EDITOR’S NOTE: University of Florida/IFAS Extension Director for Nassau County and Environmental Horticulture Agent III, Rebecca Jordi, addresses questions about landscaping and gardening in northeast Florida. She is also a University of Florida faculty member.
QUESTION: My cat loves to chew on plants and a friend gave me a really pretty variegated Schefflera plant. My cat chews on any foliage plant – even plastic ones. Is Schefflera poisonous to my cat? RH
JORDI: I am using Cornell University site as my resource for answering your question – they have a long list of poisonous plants we should keep away from our pets. Cornell lists the Schefflera plant as one house plant to avoid placing around your cat.
I would go one step further and talk to your veterinarian about this habit – perhaps the cat is missing something in her diet. But who can really understand what is going on in the mind of a cat? Either way, Fluffy’s vet is the best source of advice on how to curb her desire for green things, or at least steer her to the correct green things she needs. The attached Cornell publication is a list of plants toxic to cats.QUESTION: How do I repot my orchid? It was a gift from my son and I want to keep it alive. DR
JORDI: The first thing I notice about your plant is it has algae growing on the roots, this often indicates too much moisture. The orchid is currently being held in a plastic pot with large slits which is perfect. However, this pot was placed into a larger solid, glazed pot. This meant the roots have not been exposed to enough air circulation which has caused the moisture build-up.
So, the first step is to use the outer glazed pot for something else – not orchids. The best time to repot is always confusing for most people but to keep it simple – just don’t repot when the orchid is flowering. Be sure your hands and tools are clean and sanitized and the working area is void of any potential disease or debris. Use a sterile orchid medium which can be purchased at most any garden center.
I know it sounds too simple but you can even use plain tree bark medium – avoid garden soils made for vegetable gardening. Remove any dead or mushy root material, throw away old medium and thoroughly rinse it off roots. Place orchids back into a larger pot with slits, which allow for air around the roots, add bark material, moisten whole pot, drain excess water and you are set to go. You may need to use clips to hold the orchid in place. These also can be purchased at local garden centers.
NASSAU COUNTY, FLORIDA GARDENING CLINICS SEPTEMBER 2012
September 5, 2012 – Landscape Matters class on Bulbs/Daylilies:
Master Gardener Sue Ray will give a presentation about bulbs and their dramatic colorful addition to your garden. They will offer ideas of how and where to incorporate bulbs into your landscape, care and feeding, as well as varieties of bulbs that are well suited for our locale. The class will be held at the Nassau County Demonstration Garden. For more information, see the Nassau County Extension website or call the Extension office at 904-879-1019. Master Gardeners are on office duty Fridays, at 904-491-7340.
September 17, 2012 Plant Clinic:
Becky Jordi, County Extension Director/Horticulture Extension 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 904-879-1019. Master Gardeners are on phone duty Fridays, at 904-491-7340.
See more gardening tips below…
QUESTION: My potatoes have cracks in them. What causes this and how can I correct it? WT
Some potato varieties are more susceptible than others. For instance, ‘Atlantic’, used for making potato chips and ‘Red Lasoda’ for cooking often produce cracked tubers. ‘La Chipper’ and ‘Harley Blackwell’ are not as susceptible but they have been known to produce cracks during hot, wet years.
So what can you do? There are a few things to reduce the potential of cracked potatoes. The most important thing is to keep soil moisture consistent. Not too wet, but not too dry. Having said that – not too much can be done about excessive rain like tropical storm “Debbie,” but be sure irrigation is not the culprit. However, when the tubers are growing quickly (usually later in the season), they will need more water to stay healthy. Space plants in even rows and equal distances from each other. Overcrowding potatoes is not a good practice for strong plant and tuber growth. Be sure fertilizers are applied evenly as well. Attached is a publication from the University of Florida on this cracking problem.
Rebecca L. Jordi
Nassau County Extension Director
543350 U. S. Highway #1
Callahan, FL 32011
904 879-1019 or 491-7340