Plants give us so much joy, but they also help us in many ways. Some shade us from the summer sun while others burst forth in dazzling blooms to indulge our senses. It’s doesn’t matter why we appreciate certain plants, but it’s important to know that they each have a purpose in the grand scheme of things.
When planning or expanding upon your property’s landscape, it’s smart to plant with purpose. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish, so you can determine which specimens will help you meet your goals.
Planting with purpose benefits you and the environment!
Every plant has a super power, and some boast more than one. Some plant species repel insects while others attract wildlife. Then, there are plants that help other plants flourish. If you want to lower your water bill, there are plants that can help you accomplish this!
Once you figure out exactly what you want to achieve with your landscape, you can successfully choose the right plants that will help you attain your goals.
Goal #1: Ward off insects.
It’s no secret that Orlando is known for its high insect population, especially mosquitos. However, your yard doesn’t have to be overrun with annoying bugs.
Growing citronella, or “mosquito shoo” geranium, near your patio will help repel mosquitos and flies, so you can enjoy your backyard anytime during the day or night. Citronella even has aromatherapy benefits! When its leaves are crushed, the scent of the oil has been known to alleviate stress and tension headaches. If you like growing tomatoes, citronella is their ideal companion plant because it deters destructive insects.
Central Florida is divided into two growing zones: 9a and 9b. Citronella can be grown in the ground in 9b, but if you live in zone 9a, you’ll need to plant it in a pot and bring it indoors during the winter. Placing it in a corner of your garage is ideal because it likes to “sleep” in a cool, dark place until spring. If you don’t have a garage, you can always take cuttings and propagate them for spring planting. If you have a dog, it’s best to plant citronella in a pot to keep it out of their reach because it is harmful to dogs.
Like the mosquito shoo geranium, lemongrass has the same purpose in life. This herbaceous perennial also contains citronella oil. Its powerful aroma can repel and even kill several varieties of mosquitos. This fact alone makes lemongrass a terrific addition to any Central Florida backyard. If you enjoy making your own salad dressings, you’ll love having easy access to this plant.
Wormwood is another mosquito repelling plant that grows well in Orlando. It also chases away fleas, moths, ants, flies, slugs, worms, aphids, and mice! This landscape specimen is a night garden favorite because its silvery green foliage is dazzling under the moonlight.
If you really hate bugs, you can surround your outdoor living space with a fortress of basil, lavender, peppermint, and marigolds to keep a wide variety of insects at bay.
Goal #2: Attract Wildlife and Pollinators
If you’re planting with the purpose of benefitting Central Florida’s wildlife and pollinators, you need to focus on filling your landscape with native plant specimens that help birds, bees, butterflies, and bats thrive.
You can accomplish this by growing Marlberry trees, firebush, red salvia, coral honeysuckle, milkweed, and Walter’s viburnum. Each of these native plant species have the express purpose of providing food, shelter, and other necessities to Orlando’s wildlife. Milkweed is especially important to grow in your landscape because it is essential to the survival of critically endangered Monarch butterflies.
Goal #3: Conserve Water
Water is a precious resource we often take for granted, so it’s important that we do our best to reduce our water consumption. One way to do this is to invest in plants whose purpose is to remain beautiful even when water is scarce. This type of landscape design is called xeriscaping.
When Orlando homeowners choose xeriscaping for their yards, the value of their property increases because they have “Florida-friendly landscaping.” Not only are they helping to save water, but they’re enjoying lower water bills and spending less time maintaining their landscapes since these types of plants don’t require much attention.
When preparing a xeriscape design for your Central Florida yard, choose to plant African irises, rose moss, globe amaranth, zinnias, blackberry lilies, daylilies, firebushes, pentas, salvias, and verbena.
No xeriscaping is complete without groundcovers in place of grasses that crave water. The ones that grow best in Central Florida include beach sunflower, lantana, mimosa, perennial peanut, and dwarf Asiatic jasmine. Many Orlando homeowners use stones and mulch to reduce their dependency on grass and inhibit weed growth.
Once your Central Florida home is surrounded by gorgeous xeriscaping, you can enjoy lovely, maintenance-free plants that have the purpose of helping you conserve water. Nevertheless, drought resistant landscaping still needs to be irrigated. While these plants are far less thirsty than tropical plants and traditional Florida lawns, you have the luxury of scaling back on the frequency of your irrigation schedule.
Remember, 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.
Grow plants according to their purpose to reap the rewards!
Mother Nature has bestowed every plant with special gifts. Knowing a plant’s purpose is important if Central Floridians want to solve problems within their landscape. Choosing the right ones and allowing them to flourish will have you enjoying your backyard more than you ever thought possible!