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Index > Garden Blog

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SUNSHINE in a bottle - your help during winter

Q: I have been using your new plant hormone SUNSHINE for plants after shipping, and I must admit it does make a big difference! They recover right away. I order plants online very often, and usually it takes up to a week or more until they start showing new growth. After SUNSHINE treatments, they look fresh within a day or two. My question would be, for improving cold tolerance, what do you recommend? I live in Florida and it is still warm here, should I start spraying my garden now or should I wait until cold spells?

A: SUNSHINE is very effective plant stimulant that helps tropical plants survive different kinds of stress, including cold, heat, drought, low light, etc. At TopTropicals gardens and nursery, we have been using this hormone for many years to protect our plants from unfavorable conditions, and it saved us many rare tender species, and lots of money!
The sooner in Fall you start treatments, the better. Don't wait until cold spell. SUNSHINE works slowly and in very low doses. The mechanism is actually about boosting, building up the plant's own immune system. Low doses once a week, even every other week will work just fine, so you will need very little of the product. For less than $5 you can help expensive rare plants to go through winter painlessly. Recommended application is only 2.5 ml/1 gal of water, to spray every 1-2 weeks throughout winter period.

Start spraying your plants with SUNSHINE now, to help them survive short winter days, build up insect resistance (especially for plants indoors), and what is most important, to remain strong through lower temperatures. These are our suggestions:

- SUNSHINE-T - thermo-protection booster. It is specially formulated for winter protection of tropical plants. To improve cold hardiness even more, spray 1-2 days prior to cold with 5 ml/1 gal solution and after that, continue applications with 2.5 ml/1 gal solution every 10-15 days throughout winter period.
- For large plant collections, and in-ground gardens in subtropical areas, take advantage of very cost effective bulk items 50 ml and 100 ml bottles of SUNSHINE.
- Don't forget that SUNSHINE is only a stimulant, and not a plant food. While regular fertilizer should be avoided during winter months, it is always beneficial to apply microelements through foliar spray. During cooler period, chances of chlorosis increase, because at low temperatures iron is difficult so absorb by roots especially in moist soil, hence iron deficiency! Our new Iron supplement SUNSHINE-Super-Iron microelement booster will help to avoid yellowing leaves and to maintain your plants strong and healthy during slow growth period. Ultra-potent, highly absorbable iron mix, with chelated Iron with DTPA (instead of usual EDTA) that is better soluble in hard water and more effective for chlorosis. This mix contains both EDTA + DTPA chelated iron in higher concentration than regular micro-elements mixes.

See all SUNSHINE booster products in our store. For advanced information on SUNSHINE plant boosters, history of use, formulation, and frequently asked questions, visit our manufacturer's website TTLaboratories.com.

Best plants suitable for containers. Check out our large selection of plants that are easily grown in containers. This week only, 20% off!

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Veterans Day Discounts

Post-election stress relief. Our next president has been elected, and no matter who you voted for, it has been some stressful days for all of us. Everybody deserved a good relaxation and peace, it's time to plant some flowers! Get to gardening - the best therapy ever! With our generous new arrivals of rare plants, we are offering special discounts to honor our veterans.

Thank you Veterans! Remember those who served, this Friday, 11/11, Veterans day! With respect and gratitude, shake the hand of any Vet you see and say thank you. Celebrate this day with flowers, beauty and peace.

For discounts 10% off, 15% off and 20% off on orders $100, $150 and $200 accordingly (not including S&H), enter these codes in your shopping cart and click "recalculate". Our usual 5% over $100 is on top of that.

VETERAN10, VETERAN15, VETERAN20

Offer expires midnight on Sunday, November 13.

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Voting Day Sale

TopTropicals Poll. Remember to vote! Make sure your voice is heard this election.

We decided to make our own poll. Please support your candidate by participating in our Voting Day Sale. Use the coupon representing your candidate and show your commitment to the candidate. We will compare our own poll results with actual voting results!
Below are red/blue collections of colors for each major party supporter. And green color for people who simply support green!

Use these coupons:

For discounts 10% off, 15% off and 20% off on orders $100, $150 and $200 accordingly (not including S&H), enter these codes in your shopping cart and click "recalculate". Our usual 5% over $100 is on top of that.

TRUMP10, TRUMP15, TRUMP20
CLINTON10, CLINTON15, CLINTON20
VOTE10, VOTE15, VOTE20 - for undecided and other candidate voters.


Offer expires midnight on Tuesday, November 8.

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SUNSHINE boosters for small and large gardens

Q: I tried your magic SUNSHINE booster on my Champaca tree and results were amazing. The tree was having a hard time establishing after shipping and didn't want to grow, losing leaves. I almost lost it. Then I sprayed SUNSHINE booster and right after the first application the plant perked up and new leaves grew within a week. Now I want to use this stuff on all my plants. I am a plant collector, with a few hundred pots and almost a hundred plants in the ground, living in California. I wonder if you have bigger size bottles of SUNSHINE so I can use on my flowering plants, and fruit trees, to promote blooming and fruiting. And another question, how often should I spray my plants? Your instructions say once in 20 days, should I spray more often for better results? Should I water through roots too? Do I still need to fertilize plants or SUNSHINE will be enough for their health?

A: Great news! We just added new SUNSHINE items to our store, 50 ml and 100 ml - bigger bottles, they will be great for small and big gardens, as well as small plant nurseries and plant businesses. It is a good idea to start bi-weekly applications to improve your plants tolerance during winter time to cold and low light, especially when it comes to house plants. SUNSHINE improves plant resistance to insects which is a big deal during winter, when we bring tropical species indoors.
SUNSHINE is indeed a wonderful plant stimulant and stress reliever, although it is not a "magic-cure-all" medicine where one can't find its active ingredient. The hormone (epibrassinolide) is well-known and used in different countries along with other hormones for promote growth, fruiting, blooming, rooting, etc. One of the most amazing properties of SUNSHINE is that it works in extremely low dozes. Only a few drops will be enough to make a solution in distilled water, to treat a large size plant. If you want to try it out, one 5 ml bottle will last for several applications.
The formula works through plant metabolism within 2-4 days, repeat application not sooner than in one week. The formula is created for absorption through foliage, not roots, so do not try to water with solution. Plants should be evenly sprayed in clear windless day. Do not spray if rain is expected. Re-spray if it rains within 12 hours.
Remember that SUNSHINE is not a fertilizer and won't replace it. You have to apply fertilizer (except during winter months) and micro-element solution to keep your plants healthy.
See more information about SUNSHINE boosters, and buy them from our store.

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Devil Flowers - Bat Lilies - for Halloween!

Tacca. Growing Tacca is a great way to have an unusual flower or novelty plant, both indoors and out. Tacca is an exotic plant with flowers that mimic a bat in flight, deep purple (or white), with ruffled wings and long, hanging filaments. Curious, bat-like inflorescence both in shape and color, with wide spreading, wing-like bracts of rich maroon-black (some varieties have white flowers), accompanied by long trailing filaments or "whiskers"; the small black flowers are succeeded by heavy berries; corrugated olive-green leaves with oblique base surround the bloom... Those in warm areas can learn how to grow the beautiful and unique bat flower outdoors. In more seasonal areas, bat flower info says the plant and frilly flower grows vigorously indoors when it is happy with the conditions.

How to Grow Bat Flower. Growing bat flowers requires a little extra care, but blossoms of this unusual specialty plant makes it worthwhile. Large plants usually have a greater rate of success than smaller ones. Keep your bat flower away from cold temps and away from direct sun. When growing this plant outside, plant it in the shade. Care of bat flower indoors will include a shady location as well, and yearly repotting for the rapidly growing plant. This plant does not like to be root bounded. Pot up until reaching a 10- or 12-inch pot; after that, trim the roots and return to the same size pot, if desired. Well-drained soil is a must when growing Tacca bat flowers and should remain slightly moist. Soil should be light and retain moisture but never allowed to get soggy. Our special potting mix will work best for this plant.
The plant should be allowed to dry out during dormancy. Keep this in mind during its time of rest, in fall and winter. In warmer areas, bat flowers reportedly do not experience a dormant period. Fertilize monthly or every six weeks with a slow-release plant food.
For improving cold hardiness in winter, and heat tolerance in summer, apply SUNSHINE-E booster once a month. Tacca, as well as most plants with large lush foliage, responds well to such treatments, the plant will look greener, healthier, and bloom more readily.

Black Tacca and White Tacca, as well as Tacca seeds are available from our store.

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Overwintering Adeniums outside of tropics

Q: We bought several adenium plants from you. We are moving to the Denver area of Colorado. How can we make sure the plants survive? Should we use a green house?

A: Adeniums are perfect container plants, and house plants. They can be easily grown outside of tropical climate. During winter, Adeniums drop leaves and go into dormancy which makes it easy to keep these plants in a dormant stage in a warm location of your house, or possibly even in well-lit spot of garage (with a window), with temperatures above 50-60F.
Here in South Florida, during time of cold, when chances of freeze are high, we move our own Adenium collection into lanai, with plastic sheet protection around lanai.

In colder climates, Adeniums can be kept indoors as house plants during winter. There are some requirements/tips for you:

  • Temperature. Move Adeniums indoors when temperature starts dropping below 45F.
  • SUNSHINE. Use SUNSHINE boosters to improve cold resistance of Adeniums, and essure healthy plant throughout winter. SUNSHINE-BC formula is specifically designed for plants with caudex, and bonsai.
  • Water. Reduce watering to minimum, especially when plants drop leaves - this means they went into dormancy. Once a week light watering is enough. Water very carefully during cooler months. When it is hot (85-100F), excessive water usually won't harm adeniums: it will be partially used by a plant, and partially will evaporate. Especially be careful with water when temperatures drop below 65F - then tropical plants simply stop growing process and go dormant. Once adeniums start losing leaves, this is a sign to reduce watering to once a week to once a month, and in very small quantity (couple tablespoons per pot).
  • Light. Bright light is not necessary, but do not keep them in dark either, even if all leaves dropped. Good light is necessary to maintain healthy stems and caudex. Keep in mind, the less light, the less watering too. Ideal spot is a windowsill, however if your space is limited and all windows occupied by other "leafy" plants, location close to window will be enough as long as watering is reduced, to avoid rot. We keep our big collection specimens on a roofed porch during winter, where level of light is very low. Last winter we haven't lost a single plant due to low light. They take shade pretty well considering minimum or no water. However bright light is always better - it creates healthier environment for a plant. We all know about space limitations for our large collections, especially in winter. So if you can afford a bright spot for adenium during winter - the plant will be lucky!
  • Soil. Use only well drained mix with much higher content of perlite than you would use for most tropical plants. For adeniums, we use mix with 30-40% of perlite in it, while regular mix has 10-15%. Adeniums like alkaline soil, unlike most of tropical plants (hard to say what else likes alkaline... Ficus for sure!). This means, regular mix with high content of peat moss may cause root rot. To increase alkalinity, you may add dolomite. Here in Florida where we have natural supply of shell rock handy, it is easy to add some shell to a potting mix (shell sand, rather than quartz sand). We always add a few large shells on top of a pots with a big specimen. Besides increasing soil pH (making it more alkaline), shells look very decorative.
  • Fertilizer. No fertilizer until Spring when plants start showing new growth and new leaves.
  • Move your Adeniums outside in Spring, when chances of freeze are zero. More sunlight and air circulation is beneficial for breaking the dormancy and providing plants with a quick growth start.

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Scorpio - 10/23-11/21. A WATER sign ruled by both Mars and Pluto.
Scorpio's plants are often found in remote places or on poor ground. They will likely have thorns, can be red in color, and grow under adversity. The good news is, most of these plants are nearly indestructible! This makes them desirable for every gardener.
The reproductive organs are ruled by Scorpio, so these are plants that balance the hormones, regulate the menstrual cycle, help with childbirth and pregnancy. Until this century, Scorpio was ruled by Mars, and the herbs associated with it had to do with the urogenital system and the colon. Many of the herbs related to Scorpio are cleansing and revitalizing. Now, astrologers assign Scorpio to Pluto, discovered in 1930 (Pluto is said by astrologers to be a higher octave of Mars). Physiologically, Scorpio involves the processes of catabolism and anabolism, the death and regeneration of body cells. Diseases of Scorpio are often involved with the slow buildup of toxic substances in the body (carcinogens, etc) or in the mind (anger, jealousy). Scorpio loves a spice with depth and complexity. Camphor Basil adds rich flavor to every dish it seasons, and its own aphrodisiac tendencies appeal to Scorpio's lusty nature.

Scorpio Zodiac lucky plants: CeibaBaobabPistachioNutmeg, Black-eyed Susan Thunbergia, CombretumsDragon fruitMedinillaCamphor BasilCuban Oregano, Vanilla orchidHibiscus, Various cacti and succulentsAdenium, HoneysucklePeppersCordylineSpider plantJasmineGooseberries, Wild indigoBougainvilleaAloe veraRaspberryPalmettoHorseradish treeCamphorAllspice and Bay Rum, JujubeSweet MimosaAgave, MilkweedHong Kong Orchid TreePony TailDwarf Poinciana, BottlebrushesClusiasCrocosmiaZig-Zag CactusDracaenaFire BushHoyasJatrophaKalanchoeSausage treeDevils Backbone, Pereskia, Red PlumeriaFirecrackerRattleboxRhoeo, Calendula, Geranium, Thistles, Mint, Sage, Catnip, Coriander, Sandalwood, Ginseng, Euphorbias, Acacias.

For other signs information, see full Plant Horoscope.

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Checklist - preparing for winter in subtropical areas.
Watering. Start reducing the amount you water your plants in early fall, once the temperature drops below 65°F. Avoid watering your plants during cool nights, as this may cause serious root rot.
Mulch. When a plant is protected by a thick layer of mulch, the root system stays healthy.
No Pruning. Avoid pruning, trimming, or pinching branch tips altogether during the fall and winter which encourages new shoots that are soft, tender, and very cold sensitive.
No Fertilizer. Avoid fertilizers during the winter. The main reason being the same as above for pruning: fertilizing promotes growth of the upper plant parts which should be avoided during the winter months.

Time to clean your yard!
In the South. It's getting cooler in subtropical areas, and garden work becomes even more enjoyable. Your garden now is in the most perfect shape after summer vigorous growth. It is the best time now to run the last trim before winter, as well as last fertilizer application. Clean up your yard without sweating off, add mulch to help plants to survive through possible winter chills. Don't forget to start reducing watering! Remember once temperatures drop below 65F, tropical plants slow down or stop growing and go into winter dormancy sleep.

Up North. When temperatures drop below 45°F, start bringing sensitive plants indoors or into protected areas. Prepare/cover greenhouse, check availability of covers (sheets, plastic) and condition of heaters. Plants indoors will experience environment change, may drop leaves, and need different care than out in the sun. Reduce watering, check for insects once a week, and stop fertilizing until spring. Remember to pick the brightest spots for overwintering your tropical plants!

Enjoy cooler weather, fresh air, and thank yourself for a wonderful work you have done in your yard!

Date:

October 15, 2016, Saturday. 10am - 3pm.
- Pest Control and ID (11am and 1pm)
- Propagation Demonstration (12pm)
- Garden tours throughout the day
- Edible Landscaping
- Preparing for cold and SUNSHINE boosters presentation
- FREE Pots
- FREE Plants!
- 25% off ALL inventory at the nursery!
- Kid Friendly Activities
- Coffee and donuts

Turn your backyard into a tropical paradise of flowers and fruit! We have hundreds of fruit trees including avocados, mangoes, lychees, sapodillas, sapote, wax jambu, and much more. Our exotic flowers range from brightly flowering shrubs to trees so fragrant they are used in perfume companies.

13890 Orange River Blvd, Ft Myers, FL
We hope to see you there!

Date:

October 15, 2016, Saturday. 10am - 3pm.
- Pest Control and ID (11am and 1pm)
- Propagation Demonstration (12pm)
- Garden tours throughout the day
- Edible Landscaping
- Preparing for cold and SUNSHINE boosters presentation
- FREE Pots
- FREE Plants!
- 25% off ALL inventory at the nursery!
- Kid Friendly Activities
- Coffee and donuts

Turn your backyard into a tropical paradise of flowers and fruit! We have hundreds of fruit trees including avocados, mangoes, lychees, sapodillas, sapote, wax jambu, and much more. Our exotic flowers range from brightly flowering shrubs to trees so fragrant they are used in perfume companies.

13890 Orange River Blvd, Ft Myers, FL
We hope to see you there!