The plants you bring home from garden centers and nurseries may look beautiful in your landscape but they might be invasive species that could escape your yard and quickly spread into natural areas, becoming an ecological and economic nightmare. To avoid contributing to the problem, homeowners and landscapers should carefully select alternative sterile cultivars or other native plants.
Sheila Dunning, UF/IFAS Commercial Horticulture Agent in Okaloosa County, provides the following information concerning invasive plants, including an upcoming lecture on this topic.
The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council created lists of invasive plants that was published every two years through 2019. Botanists perform exhaustive studies to determine invasive plants that should be placed on the lists. Invasive plants are termed Category I Invasives when they are altering native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions or hybridizing with natives.
In 2020 the Florida Invasive Species Council took over this task. They began by standardizing invasive species terminology. For details on the new terminology go to: https://floridainvasivespecies.org/definitions.cfm. For a copy of the current invasive plant species list, go to: https://floridainvasivespecies.org/plantlist.cfm.
On Wednesday, September 20, the Okaloosa County Master Gardener Lecture Series topic will be “Plant This, Not That”. This hour-long (10-11 a.m.) program will be held at the Extension Office in Crestview located at 3098 Airport Road and will introduce the invasive plant species that pose an ecological threat to Florida ecosystems and some alternatives that provide a similar aesthetic value. For more information and to register use this link, https://bit.ly/plantthis23. You also may call the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County for more information about this program at 850-689-5850.
The UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Master Gardener Volunteers will hold their 2023 Fall Plant Sale 8 to 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 23 at the temporary UF/IFAS Extension Annex located at the Okaloosa Technical College (OTC) in Fort Walton Beach. The sale will be held in the back of the OTC Campus at 1976 Lewis Turner Boulevard in Fort Walton Beach.
There are two entrances to the OTC. Use the entrance closest to the fire station, not the main entrance, and follow the signs to the Extension building located in the back of the campus. Here is a link with a map showing how to find our building or call the OTC Extension Annex at 850-651-7476 for directions. https://go.ufl.edu/fwb-annex-map
Many native and Florida-friendly plants, including dozens of milkweed plants will be available for sell. Prices will be $5.35 per plant with cash or check accepted.