Passionflower Chapter

Florida Native Plant Society

Past Activity News

Creating a Hummingbird Habitat

Public Service Announcement on Behalf of Hummingbirds:

Hummingbirds can become unable to retract their tongues dues to fungal spores that germinate on their tongues or in their gullets caused by folks mixing honey or anything other than plain white sugar with water. The hummingbirds will die because they can no longer feed.

If you have feeders, PLEASE USE ONLY PLAIN WHITE SUGAR in your mixture of 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. No organic or raw or brown sugar, no powdered sugar, no honey, no artificial sugar. Use plain white sugar/water mixture which is most similar to actual flower nectar. And no toxic red color liquids!

Change the sugar water mixture every couple of days, especially during high temperatures, as it will start to ferment if it sits out for days on end.

If you can't or won't do this, please do not put out a feeder at all.

Pruning Class at LLSP

Jimmy Rogers - Passionflower member, Sustainability Coordinator at Cherrylake Tree Farm, and Certified Arborist - gave a hands-on pruning class at the Lake Louisa State Park Ranger Station Garden on January 26, 2023.  Using a Chickasaw Plum, Jimmy demonstrated pruning techniques and answered questions.

Jimmy’s advice - GO SLOW and make deliberate cuts.  Ideally, you want the tree/shrub to keep its natural shape and only remove what’s necessary:

  • Don’t remove more than 13-15% of the tree growth.Pruning a mature tree can be a milt-year process.
  • Remove branches that are protruding where people will walk, mow, sit, and weed.
  • Look for the 4 Ds – Dead, Dying, Diseased, Decayed limbs.
  • Guide future growth with directional pruning – cut ¼” from node so it will heal and hide the cut.
  • Remove crossing branches – if branches are touching, especially if you can see where there has been rubbing.
  • Don’t remove any limbs larger than 1/3rd the size of the trunk.
  • Don’t “clean out” the center of the tree – called “lion tail pruning” this puts all the weight at the end of the branches and eliminates wind buffer - leave some denser growth for nesting birds

Other topics covered -

  • Safety – do not prune from a ladder, wear eye protection and gloves - if using a pole saw make sure it is long enough that you can stand far enough away that the branch will not fall on you
  • Tools – prefers hand tools as they encourage going slow (compared to chain saws) and making deliberate cuts - sharp tools make a clean cut (best for the tree/shrub) and save your energy – when pruning a diseased tree, clean your tools before cutting a different tree - Jimmy’s favorites are Silky tree saws and Felco #2 pruners.
  • Painting cuts – not recommended as it traps moisture.
  • Removing large limbs - make 3 cuts - remove the weight of the limb and avoid tearing the bark, with 2 cuts at least 1’ from the trunk, first on the lower side of the branch and then from the top a few inches outside the first cut - then make the final cut.
  • The right final cut location – cut at the boundary between the trunk tissue and branch tissue - do not flush cut at the trunk as cutting the branch collar will damage the tree.See reference below for diagrams.
  • When to prune – fall and winter are best as the tree is not growing/dormant - do not prune when the tree/shrub is flushing (foliage is light green) - pruning in winter is also easier as you can see the branches and know what you’re cutting.
  • Palms – best to wait until fronds are dead to remove - don’t “hurricane cut” – palm branches should go from 3:00 to 9:00.
  • Suckers – don’t chop with a shovel – cut flush with ground.
  • Use an extension saw on palmettos to avoid getting cut and watch for wasp nests.
  • If you’ve pruned a lot, give the tree some extra water.
  • There is no research showing that ball moss or Spanish moss harms trees.

The hour-long class went by quickly.  Jimmy recommended the UF/IFAS Pruning Trees and Shrubs paper for anyone who wants a refresher on the topics he covered and learn more.

If you’re not pruning yourself, find a certified arborist (ISA) International Society of Arboriculture (

You can also watch a pruning video at

October Proclaimed Florida Native Plant Month by Lake County

The Lake County Board of County Commissioners proclaimed October 2022 as Florida Native Plant Month to recognize the beauty and ecosystem value of native plants as well as the volunteer work done by the Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS) to benefit the citizens and environment of Lake County.

Commissioner Sean Parks presented the proclamation to representatives of the two Lake County FNPS Chapters at the October 24th BCC meeting:  Lake Beautyberry and Passionflower.  The proclamation recognized both chapters' work to preserve, conserve and restore the native plants and native plant communities of our County and State. 

Neta Villalobos-Bell, President of the Lake Beautyberry Chapter, thanked the Commissioners on behalf of FNPS and the many Lake County residents who care about a healthy and balanced environment.  Additionally, she thanked the Lake County staff who battle invasive plants and restore habitat on County parklands. 

Neta also spoke about some of the activities of FNPS volunteers in the County: support for habitat management projects; native plant rescue and relocation; advocacy and support for policies to preserve and increase open space and conservation lands; and providing educational opportunities.  At the meeting Commissioners received a copy of the FNPS “Good Citizen Guide to Natural Florida”, a useful FNPS educational publication which helps residents learn about and preserve Florida’s natural treasures.

Photo courtesy of the Lake County FL Office of Communications.  Left to Right:  Neta Villalobos-Bell (LBB President), Lavon Silvernell (LBB), Commissioner Sean Parks, Melanie Simon (PF President), Nadine Foley (LBB)

Visit to "The Edge"

On Saturday, May 14th, members and supporters of the Passionflower chapter were treated to a tour of “The Edge” at Cherry Lake Tree Farm in Groveland.  One of the ways Cherrylake is working to promote the use of native plantings in commercial and residential developments is with two native plant demonstration gardens - one "natural" and one "formal" – where they are testing the use, growth, and maintenance requirements of a palate of native species (see the Cherrylake Plant Survey). They are also working with a developer to install native landscaping in the Sunbridge development in Lake Nona.  See the full trip report - Notes from "The Edge".

Conservation Symposium

Passionflower was one of 15 host organizations at the Lake County Conservation Symposium on April 30, 2022.  These organizations met at Trout Lake Nature Center in Eustis to learn about each other and collaborate and form partnerships to protect our county's amazing natural resources.

January/February Plant Rescues

Over 1,000 native plants rescued so far this year!  As development in Central Florida continues to reduce pristine native habitat areas, plant rescues are vital to preserve genetic diversity and create (or supplement) native plant communities in conservation areas.  We only rescue on sites where landowners give us permission to remove plants, and the plants we have rescued have gone to Lake Louisa State Park, Oakland Nature Preserve, and the Little Italy restoration area at Lake Apopka's North Shore.  The added benefit for rescuers is the great opportunity to see native ecosystems up close and learn about native plants that are not cultivated or sold at nurseries.

2021 Lake County Wildflower Festival

See pictures and read about our 2021 Lake County Wildflower Festival.


September 11, 2021 - Fairies, Trolls and Dragons

Lavon Silvernell gave a magical presentation, filled with fascinating pictures and stories,about the small creatures that live in our gardens.  Some are winged and iridescent and flit in the flowers.  Some are furry and fierce and live underground.  Some engage in epic battles and brew volatile gasses to spray on their enemies. Learn how you can provide the plants and conditions they need  to add magic, drama, and (most important) biodiversity to your landscape. 

If you missed the presentation you can watch the Fairies, Trolls and Dragons recording.

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