Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Be Careful When Bringing Back Plants from Your Vacation

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Be Careful When Bringing Back Plants from Your Vacation

Article excerpt

Byline: Paula Weatherby

While on vacation, I collected some wildflower seeds from around the area [where] we stayed. It would be so nice to have these blooming in our yard as a reminder of our wonderful trip. Now I need to know what to do with them - store them or sow them. Can you help?

Before we talk about "the how," let's discuss "the should."

A special blossom in one part of the country can be a noxious and/or invasive plant in our environment. With our extended growing season and favorable climate, many non-native plants now call Florida home and have become a growing concern as they displace native plants and alter the habitats of native wildlife.

Federal and state laws are in place that "restrict possession, transport, or sale of certain plants." Many Florida communities even have ordinances that require removal of non-native plant species. Any gardener who has battled the ubiquitous air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera) or tried to rid their garden of asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus) knows the backaches caused by plants that won't be maintained.

The website of the UF/IFAS Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants, http://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/, is a good place to start when deciding if your seeds have been categorized as a noxious or invasion species.

Another thought before investing your time and energy is that there is no guarantee the seeds you've collected will produce exactly the plant you admired. Plants may have been cross-pollinated by plants of a different color or even species. That might not be important to you, but you should at least be aware.

In fact, if the seeds have been harvested before they have ripened, or they have been improperly stored, they may not sprout at all, but rot instead.

If you're still eager to grow the seeds you've collected, there is a publication entitled "Establishing a Small Planting of Native Wildflowers from Seed" from UF that succinctly outlines the steps. The publication is focused on Florida wildflowers, but the principles of growing are the same.

In part, the steps begin with: identifying a sunny location; clearing out the area a month before planting; preparing the soil by scratching the surface to allow for greater contact with the seeds; water, water, water and holding back on the fertilizer for a year to encourage flowering instead of bushy growth. …

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