By Roger Fisk
When it comes to adding beauty and character to your landscaping, you can’t go wrong with flowers. Homeowners in Florida are fortunate. The warm, humid climate makes it easy to grow flowers that would be a hard sell in other environments. If you’re ready to watch your property blossom, here are some great tips for incorporating wildflowers into your Florida landscape.
Location, Location, Location
One of the most important things to remember when you’re doing any type of property renovation is that Florida’s environment is unique. So, be wary of one-size-fits-all solutions. Lawn care that works in most states won’t cut it in the sandy, windy, watery conditions your home experiences. Even within Florida, there are multiple climates and soil types. When you’re looking for advice on anything having to do with home improvement or building materials, go local. The professionals who work with Florida plants and soil every day are full of info you can’t always find on a website.
Opt for Native Plant Species
Plants are an investment, one you want to make sure thrives in your environment. Native plants are already poised to grow without any outside help.
Florida is blessed with an abundance of beautiful native flowers. They do well in sandy soil, torrential downpours, and heavy winds. They need less water, less fertilizer, and less maintenance than other species. Native plants are also good at preventing erosion. They’re also easier to find (and cheaper) and your local home and garden stores. Florida wildflowers have an extra advantage: You can find them everywhere!
Create a Wildflower Garden
Since wildflowers are super adaptable, it doesn’t take much to plant a garden full of them. You could probably chuck a handful of local wildflower seeds anywhere on your property, and they’d grow. The problem? They could quickly grow out of control.
A wildflower garden allows you to design which plant goes where. Start with the tallest species in the back, and layer it with shorter growing flowers in the front. Standing cypress or the blue porter weed are excellent florals for the back row, and even provide a bit of privacy. Wild columbine can add a bit of color. Stokes’ aster makes a good front-row plant. Line the edges of your property with needle palm and beautyberry shrubs for a sharp contrast.
A bonus? Your wildflower garden will attract plenty of bees and other area pollinators. That is great news for your flower garden as well as all the other gardens in your neighborhood!
Avoid Invasive Species
Florida’s warm, humid climate also makes it ideal for invasive species such as Brazilian peppers, climbing fern and lantana camera (not to be confused with Florida lantana), to thrive here. These invasive plants choke out the local plants and leave the area with less biodiversity.
Florida lantana is now on the endangered list, thanks to imports from Asia. The invasive lantana camera is also hindering Florida’s citrus crop. Even though it’s toxic to cattle and pets, this, like many invasives, is legal to plant and surprisingly easy to purchase.
Your best defense against planting something that will end up being more trouble than it’s worth is to talk to a local professional. They’ll be able to show you plenty of options that will accent your property without any unforeseen consequences!
Roger Fisk is a freelance journalist and landscaper. He and his two German shepherds enjoy listening to classical music while tending to the garden. All three of them enjoy chasing butterflies in the yard.