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Flowers from Top Tropicals - Participant # 206 || 2004 Contest

“Top Tropicals” Plants
by Cathy Young (Santa Rosa, CA, USA)

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I have a garden that only gets hot sun, one that is in the shade, one that has tropical trees (from Top Tropicals) and oriental lillies, and two with waterlillies and lotuses. Each garden is a diffenent ecosystem in my yard based on how much sun and shade the area gets.

This year I decided to further pursue my life long interest in tropical plants. I wanted to discover more tropical plants that would easily live in Northern California where I live. I have grown lotuses and water lilies for several years very successfully and this year decided to try some other tropical plants I have always loved. I ordered from several different nurseries, to find out who had the best plants. There was no comparison, Top Tropicals had the best.

 

I went to Hawaii, to see how the plants as they were growing in a tropical environment. I was delighted to find that the plants from Top Tropicals were healthier, stronger and had better color than the ones growing in the nature preserves in Hawaii. I was on Oahu and searched the whole island to find a bauhinia tomentosa (yellow orchid tree). There is only one living tree of this variety there. The bauhinia grandidieri (the dwarf orchid tree) they had at a nature preserve at one time but could not get it established and it did not survive. Meanwhile, every time I order one of these plants from Top Tropicals it comes to my house and is very strong and full of life, and survives easily!

My white bauhinia is very happy and in the ground with the other ones. The rest of the plants I have potted. It is much easier for them to go to a can on my deck for about a month before they go into the ground. I think it is getting used to the changes in humidity, because our weather here has been nice and warm. Thank you for sending the blooming bauhinia tomentosa. I am inviting people over to see the beautiful flowers. I expect most people will want one if it will grow where they live. This is so fun.

A "group" picture of a Bauhinia Purpurea, Caesalpinia pink and Hibiscus El Capitolio Bloody Mary.

Every plant I have received from Top Tropicals has been in excellent condition. I have found that since we have less humidity here, they prefer to spend a month or two in a pot in partial shade before I put them in the ground in full sun. This helps them to make the climatic adjustment. In a tropical area it rains frequently, so I have my plants in soil that is a mix of clay and potting soil. This way there are lots of nutrients, there is plenty of moisture and the plants enjoy both “deep” and “quick” waterings. This is what they get in a tropical climate too.

I have many Top Tropical plants planted in the “Tropical Trees” section of my yard. All of these trees come from Top Tropicals and include at this time the bauhinias purpurea, acuminata, grandidieri, and the caesalpinia pink. They are surrounded by many varieties of Asiatic and Oriental lilies. The lilies prefer partial shade here because our summers can be so hot. Next year when the tropical trees are bigger and provide more shade the lilies will grow taller and be happier too. Each year this section of my yard will become more beautiful. This year the beautiful Bloody Mary Hibiscus has spent the summer with the other Top Tropical plants. I will move it to the front porch this winter where it will be warm and protected from any frost we may have. It will happily greet people with its rich green leaves as they arrive at our front door.

The Bloody Mary Hibiscus is very beautiful. I can see I am going to need to have a hibiscus section in my garden. Top Tropicals hibiscus plants are the first ones I have wanted in a long time. I have a place on my front porch that is sheltered from the frost. It is south facing and my Meyer lemon thrives there. It is a dwarf but it is huge. All of my neighbors and friends eat from eat all year long. The kids make lemonade and sell it. It is so wonderful! I am going to move the things that are there now and make this a new place for my hibiscus. I love hibiscus, I just got tired of the ones they have here. They are all the same.

Tahitian Gardenia is doing very well. It is so strong and healthy. The new growth is very good. It is so strong that I no longer have any question about giving it the conditions it will need here for the winter. I have it with my mandevillas. I make a greenhouse around them for the winter so they can stay warm enough when we have our cold weather. It is easy to make and I can also control the light and heat. I think this gardenia will be very happy. Not only am I glad to have this for myself, but now I know that with the right conditions people in my area can grow this as well. I will get one for every person that I design a garden for who has the right conditions and wants one.

People can make their greenhouses themselves at very little cost or buy one that is pre-made. I have a pre-made one for my plumerias that was only $500 that is excellent. It is 8X8 and I only cover them in the winter. Most greenhouses are very overpriced, and take up a lot of space. This is hard if your hard is small. I am good at finding for people what they will need and helping them to learn how to grow their plants. I have been teaching people how to grow lotuses and waterlillies and traditional garden plants for this area for years.

One of my favorite things is to get plants in the mail. One of the reasons I create gardens for people is I run out of space at my house. This way I get to keep creating and ordering plants that come to my house all the time.

One of the highlights of my life is getting plants from you! They are so beautiful. I am having so much fun with Top Tropicals plants. It has been fun and I am glad I have an opportunuity to say how excellent your plants are.

Cathy

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