Does GardenWeb need a Highland Tropical or "Cloud Forest" forum?

mark4321_gwSeptember 2, 2012

(I don't mean to suggest that "Highland (sub)Tropical" and "Cloud Forest" are synonymous, although there's a lot of overlap.)

I often find that there's no appropriate place to post on a lot of the plants I grow, and I'm wondering whether Gardenweb needs to create a new forum. I take it they are always open to suggestions for new forums(?)

A huge fraction of the plant biodiversity on the planet is found in the high elevations in the tropics. Many of these plants are zone 10 or 9, and will grow happily in places like San Francisco or San Diego. Yet they will often die a quick death in zone 10 in a place like Florida, due to the warm/hot climate.

The number of people who can easily grow many of these cool-growing plants from the tropics is not huge. However, there does seem to be a lot of interest in them, and there really needs to be a forum where accurate information can be found. I suspect a lot of money is wasted on places like Ebay to buy plants that have little or no chance of survival.

I find that posts on such plants in the Tropicals forum are often ignored. Those in the California forum tend to reach a geographically limited audience. Some already have an appropriate forum, such as Andean Passifloras or Brugmansias or Orchids, but many do not.

I'm curious what others think or if anyone has any other ideas.

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ifraser25(z11 Brazil)

Mark, Gardenweb needs new management. I have written suggesting several good forum ideas - and that they get rid of some of the dross. I actually did get an answer once, saying "yes great idea", but they did nothing about it. They have changed nothing for over a year. Don't hold your breath.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2012 at 10:30PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Would suspect that it wouldn't get much participation
considering that's true of 90 percent of the forums. lol
Heck even the tropicals forum gets very little traffic.
Would sure be a small audience even if they did participate ?? gary

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 4:47AM
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I also feel that there's not much likelihood of a new forum like that attracting a significant following. Most people don't appear to recognise climatic variations within the tropics. They'll usually consider anything that won't survive a couple of months under snow to be tropical. You can see that from some of the plants that get mentioned in the tropicals forum. My guess is that questions on "Highland Tropical" and/or "Cloud Forest" issues will still end up in the Tropicals or House Plants forums.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 8:59AM
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While I can't predict how many people would be interested in such a forum, It's important to realize that this is not an insignificant number of plants, but a huge number. There is tremendous interest in these plants--they are just typically split up among a number of forums.

For example:

Most cool-growing Orchids
Highland Nepenthes
Many Passifloras (essentially all Tacsonias, plus many others)
Fuchias (most species?)
Many Begonias, Impatiens, Fruits, tuber crops (potatoes!)

The fact that many people don't understand that tropical plants from different elevations require vastly different conditions highlights the need for such a forum.

There is an entire site/forum (outside of Gardenweb) called the Cloudforest Cafe focused on high elevation tropical fruits. They do seem to find many people interested in just this one subset of highland tropical plants.

While one could argue that some plants can be dealt with in other forums, there are many that cannot. One could also dissolve the Tropicals forum and assume that forums for fruits, Aroids, Orchids, Lucky Bamboo, etc. could take care of it.

Those who have the conditions for cool growing (sub)tropical plants often grow a large variety. There is simply not a good forum for discussion of many of these plants.

An example: I have a plant that I bought at Strybing (SF Botanical Garden) labeled Calceolaria perfoliata (?). A quick search suggests this plant is found typically 2500-4000 m. It is sometimes called "vining" but I'm not sure everyone would consider it a vine. Where do I post questions about such a plant? It doesn't seem right for the "cottage garden" forum or "perennials" or "vines". Someone posted once on a similar plant (Calceolaria pavonii) in the Salvia forum.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 5:34PM
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I know what you mean, it also includes a lot of plants I'd really like to grow. Often people say I'm crazy when I tell them some tropicals won't grow at my place, it's equatorial lowland tropical, plus savanna and not rainforest. But I know from experience there's many tropicals that just give up here.

Probably you could 'educate' people and build up traffic over time.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2012 at 9:35PM
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Randy you know my answer but it is difficult to get a new forum introduced. I was surprised that they finally dedicated a forum to adeniums.

Even though I've had poor results with most of the cloud forest tropicals I'd like to read more about them. Maybe it would save people living in zone 10 FL from trying to grow these plants just because they are labeled tropical.

    Bookmark   September 4, 2012 at 5:40PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Another more commonly planted in 9/10 florida are temperates . Almost impossible to provide a cool or cold rest period Cool growers or temperates can be treated as annuals as well as there's always the fridge?? Orchids can be grown in cool terrariums I grow strawberries , Fuchsia Vireyas temperate iris , venus fly trap that way Of course you always get down to there are Sooo many species of lowlands why bother?? gary

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 3:38AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

If you have a suggestion, by all means, make it. I've suggested Coleus before because there are over 2,000 named cultivars, it is ubiquitous worldwide, not really an annual but usually grown as such, doesn't make an easy house plant, and isn't connected to "tropical" in most people's minds, and gets mentioned on MANY different forums.

I don't feel like scrolling back up but "whoever" said nothing has changed in over a year, which couldn't be more wrong. For about 16 years, GW truly did not change, except with the occasional addition of a new forum. But in the very recent past, photo inclusion facilities and thread addition notification capabilities have been added. These huge improvements should be appreciated.

Fuchsia, Begonia, Impatiens, and Orchids already have their own forums.

    Bookmark   September 5, 2012 at 5:03PM
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There are of course forums in existence for some genera/families that have many members that are cool growing tropicals. However, in each case the true cool growers can be grown only by a minority of people. Moreover, people who grow one type of cool-growing plant are likely to grow others. To put it all in one forum makes sense.

There are a lot of practical considerations, for example, trading.

Say, for example, one has seedlings/rooted cuttings of a plant that can only grow in Coastal California or a cool greenhouse. Post on any of the forums. Most of the people (in my experience) who will be interested in trading have conditions that are impossible for growing the plant. Here are the options:

1) Let them worry about it and send the plant to a sure death.

2) Caution them that it won't survive, but send it anyway.

3) Refuse to send the plant to those without appropriate conditions.

Since this thread is a little boring with no pictures, I'll add one, to include two concrete examples:


The Passiflora is P. 'Mission Dolores', P. parritae x antioquiensis. It's a strong grower when happy and really easy to propagate. Two node cuttings root in a couple weeks.

The Bomarea on the top is Bomarea caldasii (the yellow flower on the right is also a Bomarea, if I remember possibly a variety of B. caldasii as well). Each flower produces about 100 seeds and each umbel can have dozens of flowers. So there are potentially thousands of seeds per umbel.

The flowers above are "samples" brought by one of the propagators (who created the Passiflora hybrid) to help sell plants at Strybing (SF Botanical Garden). The Passilflora is 7 inches in diameter with 18-24 inch peduncles, which makes the Bomarea umbels look strangely small. Although I cannot claim credit for the flowers, I do grow both of these vines.

I'll have to hack back my Passiflora starting later in the year. I hate to toss material for interesting plants. So I'll hopefully have a large number of cuttings rooted. My Bomarea was bought in bloom/bud earlier this year, but aborted seeds when we had a couple days in the 90s (June-Aug. average: 74/55).

So if I end up with extra cuttings and seeds and want to distribute them for postage, which forum(s) do I post on? I likely will put the Passiflora on the Passiflora forum, although I know I will run into the problem described above. I've already decided to go for option (3). There is no appropriate forum for the Bomarea. Vines? California? If I end up with a zillion seeds I might go for option (2). Or perhaps suggest that people sprout the seeds then trade them for something suited to their climate.

I don't like either scenario, and I would prefer to at least have the forum enriched for those who can potentially succeed with a plant.

I tried posting a set of seeds for postage on the California Gardening exchange section earlier in the year. Of seven, three were highland tropicals, one a cool-growing Chilean annual, one S. African, and one lowland tropical. I didn't get a single response. See link below

Here is a link that might be useful: Highland tropical seeds ignored on the California forum

    Bookmark   September 6, 2012 at 2:15AM
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Randy would you please stop posting tasconia pics! I might eventually break down and put an AC in the GH. For a few years the shade cloth, fans and mister kept it cool enough but the past couple years the summers have just been brutal and I couldn't keep it below 85. An AC would be my only hope and I think DH would blow a gasket if I did that.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2012 at 7:56AM
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