Long before non-native ornamental plants were brought into this country from other lands, native plants provided vital habitat for wildlife. Houses, condos and commercial developments have replaced large acreages of Scrub, Pine flatwoods and wildflower/grass prairies. The developments often use non-native ornamental plants that have interesting textures and showy flowers, but they also require water, trimming and can be prone to disease.
An alternative can be found in Florida native plants for landscaping. They often require little extra watering after establishment and are hardy because they have adapted to our climate. They are also resistant to many of the bugs, molds and root ailments that hinder ornamental plants. Native plants in the landscape attract a host of butterflies, birds and all kinds of wildlife. Native plants can provide texture, function, habitat and even seasonal flowers to accent your yard. Native plants in your landscape often fair better during hurricanes and tropical storms.
A native plant design for the yard can include canopy and under story trees, shrubs, grasses, and groundcover plants. They should be designed to mimic their habitat in nature. For example, wild coffee (Psychotria nervosa) should be planted in partial shade for optimum growth. In addition to native plants, sustainable environmental mulch can be used instead of cypress mulch. The environmental mulch reduces the demand for cypress mulch by using natural virgin wood, primarily oak and Florida pine. The environmental mulch is screened to ensure mulch is uniformly sized to stay in place during heavy rains.
Canopy: Live oak, Gumbo limbo, Jamaica dogwood, Slash pine, Red maple
Understory: Dahoon holly, Everglades palm, Florida privet, Spanish stopper
Shrub: Buttonbush, Cocoplum, Firebush, Myrsine, Wild coffee, Coontie
Grass: Muhly grass, Sand cordgrass, Fakahatchee grass
Groundcover: Porterweed, Milkweed, Sunshine mimosa