By LONELL RICE The Garden Club of the Upper Keys
June 1-7 is National Garden Week (National Garden Clubs)-- a time to recognize the numerous contributions of gardeners and gardening!.
Gardeners have many impacts on their community, ranging from a passion for nurturing plants to promoting a healthy lifestyle to maintaining a balanced and productive environment.
Locally, the Garden Club of the Upper Keys promotes preserving the natural beauty of the Florida Keys.
A key to success is adapting your landscape and plantings to the local climate and environment. Plants do best when the right plant is planted in the right location, which is why native plants are always a good choice.
Plants also survive and thrive in their environment when they are tended to. In the Upper Keys, we are in a unique hardiness range all to ourselves -- zone 11b -- deemed subtropical. And being in the subtropics means you and your garden must be prepared for tropical storms and hurricanes. Hurricane season officially starts today, so now is the time to be sure your plants have the best opportunity to survive a brutal storm.
With winds of 50 to 100 mph and up, a dense plant covered with leaves can be blown over and torn up at the roots. Now is the time to prune most plants for hurricane season. Remember, for trees and palms the goal is to allow movement through the tree, not just cutting all the branches and fronds - the dreaded "hurricane cut."
According to the University of Florida Extension Services, "Prune trees so they develop a sturdy, well-spaced framework of healthy branches around a central leader. The canopy edge can be thinned, allowing air to pass through freely. The goal of pruning is to insure trees are strong enough to withstand the wind." For specifics on pruning palms, see edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep443.
When pruning shrubs, one can take a more heavy-handed approach according to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden's experts. "Shrubs do not need to support massive branches and can lose a large amount of leaf area at one time without the danger of the plant growing back too quickly and creating weak, poorly attached branches. Depending on the shrub, you can often prune severely without damage. Plants such as the firebush and croton can often be pruned back to a height of one foot with the eventual goal of creating a more complex and full looking plant. Some shrubs may only require a few cuts to maintain height and health. "
National Garden Week is a reminder to review your landscaping to see where you can be prepared for storms and to ensure your plants continue to bring beauty and joy in your yard.
The Garden Club of the Upper Keys is located at the Frances Tracy Garden Center in Tavernier and helps educate gardeners on specific and general plant requirements. Membership meetings are held the third Tuesday of the month, September through May, and the public is invited to attend.
For information, meeting dates and topics, go to www.gardenclubupperkeys.org .
Lonell Rice is the publicity chair for the Garden Club of the Upper Keys.