BREVARD COUNTY — Having a beautiful garden can benefit more than just your local neighborhood, it can be an environmentally-friendly wonderland of native plants.

The Florida Native Plant Society Conradina Chapter will host a free virtual “2020 Landscaping with Florida Natives Tour” with a discussion led by Nichole Perna, assistant land manager at Barrier Island Sanctuary, at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 12.

Then, on Saturday, Oct. 17 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the tour continues as online viewers travel virtually to the homes of four Brevard County residents to discover their native yards.

Participants can register on Eventbrite.com to receive a link for the virtual videos by searching “The 11th Annual Landscaping with Florida Natives Tour.”

Registrants will receive a brochure and information regarding the native plants they will see on the tour.

The goal of the Florida Native Plant Society is to conserve, preserve and restore native plants and native plant communities of Florida.

Jane Higgins, Treasurer and a Board Member of the Conradina Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, said she began planting native plants after her son moved out to college and she realized she would be left to mow the lawn.

Not wanting to contribute to harming the environment by using fertilizers, Ms. Higgins said she approached Maple Street Natives to create a landscape plan for her yard.

“We should be using the plants native to where we live,” Ms. Higgins said. “We shouldn’t be buying exotic, tropical plants because they don’t support native wildlife. That’s when we start losing Monarchs, the birds, the bees because they don’t have what they need to survive if there are not the native plants they’re used to living on. They can’t adapt.”

Oak trees are a prime example of a native plant that is critical to the food chain, according to Ms. Higgins. It takes about 6,000 caterpillars to feed a bird’s nest, and an oak tree can support more species of caterpillars than any other tree.

Some other types of native plants include blue curl, dune sunflower, muhly grass, wild petunia, yellow top, sea grapes, persimmon, buttonwood, elderberry and more.

The public can spot Florida native plants by visiting locations such as Lagoon Park and Ballard Park in Melbourne, Franklin DeGroodt Library in Palm Bay, Melbourne Village City Hall and Sebastian Inlet State Park Entrance Shack.

For those interested in native plants and not sure where to start, local nurseries such as Maple Street Natives, Go Native Landscaping, Native Butterfly Flowers LLC, Change of Greenery and Florida Native Wildflowers are some businesses that can help you, along with joining the Conradina Chapter.

For more information, visit www.conradina.fnpschapters.org.

Associate Managing Editor

I have been a Viera resident for 15 years and a writer my whole life. I love to travel when the opportunity presents itself, as well as try new things.

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