Natives for Neighbors: Creating a More Beautiful, Resilient, and Sustainable Community

What are Natives for Neighbors?

by Mary Benton and Monica Gross


For many students, this is their first interaction with a native plant. Check out the joy on Tamarah’s face!

Bound by Beauty (BbB), in collaboration with middle and high school teachers Monica Gross and Frank Mataska and their students at Doctors Charter School (DCS), BbB’s Network of Neighborhood Nurturies, TreeHuggers LLC, as well as other members of the community, launched Natives for Neighbors as a pilot program in the 2019/2020 school year.  This program is designed to teach students about the role and importance of plant and animal species that are native to South Florida ecosystems, and to help them gain an understanding of both the negative and positive impacts humans can have on these communities.  In studying the problems humans cause such as habitat destruction and pesticide use, students identify concrete actions to help solve them. 

Thanks to Natives for Neighbors, 7th grade DCS students planted over 60 native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers, including 10 donated to the school by Fairchild’s Connect to Protect Network, providing habitat for butterflies, bees, and other insects that are essential for the survival of the natural world, including our own survival as humans.  By increasing the number of locally-grown trees and shrubs that sequester carbon, cool our community, filter our groundwater, and protect our food supply by providing habitat for pollinators, students play a direct role in making our community more beautiful, resilient, and sustainable.  

How does the program work?

l-r: Kaiya, Tsenat, Kelsey, Amanda, and Sophia were thrilled to take their plants home.

Native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers are either donated by members of BbB’s nurturies, or purchased from area nurseries.  Students identify a location in their yards or communities, and choose a plant that will thrive in those conditions. Students learn practical skills such as how to plant and nurture native plants at school, and take those lessons home with them, along with their new plants.  After transplanting the plants in their own gardens, students continue to nurture and observe them, while studying the relationships that these plants have with their living and nonliving environment, and how they form viable solutions to human-caused environmental problems.  According to a follow-up survey nearly half of the students reported seeing an increase in the amount of wildlife such as birds, butterflies, and other insects in their gardens from one plant alone! 


Students will learn how to identify, harvest, and nurture seeds and seedlings from their own plants, sharing those seeds with members of the community, Brockway Library’s seed collection, and the seedlings and their planting and nurturing skills with friends and neighbors.  This project will grow organically as more native plants are planted every year, and more seeds and seedlings are available for harvest and sharing.  In addition to increased knowledge among students, there will be a growing interest among neighbors in participating in this collaboration.  Students will create an identification chart of natives to instruct others, and share that and other useful information via the school’s website so as to encourage others in the community to participate. 

Shiny-leaf wild coffee produces berries beloved by birds, and little white flowers that smell like honey and attract all sorts of pollinators. They are very easy to propagate from seedlings.

Every year, the community will achieve increased canopy cover and cooler temperatures that offset global warming as new groups of middle school students plant their natives.  Finally, their work outdoors will have an additional long-lasting impact because student participants will gain a greater appreciation for nature.  Imagine what can be achieved if more area schools joined in their efforts to make more and more native plants thrive in our community!

111 thoughts on “Natives for Neighbors: Creating a More Beautiful, Resilient, and Sustainable Community

  1. Christina Valladares Reply

    Great work guys! You are taking the steps needed to heal our planet as the next generation. Keep up the good work.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Hi Christina, it is a wonderful experience working with young people to help heal our planet and make their futures better!

  2. Monica Gross Reply

    Thank you Mary for your dedication to green living, and thank you for donating the plants to our kids at Doctors Charter School. I am looking forwarded to your continued support.


    1. Mary Benton Reply

      It was our pleasure to be involved with you and your students. We are looking forward to an even better program next school year!

    2. azareah shackleford Reply

      When taking part on the native for neighbors project. i was excited to have berries that are usually used in most fancy dishes. (i had a quail berry plant) the plant grew at a slow rate. i think that was because of the fact it was a Busch plant and it was typically near the floor rather than other plants expected growth to grow tall and touch the sky if you will. My experience would have turned out better if my plant didn’t begin to wilt. after i was instructed to plant in my back yard the people who cut my grass chopped my plants. i attempted to regrow the plant by using the leftover branch but that didn’t work. if i would have marked or flagged my plant then id have some delicious berries to eat.

      1. Mary Benton Reply

        Azareah, I’m so sorry to hear that your plant got chopped up by the mower. Sadly, that happens a lot. Mary Benton

    3. Vladimyr Reply

      My thoughts on Natives For Neighbors project is a good project though could be done differently. Like the schools that are participating in this project should put some type of land for the students to put the plants at the beginning of the year, so at the end of the year they can see how they as a student and person grew and how their plant grew as well. That would be a good lesson for all of the students.

      1. Mary Benton Reply

        I think that is a great idea, Vladimyr. A problem I would envision, however, is that plants in pots need more frequent watering as they dry out more quickly. During school breaks like Thanksgiving and Christmas, there would be nobody there to water them, unless someone is clever enough to install a drip irrigation system that can ensure they didn’t dry out and die over the break.

  3. Monica Gross Reply

    Thank you Christina. Let me know if you would like a butterfly garden. I would be glad to help!

  4. Samuel Noel Reply

    When I was doing the natives for Neighbors Project, I was excited to get my plant, which is the Necklace Pod. I was interested first when Ms. Gross introduced the project to us, and I was wondering which plant I would get. Once it did come, I made sure that it was placed well and that I watered it. It’s been 3 months since I got it, it’s grown well and I can’t wait for it to start to begin flowering!

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      That is great news about your Necklace pod, Samuel. May it thrive and flower beautifully!

  5. Alejandro Ortiz Reply

    The Natives for Neighbors project is, in my opinion, a total success! This project has certainly made me realize how important it is to take care of our plants and animals. The shrub I received, a wild sage (lantana involucrata) plant, has been growing a lot since I got it. From the start, I tried as hard as I could to bring it safely home and in the ground. Once I did, I made sure to remember to water it and care for it, even though I forgot a few times. Although it was a slightly rough beginning, it is now getting bigger at an alarming rate. I cannot wait for more organisms to visit my plant, besides a few that have already started to appear. Thanks again Ms. Benton for the amazing opportunity you gave me!

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      I’m delighted to read your comment, Alejandro. Wild sage is one of my favorite plants as it attracts butterflies, bees, and birds. Enjoy!

  6. Lauren Ritter Reply

    The Natives for Neighbors project was fun! When I got my plant I was so excited to take it home. The plant I got was the Quailberry
    (Crossopetalum ilicifolium) which was very hard to take care of. The reason why was because of our local neighborhood cat. The problem was that the cat made his little house near my plant and started to eat my berries. Eventually, I was able to take care of the cat problem and I was able to fully grow my plant. The plant looked beautiful and I loved the color of the berries. Some of the berries were orange and others were red. One day, my mom told me what I was going to do with berries, so I decided to do some research to see if the berries were edible. I found out that the berries were edible, and one day I saw the cat and decided to give him the berries. Now the cat comes every morning for food. He became our friendly neighborhood cat. This project inspired me to start planting more plants to take care of the environment. Thank you so much, Ms. Benton, for the plant.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Lauren, your comment delighted me and made me laugh! Such an interesting story about the berry-eating cat! We love the fact that this project inspired you to plant more plants to take care of the environment. Thank you so much!

    2. Monica Gross Reply


      When we do positive things for the environment, we get so much back. Mary’s organization is all about that: bringing beauty with the lovely foliage and flowers, the birds, and the bees, and the apples, and the trees, and love for cats and much, much more.

      Ms. Gross

  7. Patty Walker Reply

    I have benefitted from this project as this group has helped keep my milkweed supply available for the monarchs I am raising in the Media Center. There is never a shortage of healthy milkweed with plenty of eggs and caterpillars. I am sure I can learn more about some of the other native plants and incorporate these into my garden at home.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      That is wonderful that you have Monarch cats in the media center. If you’re ever in a bind in terms of milkweed, perhaps I can help out. Those critters are ravenous! Come by sometime for a socially-distant garden tour and I can show you some of my favorite native plants.

  8. Keira Mercado Reply

    The Natives for Neighbors project was really fun and helped me realize how important nature really is! I was so excited to receive my plant (which is a Silver Sea Oxeye) and immediately started brainstorming names! I ended up with Salty, because the beautiful plant is salt-resistant! How cool is that? It even has dazzling silvery leaves, which is my favorite part about it! So far, my little plant has made a lot of progress and has grown at least 3 inches since the day I took it home. Yesterday, I was out in my garden and even spotted tiny yellow flower buds beginning to sprout! I was so overjoyed because I’d been waiting for the plant to flower for ages. Hopefully, the flowers will attract more butterflies to our garden! I thank you, Ms. Benton, for giving us the plants and inspiring us to do more for nature! Salty thanks you too, for giving her a home.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Keira, that is very exciting about the flower buds appearing on Salty, and I am very happy she has found such a wonderful home with you. I completely agree that the silvery leaves are dazzling!

  9. Jozalyn Hernandez Reply

    I just want to say thank you for taking the time to collect plants and give them to complete strangers in order to help the enivironment. I got the Blue Porterweed and I treat it as if it were my child. Lateley it has been playing games with me, one day it would look like it was dying then the next it would look brand new. When I came to look at it today I saw that it had grown 3 more leaves and I am excited for when I see flower buds. Watering my plant is like a new chore but this is the only chore I actually enjoy doing (which is the first). Either way, I am very excited to see what it will come out to be! Thank you again for the plant.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      I am very happy to hear that you enjoy watering your plant. Nurturing nature definitely brings us closer to it. Blue porterweed can be tricky at times. I hope it continues to grow and flower for you!

  10. Rijel Acosta Reply

    All I want to say is thank you for what you’ve done for this class. I know how much you committed for us. Thank you for the plants you were able to supply for us. I am very grateful for my plant I have that I’ve token very good care of. I seeing a lot of progress from when I first got it. It’s growing a lot more since I first got it.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      You are very welcome, Rijel. I am very happy to hear that your plant is thriving!

  11. Shayanna Delva Reply

    It’s been really fun planting a plant first hand, and seeing it grow step by step into a beautiful plant. I’ve never been able to plant a plant, but thanks to Ms. Benton I finally got to have that opportunity to do that. Every day when I walk past my plant I feel accomplished and grateful to see the elegance of my plant grow. Without the help of Ms. Benton, I wouldn’t think I will have the encouragement of having to be able to start planting my shrub. Thank You!!!

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      It is a wonderful sense of accomplishment to nurture a plant and watch it grow. I am so glad you had fun with your beautiful plant, Shayanna!

  12. Sophia Reply

    The Native for Neighbors project was a fun experience . I got the wild sage and I can tell you, it’s growing out beautiful with multiple pink flowers. I enjoyed watching my plant grow and taking care of it was even better. It was relaxing to go outside and water my plant. As a result of this experience I learned how to care for my plant and the environment/community. I would like to thank Ms.Gross and anyone else who helped provide for the project for making it a wonderful run. If I could I would do this project all over again.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      The wild sage is a wonderful plant. Nurturing plants is a relaxing and worthwhile experience. I hope you have the opportunity to plant more plants, Sophia!

    2. Monica Gross Reply

      You are welcome Sophia. I am so glad you enjoyed the project. I did too.

  13. Darnell Blanc Reply

    My personal experience with native for neighbors was very positive. We got to help the environment while also learning about native Florida plants. Like the plant I got the button sage or Lantana involucrata has wonderful white flowers which become little berries. This project also teaches how to properly care for plants and how important they are for the environment for not only the animals, but for us humans as well. This projects also caused my soil to have more bugs and insects which will help thew soil. And lastly thank you Ms.Gross for letting me take part in this project.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Soil health is indeed key. I hope your Lantana involucrata feeds many butterflies, bees and birds, Darnell!

    2. Monica Gross Reply

      You are welcome, Darnell. I take great joy in helping out our Earth. I consider it to be my personal calling.

  14. Zi-Qin Lam Reply

    When I first saw Natives for neighbors I thought it was going to be boring. Now I see that it is quite easy and fun. My necklace pod plant has grown a lot since I first got it. I water the plant every day and make sure it isn’t dying. Thank you for the plants.

    Zi-Qin Lam

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      I agree that nurturing plants is quite easy and fun, Zi-Qin. I am glad that you are enjoying your necklace pod!

  15. Saniya Cash Reply

    my experience during the natives for neighbors project was really fun. I had a great time watering my plant everyday and every night. I also had a great time watching and seeing my plant grow everyday even if i didn’t notice it. I would like to see my plant continue and grow and see how big it could get because right now it is a little taller than me and i’m tall. another great thing I experienced was making compost it was really cool to see my food scraps turn into compost.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Composting food scraps is a wonderful way to help the environment, Saniya. Thank you for doing your part. May your plant continue to grow!

  16. Emma Reply

    My experience with the natives for neighbors project was amazing. My plant has grown so much over time. Although I did not realize it, this project has gotten me closer to nature. Because of this project, I have learned how easy it is to grow a plant and decided to start my own fruits and vegetable garden. I am so grateful to Mary for the plants that she provided me and the rest of my class with.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      I am really pleased to read that this experience inspired you to start growing a fruit and vegetable garden, Emma. Congratulations!

    2. Monica Gross Reply


      I am so glad to hear that you started a fruit and vegetable garden. It is so nice to see and eat the fruits of one’s love.

      Ms. Gross

  17. Emma Reply

    This project was amazing. I learned many things, including how easy it is to grow a plant. Now that I know how to grow a plant, I started a mini garden of my own. I am so grateful for all of the plants Mary has supplied my class with. Thank you for this experience, Emma.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Emma, I love that you have started a mini garden. Learning how to make things grow is a wonderful adventure!

  18. Cathysha Jean Reply

    In my opinion the project Natives for Neighbors is a total success! This project has definitely made me understand the value of caring for our plants and animals. Since I got it the golden creeper has evolved a lot. I tried as hard as I could from the start to get it home and to the ground safely. When I did, I made sure I remembered watering it and taking care of it, even though I had forgotten many times. Although it was a somewhat rough start it is now rising at an alarming pace. I can’t wait to see more creatures visiting my farm, beyond a few that have already started to appear. Thank you again Ms. Gross for the wonderful opportunity you have given me!

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Understanding the value of caring for our planet and its creatures is so important. Thank you for taking such good care of your plant, Cathysha!

    2. Monica Gross Reply


      You are so welcome. I am really happy to hear that your plant is bringing more creatures to your garden!

      Ms. Gross

  19. Sienna Corredor Reply

    The Natives for Neighbors project was inspiring for me. My plant was the Golden Creeper. I made sure to plant it where it would receive lots of sun and would water regularly. It has grown over some time and seems to be doing well. With luck, I hope it will flourish. To demonstrate my inspiration, I started my own garden. I planted tomatoes, spinach, kale, and basil seeds. They are all doing quite well except for the fact that a few bugs might be eating them. I’m thankful for the experience and hope to continue.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      I am so happy you were so inspired by this project that you have started your own edible gardening. There is a lot of useful information online to help answer any questions you have. And, yes, bugs do eat leaves, but then birds eat the bugs, so it is a win/win for nature!

    2. Monica Gross Reply


      I am so happy to hear you are spending more time in the garden. Growing your own vegetable garden is really good for the environment, and for your health. It will bring new wildlife to your garden, and allow you to nourish your body without the need to use fossil fuels to bring food to your table.

      Ms. Gross

  20. Victoria Hotze Martinez Reply

    The Natives for Neighbors project was a great experience for me because I think I have become more responsible. Since everyday I had to water my plant twice a day, I have grown to water it more and more and forget to water it less. In the beginning of the project I wasn’t so sure if I would like it. Everyday I started to like it more and more. It helped me realize that we should be planting more trees, and plants. We need our earth to stay healthy, and we can start by planting plants.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Nurturing a plant and making it grow is a powerful experience, Victoria. I am so glad that you see the importance of planting more natives and helping heal our earth.

    2. Monica Gross Reply


      I hope that you do exactly that. We all should be out planting trees. If you would like, shoot me an email, and we can get some of your classmates together for an organized tree-planting adventure, with proper social distancing observed.

      Yours truly,
      Ms. Gross

  21. Janiyah Bannis Reply

    This project was the most amazing project I have ever done. I have learned many amazing skills on how to grow a plant. This means one day I can grow my own plant starts with a seed. My plant has grown tremendously since the last couple of day. This project has got me really close to nature. I am thankful for the plant that you had provided for me Mary. Thank you for your plants.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Getting close to nature is so important, Janiyah. I hope you have many plants grown from seed in the future!

  22. Owen Rogers Reply

    Doing the natives for neighbors project was a fun experience for me to make a difference in daily lifestyle. I had duties such as to water the plant every day and make sure it was in an optimal position for sunlight and rainfall. My plant was the golden creeper and was a very small plant it was a shrub. I was very happy to participate in this fun activity. Thank you for giving me the opportunity

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      You are very welcome, Owen! I am glad that you had a fun experience with this project.

  23. Aschan Jean-Baptiste Reply

    My Experience with the Native for Neighbors project was amazing. It was fun watering my plants every day and night, my plant has been growing which I am really proud to see it grow. I learn that it is really easy to take care of a plant. This Project really got me motivated to grow more plants and I hope I do that in the future. Also, I had fun doing the compost and seeing it help my plant grow. Thank you so much for the plants.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      I am really happy to read this, Aschan! I love that you are motivated to grow more plants, and that you saw the value of composting your food scraps to enrich the soil.

    2. Amanda Solis Reply

      The Natives for Neighbors project was a great experience because I learned how to take care of my stuff and value it. When I first took my plant home I wasn’t sure I was ready for the job but it ended up being really fun. I think the beginning of the project was boring because there was no progress but after a month or so my plant started to flourish so that was exciting. I think I would definitely be ready for another Native for Neighbors project. This project showed me how much I can do for the environment and that one person can make a difference.

      1. Mary Benton Reply

        Amanda, you are absolutely right that each one of us can make a difference. Imagine how much greater our impact is if we join forces with our neighbors!

  24. Trinity Auguste Reply

    The Native for Neighbors project was amazing. When I first got my plant, I was very excited to take care of it. The project was very fun and a great experience. I’ve learned many new things like learning how to take care of a plant. I loved the experience and I’m glad that I have a plant to take care of. Thank you Mary!!!!

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Trinity, I am so glad you loved this experience, and have learned a great deal. May your future include a beautiful native garden!

  25. Jada Cox Reply

    The natives for neighbors project was by far one of my favorite science projects I’ve ever done. I enjoyed taking care of my plant and giving feedback. Unfortunately my plant died but before it died it was doing very well. At school we also helped in the butterfly garden which was my favorite thing to do because we learned (hand-on) how to plant our plants. I would love to do something like this in the future again maybe in 8th grade.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      I’m so sorry that your plant died, Jada. Sometimes that happens. I hope you can do something like this again in the future with better luck. I’m glad to hear about your hands-on experience in the butterfly garden!

  26. Shawn Reply

    I have gained a lot from this experience .I am a person that always likes to be out in nature so I enjoyed doing this.I learned the right way to plant a plant.I also learned the correct distance to plant a plant in a pot. My plant is doing so much better than it was but grasshoppers are eating it.I need some solutions to that problem.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Shawn, I am so glad that you like to be out in nature and that you learned a lot about nurturing plants through this experience. You might be experiencing an invasion of baby lubber grasshoppers, which can be voracious. If they are destroying your plant, I’d recommend getting a bucket of soapy water, putting on some gloves, and grabbing the grasshoppers and tossing them in. If you’d prefer not to kill anything, chances are the plant will come back to life if you continue to water it after its leaves get eaten. Florida native plants are tough survivors. Good luck!

  27. Diana Mendez Reply

    While participating on the natives for neighbors project my back yard was gifted with a vibrant and beautiful yellow flowering plant. (silver-sea oxeye). Personally, I love the physical features of this plant, although it almost died, it came back strong and started to bloom a flower again. It grew slowly but patients makes perfect. My family and I are very grateful to be given such a nice plant just to better the natural environment of Florida. Our yard looks great!

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Diana, hooray on sticking with it and bringing it back to life, thereby improving the beauty of your yard and the natural environment.

  28. Kayden Sarmientoo Reply

    When I heard about the natives for Neighbors Project I was excited to get my plant and see what it would grow into my plant was the golden creeper, when i first planted my plant i didn’t think it was going to grow. I gave it a couple of weeks and i watered it and took care of it and now its growing berries and hopefully this inspires me to plant more plants and start a garden.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Kayden, that is very exciting that you are already seeing berries. I hope there are many more native plants in your garden in the future!

  29. Haylee St.Hilaire Reply

    I really enjoyed the natives for neighbors project. The plant that I recieved was the wild sage. The first few weeks of taking care of my plant went really well, and I started to see butterflies in my backyard. Then, I started to realize that my plant stems starting going down. I researched why that might be happening and found out I needed to water my plant more. After that I started to notice flowers blooming This project has made me want get more native plants and now I know the value of these plants.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Good for you, Haylee, in doing exactly the right thing in trying to figure out what was negatively affecting your plant. I’m delighted to hear that flowers are blooming and you want to plant more natives!

  30. Michaell Gudino Reply

    The Native for Neighbors project was a fun experience. To me it change a little in my daily lifestyle and I was bored at first when I had to water the plant but now it just feels like something fun seeing your plant grow. My plant was the quail berry I was just so happy to see it grow at a low speed. I really didn’t think I would end up liking the project because I just didn’t like to water plants or plant them but at the end now I just think I want to do it again it was so fun. Now I think too myself this project is really good because we help our community by planting. Lastly thank you Ms.Gross for letting me take part in this project.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Michaell, so glad you came around to liking this experience and your plant. I am very happy you see the connection with helping out our community by planting and nurturing native plants!

  31. Victoria Hotze Martinez Reply

    The Native for Neighbors project was a great experience for me because I have become more responsible. Since I had to water my plant twice a day. I have grown to do it everyday, and now my plant is looking great. I want another plant, so that I could grow it as well. It was really fun, and I loved that I was doing something to help our earth be healthy. The compost was really fun to do because I didn’t have to waste all my extra food. I am so thankful for this experience.

  32. Nephtalie Plancher Reply

    I honestly really enjoyed the Natives for Neighbors project. My plant was the Wild Sage. I really enjoyed watering my plant every morning before I leave for school and every night before I go to sleep. After bringing my plant home, it started to flourish. Green leaves and small flower buds were starting to grow. Everything was going great. Unfortunately, I forgot to water my plant a few times. Because of this, it began to turn brown and the flower buds were falling off. Seeing this, I immediately started to water it again. I realized that my efforts to maintaining the plant were going to waste if I just let it go. Now my plant is flourishing and thriving. I am so thankful for this experience and would definitely love to try this again!

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Although the Wild sage is a drought-tolerant native plant, it can be tricky ensuring that plants get established by watering them daily. Sounds like the plant reminded you of the need to water and you learned your lesson. Congratulations on the fact that it is thriving!

  33. Kourtney-A Williams Reply

    The Natives for Neighbors Project was an amazing eye opener to have, to see what it’s like to raise and take care of a plant! I can now say this is inspiring me to go get more plants and to take care of them all, as I saw how my tree shrub is flourishing! Since I had received it, I had watered it and taken care of it! Although it’s my first time planting anything, it was a rough start to take care of it as I’m not used to it; but I have gotten the hang of things. I would love to thank my teacher, Ms.Gross and the community for letting my school, Doctors Charters School receive these plants and allow us to take care of it. Thank you for this lovely opportunity and sincerely DCS Student Kourtney-A Williams!

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Kourtney, I am so glad your eyes were opened to how rewarding it is to be responsible for making a plant grow and thrive. May your future be filled with the beauty of nature thanks to the plants you nurture.

    2. Monica Gross Reply


      Glad you made it. Stay Hawk Proud!

  34. Sebastian Taylor Reply

    While taking part in the Natives for Neighbors project I learned many things about how to take care of plants. The project also taught me patience and responsibility because a plant requires daily, persistent watering, and patience because they don’t just grow overnight. My experience with the project was overall great and very fun. I enjoyed coming outside to see that my plant has grown. And just recently my plant, the quailberry, just started to grow some berries. It has been a pleasure being part of this activity and thank you for this great experience.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Sebastian, growing plants teaches us a lot of lessons, including patience and responsibility. How exciting that your plant is producing berries. Let’s hope that a hungry bird finds them!

  35. Tsenat Tewolde Reply

    Hello! First I just want to say, thank you for donating us these plants. I appreciate what you guys are doing, it’s helping the environment. It might not look like a big change/effect but it is. I am also grateful for having the opportunity to be involved with the “Native for Neighbors” project. The plant I received was a lantana involucrata. When I brought the plant home with me, my dad was excited, haha. He likes plants and we have a couple of them outside. While my lantana involucrata grew, it started to bloom little white flowers. It was beautiful and I’m glad I chose this plant. Once again, thank you! 🙂

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Tsenat, your dad sounds great! Lantana involucrata is one of my favorite plants. I just watched a mockingbird eating some of the purple berries, and bees and butterflies love the nectar of the little white flowers. I am glad you chose this plant as well!

  36. Sophie Sotelo Reply

    During my Native for Neighbors project I experience many things. I noticed hoe beautiful plants are when they grow, from a small thing to a big healthy plant. I really love how now I know how to plant any plant, therefore I can plant a flower or a vegetable plant any time I want. It also helps the environment, I love helping my lovey earth. While doing my compost I’ve learned how we don’t have to waste food. Left overs can be useful for our earth. The time I took for my plant and my compost was worth, I hope I can do it again

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Yes, Sophie, you are right! Learning how to make plants grow helps the environment, as does turning your leftovers into rich soil. I too hope you can make many plants grow and flourish in the future.

  37. Gabryella Venerin Reply

    My experience with the Native for Neighbors project was very exciting. I learned to have more patience every day when I water plant, which is the Golden Creeper plant. It was very interesting to see my plant grow every day. I felt very calm while doing this project and also the compost was very amazing and it helped my plant grow. Im amazed by my experience and I hope in future time I’ll plant more. Thank you for the plant.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Gabryella, how wonderful to hear that you learned greater patience and achieved more calm with this project. And, yes, it is amazing how simple it is to create rich earth from food scraps that can nourish a plant instead of going to the landfill.

  38. Izabella Knox Reply

    When I heard about what we were doing for the Native for Neighbors I got really excited because I love having and taking care of plants. This project was a great experience for me because I have learned to be more responsible since I needed to water my plants 2 times a day. The plant I had gotten was the Blue Porterweed, and the plant has grown so much since the first day I have gotten it. The plant has grown so many flowers and vines. I’m so happy that we did this project because it was a very fun experience.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Izabella, I am so glad to hear of your excitement! Nurturing a plant is a fun and rewarding experience.

    2. Monica Gross Reply

      You have grown so much this year. It has been amazing to watch you and your classmates nurture your plants, and become stronger students and better people. Thank you for all the work you have done. I am glad you have enjoyed it.

  39. Christelle Jnbaptiste Reply

    The Natives for Neighbors project was a great one to participate in. I enjoyed it. My plant was the Silver Sea Oxeye and I think that it matured beautifully. I enjoyed having the hands on experience of planting. Its nice to know that I helped contribute to our environment. Thank you for the experience and the plants.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Christelle, I am very happy to hear about your beautiful plant and how much you enjoyed the experience. Contributing to our environment in a positive way is so important.

  40. Gregory Belizaire Reply

    My experience with the natives for neighbors’ project was great. I really felt like I learned how to take better care of plants. Although at times I would forget to water my plant, overall I think I did a good job. Doing this project taught me how to care for plants and how to take responsibility. In all, participating in this assignment motivates me to do more projects like this in the future.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Gregory, that’s wonderful that this project taught you how to be a more responsible steward of our environment. Our natural world needs every single one of us to step up to help.

  41. Kelsey Renard Reply

    My experience during the Native for Neighbors experiment was and still is amazing. Just knowing that this plant(Golden Creeper)will blossom to be something beautiful makes me happy. It also was donated by you amazing people and I really appreciate it. This also means that my plant can help the environment and be new homes to all sorts of bugs/insects. I’ve never been able to experience planting my own plant and taking responsibility for it, but thanks to Ms. Benton I finally got to have that opportunity to do that.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Opening our eyes to how we can play a positive role in the environment is indeed an amazing experience! May your plant and the bugs thrive!

    2. Monica Gross Reply

      I am so glad you had the opportunity! I want you to experience the most beautiful creations here on Earth.

  42. Jada Cox Reply

    The natives for neighbors project is by far one of my favorite projects I’ve ever done. I enjoy taking care of my plant and giving feedback. Unfortunately my plant die before it died it was doing very well. At school we also learned how to plant our plants in the butterfly garden and we got to work hands-on with Ms. Gross. I would love to do another project like this in the future perhaps eighth grade.

  43. Jerome Weldon Reply

    My Natives for neighbors project has been a bit of a bumpy road. At the start, my plant leaves were falling off, but I was watering the plant daily! I realized it was just adapting from season to season. I remember that I hadn’t watered my plant for at least a week. I went outside to check on it and it had all of its leaves a bright green color.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Jerome, it sounds like your plant had a bit of a difficult transition at first, but those bright green leaves are a very hopeful sign! Good luck with it!

  44. Allen Reply

    This time with my plant was very fun, me and my plants had ups and downs. At some points I forgot to water my plants, but it still survived. This is the first time I had a plant to grow this much in my house. My plants have grown their own flowers in this time and it is the dedication of my grades that kept me going. The time I spent with my plant will be unforgettable and i would like to thank Ms.gross for this opportunity.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Allen, plants native to this region have to put up with a lot of challenges, including drought. Happy to hear your plant survived!

  45. Mikel Reply

    This project has made me think about where plants are from and how native plants are important. I have given great care to all plants I own, I love coffee and now I am growing it like in STEM when we grew food it was great and it was fun to Socialise while plant. I am a firm believer of global warming and I am happy that I am fighting it. Thank you Ms Gross for the plant. I am happier now because of it.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Mikel, how wonderful that you understand the importance of growing your own food to cut your carbon footprint and help reduce global warming. Thank you for the role you are playing in our environment!

  46. Nicholas Tuzinsky Reply

    I really liked the adventure that the Natives For Neighbors project took me on. When I got my plant, I was so excited when I got my satin leaf that the second I got home I planted it straight away. My plant has grown so big since I first planted it. I water it twice a day and I recently moved my plant to a location that has better soil and more sunshine. My plant affects the plants around it a lot. The plants next to my satin leaf have been growing faster and producing more flowers and fruits. I am really happy that I was able to participate in this project because I have learned things about plants and I also have my humungous plant.
    Than you Ms.Gross

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      The satin leaf is such a pretty tree! Glad it is fitting in well in your garden, Nicholas!

  47. Liam Cruz Reply

    The Native for neighbors project has been such a great experience. I have learned so much about planting and in the future, I would like to start a garden. This made me realize that planting trees is way more important than I expected. This project has really got me going on worrying about our ecosystem and wanting what is best for our planet Earth. Hopefully, one-day people will realize how important it is.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Liam, you truly learned some wonderful lessons with this project! We all need to worry about our ecosystem and work together to save our beautiful nature. And opening people’s eyes and minds to its importance is key. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment.

  48. Valerie St-Aubin Reply

    Hi, Mary! I’m a little late to this, but the idea for Natives for Neighbors was great! So many students were willing to bring their own plant home, so you could say this project was a total success. I was really excited to bring my plant home, but for a while I had thought it was dead due to it being in the sun so often. A few days ago, I watered it and new, greener leaves started to grow. So all the lost hope I had for my poor Quailberry is restored. Thank so you much for this project! I am really happy that I have a few plants to take care of now.

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Hi Valerie, I am very happy that your hope for your Quailberry was restored! Florida natives have to be pretty resilient given our climate. Taking care of plants is a wonderful thing!

  49. lucas Reply

    Thanks because of this my family backyard looks more lively

    1. Mary Benton Reply

      Glad to hear that, Lucas!

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