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Ceiba pentandra, Kapok Tree:
Maya's Sacred Tree at the Center of the Earth

by Alex Butova, the Witch of Herbs and Cats

Ceiba pentandra, Kapok Tree

...Everybody who sees this tree for the first time, always says "What's THAT???" And everybody wants to have one! Kapok Tree is a large, magestic, gorgeous shade tree that just requires a little bit of space in your garden! It is definitely a conversation piece and is a must for every botanical garden or a large private tropical tree collection. Kapok is a fast growing tree, however, it may take many years to reach its mature size. It is worth the wait though!..

Ceiba pentandra, Kapok Tree FLOWER


The fruit of Heaven:
Phyllanthus acidus - Amlak, Otaheite Gooseberry

Phyllanthus acidus - Amlak, Otaheite Gooseberry in a pot

Grow Your Own Food

This is a fun rare fruit tree to have if you like lemonade and believe in Vitamin C benefits! The tree is super easy to grow, relatively cold hardy and doesn't require any special care. It is a fast growing plant, however the mature tree is only about 20 ft so it will be well suited for any size garden, even container garden. As you can see, it happily fruits in a pot. Bright yellow fruit are beautiful and curious, they always make a conversation piece!

About Otaheite Gooseberry

Otaheite Gooseberry, or Amlak, is a rare tropical fruit tree from SE Asia and India, very close related to Phyllanthus emblica (Amla, Amlaki), however it is much cold hardy than Amla. Known as Amritphala in Sanskrit, which literally means "the fruit of heaven" or "nectar fruit". It is so called because it has many helth benefits. Amlak is one of the favorite fruit of Indian people who definitely know what is good for you! Fruit paste is a major ingredient of Chavyanprash, a popular Ayurvedic tonic. It is the richest source of vitamin C.
Fruits are borne in loose clusters, which hang from the tree trunk and main branches. Fruits are esteemed for jellies, preserves and pastries, and are great for making a delicious lemonade rich in vitamin C. There are no commercial plantings; trees grow only in home gardens.

You need to have one! Or two. We have only limited quantities.

Phyllanthus acidus - Amlak, Otaheite Gooseberry, mature tree

Phyllanthus acidus - Amlak, Otaheite Gooseberry, lot of loose fruit


PeopleCats Botanical Garden Grand Opening
Guided tour with Mark Hooten

PeopleCats Botanical Garden at TopTropicals

Top Tropicals Garden Center is pleased to invite you to visit our new PeopleCats Botanical Garden on the grounds of Top Tropicals in Ft Myers. It is named in honor of the relationship with our beloved Cats, who we treat like People. You'll see our Garden PeopleCats roaming the property. As a matter of fact, they rule the garden!
The Garden has many mature trees and plants so you can see what they look like before your purchase them in our Garden Center. And of course, our PeopleCats will be guiding you in the Gardens!

Peoplecats - cat Marco at Top Tropicals gate

PeopleCats Garden - Top Tropicals Ghost light in the forest the spirit is always watching!

Photo above: blue light in the forest - TopTropicals Garden Ghost, the spirit is always watching!


Napoleana - Napoleon's Hat

Endangered species from the outgone era of the Napoleon's War

by Alex Butova, the Witch of Herbs and Cats

Napoleonaea imperialis - Napoleons Hat, flowers

...Napoleana was described in 1804, the same year its namesake (Napoleone di Buonaparte) crowned himself Emperor of the French. Today the tree is almost extinct. Esteemed for the exquisite, vividly colored, exotic hat-shaped flowers, Napoleana is a must of a rare tropical tree collection. Napoleana seeds constitute a false kola, which has a taste closely resembling that of true kola. The flowers are fragrant and smell like Butterscotch...

Napoleonaea imperialis - Napoleons Hat, bushy tree


Avocado Black Prince

Grow Your Own Food
Avocado variety - what's the taste?

Avocado Black Prince

We obtained Black Prince Avocado variety this year and at first didn't know much about it. Until we tried the first fruit! The fruit was large, oval, green and slightly pebbly. We were not sure if it would taste like some green avocados - watery and less buttery? The fruit turned black couple days after it was picked, ripened and softened. We were pleasantly surprised, Black Prince deserves its title! The fruit pulp is thick, and has a rich, nutty flavor. The little trees grew this year vigorously and didn't show any bug or deficiency problems. Superior variety for a backyard grower! Giving it 5 stars! *****
We have Black Prince Avocado in 3 gal pots, as well as in XX-Large size for local pick up - for those who want a large fruiting size tree, please contact our Garden Center to pre-order from our Growing Farm (B-Farm). It can be delivered and installed for you!

Why grow your own Avocado tree?

Why grow your own Avocado tree? This is why. Now we import 89% of the U.S. avocado from Mexico. How much of a difference we could make if we were all growing our own avocados? Support our own horticulture, help Avocado to become grown in the USA!

Avocado Varieties


Plant Horoscope - Virgo
Lucky Zodiac Plants: 08/23-09/22

By Alex Butova, the Witch of Herbs and Cats

Brunfelsia Zodiac lucky plant - Virgo

...Virgo is the most disciplined sign of the zodiac, the most responsible...
...She likes flowers. But she will grow them only if:
a) the task is set: to decorate the house or courtyard;
b) there is a place in her personal organizer to write: "watering, pruning, feeding, etc. - what else according to the instructions?”. And real time to do it. In all other cases, Virgo behave toward plants according to the residual principle, optimistically reasoning: "They want to live - they will survive..."

Melia azedarach Zodiac lucky plant - Virgo


What is the largest succulent flower in the world?
Starfish Flower - Stapelia gigantea

Starfish Flower - Stapelia gigantea

This is one of the most bizarre looking succulents you've even seen! Starfish Flower from Tanzania is one of the largest flowers in the plant world!
It does look like a startfish, and is absolutely beautiful! Being a succulent, the plant is very undemanding and easy to grow, doesn't need much care or water. It also doesn't mind regular irrigation, we have it in Summer Florida rains with no problem. The focal point of this plant is the fleshy, 5-pointed, star-shaped flowers (to 10-16" across), each being pale ochre-yellow with thin transverse maroon lines. It is a great container plant and very fast growing, can fill a large hanging basket within just one season. Flowers on and off during the warm season with the most profuse flowering at the end of Summer (flower buds are triggered by shortened daylight hours in fall). It is a spine-free succulent member of the milkweed (not cactus!).

Starfish Flower - Stapelia gigantea, large flower

Stapelia gigantea inside of flower


What tree will fruit indoors?

Fruit trees for indoor containers

Q: I love your tropical fruit selection and I wish I lived in a warmer climate. Is there any fruit tree that can be happy indoors during winter and have fruit? I am not expecting a big crop but it would be fun to have a small piece of tropics at home. I don't have much gardening experience, can you suggest something easy for a start?

A: Several tropical fruit trees can be grown indoors, in pots, providing bright light that is necessary for flowering and setting fruit. Among them are many varieties of Bananas, Guavas, Annonas and tropical Cherries - these can be easily maintained in containers. Even dwarf varieties of Avocado and Mango are good candidates for indoor culture. You can bring containers indoors for winter and take outside into full sun during warm months so your plants can store lots of energy in Summer.
The easiest fruit tree for indoor culture that doesn't require bright light and can be grown indoors year around is a Coffee tree. Start with it, it is on sale today! Once you gain some experience, you can upgrade to a Chocolate tree!
Remember, all container grown plants need balanced nutrition program. It can be easily provided with Sunshine Boosters your around. For fruit trees, just add some Sunshine C-Cibus Crop Booster to your cart.

Coffee video


Grow your own food:
How hardy is a Loquat tree?

Loquat trees and fruit

Q: I am looking for a fruit tree for my backyard that is low maintenance, fast fruiting, and can take some cold (I live in Orlando FL and we do get occasional frost in winter). I like the taste of Loquat fruit, it reminds me of apricots. How cold hardy is this tree?

A: Loquat tree is a very good choice for Florida gardens. It can take both cold and heat and produces lots of tasty fruit right away. Last winter when we had a record freeze in our area with a couple of nights around 25F, the only trees that didn't get any damage at all were Loquats and Macadamias, and those were still young, newly planted 4 ft trees.
To learn more about Loquat trees, check out this video and article: Golden Loquat - the symbol of Prosperity.

Loquat video


Grow your own food:
Avocado Q & A

from Ed Jones, the Avocado Guy

two avocado fruit

Q: Do I need to have more than one avocado tree in order to produce fruit?

A: While a single avocado tree will normally produce enough fruit for most people, it never hurts to have more than one tree and even more than one variety to increase the chances for good pollination. Be sure to look at our catalog for the many different varieties available from our store.

Avocado tree