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Florida-Friendly Landscaping —sustainable gardening | Osceola News Gazette – kechambers

Florida-Friendly Landscaping —sustainable gardening | Osceola News Gazette

Historically, people have loved plants which require large amounts of water, fertilizer, and pesticides in order to thrive. However, these plants are just not the most practical ones, especially with recent rising costs. Not only do we have to spend more money, time, and effort maintaining these plants, but the environment around us suffers as well.

Florida Friendly Landscaping™(FFL) is an attempt to promote sustainable practices. These include minimizing water use, avoiding runoff of water, fertilizer, and pesticides, and providing wildlife habitats. We can also use mulch, recycle yard waste, and choose the best plants for our conditions. All of this helps to create a less demanding yard for us, which will certainly make life easier.

We can start by choosing plants that don’t get too large for their space, which can prevent excess pruning and yard waste. Next, we can find some plants that can survive with less water, if we have a dry yard. If we have an area which floods, there are plants that can tolerate that.

One of the other most important choices that we can make concerns about the amount of pests that plants are likely to attract. For example, a Sago Palm is no longer considered a great choice, due to the emergence of Cycad Scale. Not only does it affect the plant leaves and stems, but it also infests the roots underground, where it cannot be destroyed with contact pesticides. This means that after killing all the scale you can see, re-infestation can occur repeatedly. A Florida Coontie, though it does not get a trunk, is an attractive native cycad which is easier to keep healthy. Another example is the oleander, which does well with little water. However, we now have the Oleander Caterpillar which defoliates it repeatedly. Like the Sago Palm, it requires significant amounts of pesticides to be used. This does not do our butterflies and bees any good at all.

As for Florida-Friendly plants, the beloved native Sabal Palm tolerates almost every light and soil and water situation, and it does not freeze. Also subject to Lethal Bronzing, but generally tolerant of most conditions are Bismarck and Roebellini palms. In addition, the Majesty is certainly a choice for a small palm.

The Sand Live Oak tolerates drought better than most trees and does not get so huge as a Live Oak. Also eternally attractive is the Southern Magnolia, though it may require more water to get established. A top deciduous tree is the Sweetgum, with a nice cone shape and fall color.

Some smaller trees and large shrubs would include the upright Bottlebrush, great for hummingbirds and butterflies and bees. A Podocarpus is a large evergreen to 40 feet. The Golden Trumpet, or yellow tabebuia, is a nice flowering tree.

Some of the shrubber choices include the Chaste tree, Walter Viburnum, Florida Coontie, Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (YTT), Bush Allamanda, Plumbago, Firespike, and the super butterfly/hummingbird plant, the native Firebush.

Smaller flowering plants are great too, with plenty of choices. Pentas and Salvia (sage), are loved by hummingbirds and butterflies, Gaillardia (loved by bees), Flax Lily, Cinnamon Fern, Tampa Vervain (native Verbena), Coreopsis, native Milkweed, Society Garlic, Bulbine, Variegated Ginger (actually loved by hummingbirds when in bloom), Red Spiral Ginger (also a hummingbird plant), and Muhly Grass.

Hopefully we are all on our way to a beautiful yard without so many struggles and chores, as we follow FFL guidelines.

Contact the Plant Clinic with your gardening questions at 321-697-3000 for a free phone consultation. Master Gardeners are available to help you with your garden questions or email us at

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