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The Savvy Gardener: Plant festivals, watering tips

IT'S SHOW TIME!

Don't miss some of the biggest plant festivals upcoming on both sides of Tampa Bay. This weekend's Spring Plant Festival at the University of South Florida Botanical Gardens in Tampa features more than 70 vendors selling plants and garden items, plus workshops and children's activities (Sunday includes an Easter egg hunt). Hours: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 (free for members and children younger than 12). The gardens are at 4202 E Fowler Ave. For more information, call (813) 974-2329.

In St. Petersburg on April 25-26, the annual Green Thumb Festival features thousands of plants for sale, free mulch, soil and water diagnostic testing, tool sharpening, educational programs for adults and kids, a juried flower show and more. Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days; admission is free. The festival is at Walter Fuller Park, 7891 26th Ave. N. For more information, call (727) 893-7335.

Perk up potted plants

Potted plants can get a "big gulp" of their own with a 24-ounce watering globe that slowly releases water into the soil as plants need it. The hand-blown clear fluted globe has a decorative blue finial that can be removed for refilling. It's $24.95 from Logee's Tropical plants (logees.com; toll-free 1-888-330-8038). Too expensive? Make your own by cutting away and discarding the bottom of a 1-liter soda bottle; place the remaining bottle upside down into soil and fill with water. Not as pretty, but your plants will love it.

Bromeliad basics

Did you know you can help your bromeliads weather dry times by keeping their small center "cups" hydrated? Here are some more tips from Dennis Cathcart, owner of Tropiflora in Sarasota, which specializes in these exotic wonders:

• Use a slow-release, nitrate-based fertilizer such as Osmocote 14-14-14, but don't overdo it — overfertilizing reduces plant color.

• Bromeliad pups (cuttings for transplant) don't need instant potting; in fact, they'll do fine for months if they're kept upright and watered.

• Never plant bromeliads in copper pots or pressure-treated lumber containers; both leach toxins that kill bromeliads.

Learn more about these plants in the class All About Bromeliads at 11:30 a.m. April 18 at Sunken Gardens, 1825 Fourth St. N in St. Petersburg. The class is included in regular admission, which is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for kids ages 2-11. Call (727) 551-3102.

Yvonne Swanson, Times correspondent

The Savvy Gardener: Plant festivals, watering tips 04/10/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 10, 2009 4:30am]

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