In this season of giving thanks, I am grateful for family and friends and the freedoms we enjoy.
You may be longing for dramatic fall color and the season of snow colored evergreens. Being a native Floridian, I have only seen these on greeting cards.
Fall color in our woods includes yellow sweetgum, red maples and the bronze color of cypress trees before they lose their needles. Evergreen native holly trees have bright red berries now. Some types of holly are adapted to wet soils and others prefer dry conditions. Native gulf muhly grass is producing pink flower plumes and adding color in both moist and dry landscapes.
Some of the color in our woods and home landscapes may be from unwanted invasive plants. Chinese tallow or popcorn tree turns red and yellow after cool weather. The name comes from the dried seed pods that pop open and shed seeds far from the tree. The leaves are wide in the middle and pointed like top. I have been told they shiver in the wind like quaking aspens of the north woods. They are deciduous, meaning they will lose their leaves during the winter months. Because of the ability to reseed and dominate natural areas, this plant is now prohibited in the State of Florida as a noxious weed.
You may also notice an invasive small tree or shrub that has small red berries that hang in clusters like grapes. The Brazilian Pepper, sometimes incorrectly called Florida Holly, is not a holly at all. You should not use the plant for decorations since that can spread the seeds. The plant creates thickets in natural areas and is illegal to grow, sell or transplant. There are not “Pepper Police”, but we advise removing these invasive plants if they are in your yard. The sap may cause a rash like poison ivy. Do not burn them as the smoke is toxic. Once you cut the plants to remove them, bag and bake the branches in black plastic bags before taking them to the landfill. Follow the label directions and use approved chemical herbicides to treat the trunk or cut stumps to prevent resprouting.
We have help so you get the right plant in the right place for a low care colorful fall landscape. Contact our UF IFAS Extension Plant Clinic at 321-697-3000 for information on recommended plants and treatment methods for unwanted invasive weeds.