The Topic Is Tropics

alisonnMarch 17, 2006

Yes, yes, I know there is a tropical forum, but the folks there seem to be from Texas (except for the person in Toronto who is in zone 7--how does THAT work, I wonder?).

I got this brainstorm of making a little tropical area around my patio---elephant's ear, caladiums, cannas. The question is--will they have enough time in our climate to do their thing before winter sets in? How quickly do those bulbs root and grow? Anyone have any success with these or like tropicals?

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Oops--yes, I am the one who suggested in the caladium thread that they could be started indoors (according to an article I'd read). But then today I read another article that said they need 80 degrees to sprout and it's not 80 degrees in my house ever, so I'm wondering if it's worth it...

    Bookmark   March 17, 2006 at 11:45PM
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We have a fountain that we bought @Lowes. Last year I planted elephant ear caladiums, castor beans, cannas, and some annuals all around the fountain in various size pots. I recvd compliments all summer. The only thing was that I didn't dig up any of the bulbs from the pots. I checked them the other day & they seemed to have rotted. Last night I was in Walmart & the had the EE caladiums out. I picked up 4 the size of small coconuts! The best part was that they were $2.92 each! I think I started them in May of last year, I put each bulb in 1gallon size zip lock bags. On nice sunny days I put them outside, you can control the humidity by opening the top. When they were ready to transplant, just cut the bottom of the bag.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2006 at 9:22AM
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birdgardner(NJ/ 6b)

They won't grow until the soil is warm but tropicals grow very quickly - my cannas were very successful. EEs need lots of water, cannas are fairly drought tolerant. My butterfly ginger grows but never blooms. My cannas I store as tubers mostly, but I had some in pots in an unheated room and didn't water all winter - they look fine. EEs I've always brought inside where they look yucky with spider mites.

I've been thinking about getting a catalpa or pawlonia and cutting it to the ground each year - big leaves, even bigger for the cutting, and HARDY. Also maybe a fargesia bamboo.

jrzgurl - which walmart?

    Bookmark   March 18, 2006 at 11:24AM
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birdgardner(NJ/ 6b)

Well, apparently all Walmarts. I got one of the EEs, and what tempted me, really, really tempted me (I resisted) were the waterlilies for 6 bucks.

Well, when Lent is over, I might get one, and then I would have to get a barrel for it, and some fish to eat the mosquitos, and some dwarf papyrus or cattail.

And a very gentle fountain, and the electrical work that goes with it, for the sake of one bargain waterlily.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2006 at 2:45PM
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orcuttnyc(z5-6 NY)

You can get 'mosquito dunks' as well.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2006 at 7:11PM
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I'll bet a needle palm would look nice by your patio, as well as a few Sabal minor and maybe a winter-protected trachycarpus or two.

    Bookmark   March 19, 2006 at 8:14PM
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Datdog(z7 NJ)

My favorite topic! My vote is to use very bold annuals to give you the look your seeking. They grow quickly in a season and look good up until the first frost. Try castor beans, cannas, angel trumpets, datura, elephant ears, and for a punch of color always include a mass of a annual flower. I think annuals always look better massed instead of one here and there. I'm also a huge fan of containers. The key to keeping them healthy and happy is to buy the largest ones you can afford. No dinky little pots. They won't hold up when the heat hits. Here's a few pictures that were taken in late Sept.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 7:39AM
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birdgardner(NJ/ 6b)

Oh, my goodness, datdog. Wow. What are the names of the yellow and pink brugs? I see the pink one grows in some shade, how much? What's that banana with the red stripes? Is it hardy here?

What's the fountaining plant with the light purple flowers? And the one with the orange flowers in the background?

Maybe one day when my children are bigger I'll dare grow castor bean.

Thanks for posting those gorgeous flowers.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2006 at 9:50AM
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Beautiful! If you could identify the plants, that would be great! And where do you find them?

    Bookmark   March 22, 2006 at 12:11AM
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Loretta NJ Z6

Oh, I see that escargot sneaking in again. So beautiful. Your brugs remind me of the gorgeous containers I saw in Germany. Do you overwinter your brugs or do you buy new pots each year? For that matter, how much do you overwinter?

Here is a link that might be useful: Musa - acuminata at Brent and Becky

    Bookmark   March 22, 2006 at 2:14PM
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Datdog(z7 NJ)

Thanks guys! I love my annuals. birdgardner- I have small kids and grow castor beans without a problem, just don't let them set seed. The brugmansia's in the picture are Arlene's Pink Beauty and Charles Grimaldi. I'll get back to you with a list of the rest of the plants when I get back in.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2006 at 10:16AM
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