Using Native Plants

Introduction

Native plants are those that occur naturally in an area. Native species have evolved over time with the biological and physical factors specific to their region such as soil, climate, and rainfall.

Benefits to Landscaping with Native Plants

Native plants provide food and shelter for native wildlife. The great variety of plant species for all conditions carries a high habitat value. For a list of wildlife-friendly native plants, check out Native Plants for Backyard Florida Habitats. Check out the University of Florida's Wildlife Extension Web site for complete information on Landscaping for Wildlife.

Native plants help to restore regional landscapes. They are the best species adapted to local conditions that thrive with the least care and create a sense of place.

"Wherever I go in America, I like it when the land speaks its own language in its own regional accent."
--Lady Bird Johnson, Wildflowers Across America (1993).

Using native plants promotes wise stewardship of the land and conservation for our natural areas. Native species are members of a community of plants, animals, and microorganisms that keep each other in check and won't harm natural areas.

Where do you find native plants for your yard? Well, first, please don't remove them from natural wild areas. Instead, visit the National Native Plant Nursery Directory online to find plant nurseries in your state that sell native plants.

Native Landscaping Principles

Right Plant, Right Place--assess your local site conditions and select compatible plants whose ultimate size and shape fit your needs.

Plant Diversity--using a variety of plants provides a more diverse wildlife habitat and more seasonal interest, and makes pest and disease damage less noticeable.

Vertical Layers--a multi-layered approach to your lawn (e.g., using grass, ground cover, bushes or shrubs, and trees of different heights) creates a diverse habitat and provides more home cooling ability and cover for wildlife that utilize plants in different ways.

Native Plant Species that Attract Wildlife

sweetgum

Sweetgum--seeds

Liquidambar styraciflua

live oak

Live oak--mast (acorns)

Quercus virginiana

wax myrtle

Wax myrtle--berries

Myrica cerifera

beautyberry

Beautyberry--berries

Callicarpa americana

cabbage palm

Cabbage palm--fruit

Sabal palmetto

longleaf pine

Longleaf pine--structure

Pinus palustris