Caring for Native North Florida Trees in Your Backyard

Live Oak tree with the text "Caring for North Florida Trees"

With over 50 native tree types in Florida, it’s entirely possible you have more than a couple of species in your backyard. Although not all the trees you see are native to the area, the native North Florida trees are easy to identify once you know what to look for.  

Tallahassee is within Zone 8 on the USDA Hardiness Zone map, a system used to categorize regions based on their average annual minimum winter temperatures. This information helps gardeners and horticulturists determine which plants, including trees, are likely to thrive in a particular area. Trees that are native to North Florida tend to thrive in the ever-changing Zone 8 conditions that include mild winters and warm summers. 

Wondering what hidden tree treasures you have in your own backyard? Here are just a few of the most popular native North Florida trees and how to best care for them. 

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)

The native Live Oak is one of the most popular native North Florida trees, especially in Tallahassee. Characterized by a massive trunk and large limbs, they tend to be draped in Spanish moss and produce a lot of shade.  

With the average size being 60 feet tall and 80 feet wide, they need a LOT of room to grow. If planted in the perfect area, they can develop for centuries. However, if you plan to add this tree to your landscape, you must be sure to do plenty of pruning when it is growing in its early years. When the tree is older, the wood is immensely strong and durable, even to hurricane winds. Live Oaks are some of the safest and most stress-resistant trees in the area, handling the impacts from construction, stress and disease as well as, or better than most trees in the South. They have extremely shallow root systems, however, and are prone to tip after a hurricane. 

Caring for your Live Oak 

  • Water deeply and regularly during the first year to help establish the root system. Once established, Live Oaks are relatively drought-tolerant but benefit from occasional deep watering during dry periods. 
  • Prune only as needed after the early growing years to remove dead or diseased branches. Live Oaks have a natural, sprawling growth habit. 
  • Keep an eye out for pests like oak wilt and scale insects. Regular inspection and early intervention are key to maintaining tree health. 

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora)

Although not as common as the Live Oak, you may have a Southern Magnolia tree in your front yard. They love the light, so at their tallest point, they can grow to be around 75 feet tall. During the spring and summer months, a Southern Magnolia is known for its beautiful cream-colored flowers that can grow up to 12 inches in diameter! However, even when the blooms are not in season, the tree manages to keep most of its leathery green leaves. When the large leaves do fall once a year, they tend to leave a mess behind. 

Southern Magnolia flower with the text "Southern Magnolia"

Caring for Your Southern Magnolia 

  • Water regularly during the first year to establish the root system. Once established, water during dry periods to maintain soil moisture. 
  • Prune to shape the tree when young. Minimal pruning is recommended once the tree is mature, as excessive pruning can affect flowering. 
  • Watch for pests like scales and aphids. Magnolias are generally resistant to major diseases but monitor issues and treat them promptly if needed.  

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

As far as flowering trees go, this one takes the cake! Although its size isn’t large – only about 25 feet at maturity – the blooms that this tree puts out in spring sure are. Along the bare branches, clusters of pink or white flowers appear to beautify your landscape.  However, they don’t last forever. In the summer, the flowers will fall and be replaced with dark green leaves – perfect for any Florida front yard. 

Eastern Redbud flowers with the text "Eastern Redbud"

Caring for Your Eastern Redbud 

  • Water regularly during the first year to establish roots. Once established, water during dry periods, but avoid over-watering. 
  • Prune for shape when the tree is young. Minimal pruning is usually required for mature trees. 
  • Keep an eye out for issues like cankers and leaf spots. Proper care and maintenance can help prevent most problems. 

Trust the Tree Experts

North Florida is home to a wide range of flora and fauna, including these and many more beautiful native North Florida trees. To maintain the health of your trees year-round, it is essential to observe them and provide responsive care as needed.  

Need a little help? Millers Tree Service is your local tree expert providing inspection, mitigation, trimming, pruning and removal as needed. We provide a free consultation with a certified arborist to evaluate the overall health of your North Florida trees, identify any structural problems as well as diagnosis any pests and/or diseased trees. 

Contact us today to get started. 

The Best Trees for Bees in the Big Bend

We need bees for pollinating our garden, our flowers and the majority of the world’s food crop. The decline in bee populations is an ongoing concern, with questions being posed on how to reverse the trend. We can each do our part, beginning with providing our busy little friends with the best trees for bees in our own yards. Everyone wins – the bees gain pollen and nectar and we gain beautiful flowering trees to enjoy!

A Bit About Bees

There is an amazing amount of information available about the 4,000 different bees in America and the other 16,000 worldwide. In the interest of time and eye strain, we are sharing basic information about the honeybees and bumblebees we have locally, as well as the kinds of trees that will help them thrive.

The life cycle of an average honeybee worker is 15-38 days and up to 200 days in the winter. There is only one queen bee per hive, and she can lay thousands of eggs per day when conditions are optimal and food is plentiful. When a queen honeybee starts to age after a year or two, the hive will hatch a new queen by feeding the larvae a special diet of royal jelly. Honeybees are attached to their hive until they outgrow the current one and swarm to find a new location.

Bumblebees have more of a yearly cycle and are as likely to be found underground in an abandoned tortoise burrow as they are in a hollow tree. They are able to fly in colder temperatures – so you will likely see bumblebees later in the Florida fall and early in the spring. The queen bumblebee and her bees that hold court during one season will die at the end of summer, making way for a new generation that will search out their own burrow or tree to overwinter, repeating the cycle.

Note: It is estimated that the American bumblebee population has declined by 90% in some areas, nearly vanishing from eight states. Pesticides and loss of habitat are contributing factors to the decline, as well as competition from non-native honeybees. Let’s plant more trees so there is plenty of nectar and pollen for all our busy bee friends!

Trees for Bees in Our Zone

Red Maple, Sugar Maple and Silver Maple are all in the Acer family and will provide bees with nectar and sap. The flowers are rich in nectar, and the sap is found from small holes created by woodpeckers or other sap seeking critters. Maples make beautiful shade trees in the summer with a colorful display in fall before the leaves drop. Maples prefer colder temps during the winter months and will do fine in our Zone 8 region.

Eastern Redbuds are native trees that will tolerate shade but are best planted in sun to produce more blooms for bees. Their small pink flowers attract pollinators in early spring. The pollen is a favorite for bees, but the nectar can be challenging for the shorter tongued honeybees. Carpenter, blueberry and bumblebees enjoy both nectar and pollen from redbud blooms.

Serviceberry is often the first tree to show life in the spring with an abundance of nectar-rich white blooms the honeybees and mining bees love. The fruit that comes later in spring is a favorite of birds and is known to make a sweeter pie than blueberries. At an average of 15-20 feet tall, a serviceberry is a great addition to any yard and a must-have for early season bee feeding!

Oak trees and bees are important to each other. Pollinators help to transfer pollen between the male and female flowers that later produce the acorns that feed wildlife or grow into new trees. Honeybees extract nectar from inside the small flowers and bumblebees use their fury bodies to collect pollen.

Black Tupelo is a tree known to like moist, well drained soils, often found in the wild at the edge of ponds and wetlands. The tree offers beautiful fall foliage with displays ranging from yellow to orange, red and rust. Black Tupelos produce small blue-black berries that wildlife and bees use for food. This is not a tree that you want near a sidewalk as the berries will stain concrete and track into a house.

Fruit trees can be very dependent on bees for pollination, with growers often hosting hives in their orchards. For homeowners hoping to give bees seasonal food choices, consider a variety of fruit trees that bloom at different times of the year. Fruits trees that can be grown in our Zone 8 region include apple, pear, plum, peach, fig, cherry, nectarine, apricot, persimmon and lemon. There are plenty more, including bushes and vines such as blueberries and blackberries.

Do your research and look for dwarf varieties to make your fruit harvesting possible without a lift. Keep in mind that some fruit varieties need a male and female tree blooming at the same time for fruit to set. Keep bloom times in mind for the bees, striving to have blooms available for food from early spring to later fall.

Got Bees?

Not every situation with a bee may be positive. Sometimes bees swarm when a hive becomes too large or they lose one hive and have to find a new location. These bees usually congregate together and are less aggressive with no hive to defend. DO NOT approach a swarm of bees. If possible, it’s best to leave them alone or call a qualified removal specialist. This is especially true if you find an active hive within an occupied structure or a tree that is scheduled for removal.

In Florida, registered beekeepers can remove and relocate swarms and established colonies. If a colony is in a difficult place to reach or are overly aggressive and pose a risk to humans – particularly near a school – a certified pest operator may need to eradicate. Both of these services are regulated, and registered operators can be found on the Honey Bee Removal or Eradication List maintained by the Florida Department of Consumer Services.

We hope the information about bees has been informative and is inspiring you to plant new trees for bees. And yes, Miller’s Tree Service can keep the trees you select for your bees trimmed, just like we do for the other trees already in your landscape. We can plant and transplant trees, too. Give us a call at 850.294.TREE (8733) and let us help you realize the dream of being bee friendly with trees!

Storm Damage in Tallahassee – Preparing You and Your Trees

tree is falling over from storm damage in Tallahassee Florida

People joke about the weather in Tallahassee being unpredictable. However, when summer comes around, we can almost predict severe weather warnings will be followed by storm damage with trees down in some part of Tallahassee. There are measures we can take to minimize storm damage to our trees as well as best practices after damage occurs. No plan is foolproof, but we wanted to share many of the things we have found helpful when dealing with our predictably unpredictable weather in Tallahassee.

Preparing Trees for Summer Storms in Tallahassee

Start Preparing Early by Watering Younger Trees Deeply

When you plant a young tree, your job of caring for the sapling is just beginning. Depending on the time of year and size of the new tree, staking, watering and fertilizing will vary. The goal behind watering younger trees is to have their roots grow deeper into the soil, avoiding surface roots that lend less strength when strong winds blow in with summer storms. Even if you get a light summer shower on watering day, you will still want to keep to your schedule of deep watering, encouraging the roots to develop further down into the soil.

Another factor in growing healthy young trees is remembering our Tallahassee summers can become brutally hot with the full sun burning off moisture quickly. Mulching is an important part of your plan to help your young tree retain the moisture from your deep watering sessions. But improper mulching can do more damage than leaving the soil bare to bake under the summer sun. For information on mulching young trees the right way, read our recent blog on best practices on our website.

Pruning for Air Flow

If you have two lawn chairs the same size, made of the same material and facing the same direction – but one has a solid back and the other has room between the straps – when a strong gust of wind comes along, which chair will blow over first? The solid backed chair will blow over first, like trees that have not been properly thinned and pruned to allow air movement through their branches.

Pruning for air flow is standard maintenance for many trees and may include removing a variety of different sized limbs. The goal is to open the interior of the tree structure, allowing maximum air flow and discouraging an environment attractive to pests. A tree with a dense limb structure may have branches rubbing together or rotting, making the tree at risk to diseases and destructive bugs.

Removing Dead Tree Branches

When summer storms kick up wind gusts, objects like dead limbs can become deadly projectiles. It may seem easy to get the job done by pulling out limbs that are low enough to grab by hand. You might be surprised how many dead branches can hide in a larger tree, ready to fall and cause storm damage. Removing dead limbs can be hazardous when homeowners try to do it themselves with equipment not meant for the task.

Professionals will use lifts – or occasionally climb with safety harnesses in place – to access the interior of the tree. They will remove dead limbs and check for any that are in poor health or position, crowding others and rubbing away bark. A word of caution – allowing someone to climb your healthy tree with spikes to remove dead limbs is inadvisable. Inserting multiple holes in the bark of a tree is like an open invitation to pests and rot! Spikes may be used by trained professionals with additional safety precautions only when a tree has been marked for removal.

Miller's Tree Service Tree Spade

Moving or Removing Problem Trees

It is not unusual to decide a tree is too close to your home once storm damage in Tallahassee becomes a regular subject of summer conversations. What once looked pretty and perfect now looks menacing as you see the branches whipping closer to windows and roof line. If you have a strong attachment to the tree, there may be an alternative to removal. A tree spade can be used to transplant smaller trees that are rare ornamentals, commemorative plantings or still have decades of growth ahead, but have outgrown their current location.

A tree spade is a unique piece of equipment that digs a hole at the destination site commiserate with the size of the tree to be moved. The operator then repositions the equipment with the spade blades surrounding the tree to be removed. Once set into proper position, the spade blades are slowly pushed into the ground by hydraulics, surrounding the tree and root ball. Next, the operator reverses the action, lifting the entirety of dirt and tree in one motion. The intact tree, root ball and surrounding soil is then moved to the previously spaded area and positioned into the hole. Using this method causes minimal damage to the tree and saves significant time in digging.

If the tree is at the end of its natural life cycle, diseased or too large for the available tree spade – then removal is the best course of action. Depending on homeowner preference, the stump of the tree can be left at a certain height, cut off at ground level or ground down. Regarding stump grinding, some tree stumps are left for natural habitats or craft ideas, but not if located too close to the house. As stumps decay, they attract boring insects and other bugs which may be okay in the far corner of your lot but should be avoided close to the house.

Preparing Yourself for Storm Damage in Tallahassee

In a city like Tallahassee, it is inevitable that strong summer storms or remnants of a hurricane will bring down trees. Where those trees fall and how it personally impacts you can range from the inconvenience of lost power to roof intrusion and subsequent water damage.

None of us wants a repeat of Hurricane Michael, but if a strong storm comes ashore at Carrabelle or St. Marks, it will heavily impact Tallahassee and the surrounding areas. We have a list from our September blog with pointers on how to get tree help quicker, know what to expect, and protect you from the questionable characters that pop up when disaster strikes.


  1. Call your preferred tree company first, then your insurance company, then a roofer or contractor of choice. Have your insurance information ready at the time of the call.
  2. Do not pay any vendor up front for any work and always ask for a copy of their insurance.
  3. We know it is a difficult time, but please be patient! Thousands of calls will be coming in and they will be prioritized based on location, severity and order of the call.
  4. We will only be handling trees on houses and structures until those are cleared up.
  5. If you have trees in your yard, they will have to wait until trees on houses are finished. You can still call us to get in the queue for yard clean up.
  6. Please understand, your yard may get damaged. With it being very wet, combined with a large volume of work to do, your yard and driveway may get damaged more than if it was a regular tree job. We will make every effort to minimize this damage, but in emergency situations, we can’t spend extra time trying to protect the yard.
  7. Once the tree is removed from your house, it may be weeks before we get back to do a final cleanup of your yard. Again, be patient, as there is a large volume of damage across town.
  8. Your debris will be stacked by the road possibly for weeks. We will either give you a price to haul it later, or the city or FEMA will haul it.
  9. We will not be tarping or repairing roofs. Have a roofer or contractor on your short list of vendors.

You can find additional pointers by visiting our blog on Recovering for Summer Storm Damage in Tallahassee.

Storm damage is a predictable part of our summer weather in the Big Bend. Tree maintenance, trimming and removal are part of what we do to keep Tallahassee trees healthy. Moving your favorite tree is now a possibility with Miller’s Tree Service, as we recently invested in a tree spade –  available for both residential and commercial clients.

We are invested in keeping Tallahassee proactive against storm damage, so please call 850.894.TREE (8733) for a free arborist consultation before the next big storm!

Magnolia Trees – Picking, Planting and Care

Magnolia Trees for Tallahassee and North Florida

Magnolia trees are a popular choice for landscaping in Tallahassee due to their beautiful flowers, glossy foliage and ability to tolerate our hot, humid summers in zone 8b. From the classic Southern Magnolia to the compact Teddy Bear, magnolias make a beautiful addition to any landscape. After reading through the varieties, picking just one may prove impossible. If you have enough sunny yard space, consider adding two or more for a truly magnificent magnolia experience!

Magnificent Magnolia Varieties
Southern Magnolia Tree Flower

Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora):
One of the most classic of southern trees, the native Southern Magnolia is big, bold and green. With glossy, leathery evergreen leaves that are deep green on top and brown on the bottom, it provides shade year-round. A slow grower, the initial size of the tree can be deceiving in a five-gallon pot. Considering most Southern Magnolias reach a height of 60 to 80 feet and spread 30 to 50 feet, planning to leave plenty of room for growth is imperative.

While planning the location, be sure you have a spot in full sun to ensure plenty of beautiful white, fragrant blooms. At 8 to 10 inches in size, Southern Magnolia blooms live up to the name “Magnolia grandiflora.” Their heady fragrance in late spring and summer is magnified by the heat and humidity of Tallahassee.

Hardiest in zones 7-9, Southern Magnolias will tolerate a variety of soils including sand and clay. Once established and flowering, it also is a boon for wildlife. The cone in the middle of each flower matures into a pod of seeds that are eaten by birds and other wildlife. If you have a sunny space large enough for a mature Southern Magnolia, consider it for your next tree planting.
Southern Magnolia: 60-80 feet tall, 30-50 feet wide native, best grown in zones 7-9.


Sweetbay Magnolia

Sweetbay Magnolia (Magnolia virginiana): Another native species, Sweetbay Magnolias are smaller, deciduous or semi-evergreen trees with a dense, rounded canopy. The upper surface of each leaf is a dark green with the underside being a pale green or silver. The leaves are often gathered for their citrus scent, and used in potpourri, oils or tea. Also used for herbal remedies and some culinary dishes, the Sweetbay Magnolia leaves have a wide range of uses.

Slightly cupped and about 3 inches wide, Sweetbay Magnolia blooms may be small, but their fragrance is beautifully enhanced. Creamy white flowers bloom in late spring to early summer, emitting a lemony, citrus scent. Small pods with bright red seeds remain on the trees through winter.

The Sweetbay Magnolia is used in gardens, landscapes and naturalized areas. It is hardy in zones 5-9, and tolerant of wet or poorly drained soils. If you have a wetland or rain garden, this is the perfect magnolia. As a moderate grower, give it room to grow in a sunny spot where you can enjoy its fragrant blooms and leaves.

Sweetbay Magnolia: 10-35 feet tall and 10-35 feet wide native, best grown in zones 5-9, near a pond or rain garden.


Little Gem and Teddy Bear magnolia

Little Gem Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora ‘Little Gem’): A Little Gem Magnolia is the “mini-me” of the Southern Magnolia, growing 15-30 feet tall and 8-15 feet wide. The flowers are the same beautiful white with the classic magnolia fragrance, averaging 4 -6 inches in width with possible repeat blooming in the fall and winter.

If you have a sunny spot in your yard that is too small for a Southern Magnolia but you still yearn for its magnificence, then Little Gem is your landscape solution. As a dwarf cultivar, you get all the best of the classic magnolia at a portion of the size. If you have a bit more room, consider the Teddy Bear Magnolia, also a dwarf cultivar with more spread. Though not as prolific a bloomer, the Teddy Bear has deeper green leaves on its average 15-20 feet tall and 10-15 feet wide body.

Little Gem: 15-30 feet tall, 8-15 feet wide, dwarf cultivar of the Southern Magnolia in zones 6-10.
Teddy Bear: 15-20 feet tall, 10-15 feet wide, dwarf cultivar of the Southern Magnolia in zones 7-9.


Star magnolias come in many colors.

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata):  Similar in shape to the Teddy Bear Magnolia, Star Magnolia averages 15-20 feet wide and 15 feet wide. However, it differs greatly in hardiness, flower shape and available flower colors. Originally from Asia, the Star Magnolia is deciduous, dropping its leaves in fall with fragrant narrow petaled flowers of white, purple, pink, yellow or red appearing in early spring. After blooming, it produces bright pink seed pods, later bearing fruits full of brilliant orange seeds – a beautiful complement to its autumn-colored foliage.

Hardy in zones 4-9, the Star Magnolia tolerates both cold winters and hot, humid summers. Most often grown as multi-stemmed shrubs, blooms emerge on old wood.  Like most magnolias, the Star Magnolia prefers minimal pruning but, if you feel strongly about reducing stems, do your cutting after blooming so next year’s buds have a chance to develop.

Star Magnolia: 15-20 feet tall, 15 feet wide, indigenous to Japan and best grown in zones 4-9.


Jane Magnolias are deciduous

Jane Magnolia (Magnolia x ‘Jane’):

The Jane Magnolia is a small hybrid of the native Southern Magnolia that produces purple-red flowers in early spring. The foliage appears after the flowers bloom, beginning in mid-spring. The tulip-shaped flowers are between 4 to 8 inches when open, white on the inside with the outer purple fading to pink as the long-lasting blooms remain for up to 4 weeks.

Jane Magnolias are hardy from zones 4 through 8, losing their leaves in the fall with blooms appearing mid-spring. As a 10-15-foot-tall tree with a rounded canopy, their narrower width of 8-12 feet wide makes them suitable for smaller gardens or as a focal point in landscapes. Jane Magnolias are also versatile as they can be grown as a tree or shrub.

Jane Magnolia: 10-15 feet tall, 8-12 feet wide, native hybrid grown in zones 4-8.

Planting Pointers for Magnolia Trees

Magnolia trees prefer full sun to partial shade with at least six hours of full sun as a minimum. When looking for the perfect location, consider both the height and the width of the magnolia tree you are planting. It can be difficult to imagine a 3-foot tree growing to 50 feet tall and 30 feet wide, but leaving the room open around your new tree will allow it to reach its full growth potential.

Your magnolia will also prefer to be planted in cooler weather in slightly acidic soil. Amending the soil with compost when digging the hole will help lower the pH. The size of the hole should be slightly shallower than the top of the root ball and twice as wide. Planting the tree too deeply can lead to suffocation of the surface roots. Cut away any intruding roots from nearby shrubs.

As you are backfilling the hole with loosened soil, gently firm it down to eliminate air pockets. Always thoroughly water after planting – it helps settle the soil and give fresh water to the recently exposed roots of the tree. During the establishment phase, water infrequently and deeply to encourage deep root growth.

Caring for Your Magnolia


Mulching your magnolias follows many of the best practices found in our recent blog “Why Mulching Matters for Young Trees.” Organic mulches such as wood chips, bark or pine straw should be spread in an even layer of 2-3” under the tree canopy and 6” from the tree trunk. Never pile mulch up against a tree as that encourages pests and moisture to gather around the base of the tree.

For a mature Southern Magnolia mulching is not as important for retaining moisture in the soil. The broad spread of the evergreen tree canopy shades the ground, discouraging evaporation. However, for the smaller and deciduous varieties of magnolias, mulching helps reduce stress in dry and hot conditions by retaining moisture and keeping any surface roots cooler.


Magnolias are more prone to pruning stress than some of the other popular landscape trees in our Tallahassee area. Generally, magnolias grow in the shape they are meant to be, only requiring pruning of dead or damaged branches. If any shaping is needed, keep it as minimal as possible and plan to perform the pruning during slow growth months in the winter. If there is more extensive damage done from bad weather or a fellow tree falling, consider calling a certified arborist to determine the best plan for maximizing shape and minimizing stress on your magnolia.

Common Pests

Generally considered pest-resistant once established, healthy magnolias seldom require any specialized care. Examining leaves and the overall health of your tree on a regular basis can head off many pests before they become a problem. If you do notice pests or foliage issues beyond what you are comfortable treating, consult an arborist for a tailored treatment plan.

Scale Insects

If you see bees or wasps visiting your magnolia you may have an infestation of Magnolia or Tulip Tree scale. These insects survive by feeding on the water and sugar within the tree. Once they latch on with their elongated mouth into the tissues of the tree, they stay in the same place and begin excreting a sticky substance called honeydew, a food source for bees and wasps. Honeydew also drips down on leaves and causes issues with sooty mold, preventing photosynthesis on leaves and potentially starving the tree leaf by leaf.

If caught early on small trees, the scales can be removed with a small brush. On taller and more mature trees a systemic insecticide brings longer-lasting results. If left untreated and an infestation reaches a threatening level, horticultural oil can be used to smother the scales.


With small, elongated bodies and wings, thrips can spread quickly. They feed on the sap of a magnolia through the leaves. Females will lay their eggs on the ground near the tree with larvae appearing in spring. Keeping the ground around your magnolia free of decaying plant materials is one of your best defenses against thrips.

Because they are flyers, you can use sticky strips to trap them when they reach the adult stage. If you are interested in ladybugs, ordering some in to feed on the larvae will also put a stop to the sap-sucking thrips. If the swarm has already grown to a larger problem than the previously mentioned solutions can handle, spraying the leaves with a solution of horticultural oil is advisable. Please follow directions carefully to ensure proper concentration and application.

Mealy Bugs

Another sap happy pest, mealy bugs are often encountered on houseplants and ornamentals. The small, white and slightly elongated bodies can be found on magnolia leaves that are slightly deformed or yellow. Though they may look soft their backs have a strong shell that acts as protection. Mealy bugs move and reproduce quickly, making the use of horticultural oil a viable solution to preventing eggs from hatching. For a general defense, insecticidal soap or pesticides can be used.

Magnolia trees are some of the most magnificent landscape specimens in any Big Bend landscape. The wide varieties of sizes, bloom color and foliage mean there is a magnolia for any situation. Whether you plant the grand Southern Magnolia or the pretty pink flowered Jane, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing your magnolia will be providing you with a show of strength and beauty for years to come.

At Miller’s Tree Service, we often help our clients with the care of their magnolias. Our certified arborists can answer your questions about the placement of new trees to maximize sun and shade.

Contact us online here or call 850.894.TREE (8733) to schedule an arborist assessment – we are invested in keeping all of our Tallahassee trees looking their best!


Why Mulching Matters for Young Trees

Mulch is a popular way to spruce up flower beds and define the area between lawn and garden. It’s also used as a buffer, keeping moisture in soil longer instead of the sun baking the uncovered dirt dry. Mulching young trees certainly tidies up the area and helps hydration, but there are other benefits as well. Read on for more information on choosing the perfect mulch and best practices in application.

Why Mulch Your Young Trees

Mulching a young tree is beneficial because it helps retain moisture in the soil, regulate soil temperature, suppress weed growth and provides a source of nutrients as it decomposes and minimizes erosion. These benefits help the young tree establish its root system more effectively, grow more quickly and become more resilient to environmental stressors.

Moisture retention: Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil by reducing water loss through evaporation. This is especially important for young trees that have shallow roots and need to establish themselves in the soil.

Temperature regulation: Mulch acts as an insulator, regulating soil temperature and protecting the roots from extreme temperatures. Imagine the difference between cool, shaded soil and the Florida sun beating down on bare ground in July.

Weed suppression: Mulch helps suppress weed growth by minimizing the amount of light that reaches the soil. Weeds compete with young trees for water and nutrients by leaching them from the top surface of the soil before they can reach roots. While mulch helps, there are usually a few weeds that still make it through. Spot treat those with your weed deterrent of choice.

Nutrient cycling: As mulch made up of natural materials decomposes, it releases nutrients into the soil, benefiting young trees. The process is carried out by microorganisms such as bacteria and fungi, which feed on organic matter in the mulch. As they break down the mulch, they release nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium into the soil.

Erosion control: When rain falls on bare soil, it can create a hard crust on the surface, making it difficult for water to penetrate. This can lead to runoff and erosion. Mulch helps by minimizing impact and distributing moisture more evenly throughout the soil.


Which Mulch is Your Perfect Match

There are advantages and disadvantages of organic versus inorganic mulches. While each may find a use, the added advantage of nutrients being added to the soil during decomposition pushes organic to the front of desirable mulches for young trees.

Organic Mulches

shredded bark and woodchip mulch
Shredded Bark or Wood Chips

PRO – Provides long-lasting, attractive coverage and helps improve soil health by slowly decomposing over time and releasing nutrients into the soil. Also heavy enough to help prevent soil crusting and erosion.
CON – May attract pests such as termites or carpenter ants if not aged properly. Can also be flammable and pose a fire hazard in dry conditions if piled close to the home.


leaves and grass clippings tallahassee

Leaves or Grass Clippings

PRO – An inexpensive and readily available mulch that provides good moisture retention and weed suppression.
CON – Can mat down and form a barrier that prevents water from reaching the soil. Can also harbor diseases or pests if not composted properly.


compost and manure as mulch

Compost or Manure

PRO – Can provide a high-nutrient, slow-release source of fertilizer for plants, while also improving soil structure and water-holding capacity.
CON – May have a strong odor, attract pests, or contain pathogens if not aged properly. Can also be high in salts and potentially harm plants if used in excess. Be sure compost and manure are properly aged so the heat of decomposition does not burn plants.


pine needles for mulch

Pine Needles

PRO: An acidic mulch that can help acidify soil, making it ideal for acid-loving plants such as azaleas, blueberries and rhododendrons.
CON – May acidify soil to the point where some plants cannot grow. Can also be difficult to rake or remove once in place.


Cocoa Bean Shells

PRO – A decorative and fragrant mulch that can suppress weeds and retain moisture in the soil. Can also deter slugs and other pests.
CON – Can contain theobromine, a chemical toxic to dogs and other pets. May also be expensive and not readily available in all areas.


Sawdust or Wood Shavings

PRO: An inexpensive and effective mulch for suppressing weeds and retaining moisture. Can also improve soil structure over time as it decomposes.
CON: Can deplete nitrogen from the soil as they decompose, leading to nutrient deficiencies in plants. Can also be flammable and pose a fire hazard in dry conditions.


Inorganic Mulches


gravel and river rocks for mulch

Gravel or Rocks

PRO – A long-lasting and attractive option that can be used to create a decorative and low-maintenance landscape. Ideal for arid climates where water conservation is important.
CON – Can be difficult to remove or change once in place. May also heat up and contribute to increased temperatures around plants, leading to potential plant stress or damage. Rocks must be kept away from trunks as they can abrade surface areas of bark.


rubber mulches

Rubber or Recycled Tires

PRO – Provides long-lasting and durable coverage. Comes in a variety of colors and sizes.
CON – May release harmful chemicals over time and not decompose or contribute to soil health like organic mulches. Can also be visually unappealing in some landscapes. Beware of metal remaining in some rubber mulch recycled from tires.


sand or pebbles for mulch

Sand or Pebbles

PRO – Ideal for use in areas with high foot traffic or where drainage is a concern. Can also provide a decorative element to the landscape.
CON – Can be difficult to remove or change once in place. May also not decompose and contribute to soil health like organic mulches.


landscape fabric and geotextile membranes

Landscape Fabric or Geotextile Membrane

PRO -Provides effective weed suppression and moisture retention, while also allowing water and nutrients to pass through to the soil. Can be used in combination with other mulches for added benefits.
CON – Can be expensive and not visually appealing. May also prevent some beneficial insects or organisms from accessing the soil.


Mulch, Compost and Fertilizer

Can compost be used for mulch? Do you need fertilizer if you use mulch – or is it compost you’re thinking makes good mulch? The terms can get confusing, so here is a summary for reference before you plan the next steps of caring for your young trees.

Mulch is a layer of material applied to the surface of the soil around plants or trees, typically for the purpose of conserving moisture, suppressing weed growth, regulating soil temperature and improving soil health. Mulch can be made from a variety of materials, including organic materials such as leaves, wood chips and straw, as well as inorganic materials such as plastic or rubber. Mulching is a common practice in landscaping and gardening and can provide numerous benefits to plants and soil when applied correctly.

Organic mulch supplies some nutrients to the soil as it decomposes, but young trees likely need additional nutrients to encourage root growth and overall health.

Compost is a type of organic matter that has been decomposed and transformed into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. It is created by combining organic materials such as leaves, grass clippings, food scraps (not meat) and other plant material in a pile or bin and allowing them to break down over time through the process of aerobic decomposition. A note of caution – when compost is going through the active stage of decomposition it is considered “hot” and can damage plants.

Compost can also be purchased commercially to be used as a soil additive or organic fertilizer. Quantities from single bags to truckloads are easily available. For those looking to cover a large area, many landscape companies will offer a ready-made solution of part soil, part compost so it’s ready to use as soon as the truck departs.

Compost is often used as a natural fertilizer in gardening and farming and is considered an environmentally friendly alternative to chemical fertilizers.

Fertilizers are used to supplement the nutrients in soil that may be deficient or depleted, as well as to enhance the growth and productivity of plants. They contain a combination of macronutrients, including nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), as well as micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. For a more detailed information on ingredients and best practices, you can read our blog “The Scoop on Fertilizers.”

The type of fertilizer that should be used for young trees depends on a variety of factors, including the species of tree, the soil conditions and the age and size of the tree. Look for products that are high in phosphorus, which supports root development, and low in nitrogen, which can promote excessive leaf growth at the expense of root development. A balanced fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 10-10-10 or 12-12-12 may be appropriate for young trees but be sure to read the label and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for application rates and timing.

Best Practices – the Do’s and Don’ts of Mulching

valcano versus donut way to mulch

  • Do use organic mulch, preferably shredded bark or wood chips, for mulching your young tree.
  • Do mulch to within three inches of the trunk.
  • Do spread the mulch out to be 2 to 4 inches deep.
  • Do take the mulch out to the dripline – the end of the branches – of the tree.
  • Do renew mulch yearly.
  • Do not pile up against the trunk of the tree, creating an undesirable moisture trap and pest haven against the bark, often referred to as a tree volcano.
  • Do not exceed four inches of mulch creating an unnecessary expense.

Note: Larger, more mature trees do not require mulching, but it still looks nice

Overall, mulching young trees using organic mulch and best practices gives you an increased likelihood of success. Proper mulching, watering, nutrients and pruning all add up to watching your new tree grow to its full potential. Imagine the 4-foot twig with a few leaves growing to shade the house on warm summer days!

At Miller’s Tree Service, we love watching the progress of young trees growing in the landscapes we service each year. At a certain point, they are added to our trimming list, assuring proper branching and air movement for tree health. If you need help with your new or old trees, or even have one that needs to be moved, we can help. Call to schedule a free consultation with one of our arborists – they love talking about trees!  Contact us online here or call 850.894.TREE (8733) – we are invested in helping our neighbors keep their trees and landscape looking their best.



The Scoop on Fertilizers for Trees and Shrubs in Tallahassee

Fertilizers for trees and shrubs


Searching for the perfect fertilizer for trees and shrubs to thrive can be confusing when faced with different numbers on containers like 10-15-10 or 10-5-4. Maybe it’s safer to go with the bag made for specific trees such as palms, but then you wonder if it would harm the crape myrtle in the middle of the planting bed. The good news is once you have the basics down, the numbers make sense and you can concentrate on the optimal fertilizing practices that keep your Tallahassee trees and shrubs thriving.

What the Fertilizer Numbers Mean

The numbers on fertilizer represent the fertilizer’s N-P-K ratio, which stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are the three primary nutrients that plants need to grow, and the numbers represent the percentage of each nutrient in the fertilizer.

For example, a bag of fertilizer labeled 10-10-10 contains 10% nitrogen (N), 10% phosphorus (P), and 10% potassium (K) by weight. The remaining 70% of the fertilizer may consist of other nutrients or additives.

Different trees and shrubs have different nutrient requirements, so it’s important to choose a fertilizer with the appropriate N-P-K ratio. Generally, producing fruit or flowers requires a higher phosphorus content, while foliage-focused growth benefits from a higher nitrogen content. Potassium is important for overall health, helping trees and shrubs resist disease and stress.

Fertilizers can be organic or inorganic, and may also contain other ingredients, such as beneficial microorganisms, growth stimulants or soil conditioners.

Other Ingredients in Fertilizers for Trees and Shrubs

Specific nutrient needs can vary depending on factors such as the species, age and growing conditions. In addition to nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, other key nutrients to consider for tree and shrub health include:

  • Calcium (Ca) – Calcium helps maintain cell wall integrity and promotes overall plant health. It also plays a role in regulating soil pH and nutrient availability.
  • Magnesium (Mg) – Magnesium is essential for photosynthesis, enzyme activation and other metabolic processes. It is often deficient in soils with high potassium levels.
  • Iron (Fe), Zinc (Zn), and other micronutrients – Trees also require various micronutrients in smaller quantities for proper growth and development. Iron is important for chlorophyll production, while zinc plays a role in enzyme activation and hormone synthesis.

There are additional nutrients and additives in most commercially produced fertilizers that help in soil health and absorption. Be sure to ask your arborist when you have a question about specific needs for the trees in your landscape.

Concentrated vs Slow-Release vs Water Soluble

Not all fertilizers for trees and shrubs are meant to be applied in the same way. Concentrated, slow-release and water-soluble fertilizers differ in their formulation, nutrient content and release rate. Here are some of the key differences:

Concentrated fertilizers are generally high in nutrient content and are intended to be applied in smaller quantities than other types of fertilizers. They typically come in liquid or powder form and are applied to the soil or foliage. Concentrated fertilizers provide a quick source of nutrients, but need to be reapplied frequently to maintain nutrient levels.

Slow-release fertilizers are designed to provide a steady, long-term supply of nutrients to plants. They typically come in granular or pellet form and are applied to the soil. Slow-release fertilizers are coated with a material that breaks down over time, releasing nutrients gradually. This helps to avoid over-fertilization and can result in more even growth and better plant health.

Water-soluble fertilizers are mixed with water and applied to the soil or foliage. They are quickly absorbed by plants and provide a rapid source of nutrients. Water-soluble fertilizers are often used for foliar feeding, which involves applying fertilizer directly to the leaves. They can also be used as a supplement to other fertilizers.

In general, concentrated fertilizers are best for providing a quick boost, while slow-release fertilizers are ideal for providing a steady, long-term supply of nutrients. Water-soluble fertilizers are useful for quick, targeted applications, such as foliar feeding. The choice of fertilizer will depend on the specific needs of the trees and shrubs being grown.

Organic Fertilizer Alternatives

Organic fertilizers are derived from natural sources, such as plants, animals and minerals. They provide a variety of nutrients and can help improve soil health. Here are some common organic fertilizer solutions:

Compost is made from decomposed organic matter, such as food scraps, yard waste and manure. It is a rich source of nutrients, including nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as well as beneficial microorganisms that help improve soil health. Compost can be added to soil as an amendment or used as a top dressing around plants.

Animal manure, such as cow, horse or chicken manure is also a rich source of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. It can be added to soil as a soil amendment or used as a top dressing around plants.

NOTE: Manure should be aged or composted before use to avoid burning plants with high levels of nitrogen. Fresh manure can be acidic and may lower the pH of soil, making it difficult for plants to absorb nutrients.

Fish emulsion is a sustainable and environmentally friendly fertilizer option that utilizes waste materials from the fish processing industry. It is made from ground-up fish and is a rich source of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. It can be used as a liquid fertilizer for plants or as a foliar spray.

NOTE:  While it is possible to make this a DIY project, it entails grinding, fermenting and straining of fish scraps and byproducts. It is probably best to purchase at a retailer – commercially sold emulsion has gone through a pasteurization process that makes it more stable. The smell is considered unpleasant by most but can be minimized by application being done on a calm day with minimal wind and away from open windows or intake vents.

In addition to the fertilizers and nutrients mentioned, trees and shrubs require adequate water, sunlight and carbon dioxide to grow and thrive. Removing dead branches and proper pruning will keep your trees and shrubs strong, with proper air movement reducing wind damage and diseases.

Best Practices for the Environment

Fertilizers for trees and shrubs are most effective when in the correct combination of nutrients, in the right quantity and applied at the best time of year. Adhering to application instructions also protects your plants from chemical burn and minimizes impact on water and soil balances.

Here is a list of fertilizer best practices for easy reference:

Test your soil: Before applying any fertilizer, it is important to know the nutrient needs of your soil. Understanding which nutrients are lacking and which are abundant will help you choose the right fertilizer and avoid over-fertilization.

Follow the instructions: Always follow the instructions on the fertilizer label. Over-fertilization can lead to nutrient imbalances, pollution of waterways and damage to plants.

Apply at the right time: Apply the fertilizer for your trees and shrubs when they are actively growing and in need of nutrients. Avoid applying fertilizer during times of drought or high heat, as this can damage plants and increase the risk of nutrient runoff.

Apply at the right rate: Apply fertilizer at the recommended rate for your soil and tree or shrub. Using too much fertilizer can lead to nutrient leaching and runoff, while using too little can lead to stunted growth and poor plant health.

Apply evenly: Spread fertilizer evenly over the soil or apply it uniformly to foliage. Uneven application can lead to over-fertilization in some areas and under-fertilization in others.

Store and dispose of fertilizers properly: Keep fertilizers in a dry, cool place – away from children and pets. Dispose of unused fertilizer properly, following local regulations.

At Miller’s Tree Service, we help our clients with the care of their trees, shrubs and landscaping. Our certified arborists can answer your questions about nutrients while assessing the trimming or removal needs of your trees. Call 850.894.TREE (8733) to schedule a free arborist consultation – we are invested in keeping Tallahassee trees and shrubs looking their best!

Top 5 Topics of 2022 – Tallahassee Palms, Oaks, Camellias and More!

top 5 of 2022 blogs for azaleas palm trees crape myrtle camellias and oak trees in Tallahassee

read our top five blogs of 2022

How do I trim my crape myrtles? Is that a water oak or white oak in the front yard? Which palm trees will take the cold temps we get in Tallahassee? We have been answering these questions and more in our blogs on In case you missed the blog about this being the best time of year to plant camellias, it’s included in our TOP 5 of 2022! 

Proper Pruning of Crape Myrtles

Crape myrtle trees are a popular landscape staple in the Big Bend area. Vibrant blooms combined with interesting bark patterns make this deciduous tree gorgeous year-round. Most varieties lend themselves to having the classic vase-like shape with multiple trunks and strong branches arching outwards. January thru March are the perfect time for pruning crape myrtles in the Big Bend area. 

Following the seven simple steps outlined in this article will go a long way toward keeping your crape myrtle healthy and thriving. You may enjoy the newly pruned view so much this season that adding a few more varieties to your landscape becomes a goal. We have included a few of our favorite crape myrtles for inspiration! Click here for more crape myrtle information! 

Proper pruning of crape myrtles with pink flowers


Azaleas in Tallahassee – Perfect Spring Color Under Your Trees

Azaleas in bloom – our local Tallahassee sign that spring is here. The bursts of red, white and pink are often a splash of color under or around trees, taking advantage of much-needed shade. While new varieties offer new colors and bloom seasons, the best practices on planting, pruning and general care remain the same. Let’s explore how to have the healthiest and happiest (more blooms) azaleas in your Tallahassee neighborhood! 

Azaleas Thrive in Companion Planting with Trees

While some of the new varieties of azalea have more sun tolerance, many favorites are what our parents and their parents planted – shade-loving shrubs. A classic southern location for azaleas is under the shade of larger trees, gathered in groups or planted as a surround for the tree trunks. Whether the tradition of pairing shade trees and azaleas sprung from practicality or whimsy, the results provide a perfect balance for your spring bloomers. For more about Azaleas, click here! 

Azalea care in Tallahassee pruning planting and placement


A Tallahassee Guide to the Best Palm Trees for North Florida

Palm trees come in all shapes and sizes, but not all are meant for our Tallahassee weather. Luckily, some of the most beautiful palm trees for North Florida offer a wide variety of choices in frond shape, height and silhouette. Whether you chose the shorter Pindo or taller Sabal palm, be aware that palms are different from trees with their own best practices for care. 

Pick up any plant label and you see a hardiness zone number. The U.S. Department of Agriculture divides the United States into zones ranging from 1-13 with Zone 1 being the coldest and Zone 13 the warmest. If a palm has a temperature range of Miami’s Zone 11, planting it in Tallahassee’s Zone 8 means it will likely not survive our colder winter temperatures. For the blog on Zone 8 hardy palms and downloadable palm tree guide, click here. 

Best palm trees for Tallahassee and north Florida


How to Identify Florida Oak Trees Around Tallahassee  

There are around 600 oak varieties in the world, 90 of which are native to the United States. Considering oak trees have a wide variety of leaf shapes – sometimes on the same tree – it’s no wonder people get confused between laurel and live oaks. We have put together an article with some of the popular oaks in our area so you can identify the trees by their leaves and acorns. The accompanying notes will also help you identify potential issues and decide on new varieties for your landscape.  

For more information about local oaks, including drawings to help you identify which ones are in your yard or favorite park, read the blog here! 

How to identify local oak trees in Tallahassee and the Big bend area


Camellia Care in Tallahassee

When landscapes feel barren during our winter months in north Florida, any bursts of color you see are likely coming from Camellias. For centuries, these evergreen shrubs have been the choice of royalty and common gardeners alike. Luckily, camellia care is easy – the harder part is choosing among the thousands of varieties. 

The Sasanqua and Japonica species are most common in the Big Bend, with thousands of hybrids producing a wide array of flower forms and sizes. Both species are evergreen, able to provide privacy as hedges or grown alone to provide cool weather color. The Japonica species tends to be larger in size while the Sasanqua species tends to have smaller but more numerous flowers with more notable fragrance. There is even a camelia named “Tallahassee Girl!” For more information about selection, planting and care of camellias in our area, visit the blog here. 

Camellia selection and care in Tallahassee by Millers Tree Service

We hope you enjoyed our top five blogs of 2022. Join us on Facebook an Instagram for the latest news, fun facts and on-the-job photos. Comment or message us if you have a subject you would like to see addressed in one of our upcoming blogs. We love to help our neighbors through sharing knowledge and ideas. 

At Miller’s Tree Service, we care about your landscape – trees and camellias, azaleas and crape myrtles. When you have one of our arborists out for a free tree removal consultation, ask about replacement ideas and help sprucing up under your live oak. Our crews are proud about the care we show in cleaning up after a job, leaving your yard as clean, or cleaner, than when we started. Tallahassee is our home too, so keeping it beautiful – and safe – is our goal. 

 Call 850.894.8733 to plan your next tree planting, trimming or removal. We will always go out on a limb for you! 



Camellia Care in Tallahassee

Camellia Care in Tallahassee

When landscapes feel barren during our winter months in north Florida, any bursts of color you see are likely coming from Camellias. For centuries, these evergreen shrubs have been the choice of royalty and common gardeners alike. Luckily, camellia care is easy – the harder part is choosing among the thousands of varieties.

The Sasanqua and Japonica species are most common in the Big Bend, with thousands of hybrids producing a wide array of flower forms and sizes. Both species are evergreen, able to provide privacy as hedges or grown alone to provide cool weather color. The Japonica species tends to be larger in size while the Sasanqua species tends to have smaller but more numerous flowers with more notable fragrance.

Camellia Sasanqua

  • Mature size: 6 – 10 feet high and wide
  • Sun: Can tolerate part to full sun, preferring a sunny spot without harsh afternoon sun
  • Soil: Well drained with neutral to slight acidity
  • Bloom time: Late summer through the holidays. October – December
  • Flowers: Smaller than Japonica, but more numerous and fragrant

Camellia Japonica

  • Mature size: 7-12 feet high, 5-10 feet wide, upright growth
  • Sun: Blooms best with six hours sun per day. Avoid harsh afternoon sun to avoid sunburn
  • Soil: Can range from acidic to neutral or slightly acidic
  • Bloom time: Late winter, potentially staying through spring. December – March
  • Flowers: Larger than Sasanquas leaves and flowers

A local camelia: Tallahassee Girl – light pink with yellow anthers

TIP: If you enjoy growing your own herbs for tea, consider including Camellia sinensis in your plantings.

Commonly called the Tea Camellia, this hardy evergreen is heat and drought tolerant, growing well in full sun. Young leaves and leaf buds are used for green tea, older leaves for black tea and the buds for white tea. Keeping it pruned to under 5 feet produces the most options for tea, also making it a candidate for growing in a large pot.

Planting Your Camellias

November through February are the preferred planting times in north Florida. Late spring or summer is a possibility if camellia care is a top priority. Camellia roots prefer the cooler months without hot sun for development, so keep this in mind when planning your purchases.

When selecting where to plant your camellias, avoid full shade. Partial to more sun is needed to develop a strong plant and healthy blooms. Camellia sasanqua will tolerate more sun while japonica prefers partial shade, but neither will tolerate the hot, harsher afternoon sun we have here in the Big Bend.

DO NOT plant too deep! The root ball of a camellia plant must be 1-2- inches above the soil line. This allows for some sinking and gives the roots a chance to breathe. For optimum camellia care, it’s best to maintain a 2–3-inch layer of mulch in the root zone to conserve moisture. Be sure to mulch close, but not over the root ball to allow air exchange.

After the first camellia is in the ground, you may be tempted to plant others closer because the young plants look smaller once planted. Keep in mind that their average size once mature is between 5-10 feet in width. Planting them too close together now means crowding and lack of air flow in a few years, leading to pests and disease.


Pruning Your Camellias

Camellia care includes proper pruning to remove damaged or dead branches and allow air flow through the plant. The good news is most camellias maintain a consistent shape, minimizing pruning. When a wayward branch heads in the opposite direction, remember pruning is best done in late winter or early spring, after the blooming season.

One type of pruning to avoid is shearing – taking off the top of the plants in a row to create a hedge of same height camellias. Shearing destroys the shape of camellias, causing them to try recreating their natural form. This results in dense outer layers that minimize air flow and light reaching the inner branches, causing loss of leaves and risk of disease.

Propagating Your Camellias

You may love your camellias so much, you decide you want to try propagation. Seeds do not give consistent results, so you will find most camellias are propagated from cuttings or layering. These methods ensure the new plants will have the characteristics of the parent plant.

Layering is a good introduction to propagation, potentially yielding a new plant in a matter of months. It requires selecting a stem with new growth, about 18-24 inches long, then removing part of the bark. For air layering, sphagnum moss is used to create a rooting environment when wrapped around the exposed bark. You can use a similar method, simply called layering, that encourages rooting of the exposed bark once it is bent to the ground and covered with soil.

Whether you chose cutting, grafting or a form of layering, there are a variety of resources available that will walk you through the process step-by-step. When searching, start with the general term of “propagating camellias” getting more specific with “air layering camellias” or other choices as you progress.

Where to Find Out More About Camellias

We are fortunate in Tallahassee to have a variety of nurseries with knowledgeable staff ready to help you with your selection and camellia care questions. You may find like-minded people in clubs – including the Tallahassee Camelia Society that meets monthly from October to May. There is also the Tallahassee Garden Club, a gathering of gardening enthusiasts since 1926, which hosts monthly plant exchanges for their 500-plus members. There is no shortage of resources both local and online for you to continue learning about camelias, including ways to expand your collection.

At Miller’s Tree Service, we care about your landscape – trees and camellias, azaleas and crape myrtles. When you have one of our arborists out for a free tree removal consultation, ask about replacement ideas and help sprucing up under your live oak. Our crews are proud about the care we show in cleaning up after a job, leaving your yard as clean, or cleaner, than when we started. Tallahassee is our home too, so keeping it beautiful – and safe – is our goal.

Call 850.894.8733 to plan your next tree planting, trimming or removal. We will always go out on a limb for you!

The Right Tool for Pruning Tallahassee Trees

Having the right tool for pruning can make all the difference in securing a better outcome for your trees. This is particularly true when it comes to cutting back suckers at the base of your tree and removing dead limbs. Shears and saws are generally the tools of choice when pruning, but not all work the same. The choice of which tool to use comes down to location on the tree, size of the growth needing cut and any physical considerations of the person pruning.

Pruning Shears

Bypass Shears

For smaller suckers and the ends of limbs, pruning shears are the right tool for pruning. Consisting of two blades with handles usually fitting in a single hand, there are three type of shears. Sometimes referred to as cutting scissors, bypass shears have blades that cross one another as the branch is being cut in between blades. These are best used on the smallest suckers or limb parts. One thing to be aware of with bypass pruners is both blades must be sharp on the cutting edge for a good cut to occur.

Anvil ShearsOn the other hand, anvil shears need a single sharp blade that comes down onto a flat surface, or anvil. The single blade is sharpened on both sides, leading to slightly more tolerance when dullness occurs. Anvil shears make clean cuts and can potentially handle larger diameter cuttings, depending on wood thickness and blade condition.

Ratchet Shears

If you have concerns about muscle strength or joint issues, a ratchet shears may be a great solution. As the name suggests, the blades begin a cut, latching into place with a ratchet-like mechanism. When you let up on the tension, the blades remain in place, waiting for your next squeeze. The mechanics of a ratchet pruner leverages your strength, essentially stabilizing and multiplying your efforts. It’s especially nice that the blades remain in place without constant pressure.

Loping shears

Loping shears are in-between the single hand shears and pruning saws. With longer handles, they are the right tool for pruning smaller twigs above arm length without a ladder. For those who have difficulty kneeling down, loping shears are great for clipping suckers at ground level. They are heavier than pruning shears so arms and shoulders can become fatigued quickly, so pace yourself. If you have branches that are higher than loping shears can reach or thicker than a ratchet pruner can handle, it’s time to switch to saws as a solution.

Pruning and Pole Saws

There is a wide variety of saws available for pruning, varying in blade length and handle shape. Most pruning saws cut 1 ½- to 5-inch diameter branches with anything above that better suited to powered versions such as chain saws. One thing pruning and pole saws have in common is a metal blade with teeth designed for cutting to be done in a back and forth, push/pull motion.

Pruning Saw

Pruning saws with straight blades and curved handles are easier to hold and are good choices for new wood and lighter duty tasks. Curved blades are generally stronger, suited for heavier duty tasks but can be awkward in tight spaces. If portability is important, consider stocking your pruning kit with a folding saw. Coming in a wide variety of sizes, the saw blade folds inward toward the handle for easier and safer storage.

Pole Saw (closeup)

Pole SawFor higher branches and limbs, consider a pole saw. Often a single blade mounted on a pole, these saws allow you to reach much higher into a tree without climbing a ladder. Some have the option for shear-like cutters at the end of the pole; the choice depends on availability and personal preference. Poles also vary from fixed length to telescoping, 6 feet to more than 15 feet long. If you have a limb that exceeds the height of your pole, it’s time to bring out a ladder and your personal protective gear.

Pruning Safety

Before you begin ANY pruning, it’s time to break out the safety gear. Just like having the right tool for pruning gives you a better outcome, the right gear gives you a safer pruning experience. Work gloves will protect your hands from hidden hazards like thorn vines and safety glasses protect your eyes from falling debris. A short list to have on hand includes:

  • Safety glasses
  • Work gloves
  • A sturdy, long sleeved shirt
  • Thick pants
  • Closed toe shoes (preferably work boots with hard toes and thick soles)
  • A hard hat/helmet

Include any helpers you have, even if they are not actively pruning. It is not unheard of for someone removing debris to step on a sharp sucker or be snagged by a leafy limb. Sturdy shoes and safety goggles can make the difference between a slight stumble or medical emergency.

NOTE: If the tree limbs or branches are too large for pruners, using the right tool still applies, this time with equipment such as chain saws. Wearing protective gear and knowing proper operation and care of equipment is critical for safe operation. Follow manufacturer’s instructions and wear appropriate safety gear, even if dealing with only one branch.

If your pruning is overhead, the same focus on safety applies, plus some. Before climbing any ladders, review the Ladder Safety information available at the American Ladder Institute. Even if you think it’s a five-minute job, have someone there to keep the ladder steady and be on the lookout for other hazards. In the Big Bend area, a few things to remember are wasps and bees like trees too – so remind your helper to look up, down and around!

Properly pruned trees are healthier and less likely to succumb to diseases and storm damage. But improper trimming may cause damage, inviting rot or infestations. If you are not sure where to begin or prefer to keep your feet firmly on the ground, we completely understand. Instead, you can schedule one of our arborists to come out for a free consultation. We love talking about trees and landscaping any time of the year! Call Miller’s Tree Service at 850.894.8733 for consultations, estimates or emergencies.

When Trees Go Down in a Storm – 9 Tips on What to Expect After Severe Weather

When a severe weather or a hurricane causes damage in Tallahassee, our top priority will be homes hit by trees. In a case of widespread damage, downed trees in yards will be scheduled after those on homes.

In times of emergency, Miller’s Tree Service has a large team to help service our area as best as possible. We will have at least 12 crews and at least 6 cranes at our disposal to help with emergency clean up.

Tree on house after severe weather.

Here are a few things to remember no matter which tree company you use:

  1. Call us first, then your insurance company, then a roofer or contractor of choice. Have your insurance information ready at the time of the call.
  2. Do not pay any vendor up front for any work and always ask for a copy of their insurance.
  3. We know it is a difficult time, but please be patient! Thousands of calls will be coming in and they will be prioritized based on location, severity and order of the call.
  4. We will only be handling trees on houses and structures until those are cleared up.
  5. If you have trees in your yard, they will have to wait until trees on houses are finished. You can still call us to get in the queue for yard clean up.
  6. Please understand, your yard may get damaged. With it being very wet and a large volume of work to do, your yard and driveway may get damaged more than if it was a regular tree job. We will make every effort to minimize this damage, but in emergency situations, we can’t spend extra time trying to protect the yard.
  7. Once the tree is removed from your house, it may be weeks before we get back to do a final cleanup of your yard. Again, be patient, as there is a large volume of damage across town.
  8. Your debris will be stacked by the road possibly for weeks. We will either give you a price to haul it later, or the city or FEMA will haul it.
  9. We will not be tarping or repairing roofs. Have a roofer or contractor on your short list of vendors.


Thank you for trusting us through the years with all of your tree care needs. We love our community and pride ourselves on our quality of work and the relationships we build with each customer. Call us for the emergency of a downed tree at 850.894.TREE (8733). Please be safe and God Bless!