Trees offer multiple benefits like shade, reducing soil erosion, refuge for wildlife, and screening out unsightly views. Below is a listing of frequently asked questions we have received throughout the years from local residence that may be helpful to you, as well as links to related University of Florida publications and resources.
The trunk of my oak tree is covered with a silky web and there are little tiny insects under this web. How do I get rid of these before they kill my tree?
These insects are called Psocids (pronounced "so-sids"). They do not damage plants; they feed only on organic matter that is trapped in the crevices of the bark. Once these insects are mature, they will move out of their protective webbing. No control measures are necessary. If they are unsightly, spray the webbing with a strong spray of water to destroy it and disperse the insects.
How deep should I plant my shrubs and trees when planting or transplanting?
Never transplant ornamental trees and shrubs any deeper than they were planted in the container. Dig the planting hole twice as large as the root ball, but no deeper. There is no benefit from back fill amendments, unless the entire planting bed is amended.
My two-year-old dogwood looks droopy?
If you see a really good-looking, healthy dogwood in Florida, it is most probably growing under a canopy of large trees that shelter it from the blazing sun and the strong winds. Otherwise, dogwoods just don't usually do very well in our area. If you already have a dogwood, you need to provide it with shade. It should be planted in loose, moist, well-drained soil. Dogwoods are slow-growers and fertilizers are likely to burn the shallow roots and delay flowering. So the best thing you can do to your existing tree is to provide shade, water deeply to encourage deep roots, mulch and avoid the temptation to fertilize.
The trunk and branches of my newly-planted elm tree is peeling off. What insects or disease is causing that?
Do not worry, just enjoy a natural occurrence that is often considered very attractive. There are several other trees that have this characteristic.
Should I leave my bananas on the stalk until they have ripened?
No, the whole stalk should be cut as soon as yellow is seen on the oldest part of the bananas. Flavor is best when ripened at 70 degrees or more.
Is it a good time to prune crape myrtle now?
If you are pruning for improved shape and form, it is best to prune them in late winter (approximately mid-February) during their dormant period. Pruning too early in the dormant season can promote new growth which will be killed by the next freeze. It is also important to remember that crape myrtles should not be pruned hard regularly because it can cause excessive vegetative growth the basal sprouting.
I have purchased some crape myrtles. Where would be the best place to plant them?
Crape myrtles can be used in a hedge or to line a driveway. They can effectively be used alone as a specimen plant. They love the sun and need moderately rich to average soil. They should be in a well drained area.
How do I keep my crape myrtle as a shrub and not a tree?
Prune the plant back hard after the blooms fade to keep the shrub form.
When should my crepe myrtle tree be pruned?
Crepe myrtle needs little pruning, but keeping the trunks free of twiggy growth improves circulation of air and prevents mildew. Also, carefully remove spent flower cluster to encourage bloom the following season. This light pruning can be done as needed.
My crepe myrtle did not leaf or bloom, so I removed it. Was this wrong?
February and March were unseasonable cold, and therefore delayed the leafing of the crepe myrtles. If you had waited a while longer, your crepe myrtle probably would have bloomed. You might want to check the stems of your shrubs to see if they are green and flexible, not dry, stiff and brittle before tossing any plant out.
There are galls on twigs and stems of some of the trees in my neighborhood. Will they damage the trees? Should they be removed?
Galls are abnormal growths caused by a response to the stimulus caused by egg-laying larvae or nymph feeding. Generally, they do not cause injury, even when plants have a large number of galls. Insecticidal control is usually not practical.
I have tried growing figs, but their leaves get distorted and turn rusty brown. What causes this?
What you are describing is Fig Rust. Control it with 5-5-50 Bordeaux copper sulfate., Lime and water spray. Apply it every two of three weeks from June to August to the undersides of the leaf.
Is the Chinese Tallow tree poisonous?
The Tallow tree (Sapium) is from a genus of 100 species of poisonous -juiced tropical trees of the spurge family.
I have a Drake Elm and its bark is peeling. Is this normal?
Not to worry. This is what makes the Drake Elm appealing to many people. It's normal.
I plan to move some shrubs in my yard. Is there anything I should do in advance?
Yes, you may start now (July or August) root pruning with a sharp spade inside the drip line. Do this in stages; about 25 percent of the circle every three to four weeks, until you have made a complete root ball. This will cause a new root system to start before you move the plant in January or early February.
I have had a dwarf holly for many years, but it has yet to produce any berries?
Hollies are dioecious plants, which means male and female flowers are located on separate plants. Female plants produce berries. While male plants do not. Most dwarf cultivars are commonly propagated vegetatively from male plants.
What are some drought-tolerant trees I can get at a local nursery?
The Florida Nurseryman's Association recommends bottlebrush, redbud, cypress, crape myrtle and magnolia, just to name a few.
I understand if I disbud some of the new buds on my camellias, I will have bigger and better formed blooms. Is this correct?
Yes, twist off all but the terminal bud within 8 inches on the end of the branch. Be sure the bloom buds are at least the size of a pea or they may regrow. This also reduces the chance of excessive blooms falling on the ground and spreading petal blight, a disease for which there is no easy cure.
My camellias have a white cottony stuff on the underside of the leaf. The leaves have a yellow discoloration?
This is an insect called Tea Scale - the worst pest on camellias. Oil sprays which suffocate the insects or systemic insecticides are recommended.