St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District St. Johns River Water Management District
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Water conservation

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Waterwise landscaping home

Planting for efficient water use

Learn about plant groupings.

A landscape example

See waterwise landscaping in action.

Search for plants and photos

Find the right plants for your landscape.

Frequently asked questions

View commonly asked questions and answers on use of the plant database.

Glossary

View of list of landscaping terms.

Florida Water StarSM landscaping resources

See the list of resources associated with this conservation program.

Florida-Friendly Landscaping™

Visit the official Florida Yards and Neighborhoods’ landscaping website.

Glossary

Acidic soil — A measure, which is derived by partial exchange of replacement hydrogen. In soil, a pH level below 7 is considered acidic.

Alkaline soil — Soil pH level above 7.

Annual — A plant that completes its entire life cycle in a year.

Bamboo — Any of the tall, treelike grasses, found in tropical and subtropical to temperate (mild) regions that make up the subfamily Bambusoideae, family Poaceae.

Berry — A simple, pulpy fruit of a few or many seeds (but no stones).

Biennial — A plant having a life cycle that normally takes two growing seasons to complete and with blooms or fruits appearing in the second season; e.g., Canterbury bells grow from seed the first year and bloom the second year.

Bromeliad — Any of various, mostly epiphytic tropical American plants of the family Bromeliaceae, usually having long stiff leaves, colorful flowers, and showy bracts. Bromeliads include pineapples, Spanish moss, and numerous ornamental plants.

Bulb — Any plant that stores its complete life cycle in an underground storage structure, e.g., tulip, daffodil, grape hyacinth, alliums.

Bunch grass — Any of various grasses that grow in clumps or tufts rather than in forming a sod or mat, i.e Eliott love grass, wiregrass.

Bract — A modified leaf that arises from the stem at the point where the flower or flower cluster develops; bracts are often green and inconspicuous, but they may sometimes be showy or brightly colored, e.g., bougainvillea.

Canopy tree — A taller tree that provides more or less continuous cover from elevated branches and foliage; may be formed collectively by the crowns of adjacent trees. Under canopied trees, turf becomes difficult to grow.

Cycad — Any palm-like gymnosperm of the order Cycadales, having unbranched evergreen stems with a crown of fernlike tropical leaves, native to warm regions and known for its pinnately compound leaves.

Chill hours — The number of more or less continuous hours under 45°F, or the hours that air temperature stays below 42°F and above 32°F during the dormant period. Some fruit trees require a certain amount of chill hours to produce fruit.

Clumping grass — A grass that reproduces vegetatively, forming smaller crowns around the parent, which can be divided and planted in new locations, i.e. muhly grass.

Cool season — November through March, usually for zones 5b through 10 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone Map.

Cultivar — Any variety of plant produced by selective hybridization; sometimes found in wild populations and maintained by vegetative propagation or by inbred seed.

Deciduous — Having the characteristic of shedding foliage at the end of the growing season, typically in autumn or winter.

Deer-resistant — Plants that are less attractive as feed to deer. Plants are usually only deer-resistant, not deer-proof.

Defoliation — The action of a plant being stripped of its leaves, especially resulting from stress or chemical application, but also occurring naturally during autumn.

Desiccate — Dry out.

Diocieous — Having male and female reproductive structures on separate plants. To bear fruit, there must be at least one male plant in close range of female plants, e.g., American holly.

Dormant, dormancy — The resting or inactive phase of plants or seeds during stress or winter.

Drought-tolerant — Plants that survive without rainfall or irrigation for short periods. Most plants are drought-tolerant after establishment, when planted in the right conditions; i.e., succulents survive droughts in xeric soils, while wetland plants survive droughts in hydric soils. Although plants can be drought-tolerant, their health and aesthetics during drought may decline due to stress, high maintenance, and dormancy, i.e., a plant may lose its leaves, stop blooming, and stems may desiccate, but the roots of the plant survive.

Drupe — A fruit with one or more hard seeds or stones encased in a soft, fleshy outer covering, e.g., cherries, apricots, or viburnums.

Dry — Soil that does not contain any visible signs of wetness and generally has a sandy texture (greater than 85 percent sand-sized particles). Dry soils typically occur on high landscape positions, relative to their surroundings, such as xeric scrub habitat, orange groves and coastal areas. Dry soils have low water holding capacity, rapid percolation and low nutrient retention, therefore they support plants that need limited nutrients and cannot tolerate wet conditions.

Endangered — Species of plants native to Florida that are in imminent danger of extinction within the state, the survival of which is unlikely if the causes of a decline in the number of plants continue; includes all species determined to be endangered or threatened pursuant to the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Endemic — Native to a particular region.

Epiphyte — A plant that gets its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain.

Established — A plant that has recovered from the initial stress of installation and is thriving consistent with its species’ habits.

Evergreen — Having foliage that persists and stays green all year.

Exotic — Nonnative, outside the continental North America.

Fascicle — A bundle of flowers or leaves, e.g. longleaf pine has three needles in the fascicle, while sand pines have two needles in its fascicle.

Fern — Flowerless, seedless vascular plant that has roots, stems, and fronds and which reproduces by spores.

Fire-tolerant — Plants that are able to withstand some forms of fire and grow despite some damage.

Foliage — Leaves of plants.

Full shade — Areas receiving less than five hours of sunlight a day, e.g., northwest areas, deep shade under canopy trees, areas between homes on zero-lot lines, bedding areas under roof eaves.

Full sun — Areas receiving more than six to eight hours of sunlight a day, e.g., southeast areas, treeless lots, new subdivisions with new landscapes, large open expanses of turf.

Fragrant — Having a pleasant scent, aromatic.

Groundcover — A plant with a low-growing, spreading habit that is grown specifically to cover a wide area for ornamental purposes or to prevent soil erosion in areas where turf is difficult to grow, as in deep shade or on a steep slope.

Growth rate — The rate at which a plant grows under normal conditions, i.e., fast, moderate, slow. See See chart.

Annual Growth Rate Chart (depending on species)

Plant type

Slow

Medium

Fast

Trees

Less than 2 feet

2–3 feet

More than 3 feet

Shrubs

Less than 2 feet

2–3 feet

More than 3 feet

Perennials

Less than 1 foot

1 foot

More than 1 foot

Fruit trees

Less than 2 feet

2–3 feet

More than 3 feet

Fern

Less than 3 inches

2–3 feet

More than 3 feet

Ground covers

Less than 1 foot

1–2 feet

More than 2 feet

Vines

Less than 2 feet

2–3 feet

More than 3 feet

Hardiness zone — A geographic area in which a plant is capable of growing, as defined by climatic conditions, including its ability to withstand the minimum temperatures of the zone. The U.S. Department of Agriculture determines hardiness zones.

Hardy — Plants that are able to withstand cold weather in the open air; plants vary in hardiness, and some are less susceptible to cold than others.

Herbaceous — Plants having the texture, color or appearance of a leaf, with little or no woody tissue.

High-volume irrigation — An irrigation system with a minimum flow rate per emitter of more than 30 gallons per hour or higher than 0.5 gallons per minute.

Hydric — Soils characterized by abundant moisture, e.g., lakefronts, shorelines, low-lying areas, compacted soils or clay soils that do not percolate.

Invasive — Plants that alter native plant communities by displacing native species, changing community structures or ecological functions, or hybridizing with natives.

Maturity — A plant that has grown to its full height and width.

Mesic — Soils characterized as having moderate amounts of moisture and organic materials that drain well. Frequent evidence of earthworms can be an easy indication of mesic soils.

Microclimate — Variations of the climate within a given area; usually influenced by hills, hollows, structures or proximity to bodies of water. A microclimate differs  significantly from the general climate of a region.

Microirrigation — The frequent application of small quantities of water directly on or below the soil surface or plant root zone, usually as discrete drops, tiny streams or miniature sprays through emitters placed along the water delivery pipes (laterals). Microirrigation encompasses a number of methods or concepts, including drip (previously known as trickle irrigation, subsurface, bubbler, and micro-spray irrigation).

Moist — Soil that is not sandy and not excessively wet. It is composed of organic material such as humus and is well drained. See Mesic.

Mulch — A 3-inch to 4-inch layer of organic or synthetic material that is placed 2 inches away from the base of the plant and which helps plants to retain water by reducing evaporation, weeds; also keeps soil temperatures cooler in summer, warmer in winter.

Monoecious — Plants that are both male and female reproductive units (flowers, conifer cones, or functionally equivalent structures) e.g., pines, birches, and figs.

Native — A plant that occurs naturally in a particular region, state, ecosystem, or habitat.

Neutral — Soil pH level of seven.

Nonnative — An exotic plant; not native to the area.

Ornamental — Any plant grown for the aesthetic beauty of its bark, flowers, foliage, seasonal color or shape.

Palm — Any of an order (Arecales) of tropical or subtropical monocotyledonous trees and shrubs having a woody, usually unbranched, trunk and large, evergreen, featherlike or fan-shaped leaves growing in a bunch at the top.

Partial sun — Five to six hours of sunlight in either the morning with afternoon shade or in the afternoon with morning shade.

Perennial — A plant with a life cycle that lasts for three or more seasons; sometimes going dormant in the winter or during stress.

pH — The measure of the soil’s acidity or alkalinity.

Rain gardens — Shallow (2 inches to 18 inches) depressions, typically planted with native wetland plants, strategically located to collect, infiltrate and filter rain that falls on hard surfaces such as roofs, driveways, alleys, or streets and which minimizes the negative impacts of excessive runoff from these surfaces on lakes and streams. It is also known as a bog garden.

Reseed — Propagation by seeding without human intervention.

Remontant — Flowering more than once a season.

Rhizome — A horizontal underground stem, often swollen into a storage organ. Both roots and shoots emerge from rhizomes. Rhizomes generally branch as they creep along and can be divided to make new plants.

Salt-tolerant — A plant that tolerates a large amount of salt in the soil or in the wind (salt spray). Some plants may be tolerant of salt spray but not salt water, especially in coastal communities using reclaimed water.

Semi-evergreen — Retaining at least some green foliage well into winter; shedding leaves in a cold climate but not where winters are mild, such as Jerusalem thorn or jacaranda.

Semi-woody — Herbaceous plants composed of both hardened stems or vines and fleshy stems and foliage.

Shrub — Woody plants, sometimes with multiple shoots or stems from a base that attains a height of 15 feet or less at maturity. Waterwise shrubs are divided into categories titled shrubs under 10 feet and shrubs over 10 feet at maturity.

Soil moisture– The water held in the spaces between soil particles. Dry soil: See Xeric. Moist soil: See Mesic. Wet soil: See Hydric.

Soil pH — A measure of soil acidity or alkalinity ranging in value from one to 14, on which the value of seven represents neutrality. Incorrect soil pH can affect absorption of nutrients and create stressful conditions that can contribute to pest problems.

Species of special concern — Species, subspecies or isolated population facing a moderate risk of extinction in the future.

Specimen — A plant located as a stand-alone highlight in a landscape design.

Sub shrub — A perennial plant having woody stems except for the terminal part of the new growth; usually cut back or eradicated annually; e.g., pentas.

Subtropical — Regional zone north of Bradenton–Lake Okeechobee–Vero Beach.

Succulent — Having thick, juicy leaves and stems; able to withstand long periods of drought.

Threatened — Native species that are in rapid decline in the number of plants within the state, but which have not so decreased in number as to cause them to be endangered.

Tropical — Regional zone south of Bradenton–Lake Okeechobee–Vero Beach.

Tuber — A swollen, fleshy, underground stem of a plant, such as an ornamental sweet potato, and bearing buds from which new plant shoots arise.

Turf grass — Sod; varieties of grasses that are used for residential lawns and swales to stop erosion. Florida varieties of turf grass include: St. Augustine grass, Bahia grass, Zoysia grass, Bermuda grass, and centipede grass.

Understory — Small trees, shrubs, and vines that grow under the taller trees. These plants can grow in the shade of the taller trees.

Variegated — Multicolored foliage; e.g., plants with multicolored foliage: copperleafs, caladiums, coleus.

Vine — A weak-stemmed plant that derives its support from climbing, twining, or creeping along a surface.

Warm season — April through October, usually for zones 5b through 10 of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zone Map.

Weeping — Having slender, drooping leaves.

Well-drained — Soil condition with moderate water-holding capacity. Retains optimum amounts of moisture, but is not wet close enough to the surface or long enough during the growing season to adversely affect plants.

Wet — Soils that are saturated most of the time; e.g., lakefront, shorelines, low-lying areas, and clays that don’t percolate. See Hydric.

Woody — Forming or consisting of lignin or xylem; covered with bark.

Xeric — Sandy, nutrient-poor, soils that do not hold moisture. Xeric soils are not considered bad soils.

Annual Growth Rate Chart (depending on species)

Plant type

Slow

Medium

Fast

Trees

Less than 2 feet

2–3 feet

More than 3 feet

Shrubs

Less than 2 feet

2–3 feet

More than 3 feet

Perennials

Less than 1 foot

1 foot

More than 1 foot

Fruit trees

Less than 2 feet

2–3 feet

More than 3 feet

Fern

Less than 3 inches

2–3 feet

More than 3 feet

Ground covers

Less than 1 foot

1–2 feet

More than 2 feet

Vines

Less than 2 feet

2–3 feet

More than 3 feet

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St. Johns River Water Management District
4049 Reid Street, Palatka, FL 32177
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