Plants to Consider for Your Landscape

A Series of Articles to Help you Learn About Florida Native Plants

Florida-grown Plants Thrive

Plants grown outside our unique climate often fail. Native plants, not cultivars or hybrids are best for supporting wildlife. Florida Ecotypes are plants native to Florida and grown in Florida.

Florida Keystone Plants

Keystone plants are plants that are considered the most important plants in the food web for wildlife and crucial to the Florida environment, similar to the keystone in an arch. Without the keystone the whole arch crumbles. 

"The National Wildlife Federation has developed helpful handouts for each region of the U.S. that identify the keystone plant genera and the number of caterpillar species and pollen specialists that those plants support. Dr. Doug Tallamy with the University of Delaware and his research team identified these keystone plants in cohort with pollinator conservationist Jarrod Fowler. You can view the resources at the National Wildlife Federation's Keystone Plants by Ecoregion". Unfortunately, they blend most of unique Florida into Eastern Temperate Forests. However, fortunately, IFAS Gardening Solutions has provided a summary for us. 

Native Plant Nurseries

If you want to support wildlife - butterflies, birds, insects

AVOID Cultivars that change the color or shape of a flower - Created by humans, not nature. Often created as "eye candy" in the garden but often loses the quality and quantity of food for wildlife. Cultivars are usually clones that offer little genetic diversity to the landscape or wild areas. 

AVOID Plants Grown with Systemic Pesticides - Neonicotinoids are not regulated and many plant sources used by "big box stores" use them. Neonicotinoids kill indiscriminately insects. The buyer has no way of knowing which poison has been used on the plant they buy and how long, perhaps for years, it will remain active. There is evidence that the poison leaches into the soil with unknown consequences.

Wikipedia Neonicotinoids -

In The Villages

In Jo's Yard - Jo discusses plant characteristics in her blog.

Steve Turnipseed, TVFNPS founder, Low Maintenance Plants for The Villages (Trees, Shrubs, Grasses, Ground Clovers, Vines)

Steve discusses plants in his yard for the Outside Collab Conference 2021

Native plants growing in Villages' yards. The Villages Landscape Tour 2023.

Florida Natives

A Series of Three Videos from FNPS Past President Karina Veaudry

  1. Native Florida Landscape Design Part 1 - Why Go Native with Karina Veaudry
  2. Native Florida Landscape Design Part 2 - Design Techniques with Karina Veaudry
  3. Native Florida Landscape Design Part 3 - Commercially-Available Natives with Karina Veaudry 

    This is an excellent video about the unique characteristics and diversity of Florida by a very knowledgeable speaker. She explains why it is imperative to plant natives to support our wildlife.

Flower Wildflower Foundation

Native Plants for Florida Gardens YouTube video

The Foundation Director talks describes the content of her new book "Native Plants for Florida Gardens"  Plant natives and cut back on turf grass to provide resources for wildlife. She goes over the types of plants and talks about how to find natives by using FANN to find a native nursery. The majority of the video is descriptions and growing suggestions for many Florida natives that are appropriate for The Villages.

Plant Types


Shade Plants

Suggestions from Craig Huegel


Trees and Shrubs

Sabal Palm: Florida State TreeState Tree. The sabal palm (Sabal palmetto) is the most widely distributed palm in Florida. It grows in almost any soil and has many uses, including food, medicine, and landscaping.  It is important to Florida wildlife.

Presentation by Lisa Dougherty from Boggy Creek Trees


Ground Cover 


Wildflower Paintings

Minna R. Fernald Collection of Paintings of Florida Wildflowers Digital Collection Florida Museum of Natural History

Resources for Naive Plants in Central Florida

Florida Plant Atlas - Look up a plant. Learn if it is considered a Florida Native. Find out if the plant grows well in our

area. Look at a map of where the plant has been documented in Florida. Many plants have multiple pictures.

Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS).  (The Villages chapter members are FNPS members) maintains a database of native plants for landscaping. You can search by location, plant type, plant characteristics, and more.

Florida Friendly Landscaping is a database of plants that grow well in Florida but are assumed not to be invasive (a few have issues).  You can search for Central Florida Plants and choose the growing characteristics you desire including if the plant is native. We encourage you to plant natives.

Natives for Your Neighborhood is a database for southern Florida natives. This resource has detailed information on specific plants. Many of the plants they cover are also good for central Florida, but be aware that the advice given may not fit our area very well.  Also, be aware that many of the plants they list will die if we get a hard freeze. Check with the Florida Plant Atlas or Florida Native Plant Society site to determine regional suitability.

FANN Florida Association of Native Nurseries - Looking to purchase native plants? You can search here for nurseries that sell Florida-grown native plants. 

General Plant Resources

These links provide plant descriptions, suggestions for planting locations, and sometimes help with plant maintenance.

If you know the scientific or common name of a plant you can look it up on the Atlas of Florida Plants. The Atlas contains over 4000 native and naturalized plants showing where they have been found, and often with pictures.  Naturalized plants are non-natives that can grow on their own in Florida -- they include invasives.  The entries will tell you if the species are native or non-native, and whether is considered by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council to be invasive.

Missouri Botanic Garden Plant Finder - An excellent resource for over 7,000 plants in North America. Helpful growing advice is provided.

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Database - Another excellent resource that includes many Florida natives.  

List of Florida Invasive Plants - This list of plants to NOT grow, is produced by the Florida 

Go to our Downloads area to get lists of plants that our members recommend for our area.

Plants used in Steve's yard by Al and Joan.

These photos were included in the video Transformation of a Residential Turfgrass Lawn into a Central Florida Native Plant Landscape that was shown at the Florida Native Plant Society 2015 Conference in Tallahassee.

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