Landscaping with Natives

Landscaping with Natives is Florida Smart!

Native plants are critical for supporting native birds and butterflies. The right plant in the right place will protect our water resources.

The way we manage our landsapes, whether at a personal level (yards), at a community level (parks, public buildings), or regional (natural areas and restoration areas) makes a difference.

FNPS advocates the use of natives in our landscapes for multiple reasons:  conservation of water, maintenance and improvement of water quality, honoring our heritage, and providing habitat for pollinators and wildlife. 

Pollinators and other insects are incredibly dependent on native plants.  Birds, in turn, are almost all dependent on insects especially as food for young chicks.  Even species that we think of as vegetarians, such as hummingbirds, need insects as a critical part of their diets.  Research is showing that even relatively small areas with natives can bring butterflies and birds  to urban neighborhoods.

We all depend on water.  We want adequate water in our lakes and streams and springs.  Landscaping with species that do not need supplemental water protects our lakes, streams, and springs.  Indirectly, it protects our drinking water supplies.  FNPS recommends planting based on "right plant, right place" and we provide information on native plants that will be appropriate to specific site conditions.

We also want clean water.  FNPS advocates minimizing fertilizer use.  As a generality, most Florida soils are naturally low in nutrients, and the plants that are found naturally in those soils generally need little or no supplemental fertilizer.  By contrast, plants most easily purchased from bulk sale nurseries are chosen by the growers largely for fast growth to meet their volume needs.  Such plants are those adapted to fast growth and tend to need more water and nutrients than generally available in Florida soils.  Planting native plants is a good way to get plants that won't need heavy fertilization to be attractive, grow, or flower.

FNPS provides support for proper landscaping through rewarding those who create beautiful native landscapes, providing guidance, and encourages landscaping ordinances that encourage wise use of resources.

FNPS provides awards for the best examples of the use of natives in landscaping.

In recent years, awards have been given for

  • Residental yards
  • Transportation-related landscaping
  • Commercial landscaping
  • Butterfly gardens
  • Restoration Areas

Award criteria are described, and instructions for applying can be found on our awards and grants page.

A full list of award winners since 2005 is on this website (see the menu to the left).

Older awards can be found in Palmetto articles.

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1991

Recent landscape award winner:  Archbold Biological Station, Highlands County.  Photo by Archbold Biological Station.

FNPS provides educational materials on the growing of native plants. Some of these materials are found on this website. Check out our Landscaping Plants for Your Area feature.

Many chapter newsletters feature a native plant in a landscape setting in each issue.  Find your chapter's website on our Chapters page -- the newsletter, if in pdf form, is typically in the chapter's website.

Alternatives borchures, selected native plant profiles, coloring book pages for children, and other plant information can be found on our Downloadable Documents page.

One of our downloadable resources, a brochure on why using cypress mulch is not desirable, from our Downloadable Documents page.

FNPS and its chapters hold native plant sales.  FNPS has an annual sale during the annual conference.  Chapters hold plant sales throughout the year.  Both chapters and FNPS support the annual publication of the Florida Association of Native Nurseres' Plant Real Florida document which provides contact information for retail native nurseries throughout Florida.

You can find out more at the Florida Association of Native Nurseries websites: http://plantrealflorida.org for retail customers and http://afnn.org for commercial landscapers.

Plant sale at 2017 conference. 

 

FNPS chapters maintain demonstration gardens across the state.  In addition, many chapters work with established gardens open to the public to create and maintain native areas within those gardens.  Our FNPS volunteers make a difference.

Restored and maintained by the Ixia Chapter as part of Jacksonville City's Friends of the Park program.   Photo by Ixia chapter.

FNPS has created a model landscape ordinance intended to assist communities in developing local ordinances that will encourage use of native plants in the urban landscape, conserve water, and honor the natural heritage of Florida.

Some of our chapters sponsor garden tours.  At least one garden tour is typically available as an annual conference field trip.  These are wonderful ways to see what our members are doing to create nature-friendly landscapes.  Look for tour announcements on the FNPS calendar, on the chapter websites, and in their social media.