County Commissioner promotes the spread of wildflowers in Hillsborough County

Native plants could save money on public land

TAMPA - The word 'Florida' roughly translates into 'land of flowers.'  But there are surprisingly few along our roads and highways.  One county commissioner hopes to change that by bringing back the blossoms that bloomed long before people took over.

Commissioner Al Higginbotham brought a resolution to get country crews to plant and encourage wildflowers along roadsides in Hillsborough County.

"If you drive through any highway in the Carolinas or Texas or out west, you'll see areas with an abundance of wildflowers.  It was just that they changed their practices and that's what we're going to do here," said Higginbotham.

As a nature lover whose wife is president of the Suncoast Native Plant Society, Higginbotham believes flower-lined roads and embankments will improved the quality of life and possibly draw tourists.  The low maintenance needs of native plants should save taxpayer money.

Selective mowing and brush clearing will encourage the native plants that have disappeared from most conventional landscaping in Florida.

Troy Springer, landscaper and past president of the Suncoast Native Plant society is passionate about passion flowers and crazy about coreopsis.

Springer strongly supports the Hillsborough County resolution to encourage wildflower growth on county rights-of-way.  Springer says native plants encourage native insects and other animals while discouraging non-native invaders.  

"When you put the natives back in, they know exactly what to do. That's their shelter, that's the food source and sometimes their water source as well.

Plus they're nice to look at.

The Hillsborough resolution would encourage the county to partner with private conservation and native plant groups to plant or just encourage native flowers on public land.

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