Why include native plants in your landscape?
There are a number of reasons to include Florida native plants in your landscape, with two very important ones being the sustenance and shelter they provide to our native birds, butterflies, insects and other wildlife, and money savings for you.
To be considered native, plants and other creatures would have been present in our territory prior to any initial contact with Europeans; so, prior to the 16th century. The symbiotic relationship and co-dependence that would have been present hundreds of years ago continue in today’s environment. It is wonderful to think that the native plants in our landscape today have connection to a distant past.
When we plant a diversity of native plants, we can do our part to help ensure the continuance of other native species, e.g., our native insects and the birds and other insects that feed upon them. This diversity also provides a refuge for our fauna, providing protection from the weather, resting places for lovely creatures such as butterflies and a safe place for nesting animals.
Because many native plants are drought tolerant once established, their watering needs are greatly lessened unlike, for example, turf. Many people enjoy the look of a well-manicured lawn but, did you know that most turf grasses are water guzzlers? If one were to compare an equal square footage of native plants to turf, the grass consumes at least three times the water. If we were to replace a portion of that turf with native plants, it would equate to savings for us and help preserve our precious water resources.
Planting natives can prove to be a lower-maintenance money-saver. Unlike turf, which often requires considerable maintenance to stay healthy, and the need for fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides, native plants often do well in the absence of these products when planted in the right place. And no mowing required nor the need for gas mowers polluting the air! It is definitely a win-win for the environment and us.
On a related note: Lee County Master Gardener volunteer, Rose Larkin will be presenting “Gardening With Native Plants” at the North Fort Myers Public Library on Thursday, Feb. 16, from 2:30-3:30 p.m. Library location: 2001 N. Tamiami Trail, North Fort Myers. During the free session you will learn much more about the positive benefits of adding natives to your landscape, and be introduced, through vivid pictures, to a wide array of native plants that do well in Southwest Florida. Handouts and tips on planting natives using Florida-Friendly Landscaping principles will be available and a Q&A session will round out the hour presentation. What a great learning experience it will be!
To register for the in-person presentation, go to https://GS2223.eventbrite.com. You can also register to attend online via zoom by visiting https://GS2223zm.eventbrite.com.
Other presentations planned for 2023, and for which you can also register through Eventbrite, include: Plants that Bloom Year Round at the Lakes Park Library on Jan. 19; Compost: Black Gold for Your Garden at Rotary Park on March 16; Butterfly Basics at the Dunbar Library on April 22; and Water Quality (Exploring the World of Microplastics) at Rotary Park on May 18. All hour-long presentations are free to the public and begin at 2:30 p.m.
Until next time…Happy Gardening!
Janetta Fox is a Lee County Master Gardener volunteer and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.
Jurgensen, A. (May, 2015). Attracting wildlife with florida native plants. Plant City Observer. Retrieved from https://www.plantcityobserver.com/attracting-wildlife-florida-native-plants/
Purnell, J. (June, 2022). 12 reasons you should grow native plants. LawnLove. Retrieved from https://lawnlove.com/reasons-to-grow-native-plants/
Vaughn, M. (Oct, 2021). Gardening uncovered: florida native species. Central Ridge Villager. Retrieved from https://ansonnursery.net/newsletters/10%202021%20-%20FL%20Native%20Species.pdf