Powerpuff mimosa is a very hardy native groundcover with attractive pink flowers. (Photo by Terry Brite Delvalle/for the Times-Union)

One of the interesting things about horticulture is that there is always change so you are always learning. The change might be a plant’s scientific name, a recommended practice based on new research, new plant introductions or a change in the status of a plant. A change in the status of a plant may mean that it falls out of favor because it is invasive or is disease/insect prone. But there are a few plants that were once considered weeds that are now popular in the nursery industry.

One good example is turkey tangle fogfruit, Phyla nodiflora. This is one of the first plants I learned about when I moved to Florida because of its distinctive flower. I learned it by the name “match weed” or “capeweed,” and it was important because it is a common broadleaf weed in turf. Moving forward 20+ years, it is still considered a weed by some, but it is also a popular groundcover and is sold as a nursery plant.

Fogfruit is an herbaceous semi-evergreen perennial groundcover that grows to around one to three inches tall with flowers that appear a few inches above the leaves. It is native to Florida and grows in a variety of soils including moist sandy soils, beach dunes and along roadsides. It is considered drought-tolerant once established but it prefers some moisture. Our office landscape has been without irrigation at times and it has persevered throughout major droughts. It has low nutrient requirements, will handle light foot traffic, likes sunny areas and can tolerate some salt spray. The name matchweed is very descriptive because the white to rose-purple flowers surround a purple stalk that extends through the center and looks like the head of a match. It has a creeping growth habit, branches freely and roots at the leaf nodes.

One reason for its gain in popularity is its importance in butterfly gardening. Fogfruit is the larval host plant for the common buckeye, phaon crescent and white peacock. It also serves as a nectar plant for a wide host of butterflies and skippers. So it’s no surprise that avid butterfly gardeners are swapping out their turf or other groundcovers for this Florida-friendly butterfly plant. It may still become a weed because it will creep into neighboring plant beds, but it can be managed.

Another plant that is in both weed and wildflower books is sunshine mimosa or powderpuff (Mimosa strigillosa). Like fogfruit, this too is a native plant and is often seen along the roadside growing fine on its own. It is native to Florida, Texas and northern Mexico. You might recognize this plant because it has tiny compound leaves that resemble ferns. When disturbed, leaves fold up, giving it yet another name, sensitive plant. If we don’t get a freeze, leaves will remain green year round. Sunshine mimosa is a fast-growing perennial plant that has creeping stems and pretty pink puffball-like flowers from spring through summer. Add this one to your list of butterfly plants since it is a larval food plant for…