Tag Archives: warm season grass

I Finally Made It!

After several years of wanting to take the Florida Master Gardener course, and having multiple conflicts, I was finally able to fit my schedule to theirs, and enroll in the 2017 class with 16 other gardeners extraordinaire. Before beginning this course, I had planned to use this blog as a journal of what I was learning as a way of sharing the knowledge, but I was so busy during that 3-month course, I didn’t have time to make any posts at all. It was hard work, but I loved every minute. Would I do it again? You bet I would!
Here are some of my classmates during a portion of our final exam where we had to plant some poinsettias, demonstrate proper pruning of trees and shrubs, etc. The written test was much tougher. As usual, I was behind the camera.

It’s All About Community Service
Each new class of graduates is considered to be interns for the first 12 months, during which time they must complete 75 hours of volunteer service and 10 hours of continuing education units (CEUs). After the first year, all Master Gardeners must earn 10 CEUs and complete no less than 35 volunteer hours annually. The next training class for our county is scheduled for spring of 2019.

GIBMP?  What’s That?

That acronym stands for “Green Industries Best Management Practices”. It’s extensive training in using and advising people on the proper use of fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and insecticides. During the course, our class also received GIBMP training, and we are now GIBMP-certified by the State of Florida.
I will be sharing a lot of what I have learned in future blog posts. I hope you enjoy each of them. For now, here are just a few little tips:
  • Be sure to remove the coverings over your plants as soon as the temps are above freezing, especially if they are in the sun.
  • Resist the urge to remove freeze-damaged portions of plants for now. If we have another freeze, the damaged portions will shelter any tender new growth down below.
  • Your warm season grass is either dormant, or going dormant this time of year. This means its roots become much shorter, and it needs no irrigation. Do not apply nitrogen to dormant turf grass. Over time (several years), applying nitrogen to warm-season grass during winter will damage your lawn. Excessive nitrogen attracts and feeds chinch bugs. More on that later. For now, please just trust me.
  • Some folks like to over-seed dormant grass with winter rye grass. Please don’t do this. Dormant grass does not need water, but winter rye does — this  will damage your dormant grass. The rye seeds also get into your neighbors’ yards through wind and bird droppings. 
  • In the event of another hard freeze, do not use plastic bags or tarps to cover your tropical or tender plants — everywhere the plastic touches the plant there will be freeze damage. Overturned plastic pots that plants come in can be used to cover small plants because they don’t actually touch the plant. Placing a rock or brick on them will (a) keep the pot from blowing off in strong wind, and (b) cover the drainage hole, thus keeping out cold air.
Coming Up

I’ve been working on a blog post about which of my flowers and foliage plants survived our recent nights of freezing temps. It’s not quite done yet, but it will show photos of those that survived. Another post will show those that did not do well.  Hint:  the flowers that did best were the snapdragons.

Warm Season Grass Goes Dormant in Cold Weather

This is written especially for my friends who have moved from northern states and Canada, and are not accustomed to grass that goes dormant in winter. The type of Zoysia in the lawns in newer sections of this town was developed by horticulturalists at the University of Florida to have deep roots in order to survive the hot, often dry summers. Still, it is a warm season turf-grass that will go dormant in very cold weather. This is my neighbor’s grass after only 2 or 3 cold nights. I chose the greenest section for the photo, but the very beginnings of a move toward the dormancy can be seen in the brown tips on some of the blades.

Green Grass - mlm c@

Do not fertilize this grass in the winter months. It needs a period of rest in order to perform at its best during warm weather.

Until the last couple of weeks, it has been so very unseasonably warm around here, we may have forgotten about the changes really cold weather can bring to our lawns and plants. The local meteorologists say we will be seeing some drastic changes very soon, so I thought I would take time to share a little tidbit about warm-season turf grass:  it goes dormant in cold weather. That is, it turns brown. Not to worry. It’s normal.

Grass in Seasonal Transition - mlm c@

This is Zoysia turf grass is going dormant. Here, the grass rarely goes past this partial-dormant state, because our cold-spells don’t last long enough.

The photo above (taken in my yard during February of 2015)  is the closest to dormancy your grass is likely to get here in central Florida. Rest assured, in 12-16 weeks, we will probably begin complaining about the heat again.

Last year when we had some extremely cold weather for a few days, the zoysia and bermuda lawns began going into the dormancy typical in cold weather. Probably because of the mottled appearance normally seen when dormancy has begun, but is not complete, a few of my neighbors who hail from the northern tier of states thought a fungus had invaded their lawns. They are accustomed to grass that stays green all year.

If  you see turf  with the mottled green/brown appearance as shown in the photo above, don’t be concerned, it’s not dying. As soon as warm weather returns, it will green-up again. Do not fertilize this grass in the winter months. It needs a period of rest in order to perform at its best during warm weather.

Cool-season grasses look great in the fall, winter, and spring, but suffer during the heat of summer. In the South, the reverse is true. Warm-season grass looks great in spring, summer, and fall, but in cold weather, it turns a beige color.

If that dormant grass is weed-free, it can appear to be a beautiful beige carpet, but most lawns have some weeds which ruins the appearance. You are highly unlikely to see a beige lawn around here, as it doesn’t stay cold enough long enough for our grasses to go completely dormant.