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PeopleCats of TopTropicals: Shipping Department cat - Lady Bug

We have been getting many messages from customers saying they really love the postings of our Cats and Dobi Duck... and they want more updates. So we decided to open this new section for the animal fans.

As you well know, TopTropicals is not just a plant Nursery. Like most of the gardeners and all Cool Plant People, we love our pets and we have many of them here, enjoying the Garden. Our cats and the Duck are members of TopTropicals Team. They help customers, participate in packing plants, and of course keep the nursery mice-free. As employees of the marketing department, they get their paychecks, free lunches, and other company benefits like full healthcare coverage and stuff... They are taken care of by TopTropicals Shipping Crew every day: whether its a meal or taking a medicine, it's all scheduled in our daily task list!

This First Issue of PeopleCats Fan Club is dedicated to our Shipping Department cat - Lady Bug. Originally she came to our nursery 3 years ago in a box with her other 3 baby brother-sisters and they just opened their eyes. Someone dropped the box with the litter at our gate... guessing this is the Good Place! When Lady Bug grew up, she became a Shipping Department Supervisor, helping Chief the Cat to manage plant shipments.

Lady Bug went missing a few days ago and all our team is crying for her. We are praying she is OK. We miss you, Lady Bug! Please come back and bug us again!

As a friendly reminder to our local walk-in customers: you are welcome to visit TopTropicals ZOO, just please do not feed or pick up the animals! Some of them are of old age, have special needs or special diet. All our pets are friendly, however, we ask you to please do NOT pet them. They work hard all day long and may have their own rules and emotions.


Shaping a tree and regrowing branches

Q: I have been so worried about the beautiful ligustrum on my property since my husband decided to "prune" it 2 days ago. He removed about 20 branches from the tree and completely altered the look of the canopy which was so full and lovely đŸ˜­. Please advise me if there is anything I can do to help this tree. Will any of the branches grow back? Will the canopy return? It looks practically bare to me now.... so heartbroken. Any advice and reassuring would be greatly appreciated.

A: The good news is, the tree will regrow new leaves and will branch out. The question is, how soon. Ligustrum is pretty slow-growing species and it may take a while until it gets to the shape that is close to the original.
On the other hand, pruning is beneficial almost for every plant, it promotes new growth and bushy shape. So do not panic, your beautiful tree has good chances to become even prettier.
To speed up the process of re-leafing and promote healthy new growth, we recommend the following:

1) Provide extra watering, assuming you have a sprinkler system that covers the yard. Water additionally 1-2 times a week using a garden house, for 1-2 minutes, saturating the soil around the tree and up to a drip line.

2) Apply the following fertilizers:
Tropical Greenhouse Plus - Foliage Booster
Tropical Allure - Smart-Release Booster

3) In addition to fertilizers, we recommend these 2 supplements that will enhance effect of fertilizers and make re-grow process even faster:
SUNSHINEâ„¢ SuperFood
SUNSHINEâ„¢ HumiHum - a natural humate vitamin for plant

4) Mulch well around the tree, keeping it 2-3" away from the trunk

This should help to get your tree back in shape!


Fragrant Pakalana Vine - a delicious meal?

Q: I visited Thailand recently, and enjoyed a wonderful stir fry made with Cowslip flowers. I would love to grow it myself. I need this vine in my life! Do you have them in your inventory and if so, will I be able to grow it successfully here in SW Florida?

A: By Onika Amell, tropical flower specialist.
The extremely fragrant Telosoma cordata has many names: Cowslip Creeper, Pakalana vine, Tonkin Jasmine, Dok Kajon, or Chinese violet. It is a very sought after rare tropical fragrant ornamental, but not everyone knows that this flower makes a delicious meal!
The flowers have a lovely lemon-like fragrance and can be found in South East Asian food markets. It is typically fried with eggs to make omelets or stir-fried with tofu or pork and beef. Young leaves & flower buds can also be eaten fresh (in a salad) or battered & fried. Not only are the flowers delicious, but they are chock and block full of carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins A and C.
An old Chinese tale tells the story of the mystic, aromatic powers of the Pakalana vine...



What pot is good for Medinilla?

Q: I just acquired a Medinilla plant. I have a cylindrical tall clay pot that I would like to repot this beauty into. Would like to know if a deep pot is good for this type of tropical plants even if the medium is lightweight with bark and perlite allowing adequate drainage. Would appreciate your advice.

A: Medinillas are very close to epiphytes, meaning they like high air humidity and very good soil drainage characteristics. Clay pots usually provide good air circulation, as long as they are not glazed. If you add a lot of soil conditioner into your mix, like orchid mix and perlite, the tall pot will provide a good drainage. Tall pot is also great for displaying the beautiful pendulous blooms!

Plastic pots work well too, as long as you provide a well-drained soil for the plant. If a nursery plastic pot is not pretty enough, you may place it in a fancy planter; however, make sure never let the pot sit in water, Medinillas do not like wet feet.


Helping Citrus and other fruit trees with Nutritional Supplements

Q: Can you recommended a product to help with my citrus? Combating greening and chlorosis.

A: Citrus greening is spread by an insect called the Asian citrus psyllid. The psyllid feeds on the stems and leaves of the trees, infecting the trees with the bacteria that causes citrus greening. Florida Citrus growers dedicated the last decade to researching citrus greening. Officially, currently there is still no cure, however, some Nutritional solutions have shown promising results. To slow the progression of citrus greening in infected trees, nutrients are applied to the leaves and to the roots. Providing better nutrition helps trees fight against citrus greening and enables them to continue to produce quality fruit.

We recommend the following products for use on regular basis:

SUNSHINE Epi is a natural Brassinosteroid plant hormone and a bio-stimulant that may be very effective as citrus greening treatment. It works through plant's immune system and shows amazing results of recovery of weak and sick plants.

SUNSHINE Superfood, a complex micro-element supplement, maintains plant's health and provides vigorous growth.

SUNSHINE-Honey is a basic nutritional complement, it contains essential plant micronutrients Boron (B) and Molybdenum (Mo). These elements are essential to vegetative and reproductive growth, cell expansion, tissue growth, and fertility. A very common problem for most unimproved garden soils is lack of Molybdenum and Boron as soil micro-component. This results in underdeveloped / low quality fruit and/or premature fruit drop. Applying SUNSHINE Honey on your fruit trees will fill that gap and help a fruit tree to form a healthy fruit.

Macro-nutrients should be applied in combination with micro-nutrients on regular basis:

Mango-Food - Smart Release Fruit Tree Booster (works great for all tropical fruit trees)
Fruit Festival Plant Food - Ideal blend designed to improve fruit trees health and vigor, and increase crop yield.

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


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.