By Laurelynn Martin and Byron Martin
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.
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
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.
Gardeners have been growing citrus in containers for thousands of years. The attractive and edible fruit combined with intensely sweet flowers makes citrus a prized potted plant. Some gardeners grow citrus outside in pots in tropical zones while others grow citrus inside in pots in northern climates. Whether or not you live in a temperate or tropical climate or live in an apartment or home, growing citrus fruit successfully in containers has a few common cultural requirements.
Sun, Sun, and more Sun
Make sure you have a sunny area. Light level and light intensity have a lot to do with growing citrus successfully. Citrus plants need at least 6 hours a day of sunshine and temperatures above 65˚F is a plus for rapid growth.
Choosing Your Container
Glazed, plastic, terra-cotta (clay), cement, wood are all viable choices. However, if you grow in anything but terra-cotta, you must be careful and accurate with your watering. We recommend using clay or terra-cotta so the soil can dry down between waterings. Otherwise, moisture stays on the inside of the pot and this can invite in root disease. This rapidly turns into root rot and can kill the plant. Also, pot size is something to become aware of. Do not over pot (choose a pot too big, too fast). This also can lead to over watering and again invite in root disease. Also, citrus like to be somewhat root-bound in a pot. We’ve grown some of our most productive Meyer Lemon plants in 8″ pots for years. Read More…
We love showing our greenhouses to visitors and especially enjoyed the other day when Shaun Kass, Martha Stewart’s estate gardener and his wife, Jen, came for a tour. We started in the “Long House” where Shaun’s 6’1″ stature barely fit into our antique Glasshouse. Byron is in the background smiling, pleased that at 5’ 10” he has no problem navigating the aisles. Notice the Petrea volubilous alba vine, also known as White Queen’s Wreath, flowering on a trailing vine near Shaun’s left arm.
Tree that has been growing in the Lemon Tree house since the early 1900’s.
Byron’s Great Grandfather bought the lemon tree from a grower in Philadelphia and had the tree delivered by horse and buggy. The underside of the lemon tree and all its branches show the old gnarly structure. Thousands of cuttings have been taken from this tree and the fruit can weigh up to 5 pounds. Jen is holding only a one-pound ponderosa lemon that we just picked.
This is a photo of Shaun and Byron hunting for the red ripe coffee beans on our Coffea arabica plant that has rooted into the ground. The structure of the tree is upright and continues to grow tall. Every year, we have to cut the top off to contain the size. The plant still produces flowers and beans even when pruned hard. This variety is the coffee of commerce and it is one of the easiest plants to grow. Plus, the coffee plant produces flowers twice a year giving off a light, pleasing fragrance.
While we wandered through our propagation houses Jen couldn’t resist the “Sea of Streps” (Streptocarpus
) or Cape
Primrose. We have 14 varieties and they all have the ability to bloom year-round with amazing color. This close-up bloom is called Streptocarpus ‘Spiritual Corridor.’ I find if you look close enough you can see the outline of an Angel.
Other plants that were in flower on this February visit were the bright yellow Thunbergia ‘Sunlady
‘ with its defining brown center and the “Blue Skyflower”
of India also known as Thunbergia grandiflora
. I was happy to see that some of our other reliable bloomers were performing for our special guests such as Plumbago indica in full bloom, gracefully cascading with vibrant pink color.
We love this shot of Shaun and Jen standing under our soon-to-be released flowering basket of Duranta erecta compacta ‘Little Geisha Girl’. Unlike the regular ‘Geisha Girl’ variety, this form is more compact and blooms are held tighter on the weeping stems making it a wonderful hanging basket. John Lucas from Tradewinds Botanicals gets credit for this variety.
We made sure they had plenty of gifts to go home with. Here is Shaun with a popular Sansevieria, Lithops or Living Stones, and a rare plant from our collection called a Haemanthus albiflos, known as “Dappled Snowbrush.” The leaves look like orchid foliage. Jen is holding another Living Stone and I have a citrus gift for them, our popular Meyer Lemon Plant with a ripe meyer lemon from our mother plant.