Known by many names — scarlet sage, tropical sage, red salvia, blood sage — this versatile perennial wildflower is a steadfast addition to any wildflower garden. Its flower is one that no pollinator can resist, but it is particularly attractive to bees, large butterflies and hummingbirds. It typically blooms in summer and fall, but can bloom year-round in many parts of the state.
Although often overlooked, the diminutive white flowers and verdurous leaves of innocence are a welcome sight for anyone with the winter blues. This low-growing perennial creeps along the floors of many open habitats throughout Florida.
The Florida Wildflower Foundation established the endowment in 2007 to provide funds for graduate students conducting full-time wildflower research. In fall 2013, University of Florida graduate student Nicholas Genna became the first student to receive a graduate assistantship from the Gary Henry Endowment for the Study of Florida Native Wildflowers. Genna is studying under Dr. Hector Perez within the Department of Environmental Horticulture’s Plant Restoration and Conservation Horticulture Consortium on the university’s Gainesville campus.
In the last decade or so, honey bee populations worldwide have significantly diminished due to unknown causes. Less known is the fact that native bee populations in North America are also in decline. As more rural and wild landscape becomes suburban and urban, there is less space and materials needed by native bees for laying eggs and feeding their young. But there is a way for you to help. Create a space in your garden that is attractive to native bees and encourage them to stay.
Leavenworth’s tickseed can bloom year-round. Its natural habitat is mesic pine flatwoods, but it is often used as a component of mixed wildflower and butterfly gardens, and is excellent for sunny roadsides, highway medians and powerline easements. It attracts many pollinators and is eaten by rabbits (if you’re lucky enough to have rabbits in your landscape).
Meet Gary Henry, longtime wildflower advocate and enthusiast. Gary Henry is the former Florida Department of Transportation’s landscape architect and a founding member of the Florida Wildflower Foundation board. He also was a driving force behind the establishment of the State Wildflower license plate, which funds the Foundation’s work.
Carolina jessamine is a perennial, evergreen climbing or trailing vine. It occurs naturally in mesic and hydric hammocks, pine flatwoods, thickets, bottomland swamps, and ruderal areas. It sometimes grows as an open trailing groundcover in the woods and also creates cascades of brilliant yellow as it grows up into trees and trails off branches.
Wildflower gardens add a natural look to otherwise ordered landscapes. But that natural appearance will become weedy if weeds are not controlled. Unlike the infomercial tagline, “set it and forget it,” doing so in any garden, let alone a Florida wildflower garden, often results in a weedy mess. Weeds that commonly occur in wildflower gardens vary widely across the state. Here are simple suggestions for controlling any weed occurring in a wildflower garden.
Have a small area where you want to plant wildflowers? Concerned about weeds? You should be, even in planting sites where weeds don’t seem like they will interfere with establishing and managing your wildflower garden. An abundance of weed seeds can lurk in the top few inches of soil just waiting for some sort of disturbance. And from the weeds point of view, disturbance can range from tilling the soil to eradicating existing vegetation with an herbicide.
If not introduced by Native Americans, it’s possible the C. basalis was introduced into the Panhandle in a previous geologic era and that only small isolated pockets, which were disjunct from the parent population in Texas, were present at the time of European settlement.
Vince Lamb is a Florida native and a true activist who champions our Florida environment through his participation in numerous groups and committees. But his talent truly shines as a nature photographer documenting Florida plants, places and wildlife. He enjoys finding rare and endangered species that most people are unlikely to see, and his artistic images help heighten public awareness for conservation. His photography workshops have helped others to hone their skills. We asked Claudia Larsen to talk with Vince to get pointers on how to take that perfect wildflower photo.
Dena Wild’s career as city planner and urban designer spanned 35 years. She worked in cities throughout the country maintaining through design the character of traditional neighborhoods and commercial districts that were being affected by redevelopment. During her tenure with the City of Orlando, she was Chief Planner for Urban Design, which included overseeing the public art and historic preservation programs. She also taught urban design as a University of Central Florida adjunct professor.
Imagine yourself as a native Indian or early explorer 500 hundred years ago trying to survive in Florida. The better part of your day was probably spent hunting or gathering for daily sustenance, making tools and building shelters. Although artifacts are recovered by archeologists, the list of plants used for food, medicine and spiritual purposes was generally passed down by word of mouth through generations of early Floridians. There is quite a compendium of knowledge about early uses of native trees and shrubs, but what about wildflowers?
Don’t let the title scare you off! I’ve been wondering why plants of the same species sometimes occur in different colors, so I did a little research. As you can see from my photos, some common flowers that have appeared in my garden are red and yellow forms of milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) and blanketflower (Gaillardia puchella). I also have red, pink and white tropical sage (Salvia coccinea), which I’m sure many of you have also grown. Do you ever have white flower forms of your typically blue spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis) or Stokes’ aster (Stokesia laevis)? Wonder what’s going on?
There are more than 600 different rare plant species in Florida that are either regulated or tracked by state and federal agencies. Over a third are sun-loving, shade-intolerant plants (e.g., terrestrial orchids, lilies, pitcher plants, etc.) that can be found in the open habitat of roadsides and powerline/gasline rights-of-way (ROWs). Statewide, ROWs are one of the best places to find rare plants.