DATE: August 13, 2012
CONTACT: Michael Mills, Broward County Parks and Recreation
WHAT: In subtropical South Florida just about anything you stick in the ground has a good chance of growing, which is why so many plants classified variously as non-native, invasive, or exotic can thrive. Such plants may have been introduced intentionally. Australian pines, for example, were originally planted throughout the region as shade trees and windbreaks; now they’re out of control in many areas. Likewise melaleucas, which were once recommended as ornamental landscape trees but are now considered a nuisance plant.
Other times unwitting home landscapers cultivate the wrong kinds of plants, thanks to misinformation from such seemingly reliable sources as books, friends, nurseries, and the Internet. A home landscape including, say, areca and Chinese fan palms, wandering Jew vines, lantana shrubs, flowering four o’clock and ground orchids, and such trees as schefflera, weeping fig, mimosa, and orchid trees might seem like a good plan, but all these plants wreak varying degrees of havoc on the native environment. Even such fruit trees as mango, guava, and sapodilla come with their own sets of problems. And forget about tossing out houseplants that have outgrown their containers – they can easily take root and spread until they run amok.
That, simply put, is the potential problem. Non-native, invasive, and exotic plants can go wild in our yards, parks, and natural areas and on our roadsides and canal banks. The vast majority pose no serious threat, but some grow out of control, competing with native vegetation and gradually displacing it, forever altering ecosystems that have developed over millions of years.
The most notorious invasive plants – the aforementioned Australian pines and melaleucas, along with Brazilian pepper – have long been targeted by intensive campaigns to curb their spread. But you can also do your part simply by paying closer attention to what you grow in your own yard. Don’t trust older editions of landscaping guides, which may contain outdated information, and don’t buy plants just because they’re pretty or your friends or neighbors recommend them. And by all means don’t put indiscriminate faith in the Internet, which is rife with misinformation.
The key is educating yourself on what you put into the ground and what you do with it once it’s planted, and for help with that you can turn to Broward County parks. From 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, September 1, Secret Woods Nature Center in Dania Beach will hold its Go Native in Broward County Plant Sale, which emphasizes the right kinds of plants to grow in your home landscape. Then, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, September 8, Fern Forest Nature Center in Coconut Creek will have its Fall Into Foliage Native Plant Sale, a comparable event. Gardening information and other activities will be offered at both events.
WHERE: Secret Woods Nature Center
2701 W. State Road 84, Dania Beach 33312
Fern Forest Nature Center
201 Lyons Rd. South, Coconut Creek 33063
WHEN: Saturday, September 1, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Secret Woods)
Saturday, September 8, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. (Fern Forest)
WHO: For all ages.
For more information, call the Secret Woods at 954-357-8884 or Fern Forest at 954-357-5198. Secret Woods is accessible via Broward County Transit Route #6, while Fern Forest is accessible via Routes #31 and #42.