University of Florida/IFAS Extension Director for Nassau County and Environmental Horticulture Agent IV, Rebecca Jordi answers questions about landscaping and gardening in northeast Florida.
QUESTION: My poinsettia has grown almost to the top of my roof which is about 12 feet tall. I have never seen them grow this large, is it unusual? JS
JORDI: Most people want their poinsettias in pots to place around the house or their Christmas tree. Most people do not want poinsettias to get big which is why you seldom see them tall. However, if you plant them in the ground outside they may have a chance to reach heights up to 15 feet.
QUESTION: Is this the “kissing bug” recently described on television? RB
JORDI: You are the second person to bring me one of these insects asking if it was the “kissing bug” seen on a television program. In both instances, the insect was a leaffooted bug, Leptoglossus phyllopus.
This insect is a minor pest of various crops, including fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and ornamentals landscape plants as well as citrus. Most of the problem on citrus involves early and mid-season oranges, tangerines, and satsumas, with injury usually occurring between early September and late November. Pecan is one of the other crops attacked causing a black pit and kernel spot of pecan. Nuts with black pit can drop prematurely.
The “kissing bug” is actually known as the eastern bloodsucking conenose, Triatoma sanguisuga. The eastern bloodsucking conenose looks quite different from the leaffooted bug and it is not a plant pest at all. Kissing bugs are members of a larger group known as assassin bugs. Assassin bugs are named for their habit of attacking and voraciously feeding on insects with their piercing-sucking mouthparts. In this way, assassin bugs can reduce pest insect populations, and are considered beneficial. What makes kissing bugs unusual is they require blood meals to survive and reproduce. These particular insects can also harbor Triatoma sanguisuga which is a vector of American trypanosomiasis (or Chagas Disease) in South America, a debilitating illness caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi. This parasite has a complex life cycle, relying on both invertebrate vectors (such as the eastern bloodsucking conenose) and mammal hosts (such as humans, livestock and rats) to reproduce and spread. This disease is a problem in South and Central America and has been detected in the United States, but has not been found in Florida. For more complete information on both insects, look over these University of Florida publications: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in1018 and http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/in229.
Landscape Matters: Citrus Class
On Jan. 6, 2016 at 10:00 am, Nassau County Extension Director/Horticulture Extension Agent, Rebecca Jordi, will teach a Landscape Matters class on growing and maintaining citrus plants. The class will take place at the Yulee Extension office at 86026 Pages Dairy Road and will include a hands-on instruction on pruning the lemon and orange trees at Fruit Demonstration Garden. Bring your pruning shears and gloves. The class is free and open to the public. For more information, call the Nassau County Extension office at 904-530-6350.
Pruning Fruit Trees
On January 20, 2016 at 10 am Duval County Urban Forester, Larry Figart will be conducting a class on pruning fruit trees. The class will be held at Nassau County’s Fruit Demonstration Garden, Mr. Figart will instruct on correct pruning practices for apple, pear, fig, peach, kumquat and nectarine trees – all planted in the UF/IFAS Nassau Fruit Demonstration Garden, at the Yulee Extension office. The class is free and open to the public. For more information, see the Nassau County Extension website or contact the Extension office at 904-530-6350.
On Jan. 4, 2016 and Jan. 11 from 10 am until 2 pm, Rebecca Jordi, Extension Director/Horticulture Agent will conduct a Plant Clinic. All Nassau 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 904-530-6350.
Master Gardeners are on phone duty Fridays from 10 am until 2 pm, at 904-530-6350, press ‘1’ for Yulee office.
Rebecca L. Jordi
Nassau County Extension Director
UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture
543350 U.S. Highway #1
Callahan, FL 32011