Tips For Growing Onions in Northeast Florida

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EDITOR’S NOTE:  UF/IFAS County Extension Director for Nassau County and Horticulture Agent III, Rebecca Jordi addresses questions about landscaping and gardening in northeast Florida. She is also a University of Florida faculty member.  Also see list of February’s FREE gardening clinics at end of article.______

Growing Onions in Northeast Florida

Growing Onions in Northeast Florida

QUESTION:  I started my onions this month and they really have not done much. What could be wrong?  HB

JORDI:  I will need to see some of the plants to determine what might be wrong. Please call the office to determine a good time to bring in your specimen. If your soil has not been tested within the last 2-3 years, it might be wise to pick up a soil test kit at the Nassau County Extension office, the cost is only $7.

Generally, bulbing onions should be started in the fall and transplanted in January through February. However, do not give up — it is possible you will see some results soon.  I would also suggest you consider planting clumping onions, which can be put in anytime between August and March.

Onions are not difficult to grow but the University of Florida has a limited number of choices suggested for our area. Consider choosing short day bulbing onions such as Granex (yellow) for the best results when desiring bulb onions. Opt for Evergreen Bunching or White Lisbon Bunching for bunching onions. Shallots are considered multiplying onions. If you want to plant leeks choose American Flag.

QUESTION:  A friend just brought me a cyclamen.  What can you tell me about this pretty plant?  MH

Cyclamen

Cyclamen. Photo by UF/IFAS Rebecca Jordi

JORDI: Cyclamen plants have exotic looking flowers but the leaves are also stunning – such a pretty plant. However, they are a little finicky about their environment. They prefer evening temperatures between 40 – 50 degrees F, day time temperatures should not go over 70. This makes cyclamen a great plant to help us out of the gray doldrums of the long stretch between January and March. It is possible to put the plant outside as long as you bring it back inside or cover it up when temperatures drop below forty.

Cyclamen also prefers good air circulation and moisture in the air which makes it a poor choice as a year round house plant. Evidence it is unhappy with the environment is yellowing leaves, which eventually drop off.   In addition, cyclamen does not like wet soil. The soil must be well drained.  This is probably why it does not last from one season to another here in Florida as we always have one or two rainy seasons during the late spring and summer. The most common problem is overwatering which causes the tubers to decay. Mites can be an issue for cyclamen and violets which can best be controlled by horticulture oil.

I would treat cyclamen like a cool season annual. Enjoy the beautiful leaves and flowers for the length of time you have it. When selecting one from the retail nursery, be sure to pick one with loads of unopened buds to provide the optimum amount of flowers.

QUESTION:  I would like to have plants which will provide food for wildlife in the winter.  What would you suggest?  CM

JORDI: The best environment is a allowing a natural buffer between houses and subdivisions.  Saving large stands of trees and clumps of green space enable native plants the ideal environment to flourish. Wildlife has a place to nest, feed and hide. In these green spaces, it is vital to remove any invasive plants as they reproduce so quickly they disrupt the natural food chain balance. Adding clusters of native plants to your own landscape will also be of benefit. Most of the local plant nurseries carry a variety of native plants and we have one native plant nursery here too. However, it is important also to note a plant does not have to be native in order to provide sufficient food or shelter.  Good plant choices are red cedar, Virginia Creeper (this is not an invasive vine), and staghorn sumac.

FREE NASSAU COUNTY, FLORIDA GARDENING CLINICS IN FEBRUARY 2011

February 7, 2011 – Nassau County Master Gardeners will conduct a Plant Clinic from 10 am until 2 pm at the Yulee Extension Office (A1A and Pages Dairy Road).  All County residents are invited to bring plant samples showing problems in their landscapes.  Problems will be identified and solutions offered for correction.  There is no fee for this service.  For information call 491-7340.

February 9, 2011 - Nassau County Master Gardener Paul Gosnell will conduct a Landscape Matters class beginning in the conference room of the James S. Page Government Center and including a visit to the the UF/IFAS Nassau County Demonstration Garden.  Paul will discuss plant selection and care and will show the ‘Knockout Rose’ collection as well as Earthkind® roses and climbers planted this Fall. The class is free and open to the public, from 10 am until 11 am. Click here for more information or call  Extension Director/Horticulture Extension Agent Rebecca Jordi at 904- 491-7340.

February 10,  2011 from 10 am until 11 am, County Extension Director/Nassau County Horticulture Agent, Rebecca Jordi, and Master Gardener, Bea Walker, will conduct a class on pruning trees in your landscape.  The session will take place at the UF/IFAS Nassau County Demonstration Garden. Click here for more information or contact Rebecca Jordi at 904-491-7340.  This session is free and open to the public.

February 28, 2011 - Rebecca Jordi, Nassau County Extension Director and Horticulture Agent will conduct a Plant Clinic from 10 am until 2 pm at the Yulee Extension Office (A1A and Pages Dairy Road).  All County residents are invited to bring plant samples showing problems in their landscapes.  Problems will be identified and solutions offered for correction.  There is no fee for this service.  For information call 904-491-7340.

Rebecca Jordi

Rebecca L. Jordi County Extension Director UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture Nassau County Extension 543350 U.S. Highway #1 Callahan, FL 32011 904-491-7340 or 904-879-1019 http://nassau.ifas.ufl.edu

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Rebecca Jordi

University of Florida/IFAS Extension Director for Nassau County and Environmental Horticulture Agent III, Rebecca Jordi answers questions about landscaping and gardening in northeast Florida. She is also a University of Florida faculty member. Email northeast Florida gardening questions to rljordi@ufl.edu.