This last week was was a great one for Florida gardeners. We had several days of rain, with lots of warm sunshine in between, making it the perfect time for planting new flowers to brighten up the winter landscape. As we scoured nearby nurseries for the best and brightest bargains, we made a wonderful discovery - the Tampa Mock Vervain (Glandularia tampensis) is in at Home Depot!
It’s certainly not every city that can boast a wildflower named for it, but Tampa has one. The Tampa Mock Vervain is an endangered native wildflower, endemic to just a few coastal counties in central Florida. Like so many native species in Florida, Tampa Mock Vervain is threatened by development. It prefers open woodlands near the coast – just like developers do. Once development began to destroy its limited natural habitat, it didn’t have much of a chance, and there are now only 24 known populations in the wild.
Butterfly gardeners treasure Tampa Mock Vervain as a fantastic nectar source. Plant it now to enjoy it throughout winter and spring, but expect it to die back once the harsh heat of summer hits. Some gardeners have luck with this plant re-seeding itself, but we never have. Fortunately for us, Riverview Flower Farm supplies our local Home Depot with this plant each winter, and we stock up when we find them. Many Florida native plant nurseries carry this plant as well, so keep your eyes open. One caveat - don't collect this plant if you happen across it in the wild; that's illegal due to its endangered status.
Florida’s ecosystem has been changed forever by development, but you can restore some of the native health and beauty by taking simple steps. Add Tampa Mock Vervain to your gardens to help bring “Old Florida” back to life - and bring in butterflies by the barrelful!