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Grow lights overview

By Benjamin Thorton. If you are an avid gardener living in a place where there are distinct seasons, then you probably know the feeling of dread that sets in when summer ends, because that means that soon you will have to harvest what has grown and put gardening on hold until next spring. However, there is a way how you can continue gardening even when it is cold and snowy outside, and that is to use grow lights to create an indoors garden. So if you want to find out more about what are grow lights and how to use them, then keep on reading...

For more information on grow lights, visit T5fixtures.com, a website that provides all the latest information on indoors gardening and lighting, that you can use to facilitate plant growth. Have this information as a guide to growing healthy, big-yielding plants without having to leave your house.

This week only, 20% OFF on all plants well suitable for indoor culture. Most tropical plants can be grown in containers and many of them indoors, but this selection is the best for beginners, check them out!


Growing mango in hot Arizona

By Mike D, Mesa, AZ. Despite to what you may think, mango can be successfully grown in desert Arizona climate. It has good heat and drought tolerance. It's possible providing the following:

  1. Winter protection of a young plant when temperature goes around or below freezing. Try to plant trees in locations where they're protected from cold wind. Minimal temperatures vary widely. Areas which are closer to downtown are few degrees warmer, while outskirts can be very cold.
  2. Some people are lucky enough to live in areas with good soil. However, most of us will have a so-called hardpan (extremely compacted desert) or caliche (layers of soil cemented together by calcium carbonate). Check with your local county extension office to determine how to deal with such conditions. Gypsum is usually used to loosen compacted soil.
  3. When planting, dig a large hole making sure it has good drainage. Plant tree as usual, add mulch around it. It helps to conserve moisture.
  4. Best time to plant is late Fall or early Spring, so mango can get established before Summer heat.
  5. Plant where tree gets few hours of sun.
  6. Water a lot until established. Once established, water when soil is dry.
  7. Small plant may need protection from summer heat. Use shade cloth.
  8. Mango requires very little nitrogen fertilizer. In hot climate, overdosing nitrogen may result in quick plant decline. Use balanced low nitrogen slow release fertilizer or avoid nitrogen completely. If you use mulch, then decomposing mulch provides enough nitrogen. Foliar spray of micronutrient solution is recommended during active growing period. Read more...


Top Tropicals Video: Orchids 101. Part 1.

Part 1. What is an orchid? Orchids come in many shapes, sizes and colors. There are approximately between 25,000 species as well as over 250,000 of hybrids. It's one quarter of a million! Learn about these amazing plants from series of Orchid videos with our orchid expert Robert Riefer.
Check out this video: Top Tropicals Orchids 101. Part 1. What is an orchid?...

Stay updated with TopTropicals Videos by subscribing to our channel at YouTube.com/TopTropicals and get our latest video news of what's fruiting and blooming!


Growing gardenias indoors

From Brian B, WI: Just wanted to share this photo of one of the plants my parents got from you 3 months ago.

Q: Gardenia taitensis is my favorite gardenia. I would need to keep it indoors under a grow light. Is it worth trying to grow indoors or is really difficult? If so, can you recommend and indoor plant that has big fragrance and blooms often?

A: When growing gardenias indoors, four most important factors must be taken in consideration:

  1. Bright light (Southern window and/or proper lighting set up)
  2. Proper watering (gardenias love water, but roots are very sensitive to excessive water)
  3. Rich organic soil with perfect drainage characteristics, regular feeding with high phosphate component and micro-elements containing Iron or Ferovit.
  4. Insect control (inspect underneath leaves regularly and apply systemic or on-contact treatments as needed). See Top Tropicals video on easy insect control.

We definitely recommend Gardenia taitensis (both single and double flower varieties) for indoor culture. Another species, Gardenia vietnamensis, is even easier in cultivation as it takes wide range of conditions and may tolerate slight overwatering (unlike other varieties which are more sensitive). These three mentioned gardenias are somewhat tolerant to low light conditions. Under a proper care, they will grow successfully even in bright shade, however for blooming they require as much light as you can provide. Properly adjusted growing light may be helpful. You may refer to our article about indoor plant lighting in our magazine Tropical Treasures, Issue # 15, or website page.


Musings of a butterfly gardener about the milkweed bug

By Kevin Piotrowicz, FL. This spring I was excited! My milkweed was blooming and going to seed. I have 3 healthy clumps of it, each one with seed pods. I counted the seed pods at one time... 22... I had 22 seed pods on 3 plants! Could it be possible? Could I finally have reached the point that I had a sustainable amount of milkweed growing that would not be decimated by monarch caterpillars?

I was telling my friends, "My milkweed is growing great! I may be able to support a population of monarchs!" There were even a couple of them flying around the yard, landing on the milkweed, and frolicking amount the wax myrtle.

With great joy I watched 3 monarch caterpillars munch on my milkweed. The small plant colony even survived as the caterpillars pupated. Not only survived, it expanded! More shoots came out from the bases of the plants! More flowers! More seed pods! All was right with my garden. The zebra longwings and gulf fritillaries had new friends to play with... But what's this??? ... Continue reading...

Click here to see for full list of butterfly attractors currently available for sale, with 15% OFF! See also Complete Alphabetical list of plants that attract butterflies and hummingbirds (very long list).


Leo Zodiac lucky plants

Leo - 7/23-8/22. Naturally, Leo is a FIRE sign ruled by the brilliant Sun. Leo's plants are usually large and gold or orange in color, have heart-shaped leaves or a radiating shape, or have association with victory (like the Bay Leaf). Leo loves this colorful and special spice, which is known for amplifying prosperity and abundance.

The part of the body ruled by Leo the Lion is the heart. Plants related to Leo are primarily associated with the cardiac system, but also with the spine, the thymus gland, and the eyes. They strengthen and tone the heart, regulate blood pressure, raise the spirits and have an uplifting effect. Keep in mind that all cardio-active medicinal herbs should be used only in consultation with a qualified professional.

Leo Zodiac lucky plants: Sunflower tree, Delonix, Hibiscus, Abutilon, Mahoe, Hawaiin Sunset Vine (Stictocardia), Campsis, Passion flower, Calendula, Mexican Flame Vine, Bay Leaf, Safflower, Mint, Rosemary, Ruda - Ruta graveolens, Marigolds, Sunflowers, Palm trees, Lemon and orange trees, Grapefruit, Dieffenbachia , Croton, Lemon Balm, Chamomile, Tarragon, Kaligottu (Stereospermum chelonoides), Bel Fruit, White Madaar, Peppers, Pineapple, Coconut, Anise, Heliotrope, Gingers, Lavender, Ashoka Tree, Dombeya, Jacquemontia, Lychee, Mulberry, Philodendrons, Macaranga, Anthuriums, Aphelandra, Orchid trees, Leonotis.

For other signs information, see full Plant Horoscope.


Forget the gym and get to gardening?
Calories Burned Gardening

Fun workout? We never have enough time to go to the gym or do an exercise so it's good to know that just doing something that you love can give you a workout. We all know that when we are out in the garden it gives us a bit of exercise but we do not realize how much exactly. Working out in the yard is a healthy hobby for many reasons, the high number of calories burned gardening being one of them. When you do this kind of physical labor, you carry out a wide variety of movements that most definitely burn calories, and may even tone. The best part about it in terms of physical activity is that if you enjoy yard work at all, you aren't watching the clock or counting down the minutes until you are done (the way that many people do while they are on a treadmill). You can easily spend a whole afternoon or an entire day working without feeling as though you are putting yourself through a mentally grueling workout. Finding physical activities that you enjoy are key to maintaining a healthy weight throughout your lifetime, and this hobby is a perfect example of that scenario for many people.

Research says that three hours of gardening can have the same effect as an intense 1-hour gym session. The study was carried out with a group of 100 gardeners who were asked to monitor the amount of time spent doing a series of common gardening tasks over a four week period. Gardening tasks that were monitored included weeding, digging, mowing the lawn, hedge trimming, trimming shrubs and trees, raking, planting shrubs, and moving garden waste using a wheel barrow. Here are some facts and numbers:
- Just doing half an hour weeding can burn up to 150 calories and tasks that handle heavy electrical equipment such as hedge trimming will give you a good workout burning 400 calories per hour.
- Spending a day or five hours each week in the garden will burn up to around 700 calories
- Over a gardening season that works out at 18,772 calories per year, equivalent to running seven marathons
- The gardening hobby could help burn a million calories over a lifetime.

Calories burned with only 1 hour of:
340 cal - Chopping wood, splitting logs, gardening with heavy power tools, tilling a garden, chain saw. Mowing lawn, walk, hand mower. Shoveling by hand.
272 cal - Carrying, loading or stacking wood, loading/unloading or carrying lumber, digging, spading, filling garden, composting, laying crushed rock or sod. Clearing land, hauling branches, wheelbarrow chores.
238 cal - Operating blower, walking. Planting seedlings, shrubs, trees, trimming shrubs or trees, manual cutter. Weeding, cultivating garden.
224 cal - Raking lawn, sacking grass and leaves
136 cal - Picking fruit off trees, picking up yard, picking flowers or vegetables. Walking, gathering gardening tools.
102 cal - Walking, applying fertilizer or seeding a lawn
34 cal - Watering lawn or garden, standing or walking

Sources: DailyMail, CalorieLab, FitnessBlender.



By John Banta. The rarity of African gingers is only matched by their beauty. The rarest, and most costly is the remarkable blue flowered, Siphonchilus beachystemon. It was discovered in Kenya in 1957 by an English tourist. It reminded her of the beautiful blue Himalayan poppy, Meconopsis grandis, she often admired at the Edinburgh Botanical Garden so she had her guide collect a plant or two that she took back to Edinburgh. The few plants available in horticulture today come from that original collection over 50 years ago. Fortunately there are about 15 species of Siphonchilus found in Africa and some of most outstanding ones make grand additions to our gardens. Listed in order of their vigor and availability they are:
Siphonochilus decorus. The large butter yellow flowers only last for a day but they continue to develop for weeks. In Zimbabwe it is considered one of the outstanding native plants. It is closely related to the next ginger and forms hybrids with it that are usually sterile. Read more...


Growing fruit trees in containers

Will it fruit in a pot? YES! Many tropical fruit trees can be grown in a pot. We get many calls from customers in cooler climates asking if our tropical trees can grow and fruit in a pot. The answer is yes!

Several plants fruit well in pots. Blackberries and raspberries, barbados cherries, blueberries and many more start fruiting even in their 1 gallon containers. We are especially excited about our new Pixie grapes, which are heavily laden with grapes even at only a foot long!

While some plants are small and will fruit easily in a container, others are large trees. For the tree type fruits, we recommend growing only non-seedling plants for pot culture. We have cuttings, air layers and grafted plants that are great options. These have the ability to fruit right away, as they are the same age as the parent tree. Some horticulturists recommend removing the first year fruit to allow the plant to focus on growth and establishing. If the plant is being kept in a pot, this is not necessary.

We also have several dwarf varieties of fruit trees that will thrive in a pot. For avocados, we carry the Wurtz variety which is a dwarf tree... read more...


Cancer Zodiac lucky plants

Cancer - 6/21-7/22. Cancer is a WATER sign and is ruled by the Moon. Cancer's plants generally have soft or Moon-shaped leaves, contain a lot of moisture, or are found near water. Oftentimes they have white, pale blue or pale yellow flowers. Cancer rules the stomach, diaphragm, and liver, so plants that aid digestion or affect the subconscious are associated with the sign of the Crab. Maternal Cancer also governs the breasts, the womb, and the ovaries. It rules all fluid secretions, including menstrual blood, fluids in the eye, and tears. The moon is often associated with conditions involving irregular periodicity: irregular menstruation and related moods, epilepsy, insomnia, hysteria. Lunar herbs tend to have white or yellow flowers and soft, juicy leaves. They often live in or near water. As they are so nurturing and warm, Cancer loves the homey smell of cinnamon. This sweet spice is good for gently heating things up; it also promotes movement and flow in life. Its familiar scent is soothing and calming for those who need a little retreat every now and again.

Cancer Zodiac lucky plants: Lilies, Eucomis, Magnolia, Nicotiana, Brugmansia, Dombeya, White flowers, Water lilies, Lotus, Maidenhair fern, Monstera, Cinnamon, Sage, Aloe, Lemon Balm, Bay leaf, Palasa - Butea monosperma, Acai, Mahogany, Mango, Banana, Apple, Pear, Geranium - Pelargonium, White roses, Solandra Chalice Vine, Butter Cup, Acalypha, Cornutia, Ruda, Oregano, Camphor plant, Grapes, Brunfelsia, Alocasia, Colocasia, Canna, Cyperus, Iris, Equisetum, Mangroves.

For other signs information, see full Plant Horoscope.