AskIFAS Powered by EDIS

Alternatives to Invasive Plants Commonly Found in Central Florida Landscapes1

Gary W. Knox, Sandra B. Wilson, Zhanao Deng, and Rosanna Freyre 2

Invasive plants are non-native plants that form expanding populations in natural areas and other plant communities with which they were not previously associated (Langeland 2015). Invasive plants can cause ecological impacts, such as displacing native plants and associated wildlife or altering natural water flow and fire patterns.

Some ornamentals listed as invasive by the University of Florida IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas or by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council are still in commercial production and widely found in Florida landscapes. Homeowners might replace invasive plants if non-invasive alternatives are researched, publicized and made readily available. By shifting production and use from invasive ornamentals to native or non-invasive cultivars, the nursery and landscape industry could benefit from potential revenue while fostering greater collaboration with state agencies and environmental groups.

University of Florida research and extension efforts over the last 20 years have focused on identifying non-invasive alternatives by assessing the invasive traits of popular non-native ornamentals, related genera, and their cultivars. In more recent years, University of Florida ornamental plant breeding efforts have focused on producing and trialing new sterile, non-invasive cultivars. Table 1 lists native and non-invasive, non-native ornamentals as alternatives to invasive plants commonly used in Florida landscapes. Only plants considered to be generally available in the nursery trade are listed. Alternative plants are similar to respective invasive plants as much as possible in terms of size, habit, texture, and flower color. Non-native, non-invasive plants in Table 1 were determined to be non-invasive (with assessments of "not a problem species" or "may be used with caution") by the IFAS Assessment of Non-Native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas (, or have not yet been evaluated.


Enloe, S.F. and K.A. Langeland. 2018. "Help protect Florida's natural areas from non-native invasive plants." Circular1204. Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.

Lieurance, Deah, S. Luke Flory, and Doria R. Gordon. 2016. The UF/IFAS Assessment of Nonnative Plants in Florida's Natural Areas: History, Purpose, and Use. SS-AGR-371. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences.


Table 1. 

Invasive ornamentals commonly found in central Florida landscapes and commonly available native and non-native, non-invasive substitutes. Scientific names are those used by the UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida's Natural Areas (, the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (, and the Atlas of Florida Plants by the Institute for Systematic Biology (


1. This document is ENH1207, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date August 2013. Revised August 2018. Reviewed August 2013. Visit the EDIS website at
2. Gary W. Knox, Extension specialist and professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, North Florida Research and Education Center, Quincy, FL; Sandra B. Wilson, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Gainesville, FL; Zhanao Deng, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, Gulf Coast Research and Education Center, Wimauma, FL; and Rosanna Freyre, research scientist, Environmental Horticulture Department, University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Gainesville, FL, 32611.

Publication #ENH1207

Date: 8/29/2018

Fact Sheet


  • Gary Knox