Suggestions for 'Rainforest'

garyfla_gw(10 Florida)August 18, 2005


I'm located in zone 10 florida and I'm converting my shadehouse into a lowland rainforest.Sort of an overgrown

Could someone suggest some members of this family that would do well in this environment??

Will be maintained at low nineties summer and upper forties winter. Only slight reduction of water in winter

Would prefer types that don't require dormant or dry periods

Is it possible to grow any as Epiphytes or Lithophytes??

The ground area is already filled with understory palms

Calathea,ground orchids. So will have to grow them in hanging baskets?? If so, are there suggestions on potting media ?? Thanks very much gary

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Mayflyon(z5/6 MI)

The only gessies I'm aware of that might survive the 40's is possibly chirita.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 3:06PM
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komi(z7/8 DC)

Hi Gary,

The list below is taken from other people's postings and reports of plants that have survived temps lower than what you expect.

I haven't had any luck with growing any gessies mounted, but many grow very well in a small basket, and epiphytic mixes work quite well too.

Episcias would be lovely and would probably do well during the warmer months, but your winter temps would be too cool.

Aeschynanthus boschianus
A. garrettii
A. micranthus
A. parasiticus
A. sikkimensis
A. speciosus
A. 'Big Apple'
A. 'Rigel'

Nematanthus australis
N. crassifolius
N. fornix
N. serpens
N. strigillosus
N. 'Mardi Gras'
N. 'Othello'
N. 'Ubatuba'

Codonanthe gracilis
C. devosiana

Lysionotus serratus
Lysionotus pauciflorus

Columnea schiedeana
C. purpusii

    Bookmark   August 19, 2005 at 6:57PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I have to allow the temps to drop for the Phal orchids they flower sooo much better when chilled. May be possible to have a warmer area within sections or maybe a glassed in area where i could completely control the temps.
The "rainforest" will be 25x25 with a 12 foot ceiling
which I hope allows the palms to develop properly. Most mature at around 20 feet but are very slow growing.Naturally, I have to accom adate them first as they are the largest. I was going to make a drip wall for some of the warm and wet orchids and ferns I could enclose that corner and still allow the pool to chill for the lace plants. Thanks very much for the list gives me a lot of possibilities!!

    Bookmark   August 20, 2005 at 4:36AM
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I live in PR and trade unusual tropicals with Floridians. Do you have any special plants, especially bulbs and scented plants, to trade?

Please contact me at

Frank :)

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 10:04AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Hi Frank
Tried to reply to the post you sent but comp won't allow it lol. have traded off most of my extras though always looking for oddball epiphytes. Got anything along those lines?? gary

    Bookmark   December 25, 2013 at 2:12PM
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gregsytch(z9b Tampa Bay)

Gary- I'm in coastal Tampa Bay, and my Nematanthus thrive here, and take 30'sF easily. They can grow in baskets, or attach to a crook of a trunk and grow epiphytically. Columnea schiedeana has also taken 32-34F without a sweat, but most Columnea do not like anything below 38F. I grow mine outdoors but scoot in on those chilly nights. The large leaved Nem's....'Plum Pretty' and 'Champagne Jam' grow like crazy and are budding all over now. Chiritas grow well into the 30'sF, and I use them in the landscape - but snails do love them. Of course, any rhizomatous like Achimenes. They will just sleep thrugh winter. I have Kohleria planted, and though they look ratty (its colder here) they are alive. Come summer they will be large. Good luck. The choices are endless. Greg

    Bookmark   February 9, 2014 at 9:32PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Well my entire attitude has changed since I first posted this My canopy has matured after the hurricanes so primarily putting in epiphytes . Mostly orchid broms and ferns . Shadehouse in serious need of repair so I'm doing away with it and many of my pots 'plants too sensitive to survive outdoors. Mostly using bits and pieces of what I already have though I ran accross a couple that I'd never heard of let alone seen so had to but those lol I have a few gesneriads that tolerate the area so will keep those
Ay one time I had over 500 pots!! Way too much work for an old man lol Still have around 200 but making progress and finally putting in some stone paths ,only took 30 years to get started Oh well a garden is always a work in progress?? Thanks for the suggestions!! gary

    Bookmark   February 10, 2014 at 6:11PM
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gregsytch(z9b Tampa Bay)

I live in Tampa Bay, and all my Nematanthus easily survive outdoors all winter, and have taken 29-31F without damage. Granted, they have some overhead cover (trees, shadecloth etc) but they take it tough! My Columneas are also outside unless it hits 37F, which I have found is their temp for damage - except C. schiedeana. This think has handled light freezes fine. The striped flowers are beautiful! All my Chiritas grow outdoors, not protection, and a few in the ground. The rhizomatous do well, but the light needs to be good. Kohleria grows in the ground here, occasionally frosting but comes back well. Good luck. Pics?

    Bookmark   June 29, 2014 at 4:35PM
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