By Cristi McKee | Photo: Andreas
This spring, instead of opting to plant exotic or invasive plants, consider planting flowers, shrubs, and trees that are native to Florida—some of which you may already have in your yard! Planting these native plants help support local ecosystems, create habitats for natural life, and ensures that the bugs, birds, insects, and more in Tallahassee will keep coming back to your yard.
Sparkleberry — Sparkleberry, or vaccinium arboreum, is typically recognizable because of its small, white, bell-shaped flowers and inedible black berries. A small tree or shrub, sparkleberries cause few to no allergies and emit a pleasant fragrance when in bloom.
Purple coneflower — Known by its botanical name, Echinacea purpurea, this purple and pink flower is part of the sunflower family, appears daisy-like, and blooms in spring and summer. They attract butterflies and stand against wind and rain.
Florida flame azalea — Also known by Rhododendrum austrinum or orange azalea, Florida flame azaleas are typically mass-planted and make a wonderful sight of yellow and orange blooms. A shrub, they attract hummingbirds and do not tend to be affected by pests.
Wild passion flower — Wild passion flowers, maypop, or Passiflora spp, are perennial vines that flower in pink-purple shades, which only live for a day. They also create edible (though reportedly not tasty) fruit, and attract both hummingbirds and butterflies.
Coontie — Visually similar to a palm or ferns, the Zamia integrifolia is an ideal substitute for Boston ferns. A cyad, they are typically planted to form a clumping effect, are suitable for indoor planting, and attract butterflies.
Firebush — Firebushes, or Hamelia patens, produce tubular red-orange flowers throughout most of the year and grow fairly quickly. Attracting hummingbirds and butterflies, these shrubs are typically planted in mass.
You can find an entire list of native Florida plants by visiting the University of Florida IFAS Extension website, here.