Where did the idea that 'native' plants are always best? I wish I knew.
Yes, if one wants to establish a native garden for some reason, they are fine, one supposes. But the clients that I encounter want a tropical environment. And look around. Does the Florida native palette answer the call for a rich, tropical planting?
No. It does not.
Do the native require less water or fertilizer than the exotics? Ask the University of Florida:
A plant's indigenous status does not affect its fertilizer or irrigation requirements. There is no scientific evidence that native plants require less fertilizer and water than plants not native to Florida.
The University of Florida has a nice overview piece about natives here.
I've written about this issue. I've taken on the arguements, at length: Download 2.25.2011 Natives redux
Questions? Email me.