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FNPS Mission: To preserve, conserve, and restore native plants and native plant communities.
Learn more by visiting the FNPS website • Check our calendar for upcoming events sponsored by the Pinellas, Nature Coast, and Suncoast Chapters • Not a member yet? Join today!

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Event Updates

There will be no Membership Meeting or Butterfly Garden Workday in December.  We will see you again in January with a new Board of Directors and a full calendar of meetings, field trips and special events. Happy Holidays!
Mon., December 7th, 7:00 pm
Zoom Video Meeting and Presentation

IDEAS Hive Event: The Power of Native Plants
Stefan Babjak, Wisehands Landscape Maintenance
Vice President, Pinellas Chapter FNPS

The IDEAS Hive is a community event that educates local community members in environmental topics and engages the public in eco-action in the topic of the month.

Pinellas Chapter member Stefan Babjak will present an introduction to Florida's diverse native plant community and the ecosystem it supports. Tune in and learn about this important topic! The event will end with an engaging Facebook Live Q&A.

Questions? Visit Facebook Event or Email

Join Zoom 

ID: 86871375695

password: 715484

Join by phone(US) +1 312-626-6799

Gift Ideas for the Gardener on your List

By Debora Moran
It’s that time of year when you may be looking for a holiday gift for a gardening family member or friend. Or they may be thinking about what to get you. (Hint: Highlight what you want, and leave this article where they will be sure to see it!) There are many excellent options. Here are a few suggestions.


Whether cutting back an overly passionate passion vine or simply deadheading annuals, every gardener needs a good pair of pruning shears. And it’s worth paying a little more for quality. Choose a pair that are smooth-cutting and durable. Look for stainless-steel blades that can hold up to prolonged use and can be sharpened when needed. For those of us with arthritis or any mobility issues, an ergonomically designed handle is a huge plus. In my opinion, the best pruners on the market are made by the Swiss company, Felco®. They consistently win top awards, and with replaceable parts, this pruner can last a long time. Various styles are available at different price points. The Felco 2 is the classic model. I use the Felco 6, which is designed for a smaller hand. Be prepared to pay around $60 or so. To learn more, go to

About four years ago, I discovered the Japanese hori hori knife, and it has become my go-to garden gadget. Don’t be put off by its rather daunting, weapon-like appearance. With its wide, concave blade and beveled sharp edge, the hori hori is useful for planting, uprooting weeds, dividing perennials, sawing through small roots, and many other tasks. Several styles also have engraved depth measurement markings, which is helpful for planting bulbs. A wood-handled, stainless-steel hori hori with a faux leather sheath is available from Amazon for about $25.
Many gardening friends rave about the CobraHead® Weeder and Cultivator, a hand tool with a curved steel shaft and a tip shaped like a flattened spatula. It's handy for uprooting stubborn weeds, as well as cultivating soil and preparing planting beds. The narrow design makes this the perfect tool for working in tight spaces between plants, along walkways, or in containers. It also has a comfortable handle made from recycled material. In addition to the original cultivator, there is a narrower and lighter mini, and a long-handled version. The original CobraHead is $28, the mini is $25, and the long-handled one is $65. More information is available at

How about a pair of gardening gloves? Gloves wear out over time, so every gardener can always use an extra pair. This would be a great stocking-stuffer or grab-bag gift for your gardening friends. I like the nylon nitrile ones. The nylon is comfortable and breathable, while the nitrile-coated fingers and palms make them grippy and keep your hands protected and dry. They are also machine-washable, which is particularly helpful after those muddy planting sessions. Amazon has lots of options, starting at around $10 per pair.
Other Equipment

There are many types of equipment designed to make gardening a little easier on the gardener. One example is a kneeler, which provides a padded surface to cushion the gardener’s knees during those extended planting or weeding sessions. There are also nifty models that flip over to form a seat where the weary garden can sit and survey the results. Look for one that is sturdy but light enough so it can be easily carried. Several also have convenient tool pouches. In some cases, the entire unit is foldable for easy storage. Amazon, big box stores, and hardware stores offer several options in the $25 to $50 range.
Speaking of seating, consider a garden seat on wheels to provide a movable place for the gardener to rest. They often have space underneath or behind to store hand tools and bring them with you as you move around the garden. Again, there are lots of choices from various vendors. Prices start at around $45.
A garden cart or wagon is invaluable for bigger jobs like moving trees or shrubs, spreading mulch, or relocating anything too large to carry. There are many options from the classic metal wheelbarrow to plastic carts and utility wagons. Some carts are designed with polyester fabric over a steel frame, making them both lightweight and collapsible for easy storage. Look for one that has good carrying capacity and is easily maneuverable around turns and over uneven ground. There are many options and prices vary.
The pop-up yard bag may not be showy, but this is a great gift for any gardener. The bags are reusable, lightweight, easy to carry, and quickly pop open when needed to collect leaves, weeds, and assorted debris from a planting or weeding session. Pop-up yard bags start at around $10 and can go up to $30 or so, depending on the size and material.
This spring I received a wonderful gift from a thoughtful friend: an expandable garden hose. This type of hose has become popular in recent years and for good reason. It’s lightweight, flexible, and kink-free—a huge improvement over the classic rubber garden hose. The ingenious design allows the hose to lengthen as it fills with water and then contract as it is emptied, making it much easier to wrap up and store. My hose-wrangling days are over! A 100-foot expandable hose with a spray nozzle is available from Amazon for $35 to $45.

There’s always more to learn, and any gardener would welcome a new book. Whether the subject is creating a butterfly garden, medicinal plants, or whatever topic catches the gardener’s interest—there’s a book for that! The Pinellas Chapter has a limited inventory of best sellers priced below our cost. Order online and we will ship anywhere in the continental U.S.  Shop for books now!

Additional native plant books are available directly from the Florida Native Plant Society. Check this link for a list of titles and pricing:
Of course, the best gift of all is membership in the Florida Native Plant Society. Nothing to wrap, and good for the planet. Members receive our monthly Pinellas Chapter e-newsletter (which you are reading now), the bimonthly NPS association e-newsletter (Sabal Minor), and the quarterly NPS magazine (The Palmetto), as well as access to local meetings, field trips, and a wealth of native plant gardening information and resources. To purchase a membership, go to Simply enter the recipient’s name and address and your payment information. The cost is $35 for an individual membership, $50 for a family, or $15 for a full-time student.

Whatever gift you choose to give (or receive), here’s wishing you a happy and healthy holiday season!

Debora Moran has a Bachelor of Technology in Plant Science from the State University of New York at Cobleskill and was a Senior Extension Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Schenectady County, New York. She has written for Fine Gardening magazine and Green Scene, the journal of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. 

Time To Cut Back Tropical Milkweed

by Mary Salinas, UF IFAS Extension

We love our monarch butterflies, with their striking orange and black markings and their fascinating annual migration from southern Canada 3,000 miles south to Mexico. To help them, we have increasingly planted milkweed, the only plant on which their caterpillars will feed. In central Florida, the milkweed species most planted has been tropical milkweed, Asclepias curassavica, as it is lush, showy and easy to grow.

Tropical milkweed, unlike our native milkweeds that die back in late fall, will continue to grow through the winter unless killed by a hard freeze. Even if the cold kills the stems, it may regrow quickly from the roots. This seems like an advantage, but maybe not. The availability of a host plant for the caterpillars may be prompting adult females to stay and lay eggs rather than migrate south and be protected from deadly freezes.

Experts are also exploring links between the longer persistence of the tropical milkweed into winter and a build-up on those plants of a serious parasite Ophryocystis elektroscirrha, commonly referred to as OE.

So, what is the answer?
  1. Cut back any tropical milkweed to the ground at Thanksgiving. That may encourage female monarchs to migrate and prevent a deadly build-up of OE spores on the plants.
  2. Consider adding some native milkweed species to your butterfly garden. Here are some recommended species from Dr. Jaret Daniels:
Aquatic Milkweed (Asclepias perennis)
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Pinewoods Milkweed (Asclepias humistrata)
Redring Milkweed (Asclepias variegata)

For more information:

Monarch Joint Venture: Potential risks of growing exotic (non-native) milkweeds for monarchs

Monarch Butterfly, Danaus plexippus Linnaeus (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Danainae)

Gardening Solutions: Milkweed

Swamp Milkweed, Asclepias incarnata. Photo credit: Chris Evans, University of Illinois.

Preorder Your FNPS Florida License Plate Now!

by Eugene Kelly, Policy and Legislation Chair and Sue Mullins, Lobbyist
Reprinted from the November-December 2020 Issue of the Sabal Minor, the FNPS Newsletter

We are THRILLED to announce Governor Desantis has signed our bill creating a Florida Native license plate, and the final artwork for the plate has been approved by the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles. So now we are officially in pursuit of the "pre-sales" required for the plate to go into actual production and then be available for distribution to the public. The bottom line for FNPS, quite literally, is that we will receive $25 for every plate sold, and annually thereafter for every plate that is renewed. Reaching this milestone is a big step forward for FNPS and could provide a meaningful source of continuing income in support of our mission.

The legislation that allowed creation of the plate requires that it include at least five plant species native to Florida, conform to a "camouflage" theme, and include the words "Florida" at the top and "Native" at the bottom. The final mock-up, pictured below, meets those criteria and actually includes six native plant species-longleaf pine, slash pine, live oak, Spanish moss, the green­ fly orchid, and-of course!-a saw palmetto frond placed front-and-center. The plate lettering will appear to the left and right of the palmetto.

At least 3,000 plates must be sold in advance before any will be produced, and if we are unable to reach that threshold within 2 years the plate will be forever deauthorized. That means we are encouraging FNPS members to step up to the plate and express your support for our organization by committing $33. IN ADVANCE - the sooner the better, because plates will be produced only after 3,000 plates have been sold. If we fall short of the 3,000 minimum in pre-sales, anybody who "purchased" one can choose to either receive a refund of their purchase price, or ask that their money be applied to future motor vehicle registration charges.

You can best help us take advantage of this opportunity by signing up for a pre-sale yourself at . You can also choose to do it in person at the offices of your county's Tax Collector. By prior agreement with the State of Florida, the St. Johns County license tag agency will be fulfilling all requests regardless of where you live.

In order for the Florida Native plate to be successful, we must look beyond our FNPS membership. Of course, we would like ALL our members to express their support and pride in FNPS by sporting a Florida Native plate on their cars and trucks-or boat trailers. But with fewer than 5,000 members, we recognize we must appeal to a larger audience to be successful in the long­ term. We also want to minimize "competition" with our fellow conservation organizations that might already depend on their own specialty plate as a funding source. So we want to grow the pie, rather than simply take our own slice out of a finite pie that is already being shared by other deserving conservation organizations. Thus, the Florida Native plate, which we hope wilI appeal to a broader slice of our fellow Floridians, including especially those who are proud to be Florida natives themselves.

You might already have a specialty plate that you find very attractive, and/or that supports a cause or organization you believe in and want to continue supporting. We don't want to pressure you to abandon your support of a good cause. But keep in mind that you can also choose to purchase a specialty plate for your boat trailer, your second vehicle or as a gift for relatives! And encourage your friends and neighbors, especially any who are proud Florida natives, to consider purchasing one. 

Conservation Corner

This feature of our monthly newsletter will highlight local conservation issues and opportunities for our members to influence decision making by our local, state and federal governments. If you have issues you would like the Conservation committee to explore, email them to Jane Graham, Committee Chair at

Ready for 100% Clean Energy in Pinellas

Along with Sierra Club and other conservation advocates, we are calling on the Pinellas County Commission to transition to 100% clean energy. This includes 100% renewable electricity use in municipal operations by 2035, 100% renewable energy in all sectors [including transportation and heating & cooling] by 2040 and 100% renewable energy community-wide by 2050. Click here to sign the petition.

Call for Support: Gladys Douglas Hackworth Preserve

Advocacy for the Gladys Douglas Hackworth property is continuing and we need your help. The deadline for the County and City to make an offer to conserve the property is January 18, 2021, and time is running out. Conservation Chair Jane Graham, along with many other conservation advocates, commented at the November 17, 2020 Pinellas County Commission meeting in strong support of funding the property’s conservation.

We are still waiting for an updated appraisal from Pinellas County in the first week of December, which will give a better idea of how much is needed to preserve this local treasure. The number is estimated to be between $8 million and $14 million. Dunedin has committed $2 million, an anonymous donor has pledged $2 million, and grassroots activists and partners have raised over $14,000. We are making progress towards fundraising, but have a way to go.

Pinellas County is looking at funding options through sources like the Florida Communities Trust, but has not yet stated a number. Our Chapter recently drafted a letter of support for the Florida Communities Trust grant, which will be submitted with the county's application. You can view it here.

We need your continued voice and support. Here are three things you can do:

1) Make a donation, no matter the size, click here: . This grassroots campaign is organized by a group of local conservationists in collaboration with the Pinellas Community Foundation. Should the offer proposal from the County to the Estate not be accepted, gifts received by this Fund will be used for future land preservation projects in Pinellas County as recommended by the Fund Advisory Committee, unless a donor has specified alternative arrangements in their gift or fund agreement.

2) The Pinellas County Commission is meeting again on December 15, 2020 at 2 pm. Speak at the meeting in support of preserving the GDP. Check here for updates on the agenda and Zoom information:  

3) Call or email your Pinellas County Commissioners and tell them you want to see the Gladys Douglas Hackworth property preserved. 

Janet C. Long
District 1 - Countywide
315 Court Street
Clearwater, FL 33756
(727) 464-3365 Tel
(727) 464-3022 Fax

Pat Gerard
Commission 2020 Chair 
District 2 - Countywide
315 Court Street
Clearwater, FL  33756
(727) 464-3360 Tel
(727) 464-3022 Fax

Charlie Justice
District 3 - Countywide
315 Court Street
Clearwater, FL  33756
(727) 464-3363 Tel

Dave Eggers
Commission 2020 Vice Chair 
District 4 - Commissioner
315 Court Street
Clearwater, FL  33756
(727) 464-3276 Tel
(727) 464-3022 Fax

Karen Williams Seel
District 5
315 Court Street
Clearwater, FL  33756
(727) 464-3278 Tel
(727) 464-3022 Fax

Kathleen Peters
District 6
315 Court Street
Clearwater, FL  33756
(727) 464-3568 Tel
(727) 464-3022 Fax

René Flowers
District 7
315 Court Street
Clearwater, FL  33756
(727) 464-3614 Tel
(727) 464-3022 Fax

For more information, check out these recent articles:

Tampa Bay Times


TBT Latest Op ED

Share Your Native Plant Knowledge

Clearwater Audubon invites our members to join them on their weekly field trip and share your knowledge of native plants.
Madeleine Bohrer
Monthly Bird Trip/Walk at Moccasin Lake Nature Park Meet at 8:00am
12 Dale Goebel
Fred Howard Park
Meet at shelter 9 at 8:00am.
26 Paul Trunk
Want to help? Call Paul.

Thank You To Our Business Members

Sunshine City Law 


Bartlett Law Offices

City of St. Pete Beach

Vision Ace Hardware - Oldsmar

Hort & Soul Landscape Design

Rebecca Wellborn, Realtor, Coastal Properties Group

Wilcox Nursery & Landscape

Pinellas Chapter Florida Native Plant Society
2020 Officers, Directors and Committee Chairs

President - Michael Coleman
Vice President - Stefan Babjack
Secretary - Susan Taylor
Treasurer - Rebecca Wellborn
Past President - Jan Allyn
Director - Belinda Lambert
Director / Membership Chair - Bonnie Carine
Director / Programs Chair - Pam Schrader
Director / Events & Volunteer Chair - Nicole Jones
Director / Communications Chair - Robin Peacock

Florida Native Plant Society Mission

The Mission of the Florida Native Plant Society is to promote the preservation, conservation, and restoration of the native plants and native plant communities of Florida.

The Society fulfills this mission through:
  • Support for conservation land acquisition
  • Land management that enhances habitat suitability for native plants
  • Education
  • Public policies that protect our native flora, especially rare species
  • Research on native plant species
  • Encouragement of local landscaping practices and policies that preserve Florida's native plant heritage
Join/Renew Membership
Copyright © 2020 Pinellas Chapter of the Florida Native Plant Society, All rights reserved.

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