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Florida Native Plants


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The Benefits and Best Practices On Using Florida Native Plants

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Florida Native Plants

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  2. 2. Thanks for the invitation… Based in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. We provide comprehensive/turn-key landscape services to the greater Sarasota area. 2
  3. 3. Florida at a crossroads! Florida is clearly at its greatest crossroads -- ever. That is said because its decisions in the realm of the natural environment are now far more critical than at any other time. The nature for which it is famous and identified is now going to be preserved or is not going to be preserved, with permanent results. The indications right now are that it will not -- that partial measures will not hit the mark in keeping it the state known for its leaping fish, its hammocks, its clean ocean shores, its manatees, its forests, and its pristine and often crystal-clear springs. A huge state treasure is now in far more jeopardy than the citizenry and state representatives know. The interior springs and lakes in Florida are in sudden and serious jeopardy -- and with them the states future identity. No longer can any form of complacency be justified. (By Michael Brown, an author and former journalist who, in the 1970s, exposed the Love Canal and toxic-waste crisis in the United States, lives in Palm Coast. 3
  4. 4. What is a native plant?Native plants are the naturally occurring,indigenous plants within a specific habitat of aspecific biogeographic region. Native plantsare adapted to the soil and climate in whichthey live, and have evolved defenses to manydiseases and insect pests. 4
  5. 5. USDA Hardiness Zone Map 5
  6. 6. Traditional LandscapesTraditional landscaping attempts to create a landscape that "looks" the same regardless of location. 6
  7. 7. Problem with Traditional Landscaping Traditional Landscaping is pushed by nurseries and box stores that want to sell the same plant across wide markets, maximizing revenue through efficiencies of scale. Traditional Landscaping is also driven by landscape designers who tend to use the same plants regardless of where the site is (less burdensome than learning new plants). Traditional Landscaping is also driven by homeowners and property managers who grew up learning one set of plants and understandably use those plants as a frame of reference as they move about the country. These and other forces have created an atmosphere that emphasizes using the same plants regardless of location and changing a site to accommodate these plants. Site changing often entails installing irrigation, bringing in new soil or soil amendments, regularly applying chemical products (pesticides, fertilizer, etc.), and frequently cutting, pruning and weeding. 7
  8. 8. Select plants that grow naturally at the site! Designing with native plants emphasizes selecting a plant that grows naturally at the site. Traditional Landscaping changes the place to accommodate the plant and designing with native plants selects the plant that goes naturally with the place. 8
  9. 9. Curb Appeal Definition of “Curb Appeal” in real estate: 1. When you first drive up or approach a home, there are certain features that you see and impressions that you make. When the exterior of the home is clean, landscaped neatly and looks good in general, then you have appeal when viewed from the street curb, ie; curb appeal. 2. Real estate term used to describe a homes exterior attractiveness. A well-cared-for roof, a neat paint job, handsome windows, decorative shutters and a manicured garden add to a homes appearance and, hence, its curb appeal. 9
  10. 10. What are the right native plants? Visit demonstration gardens. Create a native habitat. In general, the more closely you match the environmental conditions of the source of your plant material to that of the planting site, the better it will grow. Best ecotypes for birds – nesting & food. Best ecotypes for pollinators. 10
  11. 11. Corridors for a healthier environment The thigh bone’s connected to the backbone… the backbone’s connected to the neck bone… the neck bone’s connected to the head bone…” An African-American spiritual. As most gardeners know, we have a physical, psychological, and often emotional connection to our plants; the plants have a physical connection to the soil; the soil is home to myriad microorganisms; and the microorganisms live on the detritus from the plants that live in the soil that grow with TLC from the gardener. 11
  12. 12. Corridors for a healthier environment Over the past 50 years, developing communities have not taken into consideration the connections that exist between different ecosystems across the landscape. The building of homes and parking lots changes the way water runs over the land, often disconnecting wetlands from the uplands that provide storm water runoff – the life support of wetlands. Similarly, woodlands are cut apart by the clearing of large areas of trees for development. This can leave “patches” of plant and animal habitats across our community, a trend often referred to as “fragmentation.” 12
  13. 13. Image from University Of Minnesota 13
  14. 14. Image from The University Of Minnesota 14
  15. 15. Corridors for a healthier environment Effects of Fragmentation If the spaces between the patches or fragments of remaining ecosystem are too large or dangerous to cross, some species may disappear from that patch because they can’t reproduce, or there isn’t enough food or space to sustain future generations. And then that species’ various impacts on the patch are lost and the biodiversity of the patch and its functionality are diminished. 15
  16. 16. Corridors for a healthier environmentHabitat Corridors Habitat corridors solve many of these problems by providing links from one ecosystem to another, providing a relatively safe travel route for movement. This essentially expands the habitat to any areas that the patch is connected to. Native Landscapes with their native plants help create and protect connections between natural areas. Our native landscapes are the corridors to a sustainable environment. 16
  17. 17. Green Landscape Design??? With all the recent buzz about the “Going Green” and the benefits it will have on our environment it can be a little overwhelming as to what steps to take to achieve an environmentally friendly landscape. What can the average person do to make a difference? Is it purchasing a hybrid car for tens of thousands of dollars or perhaps installing a wind turbine in the backyard of your small urban lot. A lot of these solutions can be cost prohibitive. The answer can be much more attainable as well as more affordable than you may think! 17
  18. 18. Sustainable LandscapesConserves resourcesPreserves or creates diverse, native habitatManages and utilizes stormwater 18
  19. 19. Steps to Successful Sustainable Landscapes Build healthy soil Preserve existing soil and vegetation (especially trees) where possible. Amend disturbed soils with compost. Mulch existing landscapes regularly with wood chip, coarse bark, leaves or compost. Right Plant, Right place! Fit landscape uses to your site’s conditions, and choose plants that need less water, have few pests, and thrive in the south-west Florida’s climate. Water Wise - group plants by water need, use more efficient irrigation methods like drip and soakers under mulch, and design and maintain irrigation systems to reduce waste. Think twice before using pesticides - Proper plant selection, plant care, and integrated pest management techniques can practically eliminate the need for weed and bug killers, reducing health risks. Practice natural lawn care Start with less lawn – put turf only where needed. “Grasscycling” (mulchmowing), and proper mowing height, watering and fertilization techniques can save time and money. 19
  20. 20. Base plan with conditions 20
  21. 21. Investigate your site! Is your site sunny or shady? What is the path of the sun across your site (in winter and summer)? Is the site flat or sloped or both? What is the soil like – backfill!!!!!!!! How is soil drainage – what depth is the water table? Where are buildings, power lines and property lines located? Would the building(s) benefit from a shade tree or trees, and where would those trees be located? 21
  22. 22. Importance of Soils Soils are dynamic ecosystems composed of a combination of minerals, organic matter, and living organisms. Vital, healthy soils are critical in cycling nutrients and necessary in sustaining plant growth. Soils are a mix of inorganic mineral particles, organic matter, air and water. The mineral particles – sand, silt, or clay – contain a variety of chemicals, many of which are utilized for plant growth. The ability of soil to retain and transport water is an important factor in bringing nutrients to plants. 22
  23. 23. Site Preparation Plan to protect soil around trees and preserved vegetation from compaction. Plan to stockpile and reuse site topsoil, if practical. Plan to amend disturbed soils with compost, prevent recompaction, and mulch beds after planting phase. Consider getting a site soil sample, and any imported topsoils, tested at a soil lab. Follow the lab’s recommendations, and verify proper installation. Design landscape for recycling fall leaves and chipped prunings as mulch, and mulch-mowing (“grasscycling”) lawns, to help maintain long-term soil and plant health. Plan a composting or leaf/chip storage area on site. 23
  24. 24. Restore soil functions Amend disturbed soils with compost:  For lawns, 1-2 inches of compost tilled in to an 8-inch depth  For tree and shrub beds, 2-4 inches of compost tilled at least 12 inches deep. Or amend/install a soil-compost mix in multiple lifts (layers) to attain 16-24 inch root zone depth that’s best for tree/shrub establishment.  Don’t amend just the planting hole (it causes poor root development). If not amending the whole bed, plant trees and shrubs in the existing soil, then mulch with compost, then wood chips on top for weed control. Visually inspect any imported topsoils before accepting delivery, and verify they meet specs/lab tests. Install topsoils properly – rip in the first lift (layer) to mix it with the native soil, and promote deep root growth. Protect soils from compaction after amendment. 24
  25. 25. Slow the flow: manage andreuse storm water on-site 25
  26. 26. Slow the flow: manage and reuse storm water on-site Conform to existing drainage patterns as much as possible in designing site grading. Minimize hardscape (concrete etc.) in the landscape – use softer engineering or plants. Disperse drainage from hardscapes and roofs by spreading it out to sheet flow into landscape areas. Use Natural Drainage Systems to slow and filter runoff, such as: Soil amendment with compost Bio-retention swales, “raingardens” and planters Curbless or curb-cut streets flowing to swale Green roofs, green walls, and tree planting Pervious paving for parking and paths Store and reuse stormwater beneficially: Soil amendment and infiltration is the most cost effective way to store rainfall for landscape use. Stormwater detention vaults/cisterns, 26
  27. 27. Slow the flow: manage andreuse storm water on-site 27
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  29. 29. Bioremediation• Microorganisms degrade toxic waste – Bioremediation is a process that utilizes the capability of microorganisms to degrade toxic waste• Microorganisms alone are the key – Scientific data worldwide has shown toxic contaminants in soils, ground waters, and other bodies of water are controlled and degraded by microorganisms alone.• Some conventional thinking says indigenous microbes are sufficient – While indigenous microorganisms do acclimate to toxic intrusions and attempt to maintain the natural ecosystem, in most cases however, the indigenous are overloaded to the extent of the collapsing of the natural flora.• Applied science knows inoculation is required for predictable success – When overloading occurs, a diverse inoculation of microorganisms is required as a catalyst to enable the indigenous to repopulate in order to restore the necessary microbial balance that can then detoxify the contaminated area and manage the overall ecosystem. – Nutrient inoculations also assist the indigenous populations in repopulation over the natural degradation period.
  30. 30. Right plant, right place! Select plant varieties that will thrive in your site’s conditions (sun, soil, water), the local climate, and that grow well together. Select for low maintenance needs: low water and fertilizer needs after establishment, high resistance to pests to eliminate chemical use, and minimal mowing orpruning needs. Select based on mature size, to minimize pruning. Do not design for instant gratification! Space plants correctly. 30
  31. 31. Right plant, right place! Plan vertically in layers, like the forest: ground cover, understory shrubs, and trees. (Select low shrubs and limb-able trees where sightlines are important) Use native plant communities where they fit the site conditions and design – they often thrive with less maintenance and provide wildlife habitat. Plan native and natural “buffer” areas near waterways, slopes, and other sensitive areas. 31
  32. 32. Right plant, right place! Use trees, not exotic palms. Use deciduous and broadleaf evergreens. Select plants with multiple benefits, such as food (“edible landscaping”), habitat, shade, etc. Maximize green in dense urban areas – in public spaces, on building walls and roofs, in street tree placement – Put lawn where it belongs: on sunny (or light shade to reduce water needs), well-drained, moderately sloped areas where needed for play or walking uses. Turf requires a lot of maintenance and water, so choose other plant groups where turf is not necessary or won’t grow well (heavily shaded, sloped, or poorly drained sites). 32
  33. 33. Maximize Green! 33
  34. 34. Design for water conservation Group and zone plants by water need match these “hydrozones” to irrigation system zones. Reduce irrigation system waste with:  Evapotranspiration-based central computer controllers; or for smaller systems, weather and soil moisture sensor based “smart” controllers  Rain shut-off devices; flow sensors (to shut off zone if pipe breaks); check valves to stop low head drainage; and more efficient “high distribution uniformity” heads  Adequate piping size to minimize pressure differences, or pressure-regulating valves on each zone in sloped systems. Keep any pressure variation to within 10-15% of working pressure.  Separate zones for turf, and for each hydrozone  Drip, soaker, or other low-flow emitters 34
  35. 35. Plant establishment New landscapes need extra care during the establishment period (first year): More regular watering until roots go deep Weeding and mulching until plants fill in Replacement of unhealthy plants, or plants that do not grow well in their site conditions Troubleshooting problems with plants, irrigation, drainage and pests. 35
  36. 36. Prune less, thin and mulch more Minimize pruning by choosing plants that will fit at their mature size. Pruned hedges are very labor-intensive –using fence and/or mature sized plants is more sustainable. Prune for plant health. Thin excess plants as the landscape matures, to allow adequate room for full growth. Keep on mulching until ground covers and canopy close completely – weeds love bare soil. 36
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  39. 39. Plant Selection Savvy!Plant traits that reduce maintenance and prevent runoff pollution – Drought resistance – Wind resistance – Pest resistance – Low nutritional requirements – Slow growth Plant traits that attract wildlife – Cover and habitat – Seeds and nuts – Fleshy fruits and berries – Nectar and larval food for butterflies – Red tubular flowers for hummingbirds Plant traits that affect humans – Shade – Attractive flowers – Scent or foliage – Thorns leaves or roots – Screen for privacy 39
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  43. 43. Living on the waters edge! 43
  44. 44. Perennial Peanut - Arachis Glabrata Benth 44
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  47. 47. Perennial Peanut – Arachis glabrata var. hagenbeckii 47
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  59. 59. Grant’s Mahogany Blend Mulch This landscape mulch has been specifically formulated. Works back into the planting medium and acts as an organic fertilizer to enhance base soil conditions. Grant’s Blend features mulch processed from the “melaleuca” trees and incorporates this wood as a method of protecting our unique Florida habitat and contributing to an environmentally sensible solution within Grant’s Gardens installation and maintenance procedures. 59
  60. 60. Make space for nature Zone highly maintained landscape elements (lawns, flower beds) closer to buildings. Leave or restore wilder, “buffer” areas toward perimeter, near waterways or slopes. Use native plant communities where possible, and select plants, shrubs, and trees to support birds and beneficial insects. Leave room for nature to move – trees to fall, plants to grow, or streams to meander – by limiting hardscaping and avoiding linear/geometric designs. Curves and softer engineering are more forgiving and easier/cheaper to maintain and repair. 60
  61. 61. Thank you for your attention.Do we have time for Questions?!!!! 61