How Warm Winters can affect Florida landscapes

It's easy to imagine you chortling as the word is uttered. "Winter?" you ask. "What's that?" Indeed, while people in other states lament the endless days of gray and rain, Floridians often beg to know when the blistering heat will fade. Couple that with the warm winter we had this 2016-2017 season and many of us wonder how our landscapes will fare. The answer depends on who you ask: the bugs or the plants.

Bugs become a problem after warm winters

Bugs will be quite pleased with the lack of a winter chill. As explained by Kim Kaplan of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, "If the weather remains warmer than average, there will be no winter kill of the insects that damage plants by eating them, laying eggs in them or spreading diseases to them."

Kevin Hackett, also of the USDA's Agricultural Research Service, explains that stink bugs may be in abundance thanks to the heat. Fruit farmers will be most affected by this since they'll have to search for the critters earlier than normal. However, if you have fruit or veggies in your garden, you may want to be on the lookout for the bugs as well.

On the other hand, the beautiful greenery that usually stands the test of temperature may suffer from an exaggerated heat spell. Not only can the warmth cause premature budding and blooming, but it can also create erratic schedules for spring landscapes and reduce the quality of fruit-bearing plants and trees. Any plants that bloomed early may not do so again this spring.

So what can you do to nurture your landscape this season? Here are some tips so that your landscape doesn't suffer despite the warmth.

Choose Wisely

Choosing Plants suited for milder winters

Select plants that are well-suited to the climate in Northwest Florida and the type of soil in your yard. Ask the professionals at GreenEarth Landscapes for a comprehensive look at what would work for your yard.

If you're hoping to plant fruits and veggies, some suitable options for the Santa Rosa Beach, Sandestin, Panama City Beach and surrounding areas include:

  • Roselle: a species of Hibiscus that is native to West Africa; its calyxes can be used to create a tasty, tangy tea;
  • Sweet Potatoes: Florida is optimum for growing these sweet and starchy tubers;
  • Cowpeas: Resilient and bountiful, the legumes can withstand the sandy Florida soil, extreme heat, and harsh drought conditions in the Northwestern part of the state;

Other options include tree spinach, okra, peppers, eggplant, and small cherry tomatoes.

If you're more interested in a decorative appearance, consider the following Florida-friendly options:

  • Pampas grass
  • River oats
  • Panic grass
  • Pipestem
  • Glossy Abelia
  • Devil's Walkingstick.

Don't Overdo It

Warmer Weather Does Not Mean Daily Watering

Many homeowners mistakenly believe that warm weather mandates daily watering. In reality, over-watering reduces the amount of oxygen in the soil, which causes root loss and injury. It can also make plants more susceptible to a variety of fungal diseases. Strive to maintain an even moisture level. Improve the quality of soil to help retain moisture. Water when needed and mulch.

Remember the Wind

Excess Wind can Dry Out Landscape Vegetation

If you live in Florida, you're no stranger to wind. When landscaping, it's an important consideration. The wind tends to dry plants out. Although this can reduce the chances of disease, it can also remove water faster than the plant can replace it. Combined with low moisture in the soil and high temperatures, this can be a serious problem. Keep this in mind as you select trees and plants, being careful to choose varieties that don't have weak wood or structural damage.

After a warm winter, it becomes even more important to give special attention to the landscape. Whether you want foliage that is driven by color or by function, the experts at Green Earth Landscaping can help you select the perfect weather-resistant plants and shrubs for your yard today. Call our Panama City Beach office at (850) 236-1959, or call our Santa Rosa Beach office at (850) 267-0010 to arrange an appointment. You can also complete an online form from our website to schedule a free consultation.

free landscape planning guide from GreenEarth