Friday, June 28, 2013

The Good, The Bad and The Exotic

So here's the million dollar you know the difference between "the good, the bad and the exotic plants" here in South Florida?  Hmmmm, do ya?  Don't be so hard on yourself if you don't, not many people do.  Since Miami and Fort Lauderdale are two of our main ports importing all kinds of goodies from all over the world, the list gets revised all the time.  The following terms are defined by Broward County and University of Florida Institute of  Food and Agriculture Sciences (as well as a few additional Florida agencies).

The "Good Plants" are "plants whose natural range included Florida at the time of European contact in 1500 and support a healthy, sustainable ecosystem.  They provide food, shelter and nesting materials for native and migratory wildlife.  Native species naturally adapt to our climate and soils and require little care once established in a landscape."

The "Bad Plants" are "invasive exotic species that have gone bad.  They impact the natural ecosystem in harmful ways by altering natural fire patterns, interrupting water flow, cross pollinating with native plants, destroying native plant communities, and/or reducing wildlife habitat for native animal species.  Not only do invasive exotics cost millions of dollars to manage, it is prohibited to possess, sell or propagate some of these species."

The "Exotic Plants" are "not native, but are ones that have been purposely and/or accidentally introduced to Florida.  They are native to other regions and/or parts of the world.  Numerous horticultural introductions are important food sources or serve to beautify our landscapes.  Only a small percentage of these introduced species are/or may become invasive exotic species.  Many exotic species require regular fertilization and watering to maintain good health in our climate and soils and are more susceptible to pest infestations."

It's truly unfortunate that Home Depot, Lowes and many nurseries still stock and sell many of the invasive species at their stores. I'd like to think if people don't buy them then they won't sell them but I don't think that's the case.  Though by writing to them and letting them know they are contributing to our invasive species list might change their mind. I.E. Ficus is a plant species that has enabled the white fly epidemic as well as costing property owners a lot of money with it's destructive root system and constant maintenance.  There are so many plants better suited for hedges.  I believe an educated gardener can be one of the world's best conservationist's!

At this point you may want to wander through your yard with a refreshing cool beverage in hand to check for any invasive species that may have settled into your landscape.  Or if you are considering a new landscape, remember to do a little research before you purchase plants.  If you are working with a landscape company then ask your landscape designer about the plants they are using.  If they do not know "the good, the bad and the exotic" well then, time to find a new landscape professional to work with.  You can always send me any questions you may have and/or contact the following agencies.
Wishing you a fantastic Friday and most wonderful weekend!
 Keep the sunblock on and stay hydrated my friends!


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