Weekend Gardening: Time To Prune Gardenias And Hydrangeas

June 22, 2014

By Santa Rosa County Extension

Hydrangeas and gardenias are two of our most beloved shrubs in the South. They are revered for their flowers and are planted in large drifts throughout Northwest Florida.

Gardenia shrubs are evergreen and produce shiny, dark green leaves. They are known for their waxy, creamy white flowers. The flower’s aroma, adored by many gardeners, is powerful and pleasant.

Hydrangeas are deciduous shrubs and produce coarse, light green leaves. Their large leaves will fall off after a freeze. Although you are left with bare sticks during the winter, the summer blooms are well worth the winter bareness. While there are many different types of hydrangeas, the mopheads are probably the most recognizable. Their large inflorescences are usually blue on acid soil, pink on alkaline soil and a dirty white on neutral pH soil.

Even though these shrubs are different in many aspects, the one thing they have in common is when they “set” their flower buds. Both shrubs develop flower buds on old (mature) wood of the previous year and open in early summer of the following year. Flower buds are formed at the terminal end of stems and, if not killed by cold or removed by inappropriate pruning, provide the showy floral display the next year.

The best time to prune gardenias and hydrangeas is after they finish flowering for the season. Pruning them at the incorrect time of the year, such as winter, will remove the flower buds.

Your pruning program should be purposeful. First, remove all diseased, weak and dead wood. It will be important to disinfect your pruning equipment after removing suspect branches. Pruning shears, loppers and saws can be dipped in a weak bleach solution to prevent spread of disease between plants.

Once all the problem branches have been removed, then think about thinning the plant. Shrubs are often thinned to reduce a top-heavy appearance or to open up a dense canopy. To thin, simply remove some of the oldest branches by pruning them down to the ground. Remove about a quarter to a third of the branches, selecting the oldest ones for elimination. When thinning, take care not to damage the nearby younger stems and foliage.

Next, cut back branches that are excessively long. Prune back to a lateral branch that is six to twelve inches below the desirable plant height, removing no more than a third of the stem. Cut each branch separately to different lengths with hand pruners. This will maintain a neat informal shrub with a natural shape. Plants sheared into various geometric shapes produce a formality not suitable for many modern, natural landscapes. Making pruning cuts down inside the canopy instead of on the outside edge will also hide unsightly pruning cuts.

Within the last several years, reflowering hydrangeas have found their way into the marketplace. Reflowering hydrangeas produce an initial flush of flowers followed by sporadic flowering or later flushes of flowers in the same growing season.

Endless Summer Hydrangea is a reflowering hydrangea. It is very forgiving and will not suffer if left unpruned or pruned at the wrong time. In fact, young, recently planted shrubs are best left alone. Unlike other hydrangeas, your Endless Summer® will bloom on both old and new wood, branches that grew last year and the new branches from this year. Another unique feature is that this hydrangea will continue to set buds and bloom throughout the season. Deadheading, or removing the spent flowers will encourage continual blooming.

Navy League Presents Scholarship To Northview Grad Braun

June 18, 2014

Recent Northview High School graduate and valedictorian Kasie Braun was presented the Russell D. Stewart Memorial Scholarship for $1,000 on Tuesday by Michael Dollen, second vice president of the Navy League.  Photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Dr. Larry Walker: ECUA Employees Caught Lending A Helping Hand

June 18, 2014

Submitted by Dr. Larry Walker, ECUA Board Chairman Larry Walker

On Tuesday, I was driving on Lambert Bridge Road when I cam upon this scene — an ECUA sanitation truck stopped because an oncoming driver had slid his truck and trailer off the soft shoulder and into the ditch of the dirt road. ECUA employees Jamore Simmons and Reginald Evans attached a tow line and quickly had Mr. Edward Egerton of Oak Grove back in the road and on his way.

CrossFaith Church Ride Benefits Alzheimer’s Services

June 17, 2014

CrossFaith Church in Molino  held a motorcycle ride last weekend to benefit local Alzheimer’s victims and their families. The ride began at  Eagle’s Talon on Copter Road and ended at the Council on Aging of West Florida on Royce Street with a cookout, biker games and door prizes. Proceeds  benefit Alzheimer’s Services. Submitted photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Dear Dad: Father’s Day Wishes

June 15, 2014

For Father’s Day, NorthEscambia.com invited our Facebook fans to share thoughts about their dad.  Responses are below.

  • Luis Gomez , Jr. — (pictured above) We would like to wish our dad a Happy Fathers Day. Although, we are all in separate places, from being with our individual families or going to college, we want you to know we love you deeply. If we haven’t learned anything else from you, we know that family is everything. Thanks for everything you’ve done. We understand it was a hassle because it’s so many but we appreciate it all. We love you pops. –  Laneicia Gomez
  • Ben Campbell –  We have learned from daddy to be the best hunters in the world! — Blakely and Gracyn Campbell
  • Mardic Eddins – We love you. Thank you for always taking us to the park, fishing, buying us things from the store, letting us ride around the yard in the truck. – Nevaeh and Brayden
  • Robert Leslie Howington — Dad is an amazing father of three girls. He taught us auto repair — sometimes over the phone. He taught us work ethic — without even trying. He taught us the value of a good reputation — people stop me in the grocery store to tell him how he made a difference in their lives. Robert Leslie Howington is a treasure not just on Father’s Day, but every day. – Leslie Gonzalez
  • Sgt Kenneth “Bobby” Butler Sr. –  I’d like to say Happy Father’s Day to my husband, Sgt Kenneth “Bobby” Butler Sr who is currently deployed to Afghanistan from all of us, Kenny, Jaime, Netanya and Mickey.  We love you and miss you.  – Gwen Butler
  • James SealeMy dad is James Seale and he has taught me many things but one if the most important things he has taught me is how to give love and accept it. – Gianni Seale
  • Benny Hilliard –  My dad has taught me over the years how to fix just about anything, from cars, to house hold repairs and anything in between. Thanks for showing me how to be the man of my house hold dad. Happy Fathers Day and we love you! — Johnathon, Charlie, Daniel and Katina
  • Lloyd Jordan -- My daddy Lloyd Jordan born and raised raised in flomaton loved to fish hunt work  and garden. He was the best dad anyone could ask for he loved hanging out and talking with his friends mostly and loved his family and wife. Even though we lost him last year he is gone but never forgotten ♡ you daddy. — Kasey Jordan
  • Alton Wilson, Sr. – My Daddy Alton Wilson Sr., was the best dad. He worked hard at Alger Sullivan Sawmill. Daddy raised 11 children and two grandchildren because my oldest sister died when they were 1 and 3 years old. There father at the time could not cope with the lost of my sister so daddy and mama step up and did. Daddy also help raise one of my nephew’s because his parents divorce. Daddy would bring home everyday from the mill a arm full of wood for burning in the wood stove for cooking. He was a very hard worker. And always said you work hard for what you get so you take care of it, and it will last you a lifetime. — Willene Bryan
  • Frank Zisa I have learned from my dad to never give up on anything. My dad has aways been my night and shining armor, he always knows when to make me laugh. I love sitting with him and listening to his stories about his childhood. This man taught me the difference between right and wrong, and to be who I want to be. My Dad has done so much for me, he would even sit out in the heat waiting on me at my softball practices, and if I forgot my lunch at home, he would always bring it to me with no complaints. I will always be my Daddys little girl. — Katelyn Zisa
  • Johnny McKendrick — I would like to say happy Father’s Day to my dad! He is the most awesome guy all around. He’s a great Christian man, very hardworking, and knows how to make everyone laugh. He means the world to me! Happy Father’s Day pappy, love breezy. — Brianna McKendrick
  • Tommy Weaver --  My dad showed me so much. Fishing, shooting, farming, driving a tractor, being fair to others, respect. The list is long. He’s missed so much. He taught me laughter. He always was joking around. He was an upstanding man. He was the greatest pawpaw my children could have ever been blessed with. He loved them so much. He was the best husband to my mother. And to my brother who has Down syndrome , my dad showed patience n commitment. He was just the best dad we could have ever been blessed with. The greatest man. – Tara Smith
  • Mark ButlerHe has taught me that I want to be a volunteer firefighter just like him and to ice skate. Love you dad, Blake.
  • Tim Godwin — My Dad ALWAYS makes time for me. He coaches my baseball team, plays in my wii, takes me to lunch, swims with me, watches me bowl, and makes his work schedule so we can do things together. I wish everyone had a Dad like mine! — Rebeccah Godwin
  • Huey Knowles — Daddy worked as a livestock manager for the Alabama Department of Corrections. In other words, he was a cowboy. He lost an eye in a shootout…I like to say he was a real life John Wayne! Not an actor, but the real deal. He is out hero. He will do anything for anyone. All around great guy. — Tracy Sullivan
  • Argent Kavanah Hare (March 28, 1942-February 2013) –  his man taught me to be the person that people appreciated and knew he would give a stranger the shirt off his back. He was always there to help friends and family. Lead a Gospel group that sang all over our area and held signings at his home for everyone. RIP pops, Love and miss him daily! — James Hare

Reader submitted photos and stories for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge

Weekend Gardening: Tomato Pests

June 15, 2014

June is prime time for growing tomatoes here in Escambia County, but it’s also the best time to see a lot of pests in tomatoes that can totally ruin a crop.  To help you figure out what’s “bugging” your tomatoes, here’s a quick rundown of some of the pests that you might see in your garden.   Much of the information in this article was adapted from the University of Florida EDIS (Electronic Data Information Source)  publication Insect Management for Tomatoes, Peppers, and Eggplant.  Management techniques for the pests will be found in the full publication.

Click any photo to enlarge.

Silverleaf Whitefly

The adult silverleaf whitefly is small, approximately 1/16 of an inch in length, and has powdery white wings held tent-like while at rest over a yellow body.  Whiteflies are usually found on the undersides of leaves.  Eggs, which are yellow and football-shaped, are attached upright by a tiny stalk inserted into the lower leaf surface. A mobile first instar (growth stage), or crawler stage, hatches from the egg and settles on the leaf.  It then develops through immobile second, third, and fourth instars which look like semi-transparent, flat, oval scales. The fourth instar or “pupa” is more yellow and more easily seen without the aid of a hand lens, and typically has very distinct eyespots, and is referred to as a “red-eyed nymph.”

As the plant grows, leaves bearing the maturing nymphs are found lower down on the plant, so older nymphs can be found by looking at older leaves. Whiteflies ingest sap from the plant vascular system (phloem) through stylets similar to those of aphids and, like aphids, process a relatively large volume of plant sap by excreting excess liquid in the form of a sugary substance called honeydew.  The honeydew will result in sooty mold—a black, powdery looking substance that reduces photosynthesis in the leaves. Sometimes the nymphs will feed on the fruit and that will cause white tissue on the inside of the fruit walls.


Aphids  are soft-bodied, sucking insects that can rapidly colonize plants due to their short life cycle. Adults are delicate, pear- or spindle-shaped insects with a posterior pair of tubes (cornicles), which project upward and backward from the end of the abdomen and which are used for excreting a defensive fluid. In Florida, winged and wingless forms are all female and give birth to living young (nymphs). Nymphs are smaller but otherwise similar in appearance to wingless adults, which they become in 7 to 10 days.

Heavy aphid infestations may cause stunting and leaf distortion. Feeding on blossoms reduces fruit set. Sooty mold will grow on the honeydew that the aphids excrete.  Aphids may also spread plant viruses.

Brown and Green Stink Bugs and Leaf-footed bugs

Like aphids and whiteflies, true bugs are sucking insects. True bugs can be recognized by their front wings, which are leathery close to the body but membrane-like at the tips. Nymphs resemble adults in shape but are often colored differently and do not have fully developed wings. Stink bugs  are green or brown shield-shaped bugs 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch long. Eggs are barrel-shaped and found on the undersides of leaves in masses of 10 to 50.

Leaf-footed bugs  are dark-colored true bugs with parallel sides. Eggs are metallic and ovate but somewhat flattened laterally and laid in clusters. Some leaf-footed bugs lay their eggs end-to-end in a single row or chain along a stem or leaf midrib. Nymphs are oblong in shape and red in color, especially on the abdomen.

Nymphs and adults of both stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs suck juices from green fruit leaving a puncture which later may become surrounded by a discolored zone due to invasion of secondary pathogens. Stink bug feeding punctures are often surrounded with a lightened, sometimes depressed, blotch beneath the fruit surface caused by the removal of cell contents and the enzymes injected by the bug. Leaf-footed punctures may cause fruit to become distorted as they enlarge

Tomato Hornworm

There are many caterpillars that can feed on tomatoes but the tomato hornworm can strip a plant of leaves in a few days.  The adult moth is large with mottled brown forewings that are longer than the lighter brown hind wings.  The sides of the abdomen have five yellow spots on the sides. The female moth will lay eggs on the upper and lower surfaces of leaves.   The adult moths are nectar feeders on many flowers and may be seen in the early evening around gardens and flowers.

The emerging caterpillars will feed on leaves and go through several molts as they develop into large green caterpillars with a black ‘horn’ on the tip of the abdomen.  Caterpillars are also identified by the white or yellow ‘V’ marks on the sides of the abdomen.  When it is time to pupate, the caterpillars drop to the soil and make a cell for changing to the adult moth.  The pupa is reddish brown and has a loop structure at the head that contains the mouthparts.  There are normally two generations of tomato hornworm a year and as late summer arrives, the hornworm goes through a resting phase.

Other plants in the tomato family can be eaten by tomato hornworms but tomatoes are the favorite in our area.  The caterpillars will eat entire leaves and initially work their down on the plant, eating leaves, blossoms, and even green fruit.  Because they blend in with green foliage, a homeowner will often overlook the caterpillar despite its large size.

Hornworm does have natural enemies so be cautious before reaching for the insecticide.  They can also be easily handpicked and destroyed after you find them.

If you would like further information, please contact the Escambia County Extension office, (850) 475-5230.

Jordan, Carnley To Wed

June 15, 2014

Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Jordan of Byrneville announce the marriage of their daughter, Kasey to Dustin Carnley, son of Mr.  Frankie and Mrs. Kay Carnley of Flomaton.

Grandparents of the bride are the late Gay and Nell Jordan of Flomaton and Jimmy and Barbara Wilson of Byrneville.

Kasey and Dusty will be married at Beulah Chapel on June 21, 2014,  at 3 p.m. Friends and family are welcome to attend.

Byrneville’s Kilcrease Wins Retired Educators’ Essay Contest

June 14, 2014

Maille Kilcrease of Byrneville Elementary School was the 2014 winner of the Escambia Retired Educators Association’s annual Fifth Grade Essay Contest. In her essay, Kilcrease wrote about her grandpartents, Donald and Barbara Kilcrease.  Maillie Kilcrease (center) is pictured with her teacher Jacke Johnston (left) and Byrneville Principal Dee Wolfe Sullivan during the EREA banquet at New World Landing. Courtesy photo for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Molino Teen Serves As Florida House Messenger

June 12, 2014

A young man from Molino recently spent a week serving as a messenger  in the Florida House of Representatives. Mitchell Singleton, who just completed his freshman year at Northview High School, served as a messenger for Rep. Clay Ingram.

“Mitchell has served as a page in the House of Representatives during previous sessions and really made a name for himself as a hard worker. I couldn’t believe how many people at the Capitol remembered him when he came back this year as a messenger,”  Ingram said.

Pages and messengers are students who work one week at the Capitol during the 60-day Regular Session. Each of Florida’s 120 representatives may sponsor one page (ages 12-14) and one messenger (ages 15-18).

Being selected to serve is considered an honor and privilege. Pages and messengers assist the representatives and their staff during the Capitol’s busiest time of year while observing state government in action.

“Mitchell has a bright future ahead of him and I’m glad that he is interested in public service. I usually introduce him to people as the future President of the United States, and he doesn’t shy away from the title,” Ingram continued.

The page and messenger program is a long-standing tradition in the Florida House, with journals making mention of them as far back as 1865.  Singleton and each page and messenger will have their name appear in the official Journal of the House as an official record of their time spent serving in state government.

Pictured top. Florida House Messenger Mitchell Singleton (second from left) with other messengers and Gov. Rick Scott. Pictured inset: Singleton’s “selfie” photo with Scott. Courtesy photos for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

Escambia Sheriff’s Office ‘Camp Friendship’ Underway At Molino Park Elementary

June 11, 2014

The Escambia County Sheriff’s Office  “Camp Friendship” is underway this week at Molino Park Elementary School. The free summer day camp for ages 6-14 features presentations by the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit,  jail tour, sports, arts and crafts and much more. Photo courtesy Escambia County Sheriff’s Office for NorthEscambia.com, click to enlarge.

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