Protecting Roadsides

Roadsides are more than mere stretches of concrete flanked by grass. They are prime locations for wildflowers and play a crucial role in sustaining our environment and economy.

Critical pollinator habitat

Roadsides serve as a vital stages for one of nature’s most crucial actors — pollinators. By reducing mowing along roadsides, we create havens for pollinators like bees and butterflies. The wildflowers that flourish in these areas provide essential nectar and pollen, aiding the health and diversity of pollinator populations. Preserving and enhancing these habitats contribute to the overall well-being of our ecosystems.

Suitable wildflower habitat

Undisturbed or minimally disturbed roadsides become ideal habitats for a myriad of native wildflowers and grasses, many of which struggle to thrive in highly managed environments. Providing conditions that allow these natives to thrive not only adds a touch of natural beauty to our surroundings but also supports a rich and varied ecosystem.


Roadsides act as natural canvases, showcasing the vibrant colors and diverse forms of wildflowers. Embracing this untamed beauty can become a draw for ecotourism. Travelers increasingly seek authentic and unspoiled natural experiences. Appropriately managed roadsides, teeming with wildflowers and buzzing with pollinators, can attract nature enthusiasts and photographers. This influx of ecotourists not only boosts local economies through increased tourism but also fosters a sense of environmental stewardship as visitors appreciate the delicate balance of nature.

Roadside etiquette:
  • Click it, don’t pick it! Many native wildflowers reproduce only by seed. Picking a flower reduces the ability of a population of wildflowers to sustain itself.
  • It’s the law. Picking the flowers of any endangered or threatened species is illegal in Florida (Florida Statute 581.185).
  • Don’t be a hazard. Stopping alongside a road can be hazardous to you and other motorists. It’s best to view roadside wildflowers from your vehicle.
Ecological and economic impacts of reduced mowing

Traditional mowing practices often disrupt the natural life cycles of flora and fauna. By allowing roadsides to flourish with diverse vegetation, we create resilient ecosystems that provide habitats for various species. This shift promotes biodiversity, improves soil health and mitigates the negative impacts of frequent disturbance.

Beyond their ecological significance, roadsides also have a direct impact on our economy. Implementing reduced mowing practices significantly lowers vegetation maintenance costs for state and local highway maintenance departments. The financial savings can be redirected to more pressing needs within communities, such as infrastructure improvements or education. This simple shift in maintenance strategy demonstrates a commitment to fiscal responsibility without compromising environmental health.

How the Florida Wildflower Foundation helps

The Florida Wildflower Foundation works with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) district wildflower coordinators and maintenance yards, as well as county and city public works departments to identify native wildflowers on roadsides and provide guidance for appropriate management.

Seasonal surveys

Our experts can conduct seasonal surveys* of roadsides and utility rights-of-way to locate and characterize native wildflower areas. Surveys are conducted in spring, summer and fall to ensure a comprehensive species inventory, and are generally limited to areas with naturally occurring native wildflowers and grasses.

*Surveys require approval/input from the appropriate roadside and utility rights-of-way managers.

Management plans

Once a roadside has been surveyed, we can make recommendations for managing the wildflower populations for seasonal beauty, to boost pollinator habitat, and to maximize wildflower seed dispersal and germination. We can provide management plans and standard operating procedures (SOPs) that include guidelines for mowing extent, width and frequency, and may also address the removal of invasive species when present.

Note: The Foundation is not responsible for the implementation of management plans or SOPs, and does not have the authority to enforce them. We can only make recommendations.

Regional support

Foundation representatives can provide support for volunteers as they work with their counties and the Florida Department of Transportation. In the Panhandle, contact Marina Mertz. In North Florida, contact Geena Hill. For all other inquiries, contact Stacey Matrazzo.

How you can help

Identify potential wildflower areas

When you see wildflowers on roadsides, contact the agency responsible for maintaining the roadside and tell them you want them maintained to support pollinators. Identify the road and include beginning and end points of the potential wildflower area. If possible, include notes about wildflower and weed species seen in spring, summer and/or fall, as well as habitat type or concerns.

Roads adjacent to conservation areas are good places to start looking for potential wildflower areas. That’s because they are often in rural areas with wide rights-of-way and existing roadside wildflowers that could be managed through reduced mowing. The Florida Natural Areas Inventory can help you locate your county’s conservation areas.

†State highways are maintained by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The state is divided into eight maintenance districts, each with its own wildflower coordinator. Your district’s coordinator can put you in touch with the local maintenance yard in charge of roadside mowing. Click here for a list of FDOT district wildflower coordinators. County roads are generally maintained by the county’s public works department. Your county’s website should provide a departmental or staff directory with contact information.

Become a wildflower watcher

Once a roadside has been designated a wildflower area, or a management plan has been adopted, volunteers can help ensure that the roadsides are properly maintained. These “wildflower watchers” monitor the roadsides every few weeks to check for mowing compliance and report untimely activity to the roadside manager. They may also help identify and document the presence of wildflowers and invasive species.

Wildflower Area signs

Signs are often used to designate the beginning and end points of a wildflower area. These signs aid mowers who are maintaining the areas and help advertise their locations to the public. If a sign has not been installed, you can request one from the roadside manager.

Adopt a wildflower resolution

Counties and cities can adopt a Wildflower Resolution — a pledge to conserve roadside wildflowers by implementing management strategies like reduced mowing. If your city or county has not yet adopted a Wildflower Resolution, you can take action to advocate for its adoption.

Click here to determine whether your county or city has adopted a Wildflower Resolution. If there is no resolution in place, our “How to Get Started” guide provides step-by-step instructions to initiate and facilitate the adoption process. For counties and cities that have already adopted a resolution, it might require revisions or updates to align with evolving needs.

FDOT Wildflower Management Program

The Florida Department of Transportation’s Wildflower Management Program includes guidelines for nominating natural areas of wildflowers for special management to increase their abundance and visibility. The program laid the groundwork for reduced and carefully timed mowing to boost pollinator habitat while protecting the biodiversity needed to sustain healthy ecosystems and wildlife populations. 

Through the adoption of wildflower resolutions, counties and municipalities can nominate FDOT-maintained roadsides within their boundaries as Wildflower Areas. The district wildflower coordinator then will assess the nominations in terms of safety, opportunities to reduce mowing, and natural abundance of wildflowers. Once the district maintenance engineer approves the nomination, a management plan for the area is crafted and turned over to the district maintenance yard or the contractor maintaining the area. See a list of FDOT district wildflower coordinators.

Roadside wildflowers
The FDOT Wildflower Management Procedure adjusts mowing patterns and times to maximize seed dispersal and germination of existing stands of showy native wildflowers. Photo by Eleanor Dietrich