Q: OK, here is my situation. The backyard/garden bed gets lots of rainwater due to drainage of yard. We have pampas grass, and it has loved living in our new home landscape for the past year. However, three of six crotons croaked, as well as another tall grass — I don’t know the name. HELP!
Answer: There could be several issues behind the drainage problems and plants “croaking.”
Always consider the first Florida-Friendly Landscaping principle: right plant, right place. If the issue is too much water, you may want information on how to create a rain garden. Stop by our office for a free copy of “Rain Gardens: A Manual for Central Florida Residents” by Marina D’Abreau and other contributors. If you do nothing and the water issue persists, you may want to select plants that like wet feet. Some of those include swamp hibiscus, cardinal flower, shrimp plant, blue flag iris, canna lily, flamingo plant and milkweed.
If you feel the issue is in the grade and drainage, and you want it to be something it is not, you may want to consider having a contractor take a look. Correcting it may involve bringing in dirt, revamping the slope or creating swales or the above-mentioned rain garden.
If you don’t think the significant amount of water is the issue, you probably need to take a soil sample to determine the pH, which can impact the plant. For information on how to take a soil test, please see the University of Florida publication at: http://edis.ifas .ufl.edu/ss494.
Lynn Barber is the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods agent at Hillsborough Extension.. Reach her at BarberL@hillsboroughcounty.org.