ABWA Presentation July 9, 2008
Florida native plants may be hard to find at your local
garden center, but demand is growing so the supply will
follow. In the meantime, here are some tips on finding
native plants that may be suited to your yard:
Visit parks and preserves to view native plants in their
natural setting. Undisturbed acreage near your home may
work to. See what grows well in your area. Take
photographs to show to knowledgeable people for later
plant identification, or carry a good field guide that
includes color photos.
Visit the library and book stores, particularly those at
botanical gardens, to find good reference books on
Florida native plants.
Attend meetings and field trips organized by the Florida
Native Plant Society. Members often swap plants and
seeds, as well as knowledge on what grows best in your
area. Attend meetings and field trips organized by the
Florida Native Plant Society or other horticultural
When buying your plants, order from a nursery or ask
your local garden center to order the native plants you
want. Provide a list with scientific names, specifying
the size of plant you want.
the plants you want are not available through local
garden centers, visit plant nurseries that specialize in
Florida native plants
Consider hiring a landscape architect or contractor who
specializes in native plants to survey your yard make
landscaping suggestions. This may be a wise investment,
particularly if you are planning major changes.
urban development is replacing native wildlife habitat.
As our communities expand, we see the loss of birds and
other wildlife. For example critters that were in our
neighborhood, but have been chased out by new
construction include river otters, foxes, and
Florida Yard provides habitat for desirable plants and
animals that have been displaced by development. Think
about adding a few features for wildlife to bring birds,
butterflies and beneficial insects such as lady bugs and
praying mantis into your garden.
Basically, wildlife will be attracted by food, water and
cover. You can create a wildlife habitat in your yard
Providing food in the form of plants that bear seed,
fruit, foliage or flowers that you are willing to plant
to benefit birds, caterpillars and adult butterflies.
Berries, fleshy fruits, nuts and acorns are treats for
Adding water sources such as a pond or a bird bath.
Maintaining for the birds areas that include a tree
canopy, smaller understory trees and shrubs, and grasses
or flowers, especially those that are allowed to go to
aware that pets that are allowed to wander outside will
defeat any efforts you make toward attracting wildlife.
For example cats and birds or dogs and squirrels.
Pesticides used in the landscape will reduce insect
populations, an important food source for birds and
frogs. Some chemicals will poison birds that eat the
Caterpillars on plants may be the larval form of
butterflies. Each species of butterfly lays its eggs on
a particular species of plant. For example, the rare
Atala Hairstreak butterfly lays its eggs on
Butterflies of different species are attracted to
specific flowering nectar plants such as native
wildflowers, shrubs and vines.
Dead trees should be left in place if they don't
threaten structures or people. Birds use dead trees for
perches, nesting and sources of insects for food.
About Preventing Runoff
Here's a basic concept of a Florida Friendly Yard: Rain
that falls in your yard should soak into your yard. Rain
is the best source of water for your plants, and
reducing runoff will help protect the waterways.
Retaining rainfall long enough for it to percolate
through the soil is the ideal scenario.
the roof of your home has rain gutters, make sure the
downspouts are not aimed toward a paved surface. Turn
downspouts into areas with plantings that will make
better use of rainfall than letting it run down the
driveway and into a storm drain. Be sure to choose
plants for these areas that can adapt to having more
water, and be sure water doesn't pool next to buildings.
Large, plastic rain barrels are available at home and
garden stores. The barrel looks like a garbage can, but
has a hole in the top where a roof downspout can fit
valve near the bottom allows you to fill a watering can
or connect a hose. These barrels are great for
hand-watering, and they aren't mosquito-attracters as
long as the downspout fits tightly. The barrel is not
unsightly, and a four-foot shrub could easily shield it
Whenever possible, use bricks, gravel, turf block,
mulch, pervious concrete or other porous materials for
walkways, driveways or patios. These materials allow
rainwater to seep into the ground helping to filter
pollutants and reducing the amount of runoff from your
Maintaining Your Florida Yard
Caring for Florida starts with caring for your yard.
perfect yard is less than ideal if caring for it causes
you to pollute. A good landscape design incorporating
the right plants in the right places reduces maintenance
requirements and costs. For most yards it will be
necessary to perform some maintenance, including:
Mowing, Edging, Pruning, Raking
Pollution-free yard maintenance is easy when plants are
selected with that in mind. If your existing landscape
is too much work or requires maintenance that pollutes,
you should consider changing some plants in your yard.