It’s not a garden, it’s a habitat

Ecologists estimate that only 3 to 4 percent of land in the United States has been undisturbed by human activity. That’s why providing habitat — food, shelter and nesting areas for wildlife — within sustainable urban landscapes should be an important goal for everyone.

We can’t create a perfect natural habitat for each species. However, we can make a difference by using Florida’s native wildflowers and plants. Learn how!

When wildflowers blow in the wind

As summer progresses many of our fall-blooming wildflowers become tall and stately, forming backdrops and filling fence rows as they reach peak bloom from September through December. But this also is when storms increase, bringing intense waves of wind and rain. And there are always those unpredictable hurricanes. Here’s how one wildflower garden survived Hurricane  Irma’s big blow and steps you can take to hopefully rescue your own plantings.

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Layering is key in Orange County meadow design

Central Florida gardeners will soon a have a new location to see and explore Florida’s native wildflowers and grasses. A no-mow wildflower meadow is being installed at the Orange County UF/IFAS Extension’s Exploration Gardens in Orlando, funded by the Florida Wildflower Foundation’s Viva Florida Landscape Demonstration Garden grant. The meadow will be approximately 2,700 square feet and will include 25 species of Florida native wildflowers and grasses. Eventually, it will connect two sections of a planned native tree walk.

For sizzling summer wildflowers, head to the wetlands

Many areas are very dry now, especially in Central and South Florida. When traveling in West Central Florida in mid-May, I saw very few wildflowers blooming, even in normally moist areas, many of which had dried up. The good news is that the NOAA Climate Prediction Center is forecasting that drought conditions should be alleviated by the end of August in all but east Central Florida, and even in that part of the state drought conditions should improve.

Wildflowers bloom earlier than normal

Earlier-than-normal blooming of spring wildflowers seems to be occurring more often, but this year stands out because some wildflowers are blooming nearly a month earlier than expected. The influence of this “abnormal” weather will probably be greatest in North Florida. If the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) climate predictions hold true, March will likely be wetter and warmer than normal, which would speed up the time when mid- or late-spring wildflowers bloom, such as Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta) and Blanketflower (Gaillardia pulchella).

Chris delivers his pollinator pots to FWF staff.

Create a pollinator garden in a pot!

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.”