Native Landscaping Course to be Offered in Fort Pierce by the University of Florida

By Robin Koestoyo

The native section of the Ft. Pierce "teaching garden".
What do Mexican firebush, gumbo-limbo, and Stokes aster have in common, aside from their versatility and compatibility with a wide array of landscape settings? For starters, they are native to Florida, require a minimal amount of care, and are  featured in either of two botanic gardens situated at the University of Florida/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center near Fort Pierce. Lucky for you, they are among the more than 100 plants to be studied in “Florida Native Landscaping,” an upper division environmental horticulture course offered at the UF Fort Pierce campus. Many industry professionals, nursery owners and state employees have completed the course.

Course Schedule
Registration for “Florida Native Landscaping” is taking place now for spring semester 2014.  Course lectures will be delivered live with laboratories will take place on Wednesdays, and will begin Jan. 8, 3:00 until 6:00 p.m., and will continue each Wednesday through mid-April. “Florida Native Landscaping” is offered as both an undergraduate course, as well as a graduate-level course. Graduate students who enroll will complete an additional project.

The course will take place at the University of Florida/IFAS Indian River Research and Education Center near Fort Pierce, located at 2199 South Rock Road, Fort Pierce, Florida, 34945. The Center is situated between Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike, located conveniently at both Fort Pierce/Okeechobee Road exit ramps.

Florida's native plants are clearly labeled and
identified as seen here.
The course is designed to introduce students prospective degree and non-degree seeking students with a plant science background to a wide array of native plant species used in Florida landscapes, according to Sandy Wilson, who will instruct the course. “This is a very popular course every time I teach it with direct applications as we learn how to create environmentally sound, aesthetic landscapes that benefit our wildlife,” said Wilson, who has garnered multiple national teaching awards and holds a doctorate in plant physiology. She devotes equal amounts of her faculty time to teaching courses and to research projects.

Each week, students will participate in lectures and laboratory work that will cover plant nomenclature and taxonomy, native plant requirements, propagation, environmental issues and native landscape design and implementation. Portions of the course will take place in the center’s 1-acre “IRREC Teaching Gardens”, and the half-mile-long “Linear Garden,” both outdoor gardens planned and implemented by students of environmental horticulture.

Dr. Sandy Wilson
Dr. Sandy Wilson is a prominent environmental horticulturalist nationally recognized for her research programs and innovative teaching skills in classroom, laboratory and distance education platforms. Her research focuses on characterizing the invasive potential of ornamental plants, and native plant physiology, propagation and production.

Recently, Dr. Wilson obtained a grant with which to produce material for newly created web-based lectures by statewide native experts specifically for this course. In addition, she is co-inventor of a new multiple-key entry online key for identifying plant families.

Magnolia grandiflora, one of many native trees
found in the UF/IFAS Indian River Research and
Education Center.
To enroll in “Florida Native Landscaping” or for more information about University of Florida course and degree offerings at the Fort Pierce location, contact Jackie White, Coordinator of Student Support Services, at (772) 468-3922, extension 148, or by e-mail at or on the web at: For specific questions about the course or materials contact Dr. Sandra Wilson at: The course website provides information, including the course syllabus, plant list, review activities, plant images, and recommended native book references. The website is online at:


posted by Laurie Sheldon


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