Top 5 Tropical Plant Trends for 2020Top 5 Tropical Plant Trends for 2020
In late January, sunny Fort Lauderdale, Florida is the site of the Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition (TPIE). This event showcases the latest trends in tropical plants—plants that are destined to become popular in our Canadian climates as houseplants in winter and container or annual bedding plants for our summer gardens. Here are five tropical plant trends to watch for.
1/ Blue Orchids, anyone?
Thanks to their affordability and blooms that can last for several months, moth orchids (Phalaenopsis) have become one of the most popular houseplants on the market these days. These plants are bred using a process used by growers that creates colors that nature just can’t manage. ’Blue Diamond’, with its vibrant blue blooms, was a standout at the show, though it met with mixed emotions. As part of an expanding line, Colorfuze Orchids, grown by Plainview Growers of Pompton Plains, New Jersey, are a novelty item that will appeal to those who want something different. Two other colors featured were ‘Purple Fusion’, a deep, purplish-blue hue with a pale edge and ‘Lavender Mist’, light purple with dark veins. As the orchids mature, the colors fade to softer pastel tones. But, don’t expect them to re-bloom in the same color—the second time around, it’s back to basic white.
2/ Medinilla Flowering Plant
Medinilla ‘Magnifica’ was voted the best new flowering plant for 2012 at TPIE, and with good reason. It is magnificent. With exotic, pendulous, powder-pink “flowers” (actually clusters of bracts) that can grow to about 50 cm, combined with handsome, oval, dark-green leaves, this gorgeous houseplant is a must-have. With proper care (lots of light, keep it on the dry side), the blooms can last for about two months. This stunning plant is grown by Northend Gardens in Jordan Station, Ontario. See the Medinilla website for more information.
3/ ‘Tropic Escape’ Hibiscus Blooms
Hibiscus blooms have long been a favorite 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 color range, the ‘Tropic Escape’ series is a winner. There are 12 new colors with names like ‘Pina Colada’, ‘Cherry Mojito’, ‘Monsoon Mixer’, ‘Rum Runner Remix’, and ‘Sunrise Mimosa’. A favorite, ‘Rum Runner Remix’, stood out with bright, lemon-yellow petals meeting a cherry red center.
4/ Nepenthes Plants
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 percent) 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 overwatering or drying. During mild weather, Nepenthes can be placed outdoors in a shady spot. Thanks to the advent of tissue culture, these interesting plants are now more widely available.
5/ 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.