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Ask Dr. Hort: Some species of blueberries grow in west-central Florida

You can grow some species of blueberries in the bay area

Q: Home Depot is selling blueberry bushes. I was tempted to buy one but wondered why I had not seen them for sale before. Do they thrive in Pinellas County? If so, what species would you recommend?

A: When it comes to blueberries, make sure you look for the Southern highbush cultivars, which have low chilling requirements (the number of hours your area gets below 45 degrees). "Sharp Blue," "Misty," "Emerald" and "Gulf Coast" seem to be the best for our area. Both Misty and Gulf Coast are good pollinators for Sharp Blue so you will need to purchase more than one type of plant. They also prefer a very acidic soil (4.0 to 5.2, no higher than 6.0), so you may need to check the pH of your soil.

Grafting affects gardenia health

Q: I'm having a serious problem with two gardenia trees that were planted over the summer. The bed is in the front of the house and gets afternoon sun. All the other plants are doing well, but one of the gardenia trees died and had to be replaced. Now, both the plants are looking poorly. Their pretty dark green leaves are turning yellow and falling off. Is there anything I can do to save them? Someone suggested Miracid but said they couldn't find it in our area. Do you have any suggestions?

Diane R. Ekovich, New Port Richey

A: Are your gardenias grafted? Gardenias can be grafted to rootstock that resists nematodes, the archenemy of gardenias. Gardenias that are not grafted or are not grafted to nematode-resistant stock could fall prey to nematodes. This could cause many problems. If they are grafted, the trees may have been planted too low. The area of the graft would need to be raised to the height of the soil surface.

If neither of these suggestions fits your situation, try spreading a good quality fertilizer that contains coated materials and chelated iron around the drip line. Or call a gardenia specialist, Richard Carroll at Carroll Brothers nursery in St. Petersburg. Miracid is not necessary.

Purple blooms require patience

Q: Why has my Jacaranda tree not bloomed? My tree is now more than 40 feet tall, yet it has never bloomed since I planted it four years ago. Are there male trees that do not bloom? Does it require some mixture to make it bloom? I have asked anyone I can and so far no one has an answer for me.


A: Jacaranda trees planted from seed take seven to 10 years to flower. Flowering is not based on height, nor are there male and female trees. Every tree has the ability to flower and bear a fruiting pod. You just have to be patient.


Need help?

Enter Greg "Dr. Hort" Charles, who for more than 30 years educated gardeners through the Pinellas Technical Education Centers. He answers questions about your landscape and how best to keep plants happy and pests at bay. Please e-mail your questions to us at or mail them to HomeLink, Features Department, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Describe your problem in full, with your name and contact information, and, if possible, include a photo. We will print his advice on Saturdays in HomeLink.

Ask Dr. Hort: Some species of blueberries grow in west-central Florida 12/18/09 [Last modified: Friday, December 18, 2009 3:30am]
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