GAINESVILLE, FLA new trend shows native wildflowers are becoming more popular with consumers. The wildflower seed industry has experienced gains in popularity over the past 30 to 40 years and is considered to be a maturing, highly competitive market. In Florida, for example, a 2005 survey estimated sales of native plants in the state totaled almost $316 million.
College students do not fit the traditional demographic profile of gardening and landscaping consumers, but today's horticulture students are tomorrow's decisionmakersthose who will determine how and if native wildflowers will be used in educational programs, gardening, landscaping, and revegetation projects. A research team from the University of Florida designed a web-based survey that investigated the awareness, perceptions, and interest in native wildflowers among Florida college students enrolled in plant-related disciplines, and discovered some corresponding recommendations for educators.
The study, published in HortTechnology, asked Florida college students to rate their level of awareness of Florida native wildflowers (FNW), defined as a herbaceous annual or perennial species that was growing in Florida before the arrival of Columbus to the new world. Respondents were also asked to estimate the number of wildflowers they could identify by name and sight, what season(s) they expected FNWs to be in bloom, and in what areas or ecosystems FNWs were found.
While the survey results showed that students had a generally low awareness of native wildflowers, they expressed high levels of interest in learning more about the identification or cultivation of these species, seeing wildflowers (particularly on college campuses), and using wildflowers in different settings. Students also noted a preference for purchasing native wildflower seeds or finished plants from local retailers. "The retail environment seemed to be remarkably important; students indicated that they wo
|Contact: Michael W. Neff|
American Society for Horticultural Science