Benefits of Native PlantsNative Plants
Native plants are those indigenous to the area in which they are growing, without arriving there due to human actions. Florida is rich in native plants, containing nearly 3000 species. Only 3 other states rival Florida in floral diversity. Natives have adapted to Florida’s environmental conditions, such as sandy soils and irregular rainfall, as long as Florida has existed. Florida’s animals, from invertebrates to mammals, have co-adapted with native plants. The result is a complex web of interdependence. Therefore, the continued survival of the wildlife we enjoy relies upon conserving native plants.
Native plants are the best choice for attracting and nourishing our native wildlife because they provide the food and shelter that birds and butterflies need. They leaf-out, bloom, and fruit when our species need them most, and provide the nutrients and habitat to which our native animals have adapted throughout Florida’s existence.
Save Time, Money, Water, Energy, and Natural Resources
Growing native plants requires less maintenance and saves energy. Planted properly, they require little to no extra water or fertilizer. Pesticide is unnecessary since natives have been exposed to Florida's pests as long as they have existed in Florida, and continue to display resistance to insects and disease in our own yards.
Maintaining turf and other ornamental non-native plants in Florida often not only wastes time, money, water, energy, and other natural resources, but also contributes to surface water and air pollution. Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides end up in streams and creeks, polluting our water resources and fisheries. Fertilizers and lawn mowers use petroleum, a non-renewable resource, and lawn-mowing also adds to air and noise pollution and the global climate change.
Threats to Our Native Plants and Animals
One of the biggest threats facing natural habitat besides unsustainable development is the invasion of non-native, invasive plants. Early Florida settlers imported tropical, exotic plants or those with which they were familiar from other environments. Little did they know that some of these non-native plants would grow out-of-control, smother native plants and habitats, costing billions of tax dollars to battle. Perhaps it is human nature to assume that something new and exotic is always better. Now that what was once abundant is rare, people are coming around to appreciate and realize we need to save what is left.
By preserving and planting native plants in your landscape, you are contributing to the restoration of important Florida habitats. By growing native plants, you are doing your part to conserve precious water and promote the native biological diversity of Florida’s unique natural heritage for our grandchildren to enjoy.