Top Performers of 2014 – What were yours?

Ok, Ok…I know it’s been a while since you’ve heard from me but it’s been a busy fall so far! A brand new nephew has arrived, a new deck was built (bigger and better for, you know, more plants!!) and of course lots of gardening! So fall is now in full swing which means dismantling of summer containers and digging out all those plants you want to save!  You know me, a self admitted plantaholic, so it’s quite a process for me to winterize, dig out and repot everything I’m trying to save from Jack Frost – which was late this year thank goodness.  I was trying to streamline and not bring in SO much this year…but that didn’t work out too well for me.  Anyway, that’s another post for another time!  Right now I want to share my favorite plants from this year and hear about yours!  Below are just a few of my favorite containers from this summer…

In this pot: Cordyline australis ‘Red Star’, Surfinia Heavenly Blue Petunia, Petunia ‘Suncatcher Pink Lemonade’, ‘Dreams Appleblossom’ Petunia, Lysimachia hybrid ‘Sundew Springs’, Dichondra argentea ‘Silver Falls’, Lantana camera ‘Samantha’

In the Blue pot: Pelargonium x hortorum ‘Mrs. Pollock’ Brocade Geranium,
Gazania rigens ‘Daybreak Mix’, Petunia ‘Potunia Papaya’, Lysimachia procumbens ‘Outback Sunset’
In the Black pot: Abutilon ‘Biltmore Ballgown’ Flowering Maple, Heucherella ‘Brass Lantern,
Cuphea hybrid ‘David Verity’, Solenostemon scuttelarriodes ‘Lava Rose’ Coleus, Petunia ‘Crazytunia Sparky’

In this pot: Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Copperhead’, Abutilon pictum ‘Biltmore Ballgown’ Flowering Maple, Pentas lanceolata ‘Graffiti Red Lace’, Dorotheanthus bellidiformis ‘Mesbicla’ Mezoo Trailing Red, Solenostemon scutellarioides ‘Saturn’ Coleus

In this pot: Cassia didymobotrya Fresen Popcorn Cassia
(blooms all summer and foliage actually smells like popcorn!!!),
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ (super for attracting hummingbirds!),
Acalypha wilkesiana ‘Inferno’, Surfinia Variegated Baby Purple Petunia,
Portulaca Cupcake ‘Peachy’, Crossandra infundibuliformis ‘Orange Marmalade’

And finally, my fall container on my front porch still going strong!!!

In this pot: Pennisetum glaucum ‘Jester’ Ornamental Millet, Nemesia ‘Sunsatia Lemon’,
Celosia caracus ‘Intenz’, Spilanthes oleracea ‘Peek-a-boo’,
Ipomoea batatas ‘Sweet Caroline Bewitched’ Sweet Potato Vine

So, who were your superstars this year?



Some of you may have heard I recently went to Hawaii ~Kauai to be exact~ to visit my oldest and dearest friend (that’s us above!).  We have known each other since we were toddlers…and though we live thousands of miles apart, and have for many, many years, we still manage to stay in touch and pick right back up where we left off every time we see each other.  It was a great trip and perfect timing to get out of the polar vortex in Northern Virginia.

It was all fun times catching up, reminiscing, meeting her friends and co-workers on the island, hiking, beach hopping…and, oh, the PLANTS!!!!  Oh my goodness, the PLANTS!  I pretty much went crazy!!!  Well, yeah, crazy is probably the right word. I saw plants I know and love, plants I’d never heard of before, and plants I’ve only read about.  Coming home with over 2,000 pictures (I’d say at least half of them of plants) it’s hard for me to narrow down what to share with all of you.  But I did it (kind of – I still have a lot of pics here I just HAD to share)…

In this post I’m sharing plants I know–plants I grow every year, plants that I have currently in my “basement greenhouse”, and plants that I have grown in the past – all growing like crazy in Hawaii.  Some of these photos I took at the Botanical Gardens, some I took growing near the ocean, some in the mountains and other higher elevations and some I took in other inland locations.  It was truly amazing for me to see these guys growing big and beautiful outside year-round and how much bigger they can be when they have the chance to really mature year after year.  Check ’em out!

I loved seeing this Nasturtium growing wild! One of my favorite herbs to grow in the summer in Northern Virginia – not hardy here so a real treat for me to see growing everywhere, including up the side of a mountain! This plant, along with the next six you’ll see here I found all growing in the Waimea Canyon area.

I found this beautiful Agapanthus (Agapanthus africanus) growing on the side of the road. Here in the Mid-Atlantic region this plant is a tender perennial but it was still pretty fun to see it growing randomly:-)

Fuchsia boliviana grows like a shrub in the Waimea Canyon area. I don’t carry this exact variety at the garden center but do get a couple different varieties that are very similar looking to this one.

Ahh, Brugmansia, one of my favorite tropicals. I’ve seen this plant growing in California before, but mostly as an ornamental tree form in peoples front yard. It was great to see this growing wild in the woods of the Waimea Canyon region.

I was excited to see Lantana (an annual that I carry numerous varieties of at the garden center) growing as a large shrub. I typically only get to see this plant growing as an ornamental.

Tibouchina urvilleana – my all time favorite! When I saw this growing along side of a dirt road I yelled “Stop the truck!!”. I HAD to get out and touch it. It’s almost as big as me! I winter over Tibouchina Grandifolia (a similar variety) every year in my basement greenhouse, but mine never gets this big!

Off the beaten path in a little marshy area near Waimea Canyon I came across the biggest Zantedeschia aethiopica, or Calla Lily, I’ve ever seen! The one pictured is one of the smaller ones but there were a number of them blooming and many almost as tall as me!

Okay, another one of my absolute favorites: Acalypha wilkesiana, a.k.a. Copperleaf. I am currently wintering over a couple different varieties of this fantastic tropical in my basement greenhouse. I’m a huge fan of this plant, and in my opinion, totally underused in container gardens and in the landscape in the DC Metropolitan area. In Hawaii this plant is often used as a hedge as seen in this picture at the Botanical Gardens.

Stumbled upon this pretty pink Anthurium. In most areas this is a house plant, MAYBE seeing the outdoors in the summer months. This and the following nine photos were all taken at Allerton Botanical Gardens and McBryde Garden.

This Flowering Vinca was a small shrub in Hawaii! Another annual I carry all summer long at the garden center. Great for full sun and drier conditions.

One of many tropical Hibiscus plants I saw. I particularly liked this double bloom variety. They are like the Azalea of Hawaii – they’re everywhere!

I found this Phalaenopsis Orchid, among many other types of Orchids growing on trees.

Schlumbergera, or Zygocactus is your typical Christmas Cactus! Like Orchids, these guys are also epiphytes – meaning they grow on trees.

Another holiday favorite we carry at the garden center is Amaryllis but of course isn’t hardy during the winter months here in the Mid-Atlantic. Looks like this one just popped up out of nowhere!

Love this one! I have this Ginger growing in my basement greenhouse – for the third year! I scooped up this no name Ginger at the end of the season at the garden center. I believe it’s Alpinia zerumbet ‘Variegata’, a.k.a. Shell Ginger. I’m so in love with the variegated leaves!

This particular ginger is Etlingera elatior, or Torch Ginger. This was one of MANY different gingers that were growing EVERYWHERE!

I just couldn’t get enough of all this Ginger! This is another Torch Ginger, Alpinia purpurata. So beautiful!

Yet another one of my favorites (okay, can they ALL be my favorites?!?!). Cordyline fruticosa, or Ti Plant (pronounced Tee) is another one I have growing in the “greenhouse”. Often used as a houseplant in this region, but I always put mine outside in the summertime when there is no danger of frost.

Stachytarpheta mutabilis, a.k.a. Porterweed, is a super annual here in the Mid-Atlantic area, so I was particularly excited to stumble upon this guy growing wild! I typically found them growing along river sides and in some higher elevations as well. I snapped this shot while hiking along Wailua River.

Bougainvillea is a great tropical that I occasionally carry in the Annuals Department at the Garden Center. This plant grows everywhere in Hawaii – hillsides, mountainsides, beach-sides, the list goes on. It’s so bright and colorful!

I even found it growing in the bed of an old truck!;-) This was in a super cute little artist town called Hanapepe.

And finally, here I am checking out some pretty cool moss while hiking the Hanakapiai Trail. This place is truly breathtaking.

What are you wintering over?

Well folks, tonight is the night.  Officially.  IF you live in the DC Metro area and west.  FREEZE WARNING TONIGHT!!!  I’m sure my neighbors are so excited…between all of my plants and containers and all of Eric’s Maples, Magnolia, Paw Paws, Hickory, etc, we have a small nursery on our front driveway and back deck!

Every year I go through the painstaking process of deciding what I’m going to dig out of my pots and overwinter.  Ok, to be honest, it’s not that much of a decision since the answer is always EVERYTHING I think will make it!  So it’s really just a matter of DOING it.  And every year it ends up being more stuff.  But shhh, don’t tell my family!  I definitely catch some flack for “cluttering the man cave”, aka the basement.  The basement (my pseudo greenhouse for the winter) is also the second part of the “guitar factory” we have going on here – first would be the garage (the other area I take over for a short amount of time).  So needless to say storing ALL of my plants along with all the amps, guitars, parts and accessories, etc., well, it can get kind of crowded down there.  But hey, it’s all in the name of horticulture!  Here’s a photo of my basement (this was taken before the Ficus and Philodendrons came in, so it’s a lot more full now!).

So here’s the run down for this year (only the big ticket items cuz there’s A LOT!):

I have 2 HUGE braided ficus trees and a philodendron, 2 actually, but one’s half the size named Phil, and the other that’s pretty large and in charge named Felicia…I know, so original!  These guys stay outside all summer long but come in for the winter…obviously!  They take up a pretty severe amount of space and I’ve debated giving at least one ficus away.  But I just can’t bring myself to do it.  I’ve had them so long they’re like part of the family!  So I guess we’ll just have to continue living with our small basement jungle.

I have various succulents that I brought in.  Unfortunately, my house doesn’t have a lot of natural light so that can make things difficult.  They definitely need to go under the light in the basement and guess what happened two nights ago when I tested it…it blew!  So a new one is on the way and it can’t get here soon enough!

My Gardenia that my good friend Regina (who also works in the Greenhouse) gave me.  I’m actually super nervous about this one.  Last time I had it in the house it dropped all it’s leaves and almost died!  A combo of drying out too much between waterings and not enough light I believe.  It’ll have to go under the big light for sure!  The thing is, I’m pretty good with the outdoor plants, but indoor stuff is tricky for me…especially in my dark house!  So wish me luck on this one!

Variegated Ginger – I tried this one for the first time last year.  I got the last little (actually pretty big) miscellaneous Ginger.  I LOVE this plant.  I don’t believe this variety is a blooming variety (at least it hasn’t bloomed for me yet anyways) but the foliage is simply amazing.  Unlike the plants listed above that I let grow as normal house plants, this one I kept cut back and watered VERY sparingly last year.  Once I was ready to put it outside again I watered and fertilized on a regular schedule and it came back beautifully.  Oh yeah, I repotted this guy in the spring as well because it was pretty pot-bound and he really needed to stretch his legs!

Tibouchina, a.k.a. Tibs.  One of my absolute faves.  I had three of these last year (potted together in the same pot) that came through successfully.  I didn’t cut these guys back like I did the Ginger but I did water very sparingly through the winter.  I cut them back to a third the height when I put outside as well as repotted and fertilized.  This year I have those that wintered with me last year as well as about four more!  Although I’ll probably do it the same way since I had luck with that, I will be cutting off any buds and/or blooms that may be on the plant currently to conserve energy.  But I haven’t been able to bring myself to do that quite yet!

Mandevilla, another beautiful tropical!  I brought two Mandevilla hanging baskets through the winter last year.  A light pink one and a bright pink one.  These guys didn’t worry me at all.  I kept them cut back but and dry like the others, but would often have to snip a tendril.  So although it really didn’t stay totally dormant, all was well and they let me know they were still here and ready to grow!  And now this year I have four more white ones to add to my collection!  And like the Tibs and the Ginger, I repotted and fertilized in the spring.

So, these are all the big guys that came inside with me this year.  Along with numerous smaller plants from some of my mixed containers that I’ve not tried over wintering before.  Namely Manihot, Alternanthera Little Ruby, Plectranthus Mona Lavender, Plectranthus Cervesa N’ Lime, Datura, Cassia, Cordyline and possibly some coleus cuttings that did really well this summer.  I’ll let you know how it goes! Here are a few pics:

Cordyline Chocolate Queen (Above)

Manihot (Above)

Alternanthera Little Ruby (Above)

So that is what’s happening at home.  This is what’s happening at work!!!:

This is in the basement of a house on the property.  Here we have an assortment of Alocasia, Colocasia, Canna, Duranta, Eucalyptus, Dianella, Acalypha, Manihot and MORE!   The Canna, Alacasia and Colicasia aren’t inside yet…We’re letting the frost take the foliage and then they’ll come in and stay totally dormant for the winter.  Easy peasy!


  • Plants typically need LESS water during the winter months.  Be sure not to over water…especially those plants that are pretty much going dormant like my Ginger and Mandevilla, or if your doing any bulbs like Caladium or Canna.  Last year I also tried to bring this huge pot of Lantana through.  Things seemed to be going alright…it stayed cut back and dry.  I watered one day, just to maintain, and must have been too much.  It never recovered and rotted.  It was a sad day but live and learn I guess.
  • Make sure the plants that need light are getting enough light.  Sometimes it’s difficult with these short days and the sun so much lower in the sky.  If you have bright windows that’s fantastic!  Or if you’re like me, you may have to get a light.
  • Hands off the fertilizer!  We aren’t trying to encourage any growth here, just trying to get these guys through the winter.  Save the fertilizer for spring when we’re ready to start growing and stretching arms and legs again.

So, what are YOU wintering over this year?