Incorporating Invasive Plans in New Residents’ Workshops
Situation: Invasive plants present a real threat to Florida’s natural resources. Sumter County is one of the fastest growing counties in Florida and contains one of the fastest growing cities in The United States, The Villages. Due to this increase in population, UF/IFAS Sumter County Extension developed a New Residents Workshop targeting new homeowners moving into The Villages. The workshop was developed over four years ago, its primary topics include irrigation, fertilization, and best management practices. Due to invasive plant species found in garden centers and nurseries and along with spread of exotic invasive plants, extension has also introduced the prevention of invasive plant species to its curriculum. Methods: 12 classes are taught on the third Tuesday of each month at Colony Cottage Recreation center in The Villages. Workshops are two hours long presenting on various landscaping best management practices. Invasive plant identification constitutes about 20 minutes during that time. Homeowners’ are shown popular invasive plants found in garden centers and nurseries along with exotic invasive plants. Results: Using a follow-up survey, 33.3% (n=324) of participants stated that they had physically removed invasive plants. 200 Mexican Petunias (Ruellia simplex), 18 Lantana (Lantana camara), 2 Chinese Privet (Ligustrum sinense), 2 Air Potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) and one skunk vine (Paederia foetida) were removed from their landscapes. Conclusion: The incorporation of invasive plants to the New Residents Workshop has been a bigger success than anticipated. The short amount of time devoted to invasive plant identification and removal yielded surprisingly significant results. The incorporation of invasive plants will be included in future gardening presentations in The Villages.