Florida’s moderate climate is ideal for a wide variety of ornamental shrubs, flowering plants, trees and palms. The addition of any of these can be an enjoyable and satisfying endeavor. Witnessing a small shrub grow into a larger, flowering bush , watching several small plants grow into a single hedge, or watching a sapling mature into a shade tree can give a sense of pride in one’s contribution to their property and nature.
Many plants do not need a lot of regular care once they are established, but there are numerous ornamentals that do need regular care and maintenance. It is always a good idea to know the conditions of the site to be planted, then match a shrub that is best suited for that location. Hydration, sunlight, soil pH, and the size of the area should all be taken into consideration when choosing what species of ornamental shrub, tree, or palm is to be used.
Most plants benefit from regular fertilization, however, some need more regular attention than others and require slightly different blends for optimal blooming and vigor. Flowering plants often benefit from acid and phosphorus. While palms need more manganese, magnesium and iron. Non flowering plants will generally do fine with a basic, broad spectrum fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
There are many insects and diseases as well as nutrient deficiencies that can affect the health and appearance of a palm or shrub. Lace bugs, caterpillars, leaf hoppers, mites, aphids and mealy bugs all pose significant threats to many ornamental shrubs. Regular treatments using a contact kill insecticide in combination with a systemic insecticide usually keeps these pests from becoming a problem.
Scales are also a common problem with shrubs. Tea scale, soft scales and armored scales all have the ability to affect the plants appearance and overall health. Treatments that include horticultural oil along with the two different insecticides are very effective in controlling these scales. it is essential to thoroughly spray the shrubs both on the top and the undersides of the leaves.
Nutrient deficiencies are a common cause for shrubs to not look their best. If a plant is not receiving enough of a certain element, usually nitrogen, iron, manganese, magnesium, or phosphorus, it may exhibit signs of deficiency such as yellowing, lack of blooming, or uneven greening . Palms that are deficient show up as frizzled brown frond tips.
It is important to know your plants’ requirements so that proper pest control and fertilization programs can be more effectively achieved.