Blooming Away in Mandevillaville
By Georgetta L. Morque
Bringing a bit of the tropics to your home might be the perfect touch after a long and cold winter. This season, florists and grocery stores are filled with large quantities of tropical flowering plants and trees such as hibiscus and mandevillas.
From 6-inch plants to 4-foot trees, hibiscus feature deep green leaves and scarlet, crimson, and vivid orange-yellow flowers that can brighten up a patio, porch or deck. The hibiscus species originated in Asia and the Pacific Islands. The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis is the national flower of Malaysia.
Mandevillas are more vine-like with equally beautiful flowers. The species, named for Henry Mandeville, British diplomat and fine gardener, is native to the Southwest, Mexico, Central America, South America, and the West Indies.
Plants like hibiscus thrive in tropical conditions and therefore do well in the summer in our area. Rocco Lagana of Rockridge Florist recommends keeping them in a big pot with plenty of sun. “The more sun, the more flowers.” He also advises fertilizing them every two to three weeks. Rockridge sells 6-, 8- and 10-inch hibiscus plants, the Yoder variety, that are high- quality and greenhouse-grown in Florida. They have lush green leaves and brilliant colored flowers. One smitten customer recently bought 72 of the plants for window boxes. Mandevillas, which are also available at Rockridge, require similar care as hibiscus.
Sadly, these plants have a hard time surviving in winter, unless you live in California or Florida, or bring them indoors, says Rocco. When the weather turns chilly, place them near a window with plenty of sun and near the heat.
So, the time is now for going tropical. Hopefully, there will be a long and well-deserved warm summer to keep these plants blooming for all to enjoy. While they may be a summer fling rather than a lasting romance, you can always start anew next year.
Brilliant hibiscus plants at Rockridge Florist
Hibiscus trees at Whole Foods Market