Creating a garden that benefits Central Florida’s amazing wildlife is extremely rewarding! Plus, you’ll be providing them with a tranquil refuge where they can thrive.
Natural habitats are shrinking due to increasing development in Central Florida. This is the reason why it’s important that Central Florida homeowners grow gardens that double as wildlife sanctuaries.
Create a Garden that Attracts Wildlife!
Your outdoor living space will be teeming with wildlife when you incorporate the things birds, amphibians, bats, lizards, and beneficial insects need to live healthy lives. It won’t be long before you can enjoy watching your garden nourishing Central Florida’s beautiful creatures.
To draw wildlife to your garden, you’ll need to supply adequate food, water, and cover.
Plants for Food, Nesting, and Shelter
An exceptional Central Florida wildlife garden includes both native and non-native plant species. A landscape of this caliber provides birds, mammals, and insects with an abundance of seeds, fruit, berries, leaves, and nectar all year long.
While non-native plants add a special beauty to your landscape and can sustain wildlife, you should include as many native plants as possible because they are the most nutritious food sources for Central Florida wildlife.
The Marlberry tree is a must for wildlife gardens. Native to Central Florida, it produces fragrant white flowers throughout the year and attracts wildlife in the fall with its purplish oval-shaped fruit. Marlberry trees grow best in partial sun and shade.
Attract hummingbirds by growing plants and vines that sprout red tubular flowers like firebush, red salvia, and coral honeysuckle. When your garden has what they need to survive, hummingbirds and their future generations will return year after year.
Fill your garden with butterflies by planting native milkweed. This beautiful flowering perennial is a necessity for endangered monarch butterflies because this is the only plant that the females will lay their eggs on, which is proving difficult to find due to habitat loss. Once milkweed is established in your garden, it will reseed itself. It’s also beloved by bumble bees!
Native and non-native plants both provide the cover wildlife need for protection from predators and the sun’s scorching rays. They also offer great nesting locations for birds and small mammals. Palms are essential to every Central Florida wildlife garden because their fronds are home to several species of bats, many of which are being threatened with extinction. For this reason, palms should only be pruned during the winter months to avoid disturbing adult bats and killing their babies.
Dense evergreen trees and shrubs are perfect additions to wildlife gardens because they provide excellent places for wildlife to hide from predators and nasty weather. Thorny shrubs and vines, such as blackberries or Walter’s viburnum, are also ideal cover for the same reasons.
If you have a dead tree on your property, leave it be if it’s not posing any danger. Owls will nest in its trunk and woodpeckers will feast on the insects the dead wood attracts.
Water is essential to every garden, but this is especially true for those that are designed to accommodate wildlife.
It’s best to irrigate your garden during the early morning hours, so your plants and the wildlife all enjoy a drink before the day heats up. While many types of creatures love a good puddle, don’t irrigate for so long that pools of water form or you’ll risk drowning your plants and causing root rot.
Create imitation puddles with clay pot bases and plastic saucers. Just make sure that whatever you decide to use doesn’t have slick sides because this makes it difficult for critters to climb out. A butterfly puddling station is an excellent addition to any garden. Just fill a shallow dish with sand and pebbles, then fill it with enough water that the stones are not completely covered. Puddling stations don’t just hydrate butterflies, the sand and mud provide them with much needed nutrients.
If you don’t have a natural water source, bird baths and manmade ponds are great additions to wildlife gardens. To prevent mosquitos from laying eggs in the water, install a water pump to keep the surface of the water moving. You can save money on electricity and make the water feature safer by using a fountain with a solar powered pump.
If you’re planning to add a pond to your landscape, be sure to include floating platforms. They’re not only necessary for frogs and turtles, but they are essential to saving wildlife that enter the water such as rabbits, bats, and lizards who cannot climb out on their own.
Regarding irrigation, remember that it’s always a good idea to check your irrigation system every so often to make sure it’s working properly. If you’re not sure your system is running like it should, call us or complete our request service form and we’ll be happy to take a look.
Special Extras that Complete Your Wildlife Garden
Bird feeders will draw a variety of birds. You can even hang suet cakes to attract woodpeckers. Hummingbird feeders are always a welcome addition to any garden!
Be sure to deter squirrels with a baffle or choose bird feeders that are specially designed to prevent squirrels from getting to the seed. If you don’t do this, the squirrels will stuff themselves and there won’t be any food left for the birds. If you enjoy feeding squirrels, you can purchase ears of corn for them or leave nuts on a stump. Just remember that once you feed squirrels, they’ll keep coming back for more!
To encourage birds to nest and return each year, install bird houses around your yard. There are different bird house designs for each species, so take note of the birds that frequent your garden before deciding on which type of bird house is best.
Bat houses are an excellent addition to wildlife gardens because they’ll keep the insect population in check by feasting on them. Many species of bats are becoming endangered, so giving them a place on your property to call home is a way to contribute to their survival survive.
Speaking of insects, wildlife gardens aren’t complete without a bug house nailed! These funny looking bug homes attract beneficial insects that will help pollinate your garden.
It’s more than a garden—it’s an ecosystem!
Gardening with wildlife in mind is a great way to create a relaxing escape for yourself while helping sustain the Central Florida’s beautiful creatures. When you provide the ideal environment for birds, bats, insects, lizards, and amphibians to survive and coexist, your wildlife garden is in fact an ecosystem!
It’s important to take note that pesticides and other poisons should not be used to correct problems in your garden because they will kill your wild friends. If you must treat your garden, always use non-toxic solutions. If you’re at a loss about what to do, consult with a local nursery that is knowledgeable about wildlife gardens.
Don’t despair if your wildlife garden isn’t too populated with life in the very first year. With each passing season, you’ll notice more and more creatures as past residents return and new visitors take notice.