Of course, growing native plants will preserve and promote the species you grow in your yard. But in addition, growing natives contributes to the ecological balance that developed here in Florida over the millennia. Natives perpetuate the relationships between our native plants and the many other organisms that depend upon them for their survival. Doug Tallamy in Bringing Nature Home elaborates on the relationship between native plants and biodiversity.
Save Time, Money, and Energy.
When used intelligently, native plants require less maintenance, are less expensive, and save energy. Did you know that lawnmowers are a significant source of air pollution? They also use up an appreciable amount of fossil fuel.
Conserve Natural Resources.
Used properly, native plants require little to no extra water or fertilizer compared to most exotics. Watering non-native plants that aren't adapted to Florida's climate wastes energy as well as water, costs you money, and contributes to the pollution of surface water. Fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides used in landscape and lawn maintenance run off into streams and creeks, polluting these water bodies.
No Pesticides Needed.
Native plants have been exposed to Florida's pests as long as they have existed in Florida, and continue to display their resistance to insects and disease in our own yards. Forty years ago Rachel Carson pointed out that pesticides are biocides - their toxic effects are not confined to pests, but spill over to cause health problems for wildlife and people. Now, Our Stolen Future reminds us that we have again underestimated the danger of pesticides.
Native plants are the best choice for attracting and nourishing our native wildlife. Native plants provide the food and shelter that our birds and butterflies need. Native plants leaf-out, bloom, and fruit when our native species need them most, and provide the nutrients that our native animals have adapted to through millions of years of co-evolution.