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QUESTION 1 :

Dear Mr. and Mrs.,
I'm a student at the horticultural department of Humboldt University to Berlin, Germany. I want to write my diploma thesis in the subject ornamental plants especially to investigate Pachystachys coccinea. While searching for international literature for my diploma thesis I found your website which is very interesting indeed. I have seen that your company works with Pachystachys coccinea and offers them to the market. I kindly want to ask you if you could help me with information about this plant or could tell me some literature about it. My special interest is in blooming-behavior, embranchment-behavior and general information about cultivating. I would like to show in my diploma thesis, which is the present state of knowledge about it. I would be very happy if I could get some information from you to pass on with my thesis. I'm also open for exchange of ideas and information to you.

  • Germany

ANSWER 1:

Pachystachys coccinea
Personal Observations:
*Keep in mind that these observations where made in Delray Beach, Florida.*

Delray Beach is located at sea level with a mild dry winter temperatures around ( 50F-75F or 10C-22C ) and occasionally reaching around 0C. Our summer is hot and very humid, with temperatures that range ( 75F-90F or 22C-31C ), occasionally reaching 96F or 38C. The air humidity is around 90%. We only have the Pachystachys coccinea in pots and grown outside under a shade clothe ( not a greenhouse. )

Light: Even though we have had the Pachystachys coccinea growing in full sun before, this plant will get better dark green leaf color under 50%-65% shade cloth.
Size: The tallest plant we have ever had reached about 7' high and about 3'-4' wide in a 14" diameter pot.

Water: This plant likes moist soil, and will wilt very fast when the soil is dry, but also it will come back very fast once you water it again.
Flower: The inflorescence is very beautiful. Bright red flowers emerging out of a green cone. The plant will flower most of the year, if kept warm, specially in the spring. But it is not a very profuse bloomer, where you will see flowers all the time.
Minimum Temperature: We start to notice some leaf damage when the temperature goes bellow 35F or 1C. How much lower can the temperature go before the plant will die? We don't know. Last year we had temperatures around 32F or 0C for a few hours a day and there was minimal damage on the plant.
Fertilizer: For the Pachystachys coccinea we like to use a slow release fertilizer, 13-13-13, a 90 day release with minor elements made in Japan and sold under the name " Nutricote." This fertilizer will produce a sturdier and more compact plant, than regular fertilizer.
Pests and Diseases:Nothing serious that I can recall.
Bad Habits:
The worst feature in this plant is the speed of growth during the warmer months and the big internode elongation. The use of growth regulators is necessary to produce a nice quality plant. We use a product called Bonzi ( 1.3floz/gal .) Spray only on large plants.
This plant also has a tendency to become woody and leggy at the bottom. Therefore, a severe trim is occasionally recommended.

QUESTION 2:

Please send me a list of your fragrant plants.

ANSWER 2 :

Here are some of the best fragrant plants that we have. Some of them are not available, but if you wish, we can let you know when they become available.

  • Brunfelsia americana
  • Brunfelsia australis
  • Gardenia 'White Gem'
  • Hedychium coronarium
  • Hoya lacunosa
  • Jasmine molle
  • Jasmine sambac
  • Lonicera japonica
  • Stephanotis floribunda
  • Portulandia grandiflora


QUESTION 3 :

I need a good shade tree for the west side of my house, maybe a Live Oak or Black Olive Tree- unless you have a better suggestion. I don't know where to go for these kinds of trees also. Maybe you know.

  • Florida


ANSWER 3 :

Both of these are reasonably good shade trees, and both can get huge. So don't plant it too close to your house. Also, the Black Olive seeds can stain cars and pavements. They are not difficult to find, many garden centers and retail nurseries carry them.
I can also suggest to you:

  • Tabebuia sp. ( pink )
  • Queen Crape Myrtle
  • African Tulip Tree
  • Podocarpus gracillius
  • Satin Leaf Tree
  • Dombeya wallichii


QUESTION 4 :

I'm very interested in a Bougainvillea, purple color. Could you please send me some information on this plant.

  • Michigan


ANSWER 4 :

I fell in love with Bougainvilleas around 1978, and to this day I am still in love with them. Bougainvilleas are very easy to grow given these certain conditions :

  • Lots of direct sunlight
  • Let the soil dry before watering again
  • They like acidic soil and are heavy feeder
  • Trimming increases the number of flowers
  • Keep the foliage dry, especially during cold nights
  • They grow well in pots
  • Their root system is very sensitive. If you disturb the root ball, they will loose all the leaves. The leaves will come back eventually.
  • They bloom mostly during the short days of the year. Here for us in Florida it is November-May. Your biggest problem is going to be keeping them warm, above 35F, and still provide them with plenty of sun during the winter.


QUESTION 5 :

I would like some information on the Variegated Pink Serissa ( Serissa foetida.) I have a one gallon specimen I received as a gift.

ANSWER 5 :

In my opinion the best use for Serissas are as Bonsai plants. They grow well in pots and some species bloom profusely. Down here in Florida, we always keep them in containers. They tolerate the hot sun in the winter, but not in the summer. That is why we grow them in filtered light. For water, they like an average amount. Not too wet nor too dry. In size, Serissas can grow to about 3'-4', but as I mentioned before, the nicest ones that I've seen where small, and trimmed like little bonsai trees.

QUESTION 6 :

I'm interested in the Brunfelsia. You have this listed as a shrub, but I have seen them grown as small trees. How large do they grow ? I'm thinking of using this in front of my house as a focal point. It is south location. Any advice would be appreciated.

  • Florida


ANSWER 6:

You probably saw the Brunfelsia grandiflora trained as a tree. They only grow to about 8' tall and sometimes, due to cold weather, they don't look that great when in bloom.
The best Brunfelsia around is the Brunfelsia pauciflora ' Compacta', which blooms in the fall and grows to about 5'. Another one is the Brunfelsia australis, which has fragrant flowers on and off during the year, but only grows to about 6'. If you are looking for a tree with a similar look, perhaps you should try the Solanum macranthum, Giant Potato Tree. It has 3 different color flowers on the same plant like the Brunfelsia and grows to about 12'. It flowers year round.

QUESTION 7 :

I am interested in growing rare plants and tropicals. I live in zone 7 . Can you recommend any plants that would be hardy enough to plant outside?

  • Maryland


ANSWER 7 :

I will recommend you to grow only tropical plants that will grow well in pots. That way you can bring them in when the temperature gets too low. Most tropical plants start to get damage when the temperature drops bellow 40F. Some will tolerate 32F for a few hours. Bellow that most of them will die. If you don't mind growing them in pots and you have a warm place with enough light to bring them into on cold days, you should be fine.

QUESTION 8:

I saw your Clerodendrum wallichii, Bridal Veil in bloom at the Heathcote Nursery Show in Ft. Pierce. Is it possible that I could purchase or rent some for my daughter's wedding on March 25th ? Would they be in bloom ? The plant so aptly named
and perfect ! Of course, the bigger and showier the better.

  • Florida


ANSWER 8:

Unfortunately, the Bridal's Veil only blooms beautifully in the fall. Sometimes you will see a few flowers in the Spring, but nothing impressive like in the Fall. If I may suggest, you could try Gardenias or Stephanotis floribunda. Both of them flower in the Spring and have white fragrant flowers.

QUESTION 9:

I think I may have discovered the reason for my malady with my Murraya paniculata; well, a friend of mine did. There are tiny white bugs, shaped almost like little eggs all over the branches. Have you ever seen or heard of these pests and do you know what might eradicate the beast? Please let me know as soon as you get a chance as the tree is not in the best of shape.I tried a dish soap bath last night in the hopes it would discourage the insects for a moment.

ANSWER 9:

Without seeing the tree and the bugs I can almost say that the bugs are scales. It is a bad thing because scales are hard to eradicate and heavy infestations can kill branches and sometimes the entire tree. If you have only 1 plant, try to wipe them off with a swab or toothbrush embed in alcohol. The best chemical to get rid of scales is "Cygon" which you can buy in many garden centers. Cygon is very toxic and needs to be handled with care. I don't even like to recommend it to homeowners, but if you have a bad infestation it may be the only chemical that will save the tree. The safest way to use it is by drenching the soil with it
( don't spray. ) Mix 1 TBS of Cygon per gallon of water.
The other milder solution for you is to spray the plant with

  • safer soap
  • ultrafine oil

You can find both of these things in a garden center. For all these labels follow the label instructions.

QUESTION 10:

I have a question about the Begonia ' Mandarin Orange' that I ordered from you. It's a beautiful plant and seems to grow rapidly. The only problem is that the older leaves slowly turn brown at the tips, dry up, and fall off. Do you know if this is normal growth pattern for a Begonia, or is there some other answer ?

  • Georgia


ANSWER 10:

I'm guessing two possibilities :

  1. Salt build up in the soil- This happens when salts from fertilizers accumulate in the soil. The solution for this is to flush the soil with clean water about once a month.
  2. Some kind of fungus or bacteria-These are very common in muggy Summer days. Some Begonias may loose quite a few leaves during this time, but normally recover late in the Fall. Your solution for this problem is to bring the Begonia to an area protected from rain. Avoid getting the leaves wet when watering. Also, remove and dispose of all leaves that fall.


QUESTION 11 :

Should I prune the stem or just the leaf of the Jatropha podagrica - Buddha Belly Plant when it turns or falls off?

ANSWER 11 :

Normally, you should just prune the bad leaves. They will actually fall off by themselves. With cold temperatures, the leaves will fall exposing the interesting trunk. The plant will still keep blooming at this time.
The stem can be pruned, but it is best to be done in the Spring.

QUESTION 12 :

Please could you help me with this question - can I successfully grow Tibouchina grandiflora in sandy soil with a pH of 7.5. If not, is there anything I can add to make the soil more hospitable to this beautiful plant?

ANSWER 12 :

Yes, Tibouchinas like acidic soil ( pH bellow 7.0 ). When planting, incorporate a little bit of compost with the existing soil. Add mulch every year. That should give you a healthy Tibouchina.

QUESTION 13:

I am looking for flowering perennial plants that can stand the sun and heat hear in Las Vegas.

ANSWER 13:

Here are some good suggestions:

  • Adenium obesum-Desert Rose
  • Allamanda cathartica 'Golden Butterflies'
  • Jasmine sambac "Maid of Orleans'
  • Jatropha podagrica- Buddha Belly Plant
  • Malpighia coccigera- Dwarf Holly
  • Malpighia punicifolia- Dwarf Barbados Cherry
  • Pachypodium rosulatum
  • Punica granatum 'Nana'-Dwarf Pomegranate


QUESTION 14:

I would also like information on a plant called Portulacaria afra or elephant plant.

  • Ohio


ANSWER 14:

A picture is worth a thousand words. We have the picture of the Elephant plant on our site. Visit our site and view it. The Portulacaria Afra is a type of Jade plant with thick succulent dark stems and green elliptic leaves about 1/2"long. Without trimming it forms into a scandent small shrub with cascading branches. With trimming, it will grow upright like a miniature tree. I have never seen any flowers in this plants, or pictures of it's flowers, but I believe that it blooms in it's natural habitat of South Africa.

QUESTION 15:

I have been surfing your beautiful site, and admit I'd like to send a huge order right now! However, I live in Greensboro, NC, which is just about in the middle of Zone 7, which I would imagine knocks out most of your items unless I grow them indoors. I noticed your "Min. Temp" notations, & wondering if that's the indicator of zone limitations or not. Are there groups of your things that are suitable for my Zone 7 location? How can I see a plant on your site & immediately know if I could grow it here or not?

ANSWER 15:

Most of our plants are very tropical and will not survive the NC winter outside.
We knew from the beginning with starting this web mail order thing, that most of our customers would be from much colder places than Florida. That is why most of our plants can be successfully grown in a container. The plants must be brought in and protected in the winter in cold places. So, if you are interested in any of our plants, look at things that don't get very big. If you don't mind growing them in a container and bringing them in when it is cold; we have plants for you.

QUESTION 16:

About 3 weeks ago we had a summer rain and our Adenium obesum was saturated. The leaves turned yellow and brown and are now dropping. Was it from the rain ? Can you tell from the color of the leaves if the plant is too wet or too dry ? At the top of the fat caudex new leaves are growing. Do I let these grow, or should I remove them ?

  • Nevada


ANSWER 16:

Occasionally this type of situation happens to Adeniums. It is caused by the leaves getting wet. It is nothing serious to worry about. The only way to avoid it is to keep it protected when it rains.
I grow all of my Adeniums outside, and with all the rain that we get here in South Florida, the same situation happens to me quite often. The only thing to worry about here is if the soil doesn't drain well after the rain and it gets mushy.
Regarding the new leaves on top of the caudex, most of the time I remove them because I don't want new branches developing from that area.

QUESTION 17:

I received the plants yesterday. As usual I was thrilled. Thanks so much for the bonus I am building a greenhouse this year and have plenty of room for beautiful and different plants. You will hear from me often, I am very happy with the quality of your plants. Have a question or two. Do you have a good soil mix for the caudiciform. I am afraid of overwatering and underwatering them. This is my first time with them. Also the plants that say 35F min., Do you think they should only be a container plant for me? We did get two frosts this year. Barely 32F. Can you plant them in the ground and pull them for winter? Do people have success when they cover their plants during the cold weather. As you can see I don't have much experience with plants that normally don't grow in my area, but I am willing to put more effort in to have something different. I get so tired of seeing the same plants. Any information would be appreciated. Thank you so much for your time and all

  • Texas


ANSWER 17:

Even though we have similar climates, things may grow different where you are. One of the best ways for you to learn more about growing plants where you are is to join a local garden club, and see how others handle their plants there.
Regarding the soil mix for caudiciforms, we grow ours in a mix of 50%Canadian peat moss and 50%perlite. The amount of water given varies a lot depending on the species and time of year. It is best to keep caudiciforms on the dry side. Give them a little more water when they start to grow, or new leaves sprout, etc. The faster grower needs more water than a slow grower.
Dealing with the cold can be hard if you don't know your plant well. Many plants will even benefit from one cold spell or two, even if there was damage. When we state that a plant's minimum temperature is 35F it means that the plant mat start to damage at that temperature. It may die only when it gets to 25F. There are many other things involved to be really sure. Cloth covers over the plants (never plastic or newspaper) may increase the temperature by 5-7 degrees. It works for us and we do it every year. The longer the cloth the better.
I hope to have answered your questions, but keep in mind that there are too many variables involved, and what works in one case may not work for others.