Native plants are coming back into fashion for a very good reason: they are already adapted to the area in which they are to be planted. Regardless of where you travel in Florida, the chances are one or more of these plants will be on display in a park, wilderness center or neighborhood. Real estate in Tampa and surrounding areas, such as condos and homes in Sun City Center and Odessa, usually displays lush green lawns, one or more palm trees, and some of the colorful native subtropical vegetation that thrives in this environment.
Also called Ink-bush or Wild Olive, the Florida Privet is a creative way to make a privacy hedge for any yard. The Latin name, Forestiera segregata, designates the perfect semi-evergreen plant for homes in the Greater Tampa area; be certain the garden center or your landscaping company knows you do not want Japanese Privet, which does not tolerate this area very well. Salt spray and alkaline soil are problems that the Florida Privet adapted to long ago, as well as the incidental flooding and frost that happens in some of the coastal regions of Florida.
Fortunately, it can be left to grow together to form a sound barrier or pruned to resemble a traditional hedge, because it grows as tall as 15 feet, with a width up to 10 feet. Small yellow-green flowers appear in early spring, followed by new leaves and small berries. Birds delight in eating the tasty purple and blue fruits. Fallen seeds create new plants.
Another native Florida plant that thrives in the Tampa Bay vicinity is the Dayflower or Blue Spiderwort. This plant is beautiful in the arboretum of luxury homes in Avilla and fits right in growing on side of one of the paths at John B. Sargeant Park. Delicately beautiful blue flowers open in the. morning and close in the early afternoon during spring and early summer. If there is enough dirt for it to sprout, it will thrive, producing a beautiful groundcover. Seldom growing taller than 2 feet, it likes partial shade and the hot sun. From sand to mud, it will grow and spread quickly.
Knowing that simple to grow native Florida plants are available and will thrive with minimum care and water adds to the convenience of making your yard beautiful. That, in turn, adds to the value of your home. Nurseries and the field representative for the Department of Agriculture are available to answer questions and provide guidance regarding raising native Florida plants.