Bees on Softhair coneflower

Sex in the garden — just what’s going on out there?

Gardens are such peaceful places: colorful, tranquil, quiet except for the comforting buzz of a bee or the fluttering wings of a bird. Yet they are a hotbed of (we blush) seduction and sex.

“People often look at plants as being boring and passive, and animals as being interesting and active,” says Dr. Craig Huegel, a speaker at the April 27-28 Florida Wildflower Symposium in Orlando. “But plants make the same choices ecologically that animals do, so it makes perfect sense that reproduction in plants isn’t a completely passive thing.”

Browne's savory, Clinopodium brownei

Flower Friday: Browne’s savory

Also known as St. John’s mint and Creeping Charlie, Browne’s savory (Clinopodium browneii) is a long-lived aquatic perennial wildflower with a sprawling growth habit. It is a highly aromatic plant, particularly when its leaves or stems are crushed. It can be used to make a tea or to add mint flavor to a salad or other dish.

Rain lilies, Zephyranthes atamasca

Flower Friday: Rain lily

Rain lily (Zephyranthes atamasca) is a short-lived perennial wildflower. Its showy, solitary flowers are white (although sometimes tinged with pink) and, as the name suggests, typically bloom after a rain shower. Flowering can occur in late winter through early summer, but their tendency to bloom around Easter has earned them another common name — Easter lily.

Blindfolded lady on wooden deck in field of plants

Plant blindness: Have you hugged a wildflower today?

When was the last time you read a bedtime story about Morning glories to your kids? Or bought them a cuddly stuffed plant? If you’re a typical 21st century individual, the answer is “never.” Plant stories and toys aren’t wildly popular because most people today suffer from plant blindness, an inability to notice the myriad plants in our environment.

Dr. Elisabeth Schussler, the Florida Wildflower Symposium keynote speaker, will shed light on this phenomenon, which she discovered during a research project.

Frogfruit flowers

Flower Friday: Frogfruit

Frogfruit (Phyla nodiflora) is known by many names: turkey tangle fogfruit, capeweed, matchhead, creeping Charlie… Regardless of what you call it, frogfruit is both a versatile and vital wildflower. This evergreen perennial is low-growing and creeping, often forming dense mats of green foliage.

Wild blue phlox flower

Flower Friday: Wild blue phlox

Also known as Woodland phlox, Wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata) is a delicate perennial wildflower. Its beautiful blooms appear from spring into early summer in slope forests, bluffs and calcareous hammocks. It is limited to four Panhandle counties in Florida, but is widespread throughout the United States. Many pollinators are attracted to the blooms, especially butterflies. Its roots are eaten by rabbits and other small mammals.

Lewton's polygala, Polygala lewtonii

Flower Friday: Lewton’s milkwort

Lewton’s milkwort (Polygala lewtonii) is a state-endangered wildflower endemic to only six counties in Central Florida. It occurs in scrub, sandhill and pine barren habitats where maintenance includes a regular fire regime. It blooms in late winter and spring, attracting a variety of pollinators, especially leafcutter bees, hover flies and bee flies.

Jim McGinity with Blanketflower

FWF member takes action with plant give-away

What’s a wildflower gardener to do with those extra seedlings that pop up? Instead of pulling them like unwanted weeds, FWF member Jim McGinity decided to pay it forward. Using an idea reminiscent of a curbside lemonade stand, he repots the wee seedlings and offers them for free to neighbors and passers-by. Not only that, he uses them as welcome-to-the-neighborhood gifts for new residents. It’s an idea we love: What’s more neighborly than sharing the joy of wildflowers?

Pinebarren frostweed, Crocanthemum corymbosum

Flower Friday: Pinebarren frostweed

Pinebarren frostweed (Crocanthemum corymbosum) is a perennial mound-shaped subshrub that occurs naturally in sandhills, dry flatwoods, dunes and other dry, sandy areas. Its delicate lemon-yellow flowers bloom spring through summer and attract a variety of pollinators. Blooms are many, and they last only one day.

WIld pennyroyal flowers

Flower Friday: Wild pennyroyal

Wild pennyroyal (Piloblephis rigida) is a low-growing, evergreen, herbaceous to woody shrub. It typically flowers in late winter through spring, but can bloom year-round, and occurs naturally in scrub, scrubby and pine flatwoods, sandhills, dry prairies and ruderal areas. Flowers are attractive to a variety of bees and butterflies. The entire plant is delightfully aromatic, particularly when crushed. Its leaves can also be brewed into a minty tea.

Rose-rush, Lygodesmia alphylla

Flower Friday: Rose-rush

Rose-rush (Lygodesmia aphylla) is a striking perennial wildflower that occurs naturally in sandy flatwoods, scrub, sandhills and pine barrens throughout most of Florida. It is near-endemic, occurring outside of Florida in only a few Georgia counties. It blooms spring through summer; in South Florida, it may bloom into fall. Like other asters, it attracts a variety of pollinators.