Recommended Native Groundcovers for Central Florida
About 25 percent of the plant species native to North America are at risk of extinction. You can help reverse this trend by planting great native plants in your garden.
Florida is divided into four main ecological regions: the East Gulf Coastal Plain, the South Atlantic Coastal Plain, Florida Peninsula and Tropical Florida. Unique in topography, soil depth and pH, elevation, light and hydrology, each region provides a rich variety of ecological habitats, supporting many native plant species.
Noted for its mild climate, with temperatures typically ranging between 23-95ºF and relatively high rainfall, averaging 65 inches per year, the Florida Peninsula or Central Florida is located in USDA zones 9a and 9b.
Extending 300 miles southward from the mainland, Central Florida begins in the temperate southeast and ends in the subtropical Everglades and Florida Keys.
A large portion of the landscape supports herbaceous and forested wetlands. Upland areas include hardwood forests. It is estimated that two thirds of Florida’s 7,800 lakes occur in the Florida Peninsula Ecoregion.
Florida supports the fourth highest biodiversity in the United States and ranks third in the number of species listed as threatened or endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
According to the U.S Forest Service, Invasive species have contributed to the decline of 42% of U.S. endangered and threatened species, and for 18% of U.S. endangered or threatened species. Invasive species compete directly with native species for moisture, sunlight, nutrients, and space. They displace and alter native plant communities, degrade wildlife habitat and water quality, and potentially lead to increased soil erosion.
The federal government has estimated that nearly 25 percent of the 20,000 plant species native to North America are at risk of extinction, many of these through habitat loss. You can help reverse this trend by planting great native plants in your garden.
A plant is considered native if it has occurred naturally in a particular region or ecosystem without human introduction. There are many benefits in growing native plants.
- First, these plants are better adapted to soils, moisture and weather than exotic plants that evolved in other parts of the world. They need less fertilizers, pesticides or use less water.
- Second, they are unlikely to escape and become invasive, destroying natural habitat.
- Third, they support wildlife, providing shelter and food for native birds and insects, while exotic plants do not.
Here is a list of native groundcovers that are well-suited for plantings in gardens of Central Florida.
- Never collect native plants from the wild as it will deplete natural ecosystems.
- When possible, plant species grown straight from local seed sources. These native originals are the best choice, as they co-evolved with specific wildlife, which supports migration, breeding and other seasonal interdependency.
The Marmot, Flickr
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.