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Native Plant Sale set for April 20

By Staff | Apr 13, 2013

People will have an opportunity to purchase Florida native plants, while recognizing Earth Day, at the upcoming Native Plant Sale at Rotary Park.

The annual spring sale, which will be held April 20 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., features wildflowers, shrubs, flowering vines, trees and grasses that are native to Florida. All of the plants on sale are provided by local growers.

Proceeds benefit the Florida Native Plant Society’s Coccoloba Chapter.

“It’s one of three major plant sales that our chapter has each year,” Sue Scott, a spokeswoman for the local Florida Native Plant Society, said.

The others are held at Manatee Park in the Cape and in Bonita Springs.

“It’s also the Earth Day event for the city,” Scott said.

Honey Archey, an environmental specialist with the Cape’s Parks and Recreation Department, explained that the city likes to promote the use of native plants and sustainable landscaping among citizens in the Cape.

“Rotary is an environmental park,” she said, pointing out that the plants in the park serve as both a food source and a habitat for the native wildlife. “We really like to get the word out about using native plants in landscaping.”

Native plants do not need to be replaced regularly, do not need as much water once established as non-native species and do not require fertilizer.

“Plants that are from here are going to do better,” Archey said.

“They’re much easier to grow here – they’re a cost savings,” she said.

However, it can be difficult to find native plants to purchase.

“You can’t buy native plants just anywhere. At your normal nurseries, they may not carry native plants at all,” Archey said.

“This is the place to get them in Cape Coral,” she added of the sale.

According to Scott, there will be a “great selection” of plants.

“Beautiful colorful wildflowers,” she said. “And all of them provide habitat and food for birds and butterflies.”

Some crowd favorites include firebush, a shrub with “lots of color” and nectar and berries; coral honeysuckle, a “big seller; and Simpson stopper.

“It’s a very good looking shrub – fits a lot of spaces,” Scott said.

She noted that many of the plants for sale do well in pots.

There will be experts on hand to help people pick the right plants.

“For location and for design choices,” she said.

A native slash pine will be provided free with each purchase while supplies last. The Florida Forest Service is supplying approximately 150 small pines.

“The best plants go first thing in the morning,” Archey noted.

She added that because Rotary Park is home to the Cape Coral Friends of the Wildlife’s Butterfly House, a lot of butterfly plants will be available.

“A lot of people come here to get their butterfly garden started,” Archey said of the sale. “It’s a good place to learn about that.”

As well as the plants, FloriMulch – an organic mulch made from invasive melaleauca trees – will be available for $2 per bag. There will also be books, T-shirts and other items for sale, along with information and pamphlets.

A one-hour rain barrel workshop is set for 9 a.m. The cost is $45 and includes a 55-gallon rain barrel drum. Reservations are required to attend.

“They actually learn how to hook it up, why they are doing it,” Scott said. “You get your rain barrel already outfitted and ready to go.”

To reserve a space, call (239) 533-7504.

An estimated 600 to 1,000 people attended last year’s sale.

Scott said the chapter typically collects about $1,200 to $1,500.

“These plants sales are out big fund-raiser,” she said. “We, in turn, spend grant money – to put in native plants in parks, public places throughout our community, throughout Lee County.”

For information, call (239) 939-9663 or visit: www.FNPSCoccoloba.org.

Rotary Park is at 5505 Rose Garden Road.