Kristi's library: mail order plants care

Our Nursery Manager and plant expert Kristi answering some frequently asked questions that you may have while purchasing plants mail order.


Unpacking Plants and Preparing them for Growth After Shipping

Shipping can be a time of deprivation and trauma for a plant in many senses. And above that, we really do not know what kind of environment the plant was used to before it came to us. Your environment may be better or worse, but that still does not negate the need for some tender loving care. Some plants are hardier than others and will bounce back from even the most stressful situations. But in getting a new plant, our goal should be to gradually adjust the plant to its new home. That takes place in both the unpacking and in the adjustment processes.
When sending a plant, the shipper’s goal is usually to minimize movement of any part of the plant, including the leaves. That may mean folding the leaves in a particular position that may ordinarily be awkward, but in a way that will keep them from moving around and potentially breaking during shipping. Leaves may be folded up to keep them protected, but they will usually go back to normal once the plant is back at ease To minimize movement, shippers will often use all sorts of taping and packing that will keep the plant in place. The best bet when unwrapping your plant is to cut away the tape rather than tear it. Always cut away the secure environment that the shipper has provided so that the plant will be able to handle the unpacking process. Tearing or ripping can cause sudden unwanted movements that can lead to the snapping of a branch or leaf. Losing a branch or leaf may not doom a plant, but if it can be helped, why not allow as much of the plant to remain in tact as possible. Sometimes the tape will have attached itself to a part of the plant, so it is vital to be alert for these situations and to have gentle hands.
Preferably, you want to remove any material that may be dead or dried out. These are havens for mold.  Prior to now, the plant has been in a box with no light. Even though your eyes might enjoy a certain level of light, if you had been in a dark closet for three days, your eyes would experience strain if placed back into reality. Therefore, you do not want to rush to get the plant into a full sun condition simply because that is what it normally prefers according to grow guides. Start your plant out in ambient room lighting for about a day or so. You can gradually increase the light intensity to the plant’s desired light preference.  Drooping leaves are indicators of low moisture content. Throughout all of this, you may wish to water the plant if the soil is dry. But if the soil is already moist, your best bet is to control moisture through humidity. Adding too much moisture to the soil is not always a solution. It can cause root rot and molds to form, particularly when airflow is not high.
Another common mistake new plant owners make is repotting too quickly. While most plants are kept in small containers to minimize shipping cost, they could use a repot when they arrive at their new home. But it is important to realize that repotting itself can be stressful to the plant and must be done in a timely manner. You do not want to disrupt the root system and cause additional trauma until the plant has shown that it is stable on its own. Once the plant has fully adjusted to its environment, only then should you repot your plant into a container that will allow it to flourish. Use the type of soil and pot that is recommended for your species. Plants are often kept rootbound to maintain size for shipping, but a good repotting session will do wonders for getting your plants to put on quick growth. With that said, you should allow extra adjustment for plants to be placed outside. Outdoor light, even in a shady location, is often many times stronger than bright light indoors. And just like you can get an early season sunburn from being inside all winter, your plants can go from vibrant to morbid in a matter of hours. So, it is important to provide plants that are going outdoors with extra water and to shade them from the sun, even if they truly prefer full sun. This can be done by starting them in shady locations and gradually moving them to those with more light. You can also use objects such as lawn furniture as shading devices to block the sun in the more intense parts of the day. Or if you prefer to go the natural way, surround your vulnerable plants with taller plants that are already accustomed to the sun’s ferocity.
Usually when you buy a plant, it is a special experience. You are in charge of another life, even if you may not view it that way. You may have invested a good deal of money or better yet, you may have been fortunate enough to add a rare specimen to your collection. So while it may seem like a lot of extra effort, you have a duty to do what you can to safely transplant that new life from one area of the globe to another; and that applies even if you are simply moving your own plant from inside your house to the outdoors.


You want to make sure your plants are getting the nutrition they need to do you proud, but there are so many choices when it comes to selecting fertilizer. How do you know what is really in the bag? There are certain rules that all fertilizer makers must follow when they label their products and understanding these rules can make comparing fertilizers much easier.

Here's How:
1. Major Ingredients: Most commercial fertilizers have 3 numbers on the front label, separated by dashes. For example: 5-10-5. This is the fertilizer analysis or percentage by weight of the 3 major nutrients plants need: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, in that order. These are abbreviated as N-P-K.
So if you purchased a 10 pound bag of fertilizer labeled 5-10-5, it would contain 5% nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 5% potassium. The remaining 80% could be comprised of other nutrients and filler.
2. 1st Number = Nitrogen: The first number gives the concentration of nitrogen in the product. Nitrogen encourages foliage growth, among other benefits. A 5-10-5 fertilizer would contain 5% nitrogen by weight. So for every pound of fertilizer applied there is really only .05 pounds of nitrogen. (The 10 pound bag mentioned above would contain .5 lb. nitrogen.)
3. 2nd Number = Phosphorous: The middle number refers to the concentration of phosphorous. Phosphorous contributes to many fundamental plant processes such as rooting and setting flower buds. A 5-10-5 fertilizer would contain 10% phosphorous by weight or .1 pounds of phosphorous. (The 10 pound bag mentioned above would contain 1 lb. of phosphorus.)
4. 3rd Number = Potassium: The final number states the concentration of potassium. Potassium contributes to the overall health and vigor of plants. Again, a 5-10-5 fertilizer would contain 5% potassium by weight or .05 pounds of potassium. (The 10 pound bag mentioned above would contain .5 lb. potassium.)
5. Complete Fertilizers: Fertilizers that contain all three major nutrients are considered complete fertilizers. There are specialized fertilizers which are called incomplete because they lack one or more major nutrients such as a fertilizer labeled 0-20-20.
6. Fertilizer Ratio (An easier comparison): An easier way to compare the numbers is to break them down to the fertilizer ratio or the amounts of the 3 major nutrients in relation to each other. A 5-10-5 fertilizer has a ratio of 1-2-1. This becomes important when looking for a fertilizer for a specific need. A 1-2-1 ratio is often recommended for vegetables, which need plenty of phosphorous to set fruit. 1-2-1 could be 5-10-5, 10-20-10 or any similar extrapolation.
7. Other Ingredients: Any additional ingredients will be listed on the side label. This may include other nutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron, micronutrients and even the percentage of organic matter.
8. Organic fertilizers: Organic fertilizers must specify which nutrient(s) is organic and it must be identified as either synthetic and/or natural, by percentage. For example: 20% of Nitrogen organic (6% synthetic, 14% organic). When something is labeled "organic", it simply means it contains carbon atoms. However we have come to expect that organic fertilizer, like organic food, comes from natural processes and contains nothing synthetic. That tends to be the case, especially as consumers become more educated, but be sure to read the label before you make a purchase.
1. Having a soil test done before you start adding amendments will tell you what you actually need. If your soil pH is too high or too low, your plants will not be able to access some nutrients, even if they are present in the soil.
2. There is no one size fits all fertilizer. Fertilizer choice depends on the type of plant being grown and the soil it is being grown in.
3. Always follow the label instructions when using any registered garden product. Just because a little is good, it doesn't follow that a lot is better.
4. You can use less of fertilizers with high analysis numbers than with lower numbers. Five pounds of 10-20-10 would give you the same nutrient value as 10 pounds of 5-10-5.
5. Organic fertilizers made from natural ingredients often have lower concentrations of the three major nutrients, so you will need to use larger amounts. However, they do contain many other nutrients that feed both the plant and the soil. If you are using a synthetic fertilizer, you should supplement with some type of organic matter such as compost or manure, to maintain soil health.


Succulents are booming in popularity for two simple reasons: they are beautiful and nearly indestructible.
Technically, a succulent is any plant with thick, fleshy (succulent) water storage organs. Succulents store water in their leaves, their stems or their roots. These plants have adapted to survive arid conditions throughout the world, from Africa to the deserts of North America. Fortunately for us, this adaptive mechanism has resulted in an incredible variety of interesting leaf forms and plant shapes, including paddle leaves, tight rosettes, and bushy or trailing columns of teardrop leaves.
As a group, succulents include some of the most well-known plants, such as the aloe and agave, and many almost unknown plants. Cacti are a unique subset of the succulent group. Succulents make excellent display plants in dish gardens.
No matter what kind of succulent you're growing, the rules are pretty similar between the different species. Here are the general rules for growing top-quality succulents:
Succulents prefer bright light, such as found on a south-facing window. Watch the leaves for indications that the light level is correct. Some species will scorch if suddenly exposed to direct sunlight. The leaves will turn brown or white as the plant bleaches out and the soft tissues are destroyed. Alternatively, an underlit succulent will begin to stretch, with an elongated stem and widely spaced leaves. This condition is known as etoliation. The solution is to provide better light and prune the plant back to its original shape. Many kinds of succulents will thrive outdoors in the summer.
Succulents are much more cold-tolerant than many people assume. As in the desert, where there is often a marked contrast between night and day, succulents thrive in colder nights, down to even 40ºF. Ideally, succulents prefer daytime temperatures between 70ºF and about 85ºF and nighttime temperatures between 50ºF and 55ºF.
Succulents should be watered generously in the summer. The potting mix should be allowed to dry between waterings, but do not underwater. During the winter, when the plants go dormant, cut watering back to once every other month. Overwatering and ensuing plant rot is the single most common cause of plant failure. Be aware, though, that an overwatered succulent might at first plump up and look very healthy. However, the cause of death may have already set in underground, with rot spreading upward from the root system. A succulent should never be allowed to sit in water. The following are signs of under- or overwatering:
Overwatering. Overwatered plants are soft and discolored. The leaves may be yellow or white and lose their color. A plant in this condition may be beyond repair, but you can still remove it from its pot and inspect the roots. If they are brown and rotted, cut away dead roots and repot into drier potting media, or take a cutting and propagate the parent plant.
Underwatering: Succulents prefer generous water during the growing season (spring and summer). An underwatered plant will first stop growing, then begin to shed leaves. Alternatively, the plant may develop brown spots on the leaves.
Potting Soils:
Succulents should be potted in a fast-draining mixture that's designed for cacti and succulents. If you don't have access to a specialized mix, considering modifying a normal potting mix with an inorganic agent like perlite to increase aeration and drainage. These plants generally have shallow roots that form a dense mat just under the soil surface.
During the summer growing season, fertilizer as you would with other houseplants. Stop fertilizing entirely during the winter.

Leaf Browning

The development of brown leaves on a prized plant can be a worrying discovery, however, it doesn't neccessarily mean you will lose the plant. Often brown leaves are caused by environmental factors, which can be remedied by paying close attention to watering, drainage and shelter.
Why do leaves turn brown?
Plants can be harmed by many problems including pests, diseases and environmental factors, but they can only respond in a limited number of ways – developing brown leaves is the most common. As a result, figuring out what has caused leaf browning is an essential first step in protecting your plants.
Leaves can turn brown in three ways:
1. Leaves can go partially brown – on the edges and tips; within the leaf; and, often, along the central vein.
2. Browning can occur over whole leaves; on the top or the outside of the plant’s foliage; and within the plant’s canopy.
3. Whole shoots or plants can go brown. This often suggests that the roots, stems and trunk (one or more) are the location where damage has occurred.
Part-leaf browning
These are causes for browning across part of the leaf, and the controls.
Brown leaf tips or margins
Brown tips or margins often indicate drought in spring or summer. Young growth is particularly susceptible. It may also indicate establishment failure. This is particularly common where dry weather follows spring planting, prior to new roots developing into the surrounding soil.
The damage is often worse where exposure to wind dries out leaves. The damage is usually worse on the windward side of the plant. In coastal areas, salt-laden winds can also be especially harmful, but this is due to the effect of the salt as well as drying.
Keep young plants well watered while they establish. This can take from three months to three years, depending on the plant, site and conditions
Provide shelter from the wind by using a length of shelter fabric (available at garden centres); planting a hedge or shrubs to give protection
Grow plants that are suited to coastal positions
Blackening within leaves
The blackening of leaves, usually starting along the vein, is due to water-logging. This is common after wet winters on heavy soils and is frequently seen on Aucuba (laurel) as a problem known as aucuba blackening. The roots, when examined, are a bluish-black and fall apart when teased apart. On larger roots the outer sheath may pull away easily, leaving the inner core. There is often a sour smell to both the soil and roots. 
Symptoms of certain fungal diseases cause similar damage, such as sudden oak death, Phytophthora ramorum.
Where waterlogging is a permanent problem, consider installing a drainage system
Grow plants that thrive in wet soils
Use raised beds to lift the roots clear of the winter watertable
See our advice on Phytophthora ramorum for further information where this problem is suspected
Whole-leaf browning
These are causes for browning across the entire leaf, and the controls.
Brown, desiccated lower leaves
Brown desiccated lower leaves are common on climbers and this is due to dryness at the roots.
Regular watering is particularly important for newly-planted stock but, in prolonged dry spells, even established plants may require additional watering
Whole, brown single leaves
Some leaves go brown from natural causes – evergreen leaves, for example, are long-lived, but are replaced every few years. This often occurs in summer and can be alarming. However, natural replacement is usually confined to lower and older leaves, and those within the foliage or canopy.
Whole brown leaves can also be seen after infection with diseases such as powdery mildew.
If the powdery stage is missed, it is not always obvious that the original cause was disease. Remove affected leaves and a keep close watch for future infections
Shoot and plant browning
These are causes for the browning of whole shoots or plants, and the controls.
Entire shoots go brown
Browning of shoots suggests that something is preventing moisture reaching the affected leaves. Tracing the shoot back to the trunk can sometimes reveal cankers or other damage.
Progressive wilting and browning of shoots can be caused by fireblight or verticillium wilt disease.
Cankers or other stem and trunk damage should be pruned out, otherwise, the affected shoots will have to be removed
Whole plants go brown
When whole plants go brown, the cause is usually in the roots or trunk. This is frequently due to poor planting and aftercare; lawnmower or strimmer damage; bark damage from the activities of rabbits and other mammals; waterlogging; or root disease, most commonly honey fungus or Phytophthora. Root diseases can often be detected by examining the collar (where the trunk goes into the ground), beneath the bark.
Ensure that plants are carefully planted and that they are looked after while they establish
Be careful not to damage plants with mowers or strimmers
Use rabbit collars or make a pen of chicken wire around the plant to discourage rabbit damage
Grow in raised beds, mounds or use plants that thrive in waterlogged conditions
Various pests and diseases can also cause browning of leaves; and these possibilities cannot be ruled out. Common pests include bay sucker, deer, rabbits and squirrels. Common diseases include bacterial canker, blossom wilt, fireblight, honey fungus, horse chestnut leaf blotch, Phytophthora root rot and powdery mildews.

Dwarf Mangos

Carrie Mango - the flavor is by far the most outstanding feature of this variety. It has absolutely no fiber and extremely rich in flavor, sweet, aromatic and a pure pleasure to eat. You will savor every mouthful! Its compact size makes it an excellent dooryard tree that requires minimal care. Both fruit and tree have little to no problem with fungus or disease. Lack of color and firmness are the only shortcomings of this superb variety. To determine where to pick, look for a subtle yellow color at its base. Do not let the fruit drop from a tree, or it will bruise since it's completely fiberless. Many people agree that this is the best tasting mango in existence!

Mango Cogshall (Semi-Dwarf) is one the best variety for indoor potting culture! This variety is perfect for small yards or as "condo mango" - an ultra compact grower. It has slow growth habit which makes it very easy to control its size with pruning. The tree is suitable for container growing on a balcony, or planting in a suburban backyard. It can easily be maintained at just eight feet tall, and it will still produce a good size crop year after year.The fruit is very colorful and has a mild, sweet flavor that appeals to many. It is also fungus resistant.

Cushman is an excellent mid to late season mango that resembles a grapefruit in size, shape, and color. The flesh is bright orange, smooth, creamy, somewhat pineapple-like flavor and completely fiberless. Although the tree is not the most aesthetically pleasing due to poor disease resistance, one bite will make you drop the axe. One of the best tasting fruit!

Fairchild A fiberless selection from Central America having firm, juicy flesh. Excellent and can easily be kept to small stature.

Gleen This Indian / Indo-Chinese hybrid fruits consistently every year. It is a Haden seedling, and much like the Haden it is a Florida favorite. It has a very attractive appearance with a mild, sweet flavor. The fruit is virtually fiberless. Excellent eating quality, consistent production, and effortless to grow. It is easy to determine when to pick because the fruit will turn yellow at its base. Relatively cold hardy variety.

Ice Cream is far and away the most popular of the "condo mangos." Dwarf tree, small green fruit w/ yellow flesh. Flavored like name. The tree can easily be maintained at a height of just six feet making it ideal for container growing. Although the fruit is not exactly dessert to the eyes the flavor is sweet, rich, and reminiscent of mango sorbet.

Julie This variety is a perfect choice for those with a small yard because it is a very compact, dwarf tree. This is the most popular variety in Jamaica and many other Caribbean islands because of its rich, sweet, coconut/pineapple-like flavor. To fully enjoy this unique tasting mango, it is best to eat on the same, or next day after it falls from the tree before it gets too ripe. In Florida it is sought after for its dwarf growing habit. Florida's humidity makes this tree a challenge to grow, however. Fungus problems which lead to twig die back are common, making fungicide applications necessary for success.

Rosigold Relatively cold hardy variety.

Keitt By far, this is the best all-around late mango. It is very productive, good-flavored, excellent for shipping, and disease resistant. It also has a very long and late season. The largest fruit mature in late July, and the smallest fruit can be left on the tree as late as November. Fruit ripe more evenly when picked green, starting with the largest fruit. Good variety for eating while green and to use for making Indian green mango pickle (achar). The variety has become one of the world's most outstanding mangos. Excellent eating quality, disease resistance, productivity, and ripening time are some of the features of this four to five pound goliath.

Lancetilla Central American Mango. One of the largest mango fruit, up to 5 pounds. Excellent flavor. Ripe fruit are blood red, fiberless. Semi-dwarf tree. Fruit ripens August-September.

Lemon Meringue This unique variety has a tart, yet sweet flavor with a wonderful "lemony" aroma - hence the name. Everyone who tastes this fruit loves it! It is originally from Burma, where it is known as Pu Pyi Klai. The fruit is extremely fungus resistant.

Manilita Originated from the Pacific Coast of Mexico. The fruit are small and elongated, weighing 9 oz. The color is an eye-catching pastel red. The flesh is light yellow and silky-smooth, with a pleasing sweet flavor. It is perfect for eating out-of-hand. The fruit ripen early in the mango season. The tree is dwarf and disease resistant and is perfectly suited for container or patio production. Tree size can be maintained at 7 ft or less. Production is consistent, but modest.

'Mallika' is a condo mango native to India. It is considered among the best of the new generation of Indian dessert mangos. The bright yellow fruit are a flattened oblong shape, with a rounded base and an irregular, non-waxy skin, and weigh from 10 to 18 oz. When properly ripened, the pasty, but completely fiber-free flesh is a deep orange, with an intensely sweet, rich and highly aromatic flavor with hints of citrus and melon. Fruit are harvested mature-green, before they break color on the tree and should be stored at a temperature of not less than 70F for 2 to 3 weeks for proper ripening. In this manner their ultimate eating quality will be achieved. The fruit can be refrigerated after complete ripening, but not before. Although best consumed out-of-hand, 'Mallika' also excels in juices and as dehydrated slices, with a distinctive honey flavor. The fruiting season is from late June to July. The tree is semi-dwarf and moderately vigorous, making it attractive to mango growers outside of India, who are always looking for new niche markets around the world. It has become a favorite due to its superb flavor, unparalleled disease resistance, and small but extremely productive habit.

Nam Doc Mai is a premium cultivar introduced to Florida from Thailand in 1973 where is is one of the most popular varieties. This variety is semi-dwarf and great for pot culture. Green to yellow skin, no fiber whatsoever, multiple crops possible. Eaten green or ripe, a Thailand favorite. It is hands down the most sought after of the Asian mangoes and for good reason. A great feature of this variety is that the branches bloom occasionally at different times, giving you an extended ripening season during the summer.

Neelum is a South Indian dessert mango. The fruit weigh 9 to 12 oz. They are smooth-skinned and bright yellow upon ripening and have no blush. The flesh is deep yellow or orange. There is no fiber and a rich, aromatic flavor. Neelum is best eaten out-of-hand, or used as slices or cubes in mixed fruit salads, as the firm flesh holds its shape. They have a late ripening season and can be stored for a long time. For the best taste fruit should be harvested when mature green and ripened at room temperature. Neelum is a small tree perfect for the home gardener or pot culture.

Okrung Tong This one of the most popular varieties in Thailand. The fruit are extremely sweet, with a rich Indo-Chinese type flavor. The fruit are small, hang in clusters, and turn yellow when ready to pick.

Pickering Fruit tastes like Pina Colada! Pickering is a condo mango that has everything for those with limited space. It is great for pot culture. It has a bushy, compact growth habit, and can be maintained in a container at just six feet. The fruit has a firm flesh with a fantastic coconut/mango flavor and no objectionable fiber. They are typically 0.75-1.5 lbs, and they ripen in June.

Caring For Jasmine During Winter (outdoors)

1. Water the shrub deeply in autumn. Never allow the jasmine plant to enter winter weather with a dry root system. This makes it more vulnerable to winter kill in cold temperatures.

2. Mulch the soil around the base of the jasmine shrub to protect the ground and root system from hard freezes. Apply 3 to 4 inches of ground bark, sawdust, compost, chopped leaves, or well-rotted manure over the entire root zone, extending the mulch out to the shrub's drip line.

3.Use a hammer to drive 6-foot wooden stakes into the ground around the jasmine shrub, 1 foot apart, to install a windscreen. Weave a straw mat in and out of these stakes, until the screen is complete on all exposed sides of the jasmine. The most important protection for a tender, half-hardy shrub is a windscreen. The winter windscreen should not be removed in the spring until all danger of freezing weather has passed.

4.Bring your potted Jasmine indoors before the first frost, especially if you live in a climate colder than zone 8 where Jasmines typically do not survive the winter months (even with mulch). Place it in a sunny location, such as near a south facing window and water weekly with about an inch of water.

Caring For Jasmine As Container Plants

Step 1
Locate the jasmine plant where it will receive bright, filtered light at least six hours every day. Don't put the plant directly in a window.

Step 2
Make a pebble tray for the jasmine plant. Put a few pebbles or stones in a shallow plate or tray and pour fresh water over the pebbles. Set the jasmine plant pot on the pebbles, but don't let the water level touch the bottom of the pot. This increases the humidity in the air around the jasmine plant. Keep the jasmine plant away from wood stoves, heat vents and radiators.

Step 3
Water the jasmine plant when the top 1/2 inch of the soil feels dry. Don't let the soil get soggy, and never let the pot sit in water. Water the jasmine plant sparingly during the winter.

Step 4
Feed jasmine twice a month between spring and early fall, using a water-soluble houseplant fertilizer mixed at half strength. Don't fertilize the jasmine plant during the winter months

Step 5
Prune the jasmine plant as needed to maintain the desired shape. Never prune the plant after August 1, as the plant will be preparing to bud.

Step 6
Encourage the jasmine plant to bloom by putting it in a cool room at night for four to five weeks beginning in early September. The plant should get plenty of sunlight during the day, but during the night, move it to a pitch-dark room where the temperature is between 40 and 50 degrees F. After four to five weeks, leave the plant in its regular, daytime location. The plant should bloom in mid-winter.

Plant Bugs


Also known as plant lice, are small sap sucking insects. Aphids are among the most destructive insects on cultivated plants in temperate regions.

*Misshapen, curling, stunted or yellow leaves.
*Aphids tend to hide on the underside of leaves be sure to check them
*A sticky substance that covers the leaves and stems of the plant, this liquid is produced by the insects as waste and can attract other insects and can develop fungal growth called sooty mold. This causes the plant branches and leaves to turn black.

How To Get Rid of Aphids:
*Spray cold water on the leaves and aphids as aphaids are very susceptible to temperature change.
*Insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.
*Wiping or spraying leaves with a solution of mild dish-washing soap and water.
*Beneficial insects such as lady bugs or parasitic wasps can be purchased online that feed on aphids.

White Fly:

White flies are soft bodied winged insects that can be as small as 1/12 of an inch and are closely related to Aphids. They are often found in clusters on the underside of the leaves.

*Like aphids, white flies create a sticky substance. Check the underside of the leaves and feel for this.
*Leaves may dry out and turn yellow.
*Check for eggs on the underside of the leaves that are laid in a circular pattern.

How To Get Rid of White Fly:
*Spray with an insecticidal soap be sure to follow up two or three times.
*Try white fly traps though not as effective as insecticidal soap.
*Lady bugs and spiders may help control white fly.
*You can try a homemade mixture from the almanac: In a 32oz spray bottle mix two parts rubbing alcohol 5 parts water and one tablespoon liquid soap and spray on the leaves.

Gray Mold:

Gray mold is one of the most common fungus found in plants. The most common cause of gray mold is moisture. The wetter the plant is the more risk of gray mold, making well draining soil very important.

Symptoms of Gray Mold:
*Different species of plants will present gray mold differently.
*Spots that change from gray to brown will form on the leaves, causing the leaves to wilt
*Grayish webbing that contains spores appears on the leaves.
*Fuzzy gray growth covers the plant.

Controlling and Prevention of Gray Mold:
*Remove infected plant
*Clean between your plants so that other plants don't become infected.
*When transplanting and pruning plants be careful not to harm them as gray mold tends to attack wounded plants.
*Give plants time to dry out between watering.

Powdery Mildew:

Powdery mildew much like gray mold is a fungus. It also thrives in hot humid weather. This fungus robs the plant of its nutrients and causes the plant to bloom less and become weaker. If the infection in the plant becomes severe enough it will kill the infected plant.

How to identify Powdery Mildew:
Powdery mildew looks like dusted flour. It effects the upper older leaves first and often starts as powdery white circles. Then turning leaves yellow and drying them out. It can also affect the flower buds and the leave tips causing them to distort.

Control and Prevention of Powdery Mildew:
*Remove all infected plants
*Try using sulfur, lime-sulfur or neem oil
*Prune over crowded areas.

Leaf Miners:

A leaf miner is actually larva of another insect such as moths, sawflies, wasp, and bettles. The larva survive by living in and eating the leaf tissue of the plant.

Symptoms of Leaf Miners:
*The lava create patterns on the leaves of the plant from what they call a feeding tunnel.
*Often times you can see raised spots on the leaves where up to 250 eggs have been deposited.

How to get Rid of Leaf Miners:
*If you have a young plant use a pesticide that contains imidacloprid for an older tree one that contains dimethoate.
*Remove any leaves you see with the small raised bumps
*Leaf Miners are attracted to lambsquarter, velvet leaf and Columbine try planting them so they do not attack you trees.

Spider Mites:

Spider mites are small plant eating mites that look like spiders, they have eight legs except in the lava stage when they only have six.

*Small webbing on the plant, and webs on the underside of the leaves. Also small brown or yellow dots on the leaves.

Getting Rid of Spider Mites:
*Allow adequate airflow between plants as spider mites tend to relay on air currents to go from one plant to the next.

Latin Names

Why do we use Latin names of plants?

The reason we use Latin names of plants instead of the common names is because, common names of the same plant can vary from place to place or because many different plants can have the same common name. For example there a dozen flame trees (common name) but only one Brachychiton Acerifolius (Latin name). Delonix Regia (Latin name) can also be known as a flame tree (common name) however both are different plants. Think of the Latin name as a social security number. There may be many different John Doe Smiths but only one with the social security number 123-45-6789.

Plants are given Latin names using the genus and species system developed by a Swedish botanist named Carolus Linnaeus. The Latin name is the formal name for the plant and is the same world wide. The genus of a plant acts like a plants last name. So it would be a group of plants such as Miscantus. Miscantus is is the genus for a number of species of perennial grasses. The species part of the Latin name acts like a plants first name. Sinensis would be the species part of Miscantus Sinensis. After the genus and the species part of the name would then come the variety (if there is one). So Miscantus (genus) Sinensis (species) Var. Condensatus (variety).

Plants that are deemed masculine will end in -us while feminine will end in -A. Those that are neuter will end in -um. Using Latin names ensures that everyone is talking about the same plant and helps you get exactly the plant you want. They can also tell you a lot about the plant if you know what to look for. Bellow are some examples of the Latin specifics that can help tell you about the plant your interested in.

Alba= White (such as white flowers)


Compacta=Compact (such as growing habit)







Plant Dormancy

Many people believe that living in a warm climate will dissuade a plant from it's deciduous nature. This period of dormancy can be caused by a number of different factors, depending on the plant.

Plants are equipped with a biological clock that reacts to shortened hours of daylight, decreased temperature and changes in precipitation.

Sometimes, cold weather, drought and decreased sunlight can diminish the supply of chlorophyll produced in foliage, thus signaling a plant into a state of energy-conservation. Plants will often absorb the nutrients back from the leaves, to be stored within the trunk and roots. Eventually, this decrease of nutrients and hormones in the leaves will cause a separation of cells between the leaf stalk and stem. As these cells separate, the leaves fall from the plant.

Additionally, many semi-deciduous plants will simply drop foliage in marked phases between new growth, while other plants use abscission to aid in pollination; producing blooms without leaves present to block wind and/or allowing insects to more easily see flowers.

As deciduous trees are often used in landscape design, pruning is often necessary to maintain desired shape and size, and to encourage more plentiful blooms. When pruning an unruly deciduous tree or shrub, it is generally best to wait until late winter or early spring, before the plant begins to leaf out. This pruning may affect the quantity of blooms for the following season, but will promote overall health of the plant. Many deciduous trees will bleed heavily during pruning.  Don't worry; this loss of sap will not damage the plant.

Also, it is best to avoid pruning a deciduous tree during it's period of new growth. During this time, the plant is already weakened by the struggle to reestablish it's growth possess and necessary nutrients and chemical balance, and should be left to its own devices.

Before pruning your deciduous tree or plant, it is recommended that you first research the specific plant, as there will always be exceptions to general instruction. For example, many Rubus varieties desire pruning in late fall, as their buds are developed during the dormant winter season.