you get inspiration for creating a garden?

By walking around early in the morning when the sun is coming up and the birds are singing. It's that time of the day when I'm inspired the most. It's quiet and peaceful - it's like a walk on the beach to me. Also, I play a variety of music that I love. My music is easy to find since I choose my own bumper music for my show exclusively, from my vast music collection of country, pop, latin pop and contemporary pop. 


Q: My pittosporum hedge is way over the window. How much can I cut back at a time without killing it?

As long as it's healthy, you can aggressively trim it by as much as 50% in the spring. The next time you can trim up to 1/4 of the total volume at a time to keep it at the proper size and in balance with the landscape. It's healthy when it has strong color and is compact. If it's dull and leggy, trim no more than 25% at a time and feed routinely (every six to eight weeks) to restore its health.



Q: My pine tree has holes with syrup oozing out. Do I need to be concerned?

Only if you put it on your pancakes! Yes, you need to be down right worried sick. Your tree has borers, and I'm not talking about dull people. Sprinkle paradychlorabenzene moth crystals around the base and spray immediately with 6 Tbs. Murphy's oil soap once a week for four weeks. SPRAY EARLY IN THE MORNING.



Q: My gardener deeply scraped the trunks of my sweetgum, maple and laurel oaks. He said "no problem", and that it would heal. Still, I'm concerned! He uses a riding lawn mower.

The damage was done with the deck of the riding mower. If it is just some light scrapes, the trees probably won't be damaged. However, I can tell from the photo at least one of the trees has a deep, open wound. Try this recipe:

1 Gal. warm water
4 Tbs. instant tea
4 Tbs. ammonia
4 Tbs. rubbing alcohol




Q: Do all young trees need a stake? Do you prefer wood or metal? My neighbor, who also is my brother-in-law, uses bamboo. Is that okay?

Bamboo stakes are fine. You just have to make sure that the bamboo stake is always thicker and stronger than the trunk so that it can be effective. Many times I see small trees with stakes that are not big enough and they do more harm than good. Metal stakes are fine, too, just don't carry them on your shoulder during a lightening storm!



Q: My English ivy is growing on the side of my house. My neighbor thinks I should spray it with Round Up. I'm from Atlanta and love it. Will it hurt the house?

Any vine will hurt the house if allowed to get onto the roof. The fast-growing vines could loosen roof shingles over a period of time. If and when you do pull it off, the aerial roots which are attached to the house, will peel the paint off. Personally, I never like any plant growing directly on the house, but you need to make the final decision. If you live in a red brick house then the ivy is not likely to do any damage - as long as it doesn't get out of control.




Q: I heard you say on the radio that 1/4 to 1/3 of the yard can be done in ground covers. If I do that I'll spend all of my free time trimming plants.

No, you won't. Most ground covers are low maintenance by nature and need very little pruning. In the summer you have to mow the grass every week. There are no ground covers or shrubs that need that much attention. One third of the yard in ground cover beds will be one third less grass to mow. Wouldn't you love to finish mowing in a half hour instead of an hour and a half each week?
























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