ASK WENDY

It's more about ‘where' not ‘when' to plant dogwood trees


Plant dogwood trees where they will receive partial shade or early morning sun. (Courtesy of Wendy Wilber)

Published: Saturday, March 23, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 at 5:32 p.m.

Q: What is the best time to plant a dogwood tree? I am inspired by all the beautiful blooms.

A: Dogwood (Cornus florida) is a spring-blooming native tree for North Central Florida. The late freezes took off some of the flowers this year, but the trees that didn't get frosted look wonderful. Dogwoods can be planted with success in the spring or in the fall. You will need to water every day for the first few weeks after planting, and then go to every other day watering for six to seven more weeks. This is not a plant-it-and-forget-it tree. Probably more important than the timing of your planting is the location you pick for your tree. They do best in partial shade or early morning sun. Later afternoon sun is tough on dogwoods, because they are more of an understory tree in natural settings. Mulch the base of the dogwood with 3 to 4 inches of mulch, such as composted leaves or pine bark. During times of drought, make sure the tree gets supplemental irrigation. For more information on dogwoods and flowering trees, visit UF/IFAS Extension website, www.solutionsforyourlife.com

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Q: I would like to include bush beans in my vegetable garden this year. Should I buy transplants or seeds? What varieties do best in our area?

A: Bush beans are great to include in your vegetable garden. They do well in the traditional garden as well as raised beds and containers.

Bush beans start easily from seeds, so you do not have to purchase transplants. You will find the seeds at most retail garden centers. Recommended varieties of bush beans for Florida include Bush Blue Lake, Contender and Provider. Roma II has a flat pod and does very well for us. The Cherokee Wax bush bean is a yellow pod bean with good production. There is a bush bean out there called Big Kahuna that grows long pods. I may just have to try that one this year.

Planting time for bush beans is March and April, and again in August and September. Choose a site that has plenty of sun, at least six hours, and well-drained soil. Plant the seeds about as deep as they are wide. Water well, and within three to five days the plants will sprout and start growing. Beans will be ready to harvest in 55 to 80 days, depending on the variety you planted. Consider succession planting or staggered planting so when the first plants are going out of production, new ones are just starting to be picked. You can stagger plant at about two-week intervals. Beans need to be picked every two to three days, so plan on being in the garden to harvest, or get a helper to do it if you are traveling.

Bush beans have a few problems that you will need to watch for. There is a caterpillar called the bean leaf roller that eats the edges of the leaves. If you see this problem, hand pick the caterpillars or use a biological spray like Bt. Watch out for iron deficiencies in the leaves. This will appear as yellow leaves with green veins on the new growth. Correct the iron deficiency with a foliar iron spray and regular fertilizing. For more information on growing bush beans, contact the UF/IFAS Alachua County Master Gardeners at 955 2402.

Wendy Wilber is an extension agent with UF/IFAS. Email her at wlwilber@ifas.ufl.edu.

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