FNPS Promotes

the Preservation, Conservation, and Restoration of the Native Plants and Native Plant Communities of Florida.

We provide scientifically sound information on native plants, their habitats, the wildlife that depends on them, and their management and culture

Images by Catherine Bowman, Ron Blair, and Shirley Denton


Orchid Professional Workshop

Posted September 12, 2016

Florida International University and the Environmental Horticulture Department, TREC, and the University of Florida are offering a three day workshop on Orchids.  The workshop runs from October 6th to 8th, 2016.  Everything from Orchid history to cutting-edge preservation, propagation and…

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Call for Research Track Papers and Poster Presentations

Posted September 16, 2016

The Florida Native Plant Society Annual Conference will be held in Westgate River Ranch Resort, River Ranch, Florida, May 17-21, 2017.  The Research Track of the Conference will include presented papers and a poster session on Friday May 19 and Saturday May 20.  Researchers are invited to…

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Posted August 21, 2016

We are in the heart of butterfly season.  Butterflies need both larval food plants and nectar plants.  Click here to make a list of good butterfly plants for your area.

This may be especially important in areas that were recently sprayed for mosquitoes as many herbicides are not specific to mosquitoes and indiscriminantly kill butterflies and pollinators.

Latest from the Blog

October is Florida Native Plant Month, and a great time to buy natives…

by Donna Bollenbach, Suncoast Chapter
Originally published in part in the Plant City Observer to promote Florida Native Plant Month and the Suncoast Native Plant Society Fall Plant Sale. 

 For the second year in a row, The Hillsborough County Board of Commissioners and the Mayor of Tampa have officially proclaimed October as “Florida Native Plant Month.” The Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) chose the month of October because, while many states have stunning displays of spring flowers, Florida’s mild climate provides for a spectacular showcase of native flowers and grasses in the fall as well. Additionally, with a slight drop in the temperature, October is the month when many Floridians escape the confines of their air-conditioned home to visit our wonderful parks and preserves, or to work in their gardens.

October is also the month that the many chapters of the Florida Native Plant Society holds native plant sales. The Suncoast Chapter (SNPS) in Hillsborough County holds their sale at the USF Botanical Gardens Fall Plant Festival. In anticipation, my husband clears out an area of our yard to make room for our native plant purchases. This year SNPS also had a buying trip to Sweetbay Nursery in August, so we got an early start to our fall project:

Transforming an eye-sore… 

Our little fall garden in progress
One small area, close to the road in our front yard, used to be a real eye-sore. It was overgrown with non-native grasses and vines. Right before the Suncoast Native Plant Society annual native nursery buying trip, my husband laboriously cleared out the mess to make room for more natives. In full sun, with moist, but well-drained soil, we decided that his little “D” shaped garden would be the perfect spot for a “fall” display of native grasses and wildflowers.

The hard part about visiting a native plant nursery is not going overboard with your purchases. Sweetbay has native plants for every location; full sun and dry to full shade and wet, and everything in between. We had to remind ourselves that everything we purchased also had to planted, which is not fun in the heat of the summer. My husband had done all the labor to prepare the garden, so it was only fair to let him pick the plants. He picked out muhly grass, lopsided Indian grass, love-grass and liatris for the start of our little garden.

A Work in Progress...

Our little garden doesn’t look like much now, but we hope it will grow into a spectacular display of purple and pink, and when we go to the Suncoast Native Plant Society fall native plant sale at USF in October, we will purchase goldenrod and native sunflowers to add yellow to the palette.
A beautiful fall landscape designed by Troy Springer, Springer Environmental.

If you would like to plant a “Fall” native plant garden, here are some simple steps to get started:

1. Pick a small area in your yard that gets full sun and clear out the sod, non-natives, and weeds.

2. Note what type of soil you have: Is the soil dry and sandy? Moist and well-drained? Wet?

3. Go to one of the many Fall Plant Sales sponsored by a Florida Native Plant Society Chapter in your area, or visit a native plant nursery. Experts there will help you pick plants that are right for your landscape.

4. Plant your purchases. Most natives will require watering until well established, but pay attention to the needs of your specific plants; some of them do not tolerate over-saturated soils. Mulch with an eco-friendly pine straw, or leaf litter.

5. When designing your space, traditionally taller plants would be placed in the back of the garden and shorter ones up front, but if you want to create a meadow effect, intermingle the taller grasses and wildflowers in the center of the garden and put shorter specimens along the edges.

You can create a fall garden with these easy to find natives:

Liatris, Courtesy of Troy Springer, Springer Environmental
Blazing Star, Liatrisspp., is an attractive wildflower that produces beautiful purple flower spikes in late summer through the fall. Several native species of liatris grow in west central Florida. Some are very tall, and others are short and stout. It can be grown from seed or mature plans can be purchased from a native nursery. All of them prefer full sun, but have different soil requirements. Blazing star will attract a variety of butterflies and bees to the garden.

Goldenrod, Solidago spp., range from 3-6-foot-high with a fall display of golden yellow flowers in slender spikes or bushy heads. They are easy to grow from seed or mature plant, and will readily reseed or spread.  When it is not blooming, it is a somewhat inconspicuous disk of basal leaves on the ground. Pollinators love goldenrod, especially bees.
Goldenrod adds a splash of yellow
to your landscape. 

Grasses: There are many native grasses that put on a beautiful fall display: Among the most popular are:

Purple love grass, Eragrostis spectabilis, is another purple to misty pink grass that grows 1-3 feet high. It prefers well-drained, if not dry, sandy soils.

Elliot’s LovegrassEragrostis elliottii, is a wispy grass with profuse tan flowers that bloom all year, but especially in the fall. It likes dry to well-drained soils.

Lopsided Indian Grass, Sorghastrum secundum, is only 1-2 feet high for most of the year, but has flower stalks that get up to 6 feet tall in the fall. The showy plumbs resemble an upside down Indian headdress, thus the name, “Lopsided Indian Grass.”

Muhly Grass looks like pink cotton candy from a distance. 

Muhly Grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris, a showy grass with silky pink to lavender plumbs in the fall. When view from a distance it looks like a purple cotton candy. It grows 2-5 feet in moist to well drained soils, making it highly adaptable for most landscapes.

If your FNPS chapter would like to submit an informative* blog that showcases an event that you are having in October, please email it with images to Donna Bollenbach. *While you may provide information about and links to your event, please make sure your blog has an educational component as well. 

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