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 10 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 breeding efforts have focused on producing and trialing new non-invasive cultivars. Table 1 lists alternatives (both native and non-invasive, non-native ornamentals) 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 (http://assessment.ifas.ufl.edu/) 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. February 1998. Revised August 2018. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag108
Lieurance, Deah, S. Luke Flory and Doria R. Gordon. 2013, rev. 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. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ag376
Wilson, S. B., J. A. Gersony, K. L. Nolan, J. C. Broda, and E. A. Skvarch, Jr. September 2014, reviewed October 2017. Recommended Native Landscape Plants for Florida's Treasure Coast. ENH1082. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences. https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ep348
Invasive ornamentals commonly found in south 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 (http://assessment.ifas.ufl.edu/), the U.S. National Plant Germplasm System (https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomysimple.aspx), and the Atlas of Florida Plants by the Institute for Systematic Biology (http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Default.aspx).