06/19/09 — Tempting tropicals: Blooms can be exotic centerpiece in garden

View Archive

Tempting tropicals: Blooms can be exotic centerpiece in garden

By Molly Flurry
Published in News on June 19, 2009 1:46 PM

Think tropical means tricky? Think again. Tim Creech, or as his wife Sara, calls him, "Timmy," says tropical plants are easy to care for.

"People love them. They just bloom and bloom and bloom."

In the harsh heat of an eastern North Carolina summer, bountiful blooms all season long can be quite a feat, but tropicals thrive in this climate for the majority of the year, Creech said.

"You get the most blooms for your money out of a tropical plant," Creech said.

"You get non-stop blooms from the first of spring through the first major cold snap in late fall."

The Creechs, who own and operate Timmy's Roadside Garden, have a vast array of tropical plants to choose from, with an especially diverse offering of hibiscus.

"A lot of folks like to give our Yoda hibiscus varieties as gifts because they stay small and are easy to maintain," he said.

Timmy's also carries bush and tree varieties of hibiscus as well.

One of the key benefits to the Yoda varieties are the ease in which you can "winter over" the plant and enjoy it for years to come. Other varieties can be brought inside for the winter as well.

"Yoda's really like to be inside and given enough light and watered sparingly come back wonderfully in early spring," Creech said.

The Creechs have been open for business for six years at the shop's current location on U.S. 70 East just beyond Wilber's Barbecue, and as the popularity of tropical plants has grown, so has their selection.

In addition to their hibiscus selection, Timmy's offers other tropical plants like mandevillas and dipladenias.

At first glance the two plants seem very similar bloom wise, the main difference being mandevillas tendency to vine with tendrils of both leaves and flowers liking to climb. Dipladenias maintain a more bushy status, filling out but not vining like a mandevilla. They, too, will both winter over, Creech said.

Timmy's also sells shrimp plant, known to some as lollipop plant and several kinds of palm trees.

In general, Creech said tropical plants are very forgiving plants that even a beginning gardner can successfully care for.

Your plants will thrive on the fertilizer of your choice and a sufficient water supply, but Creech warns, tropical plants do not like to sit in standing water, watering till soil is damp, but not soaked is preferred.

If pests threatened using your preferred method of treatment, whether it's the more organic route of soap, water and vegetable oil or store bought pesticide, will typically find success on the first thorough application.

And just like you think of the when you think tropical, most tropical plants are sun-lovers and need at least a half day's full sun to achieve maximum blooms strength.