Tropical plants for your garden
Here are some great tips to add a little exotic flair to your home garden! Also find some below some of the questions submitted by our viewers online.
Q: I received this lovely tropical plant as a sympathy gift, and have no idea what it is or how to care for it! If you can you provide any information, I would be grateful! (with photo attached)
A: The plant pictured appears to be calathea crocata, a tropical plant. In Atlanta, calathea is typically used as a houseplant and prefers medium, indirect light. They thrive on filtered light. Since it's a tropical plant, it likes humidity so the soil should be kept uniformly moist throughout spring and summer, and you should mist often. Don't be afraid to bring it outside for the summer months; just keep it out of direct sunlight.
Q: I planted gardenias last fall and now they are thinning leaves on the bottom half of the plant. What may be the cause? They are in full sun until 1pm. Then shaded by the house for the remainder of the day. Thanks, Christy. Avondale Estates.
A: The tops of the plants look healthy and it appears they are getting enough sun because they are blooming.
Because blooming takes a lot out of the plant, apply an acidifying fertilizer (like Azalea – Camellia food) to the plant according to the package directions. Also, make sure the plants are getting enough water. Gardenias should be kept consistently moist and require at least an inch of rain (or equivalent watering) each week. Also, maintain a 2 inch layer of mulch (pine straw, pine bark or cypress mulch) to help retain moisture in the soil, discourage weeds and maintain a constant soil temperature.
The gardenia shrub, especially when young, has a tendency toward straggly growth and requires pruning to keep it in shape and promote fuller growth. Right now, you can remove the faded blooms to encourage more flowering. When they have finished flowering, you can prune away any dead wood and remove straggly branches. Around mid to late February, cut back about 1/3 of their existing growth. This will help the plants to put on more growth and achieve a fuller appearance.