Tropical Plants

Even though I absolutely cannot stand humidity, the lush greenery and flowers that are the result of all that moisture captivate me.  There is something magical and mysterious about tropical jungles and the plants that grow there.  So I have the desire to grow a few.

tropics6Bougainvillea is available at almost every nursery in Texas.  It actually does very well here because it loves our heat.

It likes to be root bound, which is good because the pots don’t have to be too large to transport inside.

tropics3It’s main requirements are sunshine and water, so if I am faithful to water, it will bloom and bloom.  But there should be good drainage in the pot, so that it does not have standing water.  I water them two or three times a week in the hottest part of the summer.

The fact that Bougainvillea cannot survive cold weather can also be accommodated with inside shelter during the winter.  So it’s is not a crazy choice for Central Texas.

tropics4The vibrant color is what grabs me.

I’ve read that fertilizer specifically made for Hibiscus works well, but I have not tried that.

When we carry the pots inside, we cut back the branches.  This has always been done to prevent being grabbed by the thorns.  As it turns out, it blooms on new growth, so cutting back is a good thing and should be done before spring.

tropics5Just cannot not beat this beauty.

tropicsAnother tropical plant that has been successful for me is Ixora (Ixora coccinea).  This one is about 10 years old and has been in this pot most of that time.

I fertilize it the same as other potted plants, which is not often.  But I do sprinkle timed fertilizer granules in the spring and maybe again in early fall.

tropics1Isn’t the color amazing?

This pot also goes into the shed/greenhouse when the temperatures drop near freezing.  Usually some of the flowers die but the leaves remain throughout the winter.

purchase2Now we get to a really foolish purchase.  I knew when I bought this Fuchsia that it probably would not survive here, but couldn’t resist the chance to try.  It was actually bought at a nursery that normally only sells reliable plants for local areas.  This was an impulse buy, which is hardly ever wise.

purchase3The unusual drooping flowers enticed me.  But if I had done some research, I would have known that temperatures above 80 degrees weaken the plant, and that it cannot tolerate too much sunshine.  I did have it in shade, but then the high temperatures came.

Fuchsia also needs frequent watering and regular fertilizer.  So the likelihood of survival was doomed from the day I bought it.

purchase4Very exotic.

purchase5Alas, it only lasted three months.

As experienced gardeners say:  Learn to love the plants that grow well in your environment.  A lesson that some of us have to learn over and over.

“Envy is the art of counting the other fellow’s blessings instead of your own.”  Harold Coffin

Peek in Green House

Can’t wait to find out which outside plants survived the coldest weather we’ve had in many years.  Of course, I’m really hoping that most of the perennials make it.

shedBut the ones in the shed/greenhouse have been toasty warm and thrived.  The 8 year old heater did a good job of keeping the inside from freezing.

shed2There used to be a coiled hose in the greenhouse.  But last year I replaced it with this pocket hose.  It works so much better because it doesn’t get caught on branches and other things  in the shed.  It stretches nicely and is easy to use.  I’m not sure how one would work out in the yard with all the critters to chew on it.

shed3The blooms that were on the Ixora when we put the pot in the shed in early November are still going strong.  Love that bright color and the fact that the flowers last so long.  Of course, it is tropical and must have heat, although the dryness of the air during the summer here doesn’t seem to matter.

shed4The African Bulbine (Bulbine frutescens ‘Orange’) also is healthy.  Last spring I planted some sprigs in the ground.  They did well.  But what are the chances that they will come back?  They are not hardy to 7B, where we are.

shed5This large Aloe Vera always blooms during the winter in the greenhouse but not outside during the summer.  Can’t figure that one out.

shed6I usually see the blooms just after they’ve died, so they must not last a week.

shed7A new bloom is starting at the base.

shed8Kalanchoe also does extremely well in the hothouse environment and blooms better than when outside.  These are ready to be cut back.  So they will provide lots of cuttings to root for our Garden Club plant sale.

The white walls are sheets of styrofoam we cut to fit for insulation.

shed9All these Aloe Vera will be put in the Garden Club sale.  That large Aloe Vera just keeps producing all these pups.

shedd1Part of a fiberglass panel shows in this picture.  These allow wonderful sunlight to flood the shed.

shedd3The Boston Ferns have flourished better than in some past winters in the shed.

shedd4I have learned to move the Tropical Hibiscus away from the heat source.  Tiny white mites tend to cover it in the greenhouse.  But it does better next to the door.  That seems counter intuitive to me.  But it works.

Beside it is a Tricolor Butterfly Bush that I bought late in the fall and potted it just before storing it here.  Hopefully, it will live.  Anyone else anxious to get on with spring?

“Perennial:  any plant which, had it lived, would have bloomed year after year.”  Henry Beard

Alluring Tropics

Two large pots of tropical plants that I’ve had for years add a nice bright touch to the yard.  Even though both have to be carried inside during the winter, I think they’re worth the effort.

phillineThis Flame of the Woods or Ixora, which is a native of Malaysia, has never looked better.  Mine gets late afternoon sun.  It needs water once or twice a week, but can be over watered.

Ixora needs include acidic soil.  But honestly, I’ve never done anything to take care of that.  Organic fertilizer and mulch are recommended early in the spring.

philline2This plant has not grown very tall but doesn’t have any problems.  Its beauty makes it a standout plant.

yellowhibiscusEvery fall I debate whether or not to haul this tropical Hisbiscus into the shed.  The reason is that some winters it starts to look really scraggly in the shed and is covered with white mites.

yellowhibiscus1I spray the foliage with water or a pesticide.  Some years it looks better than others and recovers faster than others.

yellowhibiscus2This year it has been beautiful with lots of flowers.

Hibiscus prefer to be root bound.  Maybe it has finally achieved that after the last re-potting.

Daily watering is suggested, but I am not that diligent.  So it might bloom even more if I followed that regiment.

yellowhibiscus4All these blossoms are on the same plant.  I can’t explain the different color variations.  They were photographed at different times of the day.  Maybe that accounts for the light yellow to bright orange colors.

The women of Tahiti always have a hibiscus over their ears in  Gauguin’s paintings.  The tropics always seem so exotic and full of promises for a better life.  But it is possible to bring a little of that lush environment into your yard.

“Keep an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out.”  Unknown – attributed to several different sources