With interest mounting in using wildflowers in urban landscapes, there is a huge demand for information for those new to Florida’s native plants. Enter “20 Easy-to-Grow Wildflowers,” a new publication from the Florida Wildflower Foundation. The free 24-page magazine features a selection of 20 “tried and true” species that are easy to grow and maintain.
The Florida Wildflower Foundation has received a $17,000 grant from Stanley Smith Horticultural Trust for its project, “20 Easy Wildflowers to Grow Now!” It includes a publication, continuing education courses for horticultural professionals, and live social media events.
It’s November, and you might not expect to see any showy bloom of native wildflowers and grasses. But don’t jump too that conclusion too fast, because beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Dr. Loran Anderson is a professor emeritus in the department of biological science at Florida State University in Tallahassee. His research has focused on plant taxonomy and systematics in the Florida Panhandle and elsewhere. He is currently compiling a checklist of native plants in Panhandle counties that will include rare and endangered species. Over the course of his career, he has authored numerous publications and has named (i.e., described for science) 12 new Florida native plant species or subspecies. Dr. Anderson is a long-time member of the Florida Wildflower Foundation. In 2016, he received the Foundation’s “Coreopsis Award” in recognition of contribution to Florida’s wildflowers.
2-page information sheet on the planting and care of Silver-leaved aster (Pityopsis graminifolia) in the home landscape
Chris Waltz, volunteer extraordinaire and wildflower-gardening enthusiast, was inspired by people saying they can’t grow natives because they live in an apartment, condo, or other small space. He started thinking: They grow houseplants and annuals; why can’t they grow natives the same way? The result? A “pollinator garden in a pot.”
More than 38,000 visitors have had the opportunity to become better acquainted with the beauty and benefit of Florida’s native wildflowers since the establishment of a wildflower demonstration garden at the Pinellas County UF/IFAS Extension in Largo. The garden was funded by a $3,000 grant from the Florida Wildflower Foundation.
Also known as silver-leaved aster, grass-leaved goldenaster, and silky golden-aster, narrowleaf silkgrass is a robust perennial with brilliant yellow flowers and silvery leaves. It flowers in late summer through early winter in sandhill, flatwoods and scrub habitats throughout the state.
Many of us have had the pleasure of seeing gopher tortoises (or at least their burrows) on nature walks. They live in every county in Florida, and although they are associated with dry sandhills, they may also be found in many diverse areas such as pine flatwoods, oak hammocks, scrub areas and coastal dunes. Open pastures and vacant lots can also be a refuge for them. Gopher tortoises (Gopherus polyphemus) prefer sunny open land with sandy soil that is also conducive to the growth of many of our Florida wildflowers. So it is no surprise that wildflowers make up a significant portion of their diet.
If you have added wildflowers to your landscape, you’ve probably learned how adaptable they are to a wide range of environmental conditions. Although it is a challenge to introduce wildflowers to a dry site, many species will adapt and flourish once established.
Fall color hard to find in Florida? Not if you travel along rural roads. Now is the time to be looking for wildflowers throughout the state. Fall wildflowers are in full bloom, with the best places to find them being open areas without homes or businesses. Those areas, including woodland edges, provide the bright light that many species of native wildflowers thrive in. And rural areas are better than urban environments for two reasons – more natural stands of wildflowers, and expectations for manicured landscapes are lower.