‘Tropic Escape’ hibiscus
Hibiscus blooms have long been a favourite flowering shrub on Canadian patios and decks during the summer months because they are easy to grow and their cheerful (though short-lived) blooms transport us to the tropics. A new line from Costa Farms of Miami, Florida, called ‘Tropic Escape’ drew lots of attention at TPIE. The flowers are huge—about 15 cm across and can be expected to last twice as long as the more ordinary hibiscus varieties. With a wide colour range the ‘Tropic Escape’ series is a winner. There are 12 new colours with names like ‘Pina Colada’, ‘Cherry Mojito’, ‘Monsoon Mixer’, ‘Rum Runner Remix’ and ‘Sunrise Mimosa’. A favourite, ‘Rum Runner Remix’, stood out with bright, lemon-yellow petals meeting a cherry red centre.
Nepenthes (pitcher plants) are carnivorous plants that can be grown successfully indoors given the right care. Two specific varieties, ‘Alata’ and ‘Miranda’, were displayed in six-inch hanging baskets and are reported to make wonderful houseplants. They grow best in full sunlight from a south or west exposure and need high (60 to 70 per cent) humidity with very good root aeration. Most Nepenthes can survive in your home if you take the time to mist them a few times a day. Sphagnum moss has proved to be the best potting medium to prevent over-watering or drying. During mild weather, Nepanthes can be placed outdoors in a shady spot. Thanks to the advent of tissue culture, these interesting plants are now more widely available.
Upright staghorn fern
Staghorn ferns are epiphytic perennials or "air" plants. In the wild, they are found attached to tall trees. They get their water and nutrients from the air rather than soil. As houseplants, staghorn ferns are typically sold mounted on a piece of bark so you can hang them on a wall or other structure. ‘Platycerium Grande’ is an unusual variety with fronds that develop in an upright manner, so it can be grown in pots rather than as a hanging specimen. The culture is the same for both—bright light and high humidity (a bathroom is a good spot).
Photos: 'Tropic Escape' hibiscus courtesy of Costa Farms, Nepanthes courtesy of Deroose Plants, Staghorn Fern courtesy of Braam.