Plants that have been in Florida for thousands of years are known as native plants. They thrive in our warm, salty air and our rocky soil, and are adjusted to getting most of their water in the summer. We want lots of them! By planting and preserving Florida-friendly plants, you are helping to preserve native tree, plant, flower and even vegetable populations.
Unfortunately, we also have invasive plants here (also known as exotics or non-native plants). Invasives were brought here recently (maybe in the last few hundred years, often from other countries, either on purpose or by accident, by people who visited here or moved here. The problem with invasive plants is that they take over, often stealing water, soil and even sunlight from native plants. This is because the invasives do not have natural things controlling them like climate, diseases, or insects found in their original habitat. Once they are established in Florida, they can grow quickly and can be very difficult to remove.Being Florida friendly means following nine key principles when gardening. including selecting plants that are right for our climate, putting them in the right places in your garden, and taking care of them properly and with minimal extra water and chemicals. It also means looking out for those invasive plants and animals, and removing them. Participating in our annual Air Potato Round Up or reporting lionfish when you see them are great ways to do that.
The City of Fort Lauderdale hosts the annual Great Air Potato Roundup at Snyder Park. Volunteers are invited to round up invasive Air Potato bulbils. Awards are given for the densest and heaviest bucket of potatoes found. Volunteers receive a t-shirt and buckets for collection are provided. Call (954) 828-4341 for more information.
Building your own rain barrel is a great addition to your Florida-friendly garden. A rain barrel catches rain water that flows off of your rooftop, into a gutter, and through a downspout. This water would normally flow out onto the sidewalk, driveway, or ground and work its way to a storm drain or into the soil. You can put that water to good use in your garden, especially for vegetable plots. Most rain barrels can be hooked up to a hose so the water can be easily used. You could even use extra water to wash a car or flush a toilet!
Identify invasive plants that may be inviting themselves into your yard using the Florida’s Most Wanted list provided by the South Florida Water Management District. They also provide a tool for kids to find out whether or not your yard at your home or school is aFlorida Friendly Yard.
Check out theFlorida Exotic Pest Plant Council’s 2013 List of Invasive Plant Speciesfor a detailed list of all invasive plants in Florida. Clicking on the name of a plant will provide you with pictures, a description of the plant, how its growth is being managed, and the effect it has on our environment.
The Nature Conservancy has created a list of ways that you canhelp stop the spread of invasive species