Mark’s Blog

  • Join Me Every Saturday, 10AM on 850-WFTL

    Update:    October 13 2019    6:45AM                       


    We’re now located at 850-WFTL.  Saturdays at 10AM.      New photos coming soon….

    Correspond with me at:



     Listen Saturdays 10AM on The News Talk Leader, 850 WFTL &  FM 97.9 HD2

    That’s SATURDAYS at 10 a.m.

    We’re also be on all the popular platforms like iHeart Radio, your Alexa and all the rest



    How green and lush everything seems to be.  While we had, and continue to have a lot of heat and humidity we’ve also been blessed with enough rainfall to keep everything green.  I remember so many summers in the past when we went through July and August with lawns turning brown and plants wilting to a quite serious degree.  The weather is always changing and always has.  I trust in Almighty God and notice that he always provides – sometimes just in the nick of time.

    Fertilizer Time means BioAdvanced Products are front & center once again.

    Go To:

    Vegetable Season is coming into view.  I suggest waiting to plant those starter plants until the threat of hurricanes and the hot weather is basically over. 

    Lawns may need to be fed at this time.  BioAdvanced Lawn Fertilizer is just the ticket.  Hurricane preparations should be underway or completed.  Get a company with an arborist who will supervise any major tree work you have to get done.  Lighten up those trees so they don’t resist the wind and go tumbling down with heavy winds.  Cheaper than removing ruined trees.

    October is a major fertilizer month and you can find all my recommendations by clicking the FERTILIZER button above to go to that special page.



    With the illegal entry into our country of persons from many parts of the world we must be as prepared as possible for diseases we haven’t seen here in decades and longer.  Hepatitis, measles, chickenpox, plague, mumps, tuberculosis, chagas disease and typhoid are all present in a large percentage of these people.  We must be careful with our food supply, thoroughly washing produce, being careful where we purchase food and especially where we dine outside our homes.  Almost every day we hear reports about workers in kitchens being discovered to have one of these diseases.  We must be alert and use caution !



    Roses are looking great, thanks to BioAdvanced.  Check out their great Rose & Flower products.

    If you would like a BioAdvanced/Natria 2019 product guide, mail a self-addressed No. 10 envelope to me at Universal Media, PO Box 31113, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420 and we’ll mail one to you.  We’ll take care of postage, no worries.


    The South Florida Garden Show with Mark Benson


    Multiple fruit on one of our 20 Ft. tall Jackfruit trees back in summer 2018.

    Be Aware:

    • Mowing should be no less than a height of 3 inches, preferably 4.  Fertilize sod that has been down more than 6 weeks now (October) for the last time this year.
    • Noticing some leave curl and a generally shriveled look to some citrus leaves?  Probably leaf minor.  Insecticidal soap about once a week, 3x,  should halt it.
    • Need to trim back the gardenias?  Always do that after the flowers fall off to give time for renewal prior to next bloom.
    • Remember, full size (not dwarf) Red Pentas to attract butterflies and hummingbirds.
    • Use natives where you can.  Remember, just cause they’re native doesn’t mean they don’t need water.  A big mistake people make is they plant red tip cocoplum and don’t realize they’re an everglades plant and actually need water.  Otherwise, dieback will occur and entire plants will die, leaving you with holes in your hedges, etc.


    Coconut Oil:  It plays an important role in good health and other things.

    • For smoother skin – Exfoliate by mixing coconut oil with sea salt or sugar.  This gives you exfoliation and moisturizer.  Or combine 3/4 cup room temperature coconut oil with 1/2 cup of white sugar.  Then add the zest on a grapefruit, 10 drops of peppermint oil and 20 drops of grapefruit oil.  That’ll give you an uplifting exfoliation sure to energize!
    • To sooth a scratchy throat – Just swallow one teaspoon up to three times a day to sooth a sore throat or a lingering cough.  Anti-inflammatory, pain alleviating and antimicrobial properties all wrapped up in one.
    • Pet help – Cats with furballs?  Dogs eating leaves and other yard debris?  Add coconut oil gradually into the diet. Mix a teaspoon into the dry food.  Also works as a topical spot treatment to calm skin irritations.
    • Remove and prevent rust on household and garden items:  Simply rub coconut oil on metal objects to prevent corrosion.  Rub it on, wipe it off.  For items that are already rusted, soak in coconut oil for an hour and rinse with warm water or just wipe off.

    Check my Fertilizer tutorial for info about what to feed what and when.  I’m giving our citrus a light application every few weeks.

    Check our EVENTS page for all the seasonal garden activities throughout our listening area.


    We returned on June 28th, 2018 from Peru, specifically the Ancash province 12 hours by car from Lima.  Felicia’s birthplace.  Unbelievable area at up to 14,200 feet elevation.  I’m going to post some pics here asap, so check back soon for those.    

    Yes, we enjoyed Italy in 2017, in August.  Rome, Milan, Venice, Florence, Naples, and Capri comprised our itinerary.  Its always a walking adventure and this trip was no different.  It was hot, about the same as here.  I lost 15 Lbs. so I think I should return for another month or two.  They’ve suffered drought and tomato, corn and other crops have taken a hit.  Venice was especially heavenly this year.  The Grand Canal, our water taxi over to Murano and Burano, dinners along the canal….. fairy tale stuff.  We both work very hard all year long, for many years never vacationing, so we are determined to get our bucket list moving before some health issue arises or something else happens to clip our wings.    

    Remember the importance of personal care not only for summer but all the time.  Sun protection and hydration are paramount.  Look further down my blog to read more on this important subject.

    Its still a good idea to remember the importance of cactus and succulents in our landscapes.   They don’t mind drought and can do just fine without us.  Check out a brand new book by Robin Stockwell, nurseryman and long-time succulent expert.  

    •                  SUCCULENTS- The Ultimate Guide to Choosing, Designing and Growing 200 Easy-Care Plants

                                                                                                                                               Available now wherever books are sold.


    There’s a new Knock Out coming to a garden center near you.  The Peachy Knock Out Rose (RADgor) is a semi-double, peachy pink shrub rose with a mounded plant habit.  Bred by William Radler and introduced by Star Roses and Plants.  Ask your local garden center to get it in.

    Also, there’s a new petal-packed, vibrant colored orange hybrid tea called Double 10 (LIM10) bred by Ping Lim and introduced by Altman Plants, a company that grows many fine roses in Boynton.  This is a gorgeous plant with exciting flowers.

    Our station location is:  WFTL, 701 Northpoint Parkway, W. Palm Beach, FL 33407.   Mail address for Mark Benson and the show:  P.O. Box 31113, Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420

    Check out my tutorial “THE RIGHT LAWN” under Plants & Trees,  Grasses

    Herbs are on our minds all the time as we use them to add flavor to foods we love.  Most common herbs can be maintained now through summer by keeping an eye on the sun.  Basil and rosemary like the sun.  Most others don’t.  But, partial shade and enriched well drained soil is recommended to keep them feeding you.  Fertilize with fish emulsion or manure tea or just use MiracleGro on a regular basis.   Water when the soil is dry to the touch. Don’t over-water.

    Fertilizer Time generally March, June and October.  BioAdvanced Triple Action Lawn Fertilizer is found at Home Depot stores.  Use BioAdvanced 3 in 1 Weed & Feed for Southern Lawns for your St. Augustine, Bermuda and Centipede.  Read the label and follow instructions for best results.  For Chinch bug use BioAdvanced Complete Insect Control. This product also controls all the other bugs in your lawn including fire ants.  For information about fertilizing all trees and plants go to the aforementioned FERTILIZER tutorial.

    TSFG_7655My recent finds at the Pinecrest Gardens Farmers Market-  I discovered Keez-Beez, fabulous honeys from The Keys.  My favorite is their Black Mangrove Honey.  What a different taste.  Now available in most Publix.  Find fresh veggies from several organic growers as well.  Every Sunday 9am to 2pm.  Free parking and admission. TSFG_7656


    What Do SCENTS Do For Us?  Scent delivery can be via a few drops of essential oil in water sprayed in a room with a spritzer.  Add a few drops to your bath water.  Add some drops into boiling water or a steamer.  However you use essential oils, here is which oils accomplish what objective:

    Eucalyptus-  Helps with bronchitis, relieves congestion and can even help clear and energize your mind.

    Lavender-  Creates a sense of calm and reduces anxiety.  My wife utilizes this as the primary scent in her spa operations and has for many years.

    Chamomile-  This scent promotes sleep and relieves anxiety.  Its also an anti-inflammatory.

    Lemon-  Known to repel viruses, lemon also energizes and uplifts the human mind.

    Peppermint-  While peppermint is just simply an enjoyable scent, it also relieves nausea, reduces migraines, is found to be energizing and serves as an analgesic for various aches and pains.

    We enjoy Lemon in the kitchen area and Lavender in the bed/bath areas of our homes.


    Mosquitos can be a problem any time of year.  Forget citronella candles, wristbands and “all natural” products.  Look for products that contain 20 percent picaridin or 30 percent oil of lemon eucalyptus.  They are safer than those with deet.  SAWYER Fisherman’s is the absolute best.  Available from Amazon, WalMart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Bass Pro Shops.  Inexpensive and 2nd to none.

    TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF…..   Read this information carefully…….

    Skin cancer is a killer!  When outdoors always wear sun-protective clothing and a hat that will protect your nose, ears and neck from the sun.  Use a good quality sunblock as well.  Sunscreen:  The very best is:  Vichy Capital Soleil 50 Lightweight foaming lotion (foam.)  It’s available at Walgreen’s and CVS.  Also, as I have mentioned here before, I find that showering with CLEAN & CLEAR Essentials foaming facial cleanser by Johnson & Johnson, available at Walgreens, is helpful PRIOR to going out to work in the garden.  It removes oil from your skin  and allows it to breathe.  You stay cooler longer.  When you finish outside, shower again with this simple and inexpensive product for a cleaner than clean feeling.

    Dr. Martin Motes, shown below, is our orchid go-to guy and you can hear him regularly on the show talking about orchid growing here in Southeast Florida.  His wonderful book, Florida Orchid Growing Month by Month is available on Amazon and directly from him at Motes Orchids in the Redland.  Also available:  Florida Vanda Growing Month by

    Vandas, Dr. Martin Motes

    Be sure to go to our EVENTS page to see all the things happening in our listening area in terms of festivals, plant and tree sales and educational opportunities.

    FEED your BANANAS every MONTH.  Good Fertilizer to use is:  6-2-12.  Apply about 1-1/2 Lbs per stalk per month, like salt on a hamburger out to the drip line.  Water at the rate of at least 1 to 1-1/2 inches per week, 4 to 6 inches of water depth per month.  Good drainage is essential.  Bananas do not like flooding or standing water even though they are perpetually thirsty.  We will soon be adding a tutorial on bananas here on the site.  Actually the button at the top of every page will be “Plants & Trees” with a drop-down menu including bananas as a separate category.

    My Gardening Essay:    I enjoy gardening.  And I mean gardening as opposed to the hard work of maintaining a large property which gets to me sometimes.  I like grooming.  I mean going over one tree or plant and slowly cutting all the little dead twigs out.  Shaping plants and trees.  Removing any weeds or grass from the area under t6he canopy of grove trees with a scuffle hoe.  I like observing everything slowly to determine the answer to my constant question:  can anything out here be made better?  The answer is always “yes.”  Then its just a matter of adding another chore to the ever-present list.  I like things to be smartly maintained, I like everything to be as near perfect as we can make it.  If its in my garden, anywhere on the property, I want to be proud of it.  The layout, the health of every plant and tree, the appearance of every leaf.  This is what gardening is to me.  As you have seen everywhere you go there are hundreds of trucks plying our roadways that have signage like “Landscaping” and “Lawn Service” or maybe “Lawn Maintenance.”  These are hard working folks who do valuable services.   But, when is the last time you saw a rig that said “Gardening”?  That’s probably because in our country we think of gardening as getting down on hands and knees and pulling weeds or some other activity involving hard work in the dirt.  The British are real gardeners.  I like the way they, the French and for that matter many other nationalities of gardeners approach the subject.  They don’t look down at gardening.  As a matter of culture they look at gardening as a hobby of the privileged.  Perhaps that’s because they often employ others to do the ‘heavy lifting.”  I confess that I do that to a great extent.  My Diego, Jose and Pancho do all the mundane stuff.  Those are the chores that one should be paid to do since those things don’t exactly bring smiles to the faces of the ones providing the labor.  But I do teach them why we do the things we do out there and give them ample opportunity to observe and admire what we all accomplish on our little piece of ground.  I think they get it.  I think they have a sense of satisfaction similar to mine.  I also encourage them to take home bananas and other fruits from the grove and they really do treasure those things knowing they have had a hand in making them grow.  I know the mowing, trimming and related work that makes you sweat is not enjoyable.  Try the gardening part.  Slow down and pay attention to the WHY part of your work.  If you can’t lay eyes on anything out there that really pleases you, start planting the trees and shrubs that will give you a sense of satisfaction every gardener deserves for his or her labor.A

    The South Florida Garden Show is a production of Universal Media Enterprises, Inc. and originates from the studios of 850-WFTL, 701 Northpoint Parkway, W. Palm Beach, FL 33407  The station signal covers the northern Keys to Vero Beach.  Also available on iHeart Radio and all the other outlets
    The show airs on 850WFTL  live Saturdays 10:00AM The call-in phone number is 1-877-850-8585
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