Category Archives: Growing Tasty Tropical Plants

Grow Coffee, Tea, Chocolate and Other Popular Beverage Plants

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Roselle Jamaican Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

Roselle Jamaican Hibiscus (Hibiscus sabdariffa)

Popular beverages, such as Coffee (Coffea Arabica), Tea (Camellia sinensis), and Cocoa (Theobroma cacao), are world renown and easy plants to grow and harvest. A couple more plants that we recommend adding to your favorite beverage list are Yerba Mate’ (Ilex paraguariensis) much like green tea loaded with anti-oxidants, and Roselle Hibiscus Tea (Hibiscus sabdariffa), which is high in Vitamin C.

Let’s start with a well-known plant like coffee. The enjoyment and ritual around a morning cup of coffee has become an obsession, and now people drink coffee throughout the day. Growing your own coffee beans is fun and easy for the gardener.

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Check out our video on growing your own coffee and  Visit our You Tube channel for more great video’s on growing all types of tasty tropical treats!

How to Grow your own Coffee 

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Filed under Chocolate Plant, coffee, container fruits, Growing Tasty Tropical Plants, meyer lemon, Theobroma Cacao

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Sure They Are Meyer Lemons

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Meyer lemons have become a culinary prize for chefs adding their zestful and tart yet floral sweetness to recipes around the world. Meyers are some of the most loved lemons grown in a home environment. In a small pot, Meyer Lemon, or Citrus limon, has the ability to produce an abundance of lemons, which are more flavorful and juicier than the ordinary table lemon.

The exact origin of Meyer Lemon is unknown. Some sources say it is a cross between a lemon and a sour orange; others say it is a cross between a Eureka lemon and a Lisbon lemon. Whatever the exact cross, Meyer Lemon was identified by and named after Frank N. Meyer in 1908. Meyer lemons have thin skins and because of this, they have typically not been used as a commercial lemon crop but with an increased demand for their unique flavor, they are becoming more widely available. However, you no longer have to wait for them to be commercially grown because you can produce an abundance of your own fruit at home.

The Meyer Lemon is the hardiest lemon and it performs well if night temperatures range between 50-60°F in winter. Meyer Lemon can take cool temperatures down to 35°F for short duration’s. It produces an abundance of flowers and fruits year-round even at a young age.

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Filed under growing citrus, Growing Tasty Tropical Plants, meyer lemon

Fruiting the Miracle Berry (Synsepalum dulcificum)

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Miracle Fruit

Synsepalaum dulcificum, is known as the Miracle Berry or Miracle Fruit. It originates from West Africa and has the extraordinary ability to change the way your taste buds perceive sour and sweet. The effect comes from a compound known as miraculin. Simply put, the miraculin temporarily blocks the receptors that perceive sour and it also binds protons on the tongue and activates the sweet receptors. The effect is only temporary and once the protein is washed away with saliva then the taste buds go back to normal. The effect can last anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours. Here is how we recommend tasting the Miracle Berry.

Put the whole berry in your mouth. Do not bite into the berry because there is a seed inside. Work the skin and pulp of the berry and coat your mouth and tongue with the taste. Savor the sweetness. In 3-4 minutes start tasting foods that are typically sour, like lemons and sour pickle. If you bite into a tomato, it will be the sweetest tomato you have ever eaten. If you sip on dry red wine, it will be a sweet wine instead of dry. The effect lasts from 20 minutes to several hours so plan accordingly.

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Filed under Growing Tasty Tropical Plants, Miracle Berry, Synsepalum dulcificum

Grow Your Own Delicious Chocolate (Theobroma cacao)

By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin

Chocolate, originally found in South America, is known as “The Food of the Gods.” The first record of chocolate or cocoa dates back to 1900 BC and  Cacao pods and chocolate barsthe Aztec people used chocolate seeds as a form of currency. Chocolate was served as a bitter beverage in the early days and was believed to be an aphrodisiac and have super powers. Later in Spain, and throughout Europe, sugar was added to the beverage and hot chocolate became a preferred drink even surpassing coffee. Chocolate is well loved today not only as a beverage but also when it’s made into candy bars and used in baking. Today, the health craze has brought us back to its natural form of consuming organic raw cacao nibs known for their antioxidant compounds called polyphenols as well as other health benefits. Growing your own chocolate tree is a relatively easy undertaking if you follow a few cultural requirements.

Tree Size

The chocolate tree is a small-to-medium sized tree and grows as an understory species in the rainforest so it tolerates and even thrives under dappled light or partial sun conditions.

Container Grown Chocolate
As a cultivated plant for the container gardener, the chocolate tree is easy to grow but it needs a bit of room to produce fruit. Plants are generally grown from seed and need 3-4 years to reach fruiting size. This means the tree will be 5-6’ in height with a trunk caliber of 1-1/2 to 2” in diameter. So to grow chocolate inside, a large, sunny and warm spot is needed.

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Filed under Chocolate Plant, Growing Tasty Tropical Plants, house plant, Plant care, Theobroma Cacao, tropical plants

Logee’s – What’s in a Name?

Logee’s was founded in 1892 as mainly a cut flower business. In the 1930’s, Byron’s mother, Joy Logee Martin, published a catalogue and specialized in begonias, gesneriads, geraniums, and passion flowers.

Passion Flower 'Incense'

One of our fragrant Passion Flowers!

Pelargonium 'Gardener's Joy'

A geranium with a swirl of color.

At this stage, we were known as Logee’s Greenhouses. This name served its purpose but as our business expanded across the country into mail-order, people who didn’t know us thought we sold greenhouses.

Over time, Logee’s focused on tropical plants with a certain criteria. First, the plant had to  perform well in a pot, which was somewhat self serving since we are northern growers and we couldn’t grow plants outside year-round. Logee’s also wanted anyone, in any living space to have access to plants.

Second, beautiful flowers was a must.

Orchid Cactus

Epiphylum 'Vista Sun'- Orchid Cactus that bursts with color!

Third, fragrant flowers became desirable.  This was enough to call for a name change.  In 2004, we became Logee’s – Growers since 1892 with a bi-line of Tropical Container Plants for Home and Garden. Our first book, Logee’s Spectacular Container Plants reflected our name and gave beginning gardeners the secrets to growing our tropical beauties.

Known as the Desert Rose

The Desert Rose, Adenium 'Little Genius' is an easy to grow tropical.

For the next seven years, we remained consistent with a small tweaking and became, Logee’s Tropical Plants with a bi-line of Tropical Container Plants for Home and Garden. We wrote another book about Growing Tropical Fruit in Containers called “Growing Tasty Tropicals in any home, anywhere.” This book is chock full of information about how to grow fruiting varieties in pots, such as dwarf bananas, kumquats, lemons, limes, coffee, chocolate, etc.

How to Grow Tropical Fruit in a pot

Growing Tasty Tropicals highlights growing tropical fruit in containers.


However, the demand for our plants was increasing beyond the scope of purely tropical plants. The past several issues of catalogues we even had a category for Hardy Garden Plants. We can’t compete with the big growers nor want to but we could stay true to our criterion, which is growing plants that do well in pots and if they aren’t in pots, like our hardy garden plants line, then the plant had a new criterion to meet.

A Logee plant now has to be unusual, rare or have a really great story and serve our gardening customers.

So as of, Our Fall Issue 2011, we have another tweaking and name change. We are now officially “Logee’s- Plants for Home and Garden, Specializing in Rare and Unusual Plants.”  And on the front  cover we are highlighting an intoxicating fragrant White Champaca (Michelia alba). Our new name  is a mouthful, but the overall gist is that we’ve been growing plants since 1892 and we are pretty darn good at it.

We also don’t want to limit ourselves to just tropicals but definitely want to offer the unique, rare and unusual. We hope you like the new name change and will continue to enjoy the wonderful world of plants. Here is a sampling of what is in bloom today in the greenhouses.

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Filed under adenium, Alocasia Zebrina, angel wing begonia, Begonia 'My Special Angel', colocasia thai giant, dwarf banana, Ficus 'chicago hardy', Growing Tasty Tropical Plants, Hardy Kiwi, Musa basjoo, Papaya, passion flower, Pelargoniums, Purple Horn of Plenty, Uncategorized

Logee’s at the Philadelphia International Flower Show

Amazing, Awesome, Mind Boggling are only a few words to describe the elaborate floral displays we saw at the Philadelphia Flower Show! It is one of the oldest and best known flower shows in the country and if you’ve never been, it’s worth considering next year.

Greeters outside the Philadelphia Convention center invite us inside.
We were at the show on business. The Publishers of our latest book, Storey Publishing sponsored our trip and in return we talked about, Growing Tasty Tropicals in any home, anywhere and had a book signing following the talk. Many thanks go out to Storey for scheduling the trip and to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society for sponsoring an amazing Floral Extravaganza- The Philadelphia International Flower Show.

Our book on display at the A1A Bookstore of Philadelphia.
Byron, lecturing about Growing Tasty Tropical Fruit. There were about 150 people in attendance.
Authors, Byron and me, (Laurelynn) signing after the lecture.

Now on to the good stuff! Here are a few pictures to give you a flavor of the Philadelphia Flower Show- Springtime in Paris, 2011.

The Eiffel Tower Display with lights and carousel animals all around.

A floral peacock!
A lion with grass tufts of hair.

A stunning display of orchids with rose petals on the ground and softly lit pink vases.

The peppermint rose display was one of my favorites.
Here are the roses intertwined in a black chain-link.
Cherry trees in bloom and colorful bands of tulips gave the effect of strolling through a park in Paris.
Le Fleuriste or The Florist!

Another angle of the florist.
Laurelynn and Byron, outside a French Cafe…Almost!
“An American in Paris” was a four part quadrant display. Here is just one segment.
Suspended in mid-air a sense of whimsy and playfulness come alive in this bright floral arrangement.
A company called Beautiful Blooms Events had an outstanding display of flowers placed in artistic designs. This box of pink anthurium blooms stood out amongst the others.

The “Best In Show” was elaborate, creative and traditional all at once. The next three pictures are different angles of the Best in Show Display.


An entire room with the chandelier, furniture and most important Floral Displays.


Exquisite Cut Flower Arrangement.
The elegant outdoor white wrought iron garden structure of the “Best in Show”. Notice the gorgeous Lillies bursting forth from the water fountain.
A shaded pink pathway of carnations in dishes.
An area dedicated to bonsais was a popular stop.
This is a Japanese White Pine that is 70 years old.

Elaborate hoops of Ginger suspended mid-air won the Award of Distinction.

Another favorite of mine is this painting of a garden with the garden behind it.

Here’s the garden with a fountain at the end of the walkway as shown in the painting.
Smith & Hawken with Target(notice the green bull’s eye) created this gravity defying wall of furniture and plants. Take a close look.
For more pictures of our trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show, be sure to check out our photos posted on our Logee Facebook page.

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Filed under A1A Bookstore, Beautiful Blooms Events, cattleya orchids, Growing Tasty Tropical Plants, Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Peppermint Rose, Philadelphia Flower Show, Storey Publishing

>How to Grow a Chocolate Plant

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Chocolate is a well loved commodity in our world and believe it or not you can grow your own Chocolate Pods. The ripe fruit or pods contain the raw chocolate pieces that can be made into chocolate nibs. Chocolate nibs are sited as the new super food for their anti-oxidant qualities. The chocolate candy bars that we know come from the chocolate pods as well but is a highly mechanized process.
To get started with growing your own Chocolate Plant which will produce the chocolate pods watch the video below.

Byron Martin shows how to grow Chocolate (Theobroma cacao) in containers and what to do with the inherent browning leaves that are typical of chocolate plants.
The chocolate pods can be cut in half once they turn an orange/golden color which indicates that they are ripe.
In our new book, Growing Tasty Tropical Plants, (available after Oct. 27th) has a nice section on how to grow chocolate and how to make your own chocolate nibs from the cocooned chocolate pieces inside the chocolate pod.


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Filed under Chocolate Plant, Growing Tasty Tropical Plants, Theobroma Cacao