Outdoors

Florida Unfriendly Plant of the Week: Manchineel Tree

The Manchineel Tree is native to Florida and can be found on sandy beaches and brackish marshes among mangroves. It has a fruit that resembles an apple. The tree can grow to around 50ft tall and is listed as endangered in Florida.

The Manchineel Tree is also very poisonous. According to Nicola H Strickland who ate a Manchineel apple without knowing the danger on the caribbean island of Tobago. She wrote about her experience.

Rain Gardens to reduce stormwater runoff

by Lilly Browning, Hernando County Florida Friendly Landscaping Program Coordinator

Photo: Rain garden by Rogersoh

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Rain Gardens are a fairly simple and beautiful way to practice Florida-Friendly Principle # 9 – Reduce Stormwater Runoff. What is a rain garden? Well it is not a pond, nor is it a “water garden.” It can almost be more compared to a municipal drainage retention area, although much smaller and much more attractive.

Rain gardens take advantage of the flow of water in your yard, capture it for a short time, and allow that water to infiltrate the soil and promote aquifer recharge.

Operation Skeeter Stop

Several local agencies are conducting "Operation Skeeter Stop" this summer.

A number of diseases, including Zika, West Nile and Chikungunya viruses, can be transmitted via a simple mosquito bite.

EPA approved mosquito repellent provides the best protection from being bitten by a mosquito. Grab yours today! But don’t forget about our homeless who generally don’t have this option. The UF/IFAS Extension Office is teaming up with other agencies to better equip Hernando County’s homeless population with mosquito protection.

Florida Friendly Plant of the Week: Aloe Vera

This time of year, aloe vera is an important plant to make sure you have on hand.

Aloe Vera is said to have a number of medicinal uses. One of the most popular is for treating sunburns or skin irritations. It is also found in many cosmetics and health drinks.

The aloe plant is thought to have originated in Africa and been spread throughout the world by humans who found it useful.

Aloe grows well here in Hernando County. Because it is a succulent, it can withstand minimal water availability and makes a great addition to any rock garden.

Second rescued Florida Panther kitten finds new home at wildlife park

Guest Article by Susan Strawbridge, Park Services Specialist

HOMOSASSA, Fla. -- Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park has welcomed a second endangered Florida panther kitten. The kitten, now 7 to 8 months old, is named Sakata. He weighs approximately 35 to 40 pounds. He was found on Monday, January 18, 2016 by employees performing routine field maintenance at the Sakata Research Station in Fort Myers, Florida. The male panther kitten was only 2 to 3 months old when found abandoned and sleeping in one of the fields.

Florida Friendly Plant of the Week: Yesterday-Today-and-Tomorrow (Tripsacum dactyloides)

by Lilly Browning, Hernando County Florida Friendly Landscaping Program Coordinator

Photography by Steve Slater, flickr

Yesterday-Today-and-Tomorrow, Brunfelsia grandiflora, is a vibrant shrub that has fallen out of notice in recent years. Although not native, it is Florida-Friendly and requires little maintenance once established. This plant, which grows in horticultural zones 8b – 11 is a unique addition to your garden. It will grow 7-10 feet tall and 5-8 feet wide. It likes dry soil and will thrive in full sun, partial sun or low light conditions. It has little to no salt tolerance.

An idea for all that basil

Basil is an easy herb to grow in your garden, but when you see the plant start to flower, it's time to start thinking of ways to use it up. If you plant more than one, chances are you'll find yourself with more basil than you know what to do with. You can always give some away to friends and neighbors, but making pesto is a great way to use up your basil and keep some for later.

Why can't I get rid of these @#$* fleas!?

by Jaci Dible, Hernando County Master Gardener and Retired Veterinarian

Photograph of dog by Stuart Richards


Summertime, and the insects are thriving. With all the other pests in our gardens to fight off, the fact that our pets are scratching may not grab our full attention. Fleas and ticks are out there too, and like the other insects we battle; we need to understand their life cycle in order to make use of integrated pest management successfully.

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