Sunday, April 25, 2010

Who Will Buy My Pretty Flowers? (Part One)

As mentioned the other day, we recently took a little field trip and visited several new native plant nurseries along the way. This is the first of three posts detailing those nurseries and the plants we bought there.

 Between Tampa and Ford Myers, just east of Sarasota, is one of Florida's gems:  Myakka River State Park. It offers a 7-mile drive that winds through the park along the river and lake, meaning you don't even need to get out of your car to spot wading birds, alligators, deer, and more. Of course, there are plenty of trails, including one leading to a tree-top canopy walk, as well as all the other amenities you'll find at state parks.
Just north of the park on Myakka Road is Florida Native Plants, the kind of place that's tucked away so well you have to know it's there in order to find it (thank you, GPS!). Set in a beautiful area with the park nearby and farmland all around, Florida Native Plants is a lovely little nursery with a good selection and reasonable prices, bearing in mind you pretty much always pay more for native plants.. The staff was friendly and helpful, and all the plants were well-labeled and described (I refuse to buy a plant unless I know what it is and what it needs to grow well).

We made two purchases at Florida Native Plants: a wild lime tree and a starry rosinweed. Wild lime (Zanthoxylum fagara) has been on our wish list for quite some time, as it serves as a host plant for the gorgeous giant swallowtail butterfly. It's a manageable little tree with a moderate growth rate; we plan to keep it more the size of a large shrub in our yard by some judicious pruning. It grows best in full sun, so we planted it in the front yard where it will have room to spread a bit. It's tiny now but can grow to about 10-15 feet in Central Florida. This is a wonderful native plant to add to your gardens, as long as you're aware that it's not a tree you want to get up close and friendly with - like all citrus trees, wild lime protects itself with very sharp little pricklies all over the branches.

Our other purchase, starry rosinweed (Silphium asteriscus), is a member of the aster family. Sometimes called tall rosinweed, this native wildflower resembles a sunflower when in bloom. It grows about 2-3 feet tall and is very drought-tolerant. It's a great nectar source, so we planted ours in the butterfly garden. It doesn't look like much now, but this perennial should start to bloom before too long, so we'll provide pictures when it does.

So, that wraps up the first installment of our native plant shopping. Look for part two tomorrow, when we visit the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation!


  1. I love Myakka River SP! The tree canopy walk is fun, and the park is a great place to take out-of-state guests to guarantee they'll see gators up-close and personal. (My piece of the Peace River is hit-or-miss for gator-watching any given day.) I'll have to look for that nursery next time I'm over there! : )

  2. The wild lime is an excellent choice! Its spikiness also helps deter the neighborhood dogs from trampling over my beds... well I hope it helps a little.