U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Ranger Scott Davis has been working on the milkweed restoration initiative since 2015, when he started with a single greenhouse table of seedlings. Since then he has been scouring the state for native milkweed populations and bringing seeds back to the refuge to propagate. He estimates that 300,000 plants have been grown there, which have been planted as part of restoration projects at state parks, state forests and national wildlife refuges across the state. It is no easy task to grow these plants, either.
When Scott Davis found a large population of the state-listed endangered Night-blooming petunia (Ruellia noctiflora) growing along US 98, he asked the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to declare it a protected wildflower area. FDOT did. When the construction of the bike trail between Crawfordville and St. Marks was slated to roll right over the plants, Scott planned a rescue operation.
The Florida Wildflower Foundation recognized Master Gardener Suzanne Spencer for her work in Santa Rosa County, presenting her with a certificate of appreciation at the Florida Wildflower Symposium. Her efforts have resulted in reduced mowing along 70 miles of state and county roads, which has saved $70,000 in state and county tax dollars while creating beauty and pollinator habitat that supports the success of Panhandle agriculture.
Learn how Florida’s Panhandle counties are saving roadside wildflowers, thanks to the work of the Panhandle Wildflower Alliance.