The plants you bring home from garden centers and nurseries may look beautiful in your landscape, but they may be invasive species that can escape your garden and quickly spread throughout landscapes, becoming an environmental and economic nightmare. To avoid contributing to the problem, homeowners and landscapers should carefully select replacement sterile cultivars or other native plants.

Sheila Dunning, UF/IFAS commercial horticulture agent for Okaloosa County, provided the following information regarding invasive plants, including an upcoming lecture on the topic.

The Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council has created lists of invasive plants that have been published every two years through 2019. Botanists conduct comprehensive studies to determine which invasive plants should be placed on the lists. Category 1 invasive plants are called invasive when they alter native plant communities by displacing native species, altering community structures or ecological functions, or interbreeding with native populations.

In 2020, the Florida Invasive Species Council took on this task. They have begun to standardize the terminology for invasive species. For details on the new terminology, visit For a copy of the current invasive plant species list, visit

On Wednesday, the theme of the Okaloosa County Master Gardeners Lecture Series will be “Plant This, Not That.” This hour-long program (10 to 11 a.m.) will be held at the Crestview Extension Office, located at 3098 Airport Road, and will introduce invasive plant species that pose an environmental threat to Florida’s ecosystems as well as some alternatives that provide similar aesthetic value. For more information or to register, visit You can also contact the UF/IFAS Extension Office in Okaloosa County for more information about this program at 850-689-5850.

UF/IFAS Okaloosa County Master Gardener volunteers will hold their fall 2023 plant sale from 8 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday at the temporary UF/IFAS Extension located at Okaloosa Technical College (OTC) in Fort Walton Beach. The sale will be held in the back of the OTC campus at 1976 Lewis Turner Blvd.

There are two entrances to OTC. Use the entrance closest to the fire station, not the main entrance, and follow signs to the annex building at the back of campus. Here is a link with a map showing how to find our building – or call the OTC Extension Annex at 850-651-7476 for directions –

Many native and Florida-friendly plants, including dozens of milkweed plants, will be available for sale. Prices will be $5.35 per plant with cash or check accepted.

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