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Flowers from Top Tropicals - Participant# 201 || 2004 Contest

Hibiscus, Gardenias and Jasmines
by Alena Malinovskaya (Moscow, Russia)

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I used to live in a small apartment with Northern windows exposure, on the 3d floor, with large trees shading my windows. At that time I only had very common houseplants, like euphorbia, crassula. A nice Fig tree was a gem of my collection and was grown from a tiny little cutting I got from University greenhouse.

Kristen Coveny

In my new apartment windows are facing South, it's on 12th floor and the room gets plenty of light. It made me thing about expanding my little garden with more sun-loving plants - gardenias, jasmines and hibiscus.

Kinchens Yellow

Part 1. Tropical Hibiscus

Country Music

When I first saw the fancy exotic hibiscus cultivars in TopTropicals online magazine Vestnik, I decided that I must have them. The picture that greatly impressed me was a little Country Music hibiscus in a 4" pot sitting in a hand and blooming with a huge bright flowers that hid the rest of the baby. I realized that hibiscus may bloom in small size and it won't take long for your to wait for flowers if you provide them with your love and care.

 

Orange Lagos

Kristen Coveny

So I visited TopTropicals dealer store in Moscow (Kokos Shop) and decided to get some of those. At the store I noticed a small plant that had beautiful green foliage, wondering what it was. The store manager said that it is also Hibiscus, cultivar Mrs. James Hendry. So finally I got several cultivars: Kristen Coveny, Double Kona, Florida Sunset, Kinchens Yellow, Mrs. James Hendry and Orange Lagos.

Now it's been about one month since I got these plants (4" pots size) right after their long and challenging trip from overseas.

 

Orange Lagos

The Orange Lagos was the most intriguing, since at that time no picture of flower was available, and I nobody could tell what it would look like. Amazing that it was the first one that bloomed for me!

Now it the 3d bud getting ready to open, and the 4th one is on the way (still tiny pin size).

Orange Lagos bud is coral color, and the flower itself is bright orange. When the flowers fades, the outside is not coral any more, it stays orange.

Kristen Coveny was the second one that bloomed, and now the second bud is opening. It also has 3 more little buds.

After I showed Orange Lagos and Kristen Coveny pictures to my friends on Garden Forum, other hibiscus plants got jealous and Double Kona and Florida Sunset also had shoot a few buds...

New photos added:

Double Kona

Florida Sunset

El Capitolio Bloody Mary

 

 

Myrna Loy

 

 

The Kinchens Yellow is only growing large beautiful leaves so far, and the Mrs. James Hendry that I admired leaves so much - is not growing fast since I happened to overwater it... it got some chlorosis yellowing on leaves, but now I'm trying the Micronutrients Mix spray and placed it at the balcony in full sun, which seem to be fixing the problem. I hope it'll be fine eventually and will bloom for me next year.

As far as cultivation is concerned - there is nothing really special I do, just regular plant care.

I water them only when the surface of the soil gets a little dry.
I spray them daily with fresh drinking water
I spray them once a week with water soluble bloom-booster fertilizer
I spray them once a week with miscro-elements.

 

 

Soil:
These hibiscus plants arrived from Florida to the Dealer shop in 2" liners, and the store manager re-potted them for me into 4" pots of TopTropicals Potting Mix. I also bought couple gallon bags of that mix and this is what I'm using for my plants so far.

 

I was very happily surprised that my hibiscus plants bloomed so soon. I like large and developed plants, but the fact that these small "cutting" decided to bloom couldn't make me take the pruners and cut the buds off - if they bloom, that means it's the right time! That means, they have enough energy and ability already, so everybody can enjoy their beauty!

 

Kinchens Yellow:

 
 

Part 2. Gardenias

Gardenia Jasminoides

So far I only have 2 gardenias: Regular Gardenia Jasminoides from Holland and Gardenia Radicans from TopTropicals.

I was not going to get into gardenias at the first place, because of very contradictory opinions about it's growing experience. Some people told it is difficult in culture and may die just with one angry look at it... Others claimed that they forget to eater, drop it from the windowsill, cat played with it, and nothing can kill it...

However, I was just curious and wanted to see with my own eyes.

Gardenia Radicans

I ordered my first Gardenia from Holland Greenhouses in February. As most of Holland commercial flowers, it was full of buds.

The first bud, almost ready to open, fell off within couple days. The second one was smaller, but looked healthy. It even survived re-potting. Because this one cute bud I did my best not to bother roots, and carefully moved the whole root ball from the original pot to a bigger one. Also I took the ugly looking soil from the surface and replaced it with loose and fresh potting mix.

The bud opened! What a beauty and fragrance awaited me! However, after the blooming the plant showed some "difficult personality" and started to show signs of chlorosis. They say that greenhouse plants often get hormone treatments for better commercial look, and it effects appearance in the future. However, the new growth continued and I apply Micro-elements treatments on regular basis to fix the problem.

When it got warm outside, I moved the Holland Gardenia to my balcony with other houseplants, and now it likes it better there, than on the windowsill. At least yellow leaves disappeared and more new green leaves grow faster. However, I don't see any new buds so far. I'm planning to re-pot this gardenia again, to remove most of the old Greenhouse) soil and maybe separate the 2 stems into different pots.

Right after Holland gardenia finished it's bloom, I bought a new Gardenia Radicans from TopTropicals. I was afraid that it would be even more difficult to grow, but it turned out all way around! At the very beginning, a few yellow leaves dropped off, then the spider mite attacked it, but I managed it easily with just a single insecticide spray application. As for a few yellow leaves that dropped - I'm sure it was just acclimatization stress.

Before 2 weeks passed, it emerged cute little buds. At first I was worried that it could be too much for such a little baby plant. And as usual, I didn't dare to cut them off. Especially after more new leaves appeared. The plant started to resemble a little but busy Christmas tree.

It's chartreuse little buds looked so beautiful on dark-green background of foliage. No sign of chlorosis! (keep my fingers crossed!)

I've noticed that in TopTropicals Catalog watering pictogram shows 2 "drops" for Radicans and only 1 for regular gardenia. I keep the soil moist but not soggy.

Flowers of G. radicans are slightly smaller size than of the other gardenia. Of course I re-potted the plant from it's original 4" to a 6" pot and placed at the balcony in May. The balcony is not cold-protected, and when at the beginning of June one night temperature dropped down to 50F (13C), I was so scared, but the flowers didn't seem to worry about it!

Right now I have 4 flowers fully opened and waiting for the 5th one. In march< I started to count buds, and I gave up on 10th, but the gardenia didn't !

Part 3. Jasmines

I was going to buy only 1 variety of Jasminum Sambac, but came to the store... looked... and got all 3 varieties, which I never regret.

Maid of Orleans

Maid of Orleans

 

It was freezing in March, and I was carrying the plants accross the snowy Moscow city without a car in public bus and subway. Maid of Orleans got literally frozen, most of leaves got dry and crispy. I was almost sure I would be left with only 2 plants, but... the Maid took it's time and sprouted new leaves!

Maid of Orleans

Maid of Orleans

Maid of Orleans

I can't describe how happy I was! Especially after it started to bloom. It emerged a few bunches of flower buds. At first It bloomed only with 4 flowers, and after a while new leaves grew and new buds and flowers appeared.

Now it's at the balcony, and blooms all over.

Maid of Orleans

Belle of India

 

Belle of India bloomed even before Maid. The first flowers looked like roses, but then the flower tips sharpened and now look like little stars.

Belle of India

Grand Duke

Fragrance at the balcony is impossible to describe in words.

However, the Grand Duke is not in a hurry: he might think that let the ladies work first, and he as a Duke can sit around and think about whether to bloom or not... Nevertheless, he grows more foliage than others - good for three of them! Sometimes he starts branching, then stops and waits for something... Very thoughtful gentleman... He showed his Duke personality the most!

Belle of India

 

Belle of India

I'm still not sure if I should prune the Duke or not, because the flowers are supposed to emerge on tips of branches. What if I won't see the flowers at all if I cut him back? So I'm still hoping that he'd feel more responsible and won't put me down surrounded by the beautiful fragrant ladies...

However, Duke looks great even without flowers, but tend to grow leggy. I think I still should take a chance and prune it a bit. When I pruned Belle Of India, it got bushier right away! And many flowers appeared.

I hope The Grand Duke will learn a good example from the ladies.

Belle of India

Belle of India

Belle of India

...And more!...

Eugenia Uniflora

I also bought Eugenia Uniflora bush, and in a while noticed a little "weed" in between the stems. I liked the leaves and didn't through it away, but took out and planted in a separate pot. Pretty soon I discovered that it wasn't a Florida weed! It was Datura metel 'Cornucopea'!

So I upgraded my "weed" status to "Datura stowaway free-rider". It just started to bloom!

Datura metel 'Cornucopea'

This is a crossandra. I have an idea to create a "crossandra assorted bed" with all colors of crossandra I can get. I got seeds of red, orange and green crossandras from TopTropicals. I'm also looking for a blue variety.

This is a photo with my beloved husband who's sometimes grumpy about my plants taken over the living space, but he helps me a lot! He made windowsill extensions, is working on balcony cold protection project. He's making artificial lighting fixtures for our bathroom where I'm planning to put my guava tree that I'm growing from seeds. The light will be fixed also over extra shelves where my sun-loving plants will over-winter!...

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