What Is That Lawn Ornament? Florida Snow?!?


Blog Series Headline photo

A handful of the Lawn Ornaments that will be featured in this blog series. Top row left to right, Sunshine Mimosa, Perennial Peanut, Frogfruit, Fleabane. Bottom row left to right, Pennywort, Lobelia, Florida Snow, Blue Eyed Grass.

Welcome to our Lawn Ornament blog series, where we explore one of the plethora of micro-plants that can help create a biodiverse, predominantly green, yet also delightfully colorful lawn that requires much less maintenance than a traditional grass lawn.

Many homeowners find it difficult and costly to maintain a “traditional” lawn, one largely dominated by a single grass cultivar. Embracing a biodiverse landscape can ease the frustration and save money, with the added bonus of providing ecological benefits. This “Lawn Ornament” series will provide a road map to that goal. Along the way, we’ll showcase volunteer “weeds” and commercially available ground covers that can improve upon the biodiversity of our lawns. And, we’ll offer you tips and techniques to adopt and embrace this biodiverse approach. Breaking free from tradition, we can transform yards and neighborhoods to vibrant, beautiful mixed-mowable ecosystems.

Make sure to check out the Starter Guide: Embracing Lawn Ornaments: A Starter Guide

Florida Snow, scientifically known as Richardia grandiflora, is a plant that rightfully sparks controversy and, therefore, necessitates this lengthy disclaimer. As of November 7, 2023, it is designated as a Caution Plant by the UF/IFAS Assessment of Nonnative Plants, indicating that it “MAY BE RECOMMENDED but manage to prevent escape“. However, it’s crucial to emphasize that this blog does not advocate for the promotion of its spread, as preventing its escape can be an impossible task. Furthermore, Richardia grandiflora is categorized as a Category II plant by the Florida Invasive Species Council, signifying that it has increased in abundance but has not yet altered Florida native plant communities like the Category I species.

Graphic for the EDIS Pub. Lost in the Weeds?: A Comprehensive Guide to FL's many Non-Native Plant Lists.
Graphic for the UF/IFAS EDIS Pub. Lost in the Weeds?: A Comprehensive Guide to FL’s many Non-Native Plant Lists. Learn more: www.floridainvasives.org/policy.cfm

Remember, the primary aim of this Lawn Ornament blog series is to shift cultural perceptions regarding biodiverse lawns and reduce the chemical inputs often needed to maintain monocultures. Richardia grandiflora establishes itself readily in mixed mowable lawns and serves as an attractive forage for both native pollinators and nonnative honeybees. So, at this time the author, Forest, doesn’t tackle the plant when it shows up. However, it is essential to acknowledge that if Florida Snow begins displacing native plants in natural areas and is proven to be ecologically harmful, that stance will change, and the utilization of herbicides will become warranted to manage it. In case you find yourself needing to manage this plant, resources will be provided to assist you in doing so responsibly at the bottom of the page. Again, this blog does not endorse or encourage the propagation, purchase, or cultivation of this plant. I am just out to provide information on what it is and what it does in your lawn, so you can make an educated decision in keeping it or fighting it.

Florida Snow as a Lawn Ornament, Spectacular or Scary?

When it comes to lawn groundcover plants, the Florida Snow, scientifically known as Richardia grandiflora, is in a controversial gray area. With its unique characteristics, this nonnative species has garnered both praise and criticism from gardeners and environmentalists. In this blog post, we’ll explore the pros and cons of Florida Snow, shedding light on its attributes and drawbacks.



A field of Richardia grandiflora abuzz with bees.

Pros of Florida Snow:

Creates Low-Growing, Mowable Groundcover: Florida Snow is an excellent choice for those looking to maintain a mowed landscape. Its low, creeping growth habit makes it easy to mow, providing a neat and well-kept appearance to your garden. It will still flower profusely even when heavily mowed.

Attracts Numerous Pollinators: One of the standout qualities of Florida Snow is its ability to attract a wide variety of pollinators. From native butterflies to nonnative honeybees, the flowers of this plant serve as a near constant food source that will vastly increase your pollinator and insect life compared to traditional turfgrasses. I have witnessed dozens of species of native bees and butterflies on Florida Snow. My father even spotted a rare Zebra Swallowtail nectaring on it recently!

A graphic showing a small sample of the numerous pollinators that forage from Florida Snow.
A graphic showing a small sample of the numerous pollinators that forage from Florida Snow.

Extremely Drought-Tolerant: Living in a region with frequent droughts and water restrictions, having a drought-tolerant groundcover like Florida Snow is a definite advantage. It can thrive with minimal water and is one of the few things still thriving without irrigation as Sarasota County faces its 7th driest year in the past 129 years.

Provides Excellent Coverage: Florida Snow creates a dense mat of foliage, effectively covering the ground and filling in any open patches. Compacted, sandy, dry, these are all ideal growing conditions for Florida Snow.

Year-Round Blooms with a Late Fall Climax: The Florida Snow provides lawns with year-round blooms, adding a touch of beauty to your landscape. Its late fall climax can be jaw dropping with how many flowers blossom and pollinators are attracted.

Cons of Florida Snow:

Nonnative Plant: Florida Snow is considered a nonnative species, which means it wasn’t originally found in the region. It is originally from South America and was likely introduced as an ornamental. This status leads to a constant evaluation of its impact on native ecosystems and potential displacement of indigenous flora.

Florida Snow covered by frost.
Florida Snow covered by frost. Vulnerable to frost, it all died. But the seeds sprouted again in the spring.

Vulnerable to Frost/Freeze: One significant drawback of Florida Snow is its sensitivity to cold temperatures. When exposed to frost or freeze, the plant dies off completely, leaving behind bare ground. While almost evergreen in zone 10 this can be extremely unsightly in zone 9.

Aggressively Spreads Through Mowed Landscapes:

Florida Snow’s aggressive spreading can be a double-edged sword. While it can quickly fill out a lawn, it may also spread in your landscape, necessitating constant management. Outperforming other groundcovers like Sunshine Mimosa and Frogfruit, which we recommend that you plant. Your neighbors, who might be seeking the traditional monoculture of turfgrass, will not appreciate this plant coming from your lawn.

Native Species Provide Better Ecological Benefits:

Finally, it is without a doubt that native plants like Frogfruit and Sunshine Mimosa offer superior ecological benefits compared to Florida Snow. These native plants better support local wildlife and provide more than just nectar and forage. These plants are also hardier, can be host plants for butterflies, and are not controversial.


Florida Snow (Richardia grandiflora) is a common groundcover plant that will eventually appear in your lawn. Currently, there’s a gray area regarding whether you should allow this nonnative species to persist in your lawn or use herbicides to remove it. I hope this blog has provided you with insights into the controversy, enabling you to make an informed decision about whether to combat its presence or accept it while we continue to study its ecological impact. For now, I will let it grow as a Lawn Ornament. But that stance could easily change as more research is conducted.

If you spot Florida Snow in the wilderness (undisturbed natural areas) please report the sighting with pictures on https://www.eddmaps.org


Declaration of Generative AI and AI-assisted technologies in the writing process
During the preparation of this work, the author used ChatGPT to help build the blog post. After using this tool/service, the author reviewed and edited the content, and takes full responsibility for the content of the publication.

Forest Hecker, Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ Community Educator for Sarasota County's UF/IFAS Extension and Sustainability Department.
Posted: November 7, 2023

Category: Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Home Landscapes, Horticulture, Lawn
Tags: FFL, Florida-Friendly Landscaping, Horticulture, Landscape, Landscaping, Lawn, Pgm_HortRes

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