Hummingbirds will flock to these flowers
Published: Saturday, April 20, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 5:28 p.m.
Q: I have noticed that the hummingbirds are back in town. They are visiting my feeder regularly. What plants could I put in to attract even more hummers?
A: Attracting hummingbirds with blooming plants is a great idea because you don't have to remember to refill the feeder. I always get a laugh when the hummingbirds appear to be looking in the windows, as if to say, "Hey lady, fill up the feeder!"
By using plants with flowers that are tubular and red in color, you almost can be certain to get plenty of hummingbirds visiting your landscape. My favorite hummingbird plants are native to Florida and tough to our sandy soils and interesting weather. Look for the coral bean (Erythrina herbacae) and native red salvia (Salvia coccinea) for your perennial beds. Coral honey suckle (Lonicera sempervirens) and Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans) are vines that will grow on a fence or trellis and really bring in the hummers.
Our red buckeye (Aesculus pavia var. pavia) is a small understory tree that produces clusters of red blooms in the early spring and is a perfect fit in any hummingbird garden. The native fire bush (Hamelia patens) is a shrub that can reach 7 feet tall and produces orange and red blooms all summer long.
Other great plants for hummingbirds include turks cap, abutilon, fire spike and pentas. All of these will attract hummingbirds and butterflies without having to fill a feeder every couple of days. For more information about gardening for the birds, contact the Alachua County Master Gardeners at 955-2402 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: My camellia bushes had been doing really well. But this year, I noticed that the leaves are turning slightly brown in the center next to the vein. The whole plant looks unhealthy from this. What is it and what should I do?
A: Camellias are usually pest-free if they are grown under the proper cultural conditions. There are a couple of pest problems that can be an issue for camellias in our area, namely tea scale and spider mites. Tea scale is a white insect that congregates on the undersides of the leaves and usually goes unnoticed until the leaves start turning yellow.
The spider mite also attacks the leaves from below, and you will see a bronzing or a browning of the leaves along the mid rib. Your problem appears to be spider mites. If you were to look for the mites with your naked eye, you will probably not be able to see the little pests.
I have to use a hand lens to be able see them. If you take a leaf that is particularly unhealthy looking and tap it over a blank piece of paper, the mites usually fall on to the paper and you can see the little devils.
Spider mite infestations appear more readily during dry or hot conditions, or in areas of the landscape with poor air flow.
Correct the problem by improving your watering routine and applying a 3-inch layer of mulch underneath the drip line of the shrub. Then spray the undersides of the leaves with a horticultural oil product such as organocide or ultra-fine horticultural oil to kill the mites. You also can use an oil spray containing Neem. For more information about growing camellias, visit the UF/IFAS Extension website at www.solutionsforyourlife.com.
Wendy Wilber is an extension agent with UF/IFAS. Email her at email@example.com.