Have you noticed wildflowers popping up all over? Both in managed and more “wild” landscapes, wildflowers appear when the weather is right for them.
I looked in my garden – which for this year is basically laying fallow – to look for and identify some of our beautiful “weedy” friends and neighbors.
Most people pick them out, pull them up by the roots. But our native plants are important food and shelter for our native pollinators.
Having “wild” patches in your yard helps our world’s struggling pollinators have a fighting chance at survival despite overpopulation and overdevelopment encroaching on their territories, causing endangerment and even extinction.
Let’s look at some really local wildflowers, shall we?
Friendly Florida Wildflower #1: Spanish Needle
Spanish needle is the often overlooked hero of the bee population. It grows easily anywhere in Florida and is quite aggressive. The little seeds stick to fur, clothing, shoes – basically anything they touch – and are therefore easy to spread.
No matter how annoying that might seem, the pollen from the Spanish Needle flower feeds bees. All manner of bees, from honeybees to mason bees, bumblebees, and more, feed on that pollen to survive the seasons. Often in Winter the Spanish Needle have the only flowers I see in some areas.
Consider letting a few of them grow in your garden – they attract the pollinators!
Friendly Florida Wildflower #2: Blue Porterweed
Oh, I wish I could take credit for that photo (it’s an open stock photo)! While I’ve never seen a hummingbird at my blue porterweed flowers, I’ve seen moths, bees of all shapes and sizes, butterflies, and pollinator wasps too.
Porterweed flowers are subtle – they grow on these long skinny stalks. A portion of the stalk near the bottom will bloom and the blooms will slowly “crawl” up the stalk until it reaches the end. The last flowers will fall off and the seeds ripen and turn brown.
Porterweed re-seeds itself readily, and it also will grow from cuttings. Never take cuttings from wild places (it’s illegal!) but if you know someone who has some, ask to get a couple pieces, or a brown stalk with seeds attched. You’ll be glad you did.
Friendly Florida Wildflower #3: Florida Tasselflower
If there were a flower that bees would consider the “bee’s knees”, it would be the Florida Tasselflower. Actually, nearly all of our native pollinators – butterflies, wasps, and bees – seek these little pink-to-red beauties out each and every year.
The seeds are attached to the fluff you see in the picture. The fluff catches the wind and transports the seeds to other places. Then the cycle of feeding the pollinators continues in new places!
I tend to see these flowers all summer long. If you see one, leave it! It will feed LOTS of pollinators!
Friendly Florida Wildflowers #4: Frog Fruit
Also known as the Matchstick plant (for obvious reasons!) this tiny plant is a very successful ground cover!
If you are looking for a way to make your lawn green without grass, Frog Fruit is a very viable option. Not only will you have a sea of green leaves with tiny purple buds and even tinier white flowers, but you will have a yard full of bees, butterflies, and pollinator wasps who come to eat, drink, and rest on these short stalks.
And that can’t BEE a bad thing, right?
Well, I hope you liked my roundup of Friendly Florida Wildflowers that I often see right here in my back yard – Ag Zone 9b if you’re wondering. There are more, of course, but I wanted to highlight these because I often see them in other places too – like sidewalk cracks, and the plantings next to buildings. They are tough little things, and they do worlds of good for our pollinators.
Do you want to learn more about Florida’s Wildflowers? One of the best resources is the Florida Wildflower Foundation. They work tirelessly to spread the word about native plants and their importance to all who live in Florida.
Also check out my previous articles in the blog about pollinators for more information about them.
Remember, without pollinators, we wouldn’t have most of our fresh produce!!
Until next time – Keep Growing!