Many of Florida’s spring native wildflowers have large, showy flowers –– such as Iris and Purple thistle. But some common ones may be underappreciated because their flowers are small, near the ground, or just positioned on the stem where they may be hard to see. However, they are quite beautiful when viewed close up.
The Monarch butterfly’s demise has captured America’s attention. You can help by using native milkweed species in your landscape. Find out what you need to know to help save Monarchs.
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.
With a $21,000 grant to the University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History, the Florida Wildflower Foundation is supporting a unique research project that will train prison inmates to test and document propagation techniques for milkweed, the only host plant for Monarch butterflies. The grant is made possible by sales of the State Wildflower license plate.
Also known as sandhill or purple milkweed, pinewoods milkweed (Asclepias humistrata) is a robust perennial #wildflower with umbels of distinct pinkish-white to pale purple flowers. Its large leaves are thick and dull grayish-green with conspicuous pink to lavender veins. Pinewoods milkweed occurs naturally in sandhills, scrub and dry, ruderal areas. It blooms in spring and summer, attracting many pollinators including wasps and butterflies, and is the larval host plant of monarch and queen butterflies.
Swamp milkweed is an erect, herbaceous perennial wildflower with showy pink flowers. It occurs naturally in floodplain swamps, hydric hammocks, wet pine flatwoods and marshes. It typically blooms in summer and attracts many pollinators. It is a larval host plant for monarch, queen and soldier butterfly caterpillars.
You will find Walter and Karin Taylor at most Florida Wildflower Foundation and Florida Native Plant Society events, many times volunteering their time to speak to others or sit at information tables and promote wildflowers. They are longtime residents of Florida and experts on wildflowers, with Walter having authored numerous field guides that have become indispensable to Florida wildflower enthusiasts.
Like all milkweeds, whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) is a larval host plant for the monarch butterfly and is attractive to a variety of pollinators. It flowers late spring through late summer/early fall. .
Many Floridians become familiar with carpenter bees by accident. They may notice a hole that appears to have been drilled into unpainted wood around their homes with a sawdust pile beneath it. Or they might hear a buzzing sound coming from within the hole. Both are telltale signs of carpenter bees.
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.”
Largeflower milkweed is a perennial wildflower found throughout much of Florida. Its conspicuous flowers appear in late spring through summer in moist pine flatwoods, savannahs and bogs.
Many of us are aware of the monarch’s population decline that has been well documented by researchers. Weather, habitat destruction of overwintering grounds in California and Mexico, and loss of food source on migration routes have caused great concern in the last few years. The Xerces Society’s insight into factors that influence monarch butterfly populations has pointed to many things we cannot control. However, the increased production and planting of the monarch food plants, milkweeds, is certainly an environmental movement that can be achieved on a large scale in the United States.