A Florida-Fresh Christmas Tree

Want a live Florida-fresh Christmas tree in your home this year? You have choices! Whether you grow your own or choose it from a grower or tree lot, here are a few ideas and tips…

  1. Grow your own in a pot and move it inside for the holiday. It can take some time to grow from seedling, but it’s a fun project and the family bond with the tree will be strong! You can grow a smaller tree in a moveable planter and reuse it until it outgrows its welcome (or ability to squeeze through the door), or plant a new tree every year so the family always has one of suitable size each Christmas. It takes about 6 years to grow a well-shaped 6-8 foot tree.
  1. Purchase a Florida-grown tree from a tree farm or one of their resellers. Because it’s grown close to home and requires less fuel to get from field to family, it’s good for the environment to buy locally. Kids love a trip to the farm to choose and cut their own tree. Jupiter’s Tree Towne has been putting smiles on kids’ faces for over 30 years. Hobe Sound Farmer’s Market located near Bridge Road and I-95 sells trees, wreaths, ornaments, and local produce. Before you go, be sure to measure floor-to-ceiling space and add in the height of the stand.

Churches, nonprofits, and big box stores are a sensible alternative for a one-season take-home tree. Even if you buy from Lowe’s or Home Depot, you are still supporting local growers because the big box stores buy local trees to lower their transportation costs and deliver fresh product. Expect to spend $50 – $90 in 2020. Buying from a church or nonprofit is a wonderful way to expand your Christmas charity and do good for another family or cause. 

Do you know how to test a tree’s freshness? Use smell and touch. Reach inside the tree and gently grasp a branch, then pull your hand toward you. If no needles fall off, it’s fresh! Smell the needles. The more aroma the fresher the tree! If you can’t smell anything, choose another tree.

IMPORTANT! Be sure the diameter of the trunk fits your stand. Christmas trees drink water through the cambium layer under the bark at the base of the tree. If the trunk is trimmed down to fit a stand, you cut off the source of the tree’s life-giving water. Hint: Take your stand with you when tree shopping.

From the Jenkins Family to yours, best wishes for joy and love this Christmas season.

Invasive Plants in Our Backyard

Florida has around 18,000 plants considered “native” to North America. Native plants are good for our soil, provide natural habitats for wildlife, protect us from hurricanes, and provide beauty to our landscape.

Then, there are the invasive plants that have aggressively invaded our space, claimed it as their own, wreaked havoc on our native plants, spread forest fires, and destroyed wildlife habitats.

So who are these cellulose impersonators?

Brazilian pepper trees (schinum terefinthifolius) 

This highly successful invader’s beautiful red berries are “itching” to make their way into our landscapes. In fact, the tree’s fruit is so closely related to poison ivy, oak, and sumac that it can leave a skin rash or cause breathing issues. It was unwisely introduced to our area as the “Florida Holly” and has since infested over 700,000 acres in Florida, spreading a dense canopy that shades out other plants need to provide habitats for native fauna. 

Lantana (Lantana camara)

Butterflies love Lantana plants, so Floridians love them in their gardens. But there’s a catch. Lantana camara is invasive and not recommended for North, Central, or South Florida. It quickly spreads and is toxic to animals (from squirrels to house pets). Thankfully, for Lantana lovers and the pollinators, there’s a sterile variety that cannot produce viable seeds or pollen so isn’t invasive. Choose sterile Camara or the native varieties like Lantana Depressa. 

Carrotwood (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) 

The Carrotwood, so named from its orange-colored inner bark, is an Australian import listed as one of Florida’s most invasive plants. Fish crows feast on their bright seeds, then disperse them onto dunes, marshes, hammocks, and scrub habitats where they germinate and crowd out native plants. About 35 feet tall with a shady spread, they were once considered decorative trees for home landscape. No more!

Old World Climbing Fern (lygodium microphyllum)

Another invader from down under, this Aussie fern was brought to Martin County in 1965. This aggressive invader bullies its way into our wetlands and takes over where bald cypress stands, mangrove swamps, and sawgrass marshes would normally thrive. Over time, a thick mat of old fern material accumulates on the ground, severely alters the habitat. When fire occurs, the fern carries flames into the tree canopy where fire spreads rapidly tree-to-tree. Rated #1 worst invasive.


From the Citizen Scientist Project, an eye-opening article on the fern capable of toppling trees. 

To fight invasive plants and preserve our native species, Jenkins practices Integrated Pest Management, one of the key principles of Florida-Friendly Landscaping.™ We educate our technicians to differentiate between invasives and desirables

Jenkins’ technicians take pride in being FNGLA-Certified Landscape Maintenance Technicians, a certification that includes the ability to identify both native and invasive Florida plants. 

GET INVOLVED: Be Part of the Solution

Be prepared to send an email request for removal of invasive plants on any natural trail on the Treasure Coast. Save this link to your mobile device: Martin County Request Removal of Exotic/Invasive Plants on Natural Trails

Report a plant that you believe might be invasive by saving this link to your mobile device and sending a photo of the suspicious plant to UF/IFAS Extension


Unfortunately, some invasive species begin as landscape choices. You fill a space, provide a backdrop, and before you know it, suddenly you have duplicates throughout your yard, and too often in your neighbor’s yard too!

If you suspect you have invasive plants on your property, our landscape crews are trained in their identification, assessment, and removal. Invasive plants are by nature hard to remove, so herbicides are a last resort when mechanical methods fail. 

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International Coastal Cleanup


Every year, on the 3rd Saturday in September, we join the tens of thousands worldwide volunteers for the annual International Coastal Cleanup that is coordinated locally by Keep Martin Beautiful and internationally by the International Ocean Conservancy, to harness the power of people to fight ocean trash by removing debris and and trash from beaches and waterways all over the world.

The Clean Up Crew

Back row: Jeff McMillion, Joanne McMillion, David Holtzinger, Linda Zylman, Suzie Bubla, Lynn Banas, Jim Banas, Linda Wolf. Front row: Erin Jenkins Banas, Mike Banas, Krisse Banas, Anthony Burr, Nicole Burr. Photographer: Ryder Burr

Our Assignment

Three boats gave us plenty of social distancing space as we traveled down the intracoastal to meet up at Nathaniel P. Reed Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge opposite Peck Lake Park.

The coastal cleanup movement that began more than 30 years ago also includes recording each item collected so ICC can identify ways to eliminate ocean trash in the future. Erin Jenkins recorded our finds — plastic, glass, bottle caps, kiddie barrettes, one-half of a pair of shoes, and dozens of plastic straws.

Boat Captain: Harold Jenkins with Hyjenx. Photographer: Linda Wolf

Thanks to volunteers around the world, the International Coastal Cleanup is a beacon of hope for our oceans. It has created a family that spans oceans and borders, and for one day, we were part of that family.

A network of volunteers working together for something bigger than ourselves!

Did you participate in the International Coastal Cleanup? Share your photo with our Facebook fans.