How To Go Native On Sanibel

As a busy father of four active kids, I don’t get to spend as much time in my yard and garden as I’d like… but one of the things I LOVE about living on Sanibel is the native vegetation and landscaping throughout the island. Sanibel’s nature is truly unique. It’s interesting to see how certain plants can be grown in South Florida, but cannot survive in central Florida. Even more, how some plants do better on the Southeast side (Miami area) but don’t do as well here on the Southwest side of the state.

Sanibel Native Plants - Coontie

One of my favorite native plants: the Coontie — Image: David Martin – Flickr

Sanibel Native Plants

If you know anything about Sanibel Island, you know we’re serious about our nature over here! In fact, we have a number of non-profit organizations such as the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) whose sole focus is preserving our island’s natural environment.

For homeowners on the island – these organizations are great resources when you’re looking to add a little touch of color and pizzazz to your home and garden. Did you know SCCF has a Native Plant Nursery on island where you can visit and talk to the experts? Well now you do!

Actually the organization just moved to a new location on Periwinkle Way, not to far from our office near the Bailey Homestead, and expanded it’s name to the SCCF Native Landscapes & Garden Center. The SCCF project exists to help Sanibel residents (and visitors) learn about the island’s native plants, including what to plant in your own garden and how to properly care for our delicate environment and ecosystem.

Sanibel Native Plants - SCCF

SCCF volunteers install plants at Plam Ridge & Periwinkle Garden — Image: Jenny Evans – Flickr

Sanibel Homeowners – Listen Up!

What’s this have to do with you? Well if you’re a new homeowner, you probably have some plants in your yard that you’ve never seen before. The Native Plant Nursery can help you identify the species, let you know if it is “helpful or harmful” to the environment, and provide advice on how to care for or carefully remove it. If you’re an avid gardner with the greenest thumb in your neighborhood – SCCF can help you find that particular plant you’re seeking to add the perfect finishing touch to your collection.

Have problems with pest control or looking for good landscapers? The SCCF Native Landscaping and Garden Center offers landscaping services as well! It’s amazing how many properties on Sanibel have landscaping that’s been poorly managed and whose precious plants and palms are dying because of it. It’s sad to see and if I have the opportunity, I try to gently encourage people to talk with SCCF… without offending their landscaping skills (this is a touchy subject for some – so precede with caution).

Sanibel Native Plants - Cassia

One of my favorite native plants: Bahama Cassia — Image: Forest and Kim Starr – Flickr

Something For Sanibel Visitors Too

Curious what native plants look like? Besides the SCCF Native Landscaping and Garden Center, there are actually a number of public locations on-island that have incorporated beautiful displays of native Sanibel plants. Have you visited City Hall, the Sanibel Library, or the parking lot of Ding Darling? Then you’ve already encountered a few of these gardens yourself!

A complete list of Public Native Plant Gardens and Trails on Sanibel can be found on the SCCF website here. Some locations, such as the Sanibel City Hall, have put together information sheets for a self-guided tour of their gardens, which is fun to follow along at your own pace. Click here to download and print the Sanibel City Hall Wildflower Walk. No green thumbs required!

Sanibel Native Plants

SCCF’s plant install at Periwinkle Preserve — Image: Jenny Evans – Flickr

No Green Thumbs Required!

With so many resources available, how could you not get excited about going native?! I hope you take advantage of SCCF’s wonderful Native Plant Nursery and their knowledgeable volunteers. If nothing else, I encourage you to visit some of the public locations with native gardens to admire the bright and colorful plants and flowers of our unique Sanibel environment.

Jim McCallion About Jim McCallion

Meet the "Marketing Megaphone" and Webmaster behind McCallion & McCallion. After selling his software company, Jim, Susan and kids moved to Sanibel in 2008. With his tech experience, he and Susan bring a fresh approach to island real estate.