Plant Shopping 101

by Laurie Sheldon

If there’s one question we answer over and over again on the FNPS Facebook page it’s, “where can I find (insert name of plant) in my area?” We are thrilled that you are looking for natives to incorporate into your landscapes! This blog should hopefully become a great reference tool for you to use when shopping for plants and/or seeds in your area. So, without further ado, here are the four different webpages I typically use when asked to locate a particular native species; one is for wildflower seeds and the remainder are for plants.

Wildflower Seeds
Literally hundreds, if not thousands, of seed sources can be found on the internet - why do I limit my seed search to one resource? Simply stated, WHERE seeds are collected is just as important as what species they come from. Allow me to briefly touch on the notion of ecotype without getting completely carried away...  Within a given plant species there are varying degrees of genetic adaptation to the surrounding environment that occur over time. These slight genetic shifts presumably give local populations of a species (ecotypes) a competitive advantage over those grown out-of-state. For optimal results, it is advisable to sow seeds harvested from a site with an environment similar to your own. Fortunately, the Florida Wildflowers Growers Co-op offers seeds collected in Florida in a variety of different packages. Simply looking for packets of a single species? Want to sow a large field or roadside with a Florida Ecotype Mix,? This is the place to go.
Whether it's a native tree, shrub, or groundcover you're hoping to get your hands on, the internet is the best place to begin your search (and save on gas)! The Florida Association of Native Nurseries (F.A.N.N.), our sister organization, maintains two webpages through which you can locate that specimen you've been drooling over - one is primarily for homeowners and gardeners, and the other is directed toward industry professionals. Both provide information about which plants are native to your neck of the woods. Just enter your zip code to find out if what you were considering buying is appropriate for your site.
One of the largest plant directories is plantANT. Allied with the Florida Nursery Growers and Landscape Association (F.N.G.L.A.), plantANT is easy to use and includes features that allow users to sort their search results by distance from a particular zip code, price, and container size. You must register in order to use the site, but that is a fairly painless process and the price is right (it's free)!
Last, but not necessarily least, are the directories offered by the Betrock Network. This group goes back a LOOONG way. When the internet was in its infancy, their PlantFinder and PlantFinderWest catalogs were worth gold in countless landscape design studios, and were frequently hidden from the sticky fingers of classmates - particularly when it came time to specify plant sizes in planting plans. Aside from their all-encompassing database for individuals who haven't been bitten by the native bug yet, they have a search that is limited to native plants (shown below), which is kind of nice.
Please note that the information contained herein is in no way all-inclusive. It is intended to be used as a guide and a jumping point to get you headed in the right direction. Happy plant shopping, and green-thumbs up!
graphics by Laurie Sheldon


Thelma said…
What a great article! Hernando Chapter is thinking about linking to it in our January newsletter. You may also want to check out the new seed packets and mixes available from the Florida Wildflower Foundation at . Thanks for the info!

Popular posts from this blog

Australian Pine: One of Florida's Least Wanted

Native Trees and Plants You Will See Nearly Everywhere in Florida