Living Walls

Living walls are vertical spaces of living plants. In recent years they have become quite popular as an eco-friendly way to add color to a landscape; provide cooling shade and privacy to a courtyard, patio, or outdoor shower; or camouflage utility boxes, pool equipment, refuse cans or any outdoor eyesore. 

living wall installation panel
Jenkins technician installing a living wall

These vertical gardens use a system of panels on which selected plant species are hung from hooks or placed in pockets and receive water and nutrition from specially installed irrigation systems hidden behind the greenery. Our living walls are installed by our trained technicians and lovingly maintained by our Maintenance Technician and Living Wall Specialist, Beth Williams. 

Beth focuses on creating vertical gardens in adherence to her mantra: “the right plant in the right place for coverage and color in all seasons.”

living wall plant collage
Some of Beth’s favorite living wall plants

Celebrating Euphorbia Pulcherrima

The Christmas Poinsettia!

The ancient Aztecs displayed poinsettias as a symbol of purity, and used poinsettia leaves to make dyes for cloth and baskets. In the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico were likely the first to decorate for their Christmas celebrations using poinsettias because the plant’s star-shaped leaf reminded them of the Star of Bethlehem that led the Three Wise Men to the baby Jesus.

In modern times we celebrate poinsettias as symbols of good cheer and success; this humble plant has risen to become the  #1 pre-Christmas gift item and #1 floral decoration for homes, offices, and retail stores everywhere. In fact, the poinsettia dominates the potted plant industry, chalking up an impressive 70 million sold in a period of just 6 weeks at a value of over $250 million!

Did you know that poinsettia leaves aren’t really leaves at all? The leaves are called bracts, the part of plant found above the leaves but below the flower. The tiny yellow petals in the center of the poinsettia are the real flowers.

Poinsettias “kept in the dark”
Poinsettias coming to market are forced to color-up for Christmas by being “kept in the dark” from mid-September to the end of October. Our friends at UF/IFAS Extension call the poinsettia a “short day” plant. To force a plant you own to turn red, keep it outdoors and in the dark by covering it with a crate or tent. During this time, just water when needed but omit the fertilizer. The color of a poinsettia depends on its light exposure and some are bred to be pink, white, yellow, purple, salmon and multi-colored varieties. Other may have special dyes sprayed onto the bracts a few days before shipment. The spotted effect comes from alcohol sprinkled onto the dyed bracts—then there’s the sticky glitter for those who love glam.

Landscape poinsettias
Poinsettias grow in Florida landscapes all year long, some quite successfully! However they do need attention: after Christmas, prune faded bracts and in the summer pinch back bracts to create full plants with lots of flower heads. Additionally, if your poinsettias are part of a landscape, locate them away from nighttime artificial light sources to delay or prevent future flowering.

Are poinsettias safe for pets and kids?
Yes, sort of. The bracts and flowers are a bit toxic for pets and children, but not deadly (a pet may drool and a child have mild dermatitis), but since the plants taste awful, problems are rare. If concerned, just place them out of reach.

To learn more about
(a) using poinsettias as outdoor plants, or
(b) how to care for a potted plant you received as a gift (or splurged and bought for yourself!), or
(c) troubleshooting any insect issues concerning the poinsettias,
see the UF/IFAS article, Poinsettias At A Glance.

From the entire Jenkins Landscape team,

Merry Christmas!

Deer Damage

Protect Your Landscape

White-tailed deer sightings in Martin County are common this time of year, especially after dark. When a deer sighting includes a herd using your landscape as a buffet, you need solutions.

The population of deer in Florida is in decline. And even though we love to see them run free and live their own version of the “Florida-lifestyle” it’s discouraging when deer damage our landscape.

Image credit: Tyler Mosteller (UF/IFAS Extension)

Fences and natural barriers are not always dependable options to prevent deer from nibbling on your flowers, bushes, trees, and ornamentals, but there are deer resistant and poisonous plants that encourage the herd to seek an alternative buffet. 

Plants that are Highly Fragrant

Deer rely on smell to avoid predators. If highly fragrant flowers and plants are consumed, these plants then play havoc with the deer’s sense of smell. Deer want to smell their predators, so they avoid confusing their sense of smell by avoiding landscapes with highly fragrant plants. 

Plants that are Deer Resistant

Deer can be picky eaters. They prefer sweet smelling flowers and sweet tasting plants like fruits, berries, nuts, corn and crops. Their ‘browse line’ is 5″ inches from the ground, so flowers are easy pickin’s! However, they aren’t fond of these:

Bearded Iris, Bear’s Breeches, Butterfly Weed, Caryopteris, Chrysanthemum, Crocosmia, Dianthus, Epimedium, Goldenrod, Hens and Chicks, Joe Pyx Weed, Lavender, Marigolds, Mint, Ornamental Salvias, Peonies, Red-Hot Poker, Rosemary, Russian Sage, Spices like oregano, thyme, sage, & rosemary

Plants that are Poisonous to Deer 

Deer instinctively avoid these plants, so adding them as a deterrent should not harm the deer population.

Crown of Thorns, Daffodils, Foxglove, Milkweed, Oleander, Poinsettia, Poppy

Fun Facts About White-tailed Deer

  • Dinner time for deer is dawn and dusk; if you drive during those hours, be on the lookout.
  • Have you ever noticed how quickly a deer will sense your presence? Deer have amazing eyesight and hearing.
  • Only male deer grow antlers, and these are shed every year. 
  • Deer are good swimmers, so installing a moat around your landscape won’t keep them out.
  • The average adult male weighs in at around 115 lbs; the smaller female around 90 lbs.
  • If your tree trunk has deer marks, it’s the male deer rubbing off the early-season velvety covering. Manly deer want shiny, smooth antlers.
  • Deer habitats are primarily those with low-growing vegetation —and escape routes.
  • In 2018 a 23-point buck was placed into the evidence freezer at the Martin County Sheriff’s Office. Read why.

For additional information on deer resistant plants in Florida, visit UF/IFAS Gardening with Wildlife. If deer are causing extreme damage to your landscape, contact FWC regional office in West Palm Beach to request a deer depredation permit. (561) 625-5122. To report a potential wildlife law violation on private land (hunting by gun or bow-and-arrow) call (888) 404-3922.