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Shipping live plants

Q: I am a rare plant collector and very impressed with your plants selection that I can not find in our local nurseries in California. I have never ordered plants online before and wonder how they make it through the trip and do you suggest any special care to help plants with recovery?

A: Shipping live plant in a box for several days is definitely a challenge both for a plant and for a grower. After many years of experience packing/shipping plants we learned how to make that trip a success. Thanks to our special packing techniques, breaking during shipping happens very rarely. However, in order for the plant to recover well from normal shipping stress, some special attention required from a customer too. You will receive care instructions with your order. Make sure to follow them thoroughly, otherwise you may put your plants at risk. These are a few factors to consider that affect your plant during transit. They may cause the following symptoms of shipping stress:

1. Lack of light. Complete darkness in a box is opposite to a bright light that the plant was used to. After 2-3 days it may cause leaf drop. If this happens, make sure to reduce watering. Less leaves means less evaporation, and a plant can't use excessive water which may cause root rot.

2. Extreme temperature. Hot summer or cold winter temperatures may put a tender tropical plant into serious shock. Usually the only time when temperature may affect the package is when it is left outside on your doorstep. Watch out for delivery by tracking the package with a number we provide in shipping confirmation email.

3. Dry air and lack of water. When packing plants, we saturate root ball and then wrap it tightly in plastic so normally your plant will have enough water supply for a 3-4 day trip unless there are unexpected delays. In a special package, the plant usually has enough of humid environment around the leaves, especially if there are several plants together. However if the box was exposed to heat it may dry out, and this will cause yellowing and/or drying leaves. In most cases this is not critical; cut damaged leaves and new growth will appear soon.

The shipping stress symptoms are normal and once you apply some extra attention and love, your plants will recover sooner than you think. Be patient, don't push with too much water or light, keep warm, in bright shade, and do not fertilize until the plant shows new growth.

Remember to always use SUNSHINE Epi - a natural bio-stimulant that helps stressed plants to recover quickly!


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 45F, 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!


How to make leaves green?

Q: I purchased several plants from you and they all arrived in great shape. The Wrightia is very large and vigorous but some leaves are yellowish. How can I improve that look? Any special fertilizer?

A: Wrightias are very showy and beautiful plants, although sometimes they are susceptible to leaf chlorosis which in other words is iron deficiency, especially during wet rainy weather. It is not harmful to the plant and can be corrected with microelement applications. Use Microelements once a week to correct the iron deficiency that usually goes away within a month. Then maintain plants health with monthly applications. It is beneficial to use microelements in combination with regular applications of health boosting fertilizer.

Recommended boosters and microelement supplements:

Pink N Good Daily Plant Food - Flower Booster
Tropical Allure - Smart-Release Booster
SUNSHINE SuperFood - plant booster

See SUNSHINE Boosters page for the complete list of plant boosters.


How to get Jasmines to flower

Q: On the picture, these are a few of the jasmine plants that I have from Top Tropicals. I have bought so many plants from you over the years, not just jasmine. I have several varieties of jasmine. They were all doing very well. However this year I didn't get a single flower. There are a lot of buds... But before the buds open they become brown and withered. I bought fertilizer from you. Fertilized the plants once a month like I always do. I water the plants once a week. I repotted the plants hoping that would take care of this problem. Some of the jasmine plants I pruned... the plants came back vigorous growth with a lot of buds... BUT it is the same problem! Please help.

A: One of the possible reasons why they have flower issues is - maybe they don't have enough sunlight. They need to be in full sun all day long for profuse blooming and proper flower forming. However since the buds are forming, there may be just enough light. In this case, dropping buds may be a sign of overwatering.

Important steps - how to make Jasmine Sambac flower:

1. Soil. Use only well-drained soil

2. Water. Keep plants on a dry side and never over water. If the top of the soil is still moist, do not water.

3. Sun. Keep in full sun all day long. The more sun, the more flowers.

4. Bloom booster. Use Flower booster fertilizers:
Pink N Good Daily Plant Food - Flower Booster
Fragrant Plant Special booster, this 90-day Smart-Release container plant food:
Plumeria Top Dress - Smart-Release Booster
Do not use fertilizers with high Nitrogen (1st number in NPK formula) - those will promote more leaves instead of flowers.

5. Micro-elements. Use Apply micro-elements, they will help the plant to develop healthy and long-lasting flowers:
SUNSHINE SuperFood - plant booster

Here is more information on growing Jasmine


Bahamas Dorsett Golden Low Chill Apple

Q: We recently moved to Florida and we miss our Apple trees we had back up North and the Golden Delicious apples. I was told they won't grow in Florida, it is true?

A: There is a solution for apple lovers even in Tropics! Low chill apples bear as far south as South Florida, and may be a unique addition to your tropical garden.
Variety Dorsett Golden looks like Golden Delicious with golden skin and sometimes a red blush. This cultivar was discovered in the Bahamas and is crisp and juicy with excellent flavor.
Attractive and fragrant pinkish-white apple blossoms will appear during Feb-March and give way to fruit (smaller than standard apples) in June. They remain a small tree, growing to about 15 feet.
For best results of cross-pollination and heavy production, we recommend a pair of low chill apples - the perfect couple Dorsett Golden and Anna.


How to grow Angel Trumpet in Florida

Q: I purchased an Angel trumpet in March, 2018. It wasn't looking very good so I asked what to do about it. Your reply was to fertilize and keep it watered. I did & it started to improve. I went on vacation & it reverted, dropping leaves... How do I keep it happy?

A: With growing Angel Trumpets in Florida, there are a few things that may go wrong, although in general Brugmansia is a vigorous rapid grower. Once the plant is established, it is very easy to grow. Looks like your plant had some troubles at the start and is still struggling. Dropping leaves could be a sign of a root problem.

These are the main important points for Brugmansia growing:

  1. Must be planted in a high spot, using very well-drained soil. Brugmansias do not like soggy conditions (happens with Florida summer). They like water, but only as long as drainage is good.
  2. Full sun is a must for a healthy plant.
  3. Brugmansias are heavy feeders. Fertilize at least once a month once the plant is established:

Pink N Good Daily Plant Food - Flower Booster
Angel Trumpet Delight - Smart-Release Booster
4. They are susceptible to bugs... check underneath the leaves and if any pests, spray with solution of any vegetable oil, water, and some dish soap.

The bottom line is, do not overwater but don't let it dry out. It's rainy season now, maybe too much rain affecting the plant.
Try these Sunshine Boosters, they have amazing results and often help us to bring stressed and weak plants back to life:
SUNSHINE-Power - plant booster
SUNSHINE-E - plant booster


LadyBugs guarding your plants!

Q: I have a bunch of Ladybugs in my garden, I wonder if they eating my plants? Do I need to get rid of them?

A: Ladybug (Harmonia axyridis) is, in fact, one of the best insects you can find in your garden, it is a natural predator that takes care of many bad bugs, including aphids. Keep them happy and bring them to your garden. Ladybugs actually are cultivated as natural pest control, and you can even buy them for your yard, instead of chemicals!

Ladybug larvae eating aphids:

The wonderful insects that dine only on landscape pests and don't harm good bugs or plants are called 'beneficials', and ladybugs definitely fall into this category, but not the way many people think. It's the ladybug's larvae that are voracious predators of soft-bodied problem insects, especially aphids.

Photo below:

One of our PeopleCats, "Innocent" Ladybug (a.k.a. Bug) is wondering who else she can bug next...


How to establish a Mango Tree

Q: I received my mango tree from you on Monday and it looked beautiful. I followed the instructions and kept it out of direct sun. I watered it a little each day when the potting mix was dry to the touch. But the leaves are turning yellow and brown then falling off. Should I have removed the tree from the soil it was packed in?

A: Leaf drop and dry/yellow leaves are normal symptoms of shipping stress. Your mango tree looks healthy overall. Considering you have high humidity now in Louisiana, the plant should recover soon under proper care. These are important tips:

- Keep the plant in bright shade, away from direct sun - at least for a week, then you may start moving it gradually to semi-shade, then to full sun within a few days.
- Do not over-water. If the top of the soil is still moist, do not water until it dries a little bit. Mango prefers to stay on a dry side. From this point, over-watering is more dangerous than under-watering. You may skip a watering if in doubt.
- If it rains every day, make sure to keep the pot under the roof to protect from excessive water.
- Do not remove original soil and do not disturb roots.
- You used the right container size and looks like you have a quality soil with good drainage. Keep the plant in this container at least for a few months. You may step it up only when you see a lot of active growth of branches and leaves - this means, the root system is developing fast too.
- do not fertilize until you see new growth. Then use Mango Food Smart release.
- to help the plant recover from stress, you may use SUNSHINE-E booster and micro-element foliar spray with SUNSHINE-Superfood.


How to fertilize a Mango Tree

Q: I bought a Mango tree from you last month and planted it soon after it arrived. When is the best time to fertilize it? (I am in Florida)

A: We always recommend to wait on fertilizing until the plant is well established. If you planted your tree a month ago and it is doing well, showing new growth, then this is the time to start giving it some food.
For a mango tree, we recommend using 2 fertilizers - water-soluble and granulated:
Fruit Festival Plant Food
Remember micro-elements that are essential for healthy and vigorous growth:
SUNSHINE SuperFood - plant booster

In Florida, this is the best time right now for fertilizing - while we still have a few months of nice warm weather - active growth period. This will help you Mango tree to establish well before winter rest.


Growing a Plumeria Tree

Q: I have a graft plumeria that is growing sideways. The leaves seem to be growing upside down. I tied it up with yarn and a bamboo stick last night. Will it grow strong enough to support itself without stakes or should I just let nature take its course and take the yarn and stake away?

A: You should definitely help the tree and keep the stick. The tree will eventually straighten out. It will have a strong trunk and you will be able to remove the supports.

Make sure to feed the Plumeria tree to provide enough energy for fast growth and strong trunk:
Plumeria Top Dress - Smart-Release Booster.

Check out all Plumerias from our store, they are 15% OFF today!