Aquatic PlantsAlligators | Aquatic Plants | Crustaceans | Food Fish | Miscellaneous Species
Molluscs | Marine Ornamental | Ornamental Fish and Invertebrates
Aquatic plants are primarily produced in the central and southern portions of Florida for aquarium, water gardening, wetland restoration, and food markets. In excess of 730 plant species were cultured with most of the production geared to aquarium and water gardening markets. Common types include hardy and tropical water lilies, lotuses, Anubias, Canna, Cryptocoryne, Echinodoras, Iris, Vallisneria, Aponogeton, Cabomba , and watercress.
Sales have been declining since 2002 with a significant decrease in 2009 due to the recession. Increasing competition from overseas producers in China and Israel continues to play a role in declining sales. Some large wholesalers have switched from domestic sources and are primarily buying from foreign producers. Florida producers are continuing to adjust production to target midsized wholesalers or large retailers by offering a full-line of plant species. Florida growers are also aggressively seeking new species and breeding new varieties to produce fuller plants, more colorful plants, and larger flowering plants to increase sales.
Aquarium plant producers are supporting the national FisHedz.com aquarium hobby promotional campaign and all aquatic plant producers are increasing their marketing efforts to counter foreign competition and communicate product information and availability.
Aquarium plant producers propagate colorful, slow growing submerged plants that enhance the beauty of home aquariums. Plants with interesting textures, shapes, colors and sizes create living, three-dimensional habitats and absorb nutrients to keep aquariums healthy and vibrant. Aquarium plants are available bunched, bare-root or potted, depending on their growth characteristics and value.
Water gardening has become very popular in the United States as a means to add beauty and value to homes and businesses. Horticulture, trade and consumer publications have nourished this interest by featuring articles describing the design, construction and maintenance of ponds, fountains and grottos. Aquatic plants are an essential component for functional and aesthetic purposes. Florida growers of water lilies and submerged and emergent aquatic plants rapidly expanded production in the mid-1980s and significantly expanded each year to meet demand until the year 2001. From that point on overseas competition has taken a larger and larger share of the market. Considerable effort has been made by producers and University of Florida horticulturists to perfect hybridization and tissue culture techniques to produce new and colorful lilies and to standardize the appearance of popular plants. Florida growers have won awards in the international new waterlily competition every year it was held except for one since it began in 1998. This event is hosted by the International Waterllily and Water Gardening Society.
A wide variety of native aquatic plants, as well as aquatic plant habitats, are damaged directly or indirectly by human habitation. Ecologists, engineers, and other professionals have developed methods to restore damaged wetlands and mitigate unavoidable losses. Laws requiring wetland restoration have created a mitigation plant industry. The demand for mitigation plants is directly tied to the construction industry and the state's efforts to reduce the collection of wild wetland plants.
The aquatic plant production sector of Florida aquaculture will continue to grow as interest in water gardening expands and wetland mitigation/restoration grows. The industry is in need of additional licensed aquatic pesticides for use in controlling pests on the farm. Research into the nutritional needs of aquatic plants and research to determine production methods for plants not currently in culture will help boost the industry.