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.”
Gopher apple is a hardy, low-growing, woody perennial shrub that occurs naturally in sandhills, pine flatwoods, scrubby flatwoods and scrub. It is often confused with runner oak, which has a similar growth habit and is found in similar habitats. Gopher apple can bloom year-round.
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.
White birds-in-a-nest is a Florida endemic perennial wildflower that blooms May through July. It is fire-dependent and occurs naturally in coastal pinelands, seeps, and wet savannas. It is a state-listed endangered species and a US-listed threatened species. White birds-in-a-nest gets its common name from the way its white flowers and buds resemble bird heads and eggs nestled within a green nest that is formed by the flower’s bracts.
Grassleaf coneflower is a Florida endemic perennial wildflower. Its brick-red solitary blooms are distinctly different than most Florida Rudbeckia species. It typically flowers in summer and occurs naturally savannas and along moist roadsides.
Marsh gentian (also known as seaside prairie-gentian or catchfly prairie-gentian) is an annual wildflower with showy purple to lavender (or sometimes white) flowers. It can bloom throughout the year and occurs naturally in salt marshes, dunes, and coastal flats.
Lizard’s tail is a perennial aquatic wildflower. Its tiny, white blooms are borne in early spring through summer and attract a variety of pollinators. They are also eaten by foraging ducks such as wood ducks. Both the common and genus name refer to the flower’s resemblance to a lizard’s tail.
Sweet pinxter azalea (also known as mountain azalea) is a deciduous flowering shrub. Its showy pinkish- to rose-colored flowers bloom in spring in pine flatwoods, mesic hammocks, bay swamps, and floodplain and slope forests. They attract a number of pollinators, including hummingbirds.
Parrot pitcherplant is a carnivorous perennial plant. It typically flowers in April and May and occurs naturally in seepage slopes, wet prairies, depression marshes, dome swamps, and bogs. Parrot pitcherplant is a state listed threatened species. Its species name psittacine means “of or relating to parrots” and refers to the shape of the flower resembling the head of a parrot.
American white waterlily (also known as fragrant waterlily) is a floating aquatic plant. Its large, solitary, fragrant white flowers bloom spring through fall in swamps, marshes, slow-moving streams and shallow lakes, ponds and ditches. The flowers are attractive to butterflies, but they are pollinated primarily by beetles.
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.
It looks like a banner bloom ahead for Florida’s spring wildflowers, thanks to our relatively warm and wet winter months. Here’s a look at what’s happening across the state. See the Florida Wildflower Foundation’s What’s in Bloom page for more blossoms and instructions on how to submit your own spring wildflower photos.
Skyblue lupine is a lovely herbaceous perennial that occurs primarily in scrubby habitats. Its bluish to lavender flowers are born on dense spikes and appear in spring. It occurs naturally in sand and oak scrub, sandhills, pine flatwoods and coastal strands.
Chickasaw plum is a deciduous flowering shrub or small tree that produces profuse white blooms, making for a spectacular early spring display. It occurs naturally in dry hammocks, woodland edges, and disturbed areas and roadsides. The flowers are attractive to pollinators; the fruit is eaten by birds and other wildlife — and humans! (They are quite tart!)