In this section
Learn about plant groupings.
See waterwise landscaping in action.
Find the right plants for your landscape.
View commonly asked questions and answers on use of the plant database.
View of list of landscaping terms.
See the list of resources associated with this conservation program.
Visit the official Florida Yards and Neighborhoods’ landscaping website.
Frequently asked questions
What is the waterwise search tool?
The waterwise search tool is a database of hundreds of plants that are native to Florida or are Florida-friendly. These plants are recommended by the St. Johns River Water Management District because if they are planted in the right locations, they will need little or no irrigation once established, thus helping to conserve water. The search tool will help individuals determine which plants are most appropriate for their landscape given the natural growing conditions found in their yards. The plants in the database are appropriate for meeting landscaping criteria in the district’s Florida Water StarSM program.
How do I search for plants?
You may search for plants in several different ways.
- To find a specific plant, enter the common name or scientific name. If you do not know the correct spelling, enter your best guess at the spelling in the name field and click the box next to “Sounds like.” The tool will provide choices of plants that sound like your spelling. If there are no results, you can opt to click on a plant category and search manually through the plant list.
- To narrow your search to specific plant types, such as flowers, shrubs or trees, select a plant type from the dropdown menu.
- You may want to search by plant specifics, such as how tall you want the plant to be at maturity, what color you want the flowers to be, how fast you want the plant to grow, how salt-tolerant you want the plant to be or if you are looking for plants native to Florida.
- You may also enter details about the specific site conditions of the area you wish to landscape, such as sunlight requirements (light range), soil moisture, soil pH or hardiness zone.
As an example, if you want to find yellow flowers that will thrive in full sunlight and grow in dry soil, enter “flowers” in the plant type field; “yellow” in the flower color field; select “full sun” from the light range dropdown menu; and select “dry” from the soil moisture dropdown menu. Then click “search” at the bottom of the box. The database will return a list of plants that meet your criteria.
By default, the search results page will display up to 15 plants at a time. You can choose to display 10, 15, 20, 25 or 30 plants at a time by indicating your desire using the dropdown menu next to “No. of results per page.”
How do I navigate the search results?
Search results are displayed alphabetically by common name, with a default setting of 15 search results per page. (Pages will have fewer results if the search is narrowed to a specific plant or by very specific criteria). The arrow keys at the top and bottom of the results chart will allow you to click through the pages of results.
The results table is divided into columns. To sort the results, click on the column header. For example, if you click on “scientific name,” the results will sort alphabetically by scientific name. If you click on the header “light range,” the results will be grouped by similar sunlight requirements. If you click on “growth rate,” the results will be grouped by similar growth rates. This can be done for every column.
If you click on the blue hyperlinked plant name, you will be taken to a page of specific information about that plant. Many entries have a photo of the plant. You can print this “details” page to take with you to your local nursery or garden center.
How do I narrow or expand my search?
If you do not find what you are looking for in the search results, you may add or subtract criteria to narrow or expand your search.
To expand the results, remove some of your search filters. This can be done on the search results page by clicking on one or more of the blue filter categories (i.e. Type, Color, Moisture, Light). Or, in the upper right-hand corner of the results page, click on “Search plants” and you will return to your search request where you can remove criteria.
To add criteria to a search, which will narrow the search, you must use the “Search plants” link to return to your search plant request. Remember, if you select too many criteria, it may cause the database to return no results.
I want to keep the results of my plant choices. How can I do that?
After you have assembled your table of desired plants, you can click the “export data” button at the bottom of the page. The database will save your selections into an Excel spreadsheet, which you can save to your computer and print. If you don’t have Excel, you can copy the information from the search results page and paste into a Word document. You may also print the screen.
Can I enter multiple plants in the search tool?
Yes. You can access information about groups of plants for a particular yard or landscape design. In the “common name” or “scientific name” fields, you can enter multiple names of plants up to 300 characters (letters and spaces) at a time. The plant names must be separated by a semi-colon. Click “search” to display details about that grouping of plants.
I don’t understand what all the words or terms mean?
Please see the “waterwise glossary” for easy-to-understand definitions of the terms used in the database.
Is the search tool something homeowners can use or is it more appropriate for landscape professionals?
The tool has been designed so that it can serve different user groups. Homeowners can use the tool to determine if their current plants are water-efficient or to find a list of plants to purchase that will thrive given the specific growing conditions in their yards. Likewise, professional landscape architects, landscape designers and government planning department staff can input entire plant palettes that may be proposed for a large development to determine if the plants selected for the landscape are appropriate for the site’s conditions.
The plant I have is not listed in the database. Why?
The waterwise plant database does not include plants that are invasive (according to the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council category 1 list), native plants that are protected by the state and not available for sale, or plants recently placed on the market. The database will be updated on a regular basis to add plants as appropriate.
The search results say that my plant won’t grow in my yard, but my plant is growing and doing fine. Why?
The plant list is based on water conservation, proper plant selection, best management practices and normal rainfall. Your plant could be doing fine because it has adapted to conditions in your yard, or you have added supplemental irrigation and provided more-than-normal maintenance for the plant to thrive.
I need more information on how to grow the plants. Where can I find that information?
Your local University of Florida County Extension Office can provide a wealth of information on plant care. Also, the University of Florida / IFAS Solutions for your Life website has specific growing information for landscape plants and fruit trees, pest problems, and best management practices for your area.
I only want plants that are drought-tolerant. Why can’t I search using that criteria?
All plants in the database, if placed in the right locations based on their needs and with proper establishment and maintenance, should be able to withstand short-term drought conditions without the need for supplemental irrigation. Please keep in mind that drought-tolerance does not ensure aesthetics, as many plants go dormant or lose their leaves when stressed by lack of rainfall or water. The term drought-tolerant means that after proper establishment, your plant should be able to survive a short-term drought period without irrigation. Assessing your site accurately in terms of sunlight, soil moisture, soil pH and salt conditions and then selecting the appropriate plants for your conditions will have more benefit than selecting plants that are labeled as drought-tolerant.
How do I know if the plants in my yard are correct for the landscape’s growing conditions?
You can determine if the plants you currently have in your yard match your landscape’s growing conditions in one of two ways. You can enter the names of your plants and in the search results, you can view the correct growing conditions required for each plant and compare those conditions with the conditions in your yard to see if they match. Or, you can enter the growing conditions in your yard and search for plants and see if the type of plant you currently have appears in the list of appropriate plants for your growing conditions. If any one of your plants do not appear in the search results, then they may be surviving because you are artificially enhancing them through additional maintenance, water or chemicals than they would normally need if they were planted in the correct conditions.
After selecting the criteria for my plant, the search returns no results. Why?
Selecting too many search criteria may cause the search to return no matching results. Reduce the number of criteria to increase the results.
Why is width not defined for vines?
Depending on how the vine is used in the landscape, e.g. trellis vs. ground cover, a vine’s mature height may also be assumed to be the width.