Skyblue clustervine is an evergreen, twining vine and is endangered in Florida. It is also known as Key West morning-glory, and occurs naturally in coastal hammocks and along wetlands in South Florida. It attracts a variety of pollinators, including the nessus sphinx (Amphion floridensis), tantalus sphinx (Aellopus tantalus) and tersa sphinx (Xylophanes tersa) moths, which pollinate the flowers at dusk.
Hammock snakeroot is yet another member of the Eupatorieae tribe of the Aster family, which means its flowers consist of only disk and no ray florets. It flowers in summer through early winter and occurs naturally in pine flatwoods, sandhills, hammocks, upland mixed woodlands, and along roadsides and stream banks. Flowers are attractive to a variety of bees, butterflies and birds, but the plant is poisonous to both humans and livestock if ingested.
Climbing aster is a robust vine-like shrub that produces many fragrant daisy-like blooms of lavender to pinkish or even bluish. It occurs naturally in floodplain swamps and marshes, in coastal hammocks and wet pine flatwoods, and along riverbanks and lake edges, and is an excellent nectar source for many butterflies and bees.
Drumheads is a low-growing wildflower that blooms from late spring through fall. They occur naturally throughout most of Florida in wet pinelands, savannas and other open wetland habitats, as well as along marsh edges. The name Polygala comes from the Greek polys, which means “many or much,” and gala, which means “milk.” It is so-named because it was once believed that the presence of Polygala species in cow fields would result in higher milk production.
Garberia is a member of the Eupatorieae tribe of the Aster family, whose members produce flowers consisting of only disk and no ray florets. It is unlike most Aster species in that its growth habit is woody and shrubby rather than herbaceous. It is endemic to Florida’s north and central peninsula, and occurs naturally in scrub and xeric hammocks. It is a state-listed threatened species.
Narrowleaf sunflower (also known as swamp sunflower) is one of Florida’s most common sunflowers. It occurs naturally in marshes, wet flatwoods, and roadside ditches and is attractive to bees, butterflies and birds.
Mistflower, blue mistflower, wild ageratum, pink eupatorium, hardy ageratum, and blue boneset are just some of the many common names used to identify this eye-catching Florida native wildflower that is also very attractive to pollinators, especially butterflies and moths.
Feay’s palafox is a very unique wildflower, endemic only to Florida’s central and southern peninsula. Although it is a member of the Aster family, it bears few visual similarities. It is more woody than herbaceous; its blooms are without the petal-like ray florets; and its disk florets are tubular.
Establishing a wildflower garden from seed is easier than you’d think, and now is the time to get started. We’ve made it easy for you with these resources.
Forked bluecurls is an herbaceous to woody annual that bears dainty yet distinctive bluish-purple blooms. Flowers are short-lived, opening only in the morning, but individual plants may produce thousands of flowers throughout a season. It also has a particularly long flowering season, typically beginning in late summer and lasting through late fall.
If you have ever walked a trail with a botanist to discover and name each flower you pass, you realize the importance of plant morphology in the taxonomic routine of plant identification. Not only do the “small parts” of each flower and leaf provide clues to each plant’s identity and separate members of the same genus and family, they also show the evolutionary trends that forced that species to specially adapt for survival.
‘Tis the season for seed collecting. As you return to the garden after the last two months of unbearable heat, biting bugs and sweat, you’ll probably encounter a lot of overgrown stems. Cut those back to their base to freshen up the plant for winter. Trailing species, such as beach sunflower and Gaillardia, can also be whacked into submission and will probably bloom again by late November.
“Fall is for planting” has been the unofficial promotional campaign of the nursery industry for many years. This slogan applies to sowing seeds of native wildflowers and grasses as well, at least here in Florida. Establishing a planting of wildflowers, whether as a garden or converting some turfgrass to a low-maintenance area, is very laudable, but it first requires a reality check.
Jackie Rolly joined the Florida Wildflower Foundation when she purchased a license plate for her car many years ago. She’s also a member of the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS), as well as the Audubon Society and the Sierra Club. On Mondays, you’re likely to find her at the Oakland Nature Preserve (ONP) where she’s been working since 2007. And when the travel bug bites, Rolly volunteers for expeditions with Earthwatch Institute, on which she’s done such things as helped track wild elephants in Sri Lanka and studied biodiversity in the vineyards of France.
Sometimes we think of spring as having the showiest wildflower display, but I think this time of year wins that title. Somehow nature has worked this out. Pollinators are abundant, gathering their provisions before cold weather comes. The fall wildflowers are taller too, having had the whole summer to grow.