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.

Florida Friendly Plant of the Week: Crepemyrtle (Lagerstroemia spp.)

by LILLY BROWNING, Hernando County Florida Friendly Landscaping Program Coordinator

Crepemyrtle (Lagerstroemia species) has become one of our southern beauties. They have just started blooming in central Florida, and their blooms will stick around in abundance through late September.

There is a wide variety of crapemyrtles to choose from. You can find a chart of the many varieties in the University of Florida publication entitled, “Crepemyrtle in Florida.” http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/mg266

Plant tropical sage for butterflies

by Pat Cooke, UF/IFAS Hernando County Master Gardener

Photography by Carl E. Lewis

If you want to bring butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden, there are a number of plants you can add to your landscape. But one that requires the least attention is Tropical Sage, Salvia coccina. It is in the same family as the annual salvias that are so popular for their intense color. But annual salvia only lasts for one season. Tropical sage is a Florida native perennial. Once established, it requires little care, is drought tolerant, and is a magnet for a variety of nectar loving wildlife.

Florida Friendly Plant of the Week: Adam's Needle (Yucca filamentosa)

by LILLY BROWNING, Hernando County Florida Friendly Landscaping Program Coordinator

Adam’s needle, or Yucca filamentosa, is a native agave plant that is in bloom all over the county at this time of year. Usually pretty easy to overlook, it shoots up a long stock with amazing, white bell-like flowers. They can be seen in undeveloped areas.

The leaves grow no taller than 1-3 feet, but the flower spikes shoots up 6-15 feet. The leaves appear as if they’ve been shaved, due to the curved, filamentous threads of leaf tissue on the margins.