Louis Raymond experiments in his own gardens like

a mad scientist, searching out plants that most people have

never seen before & figuring out how to make them perform.- The Boston Globe

…Louis Raymond ensures that trees can grow in Brooklyn…

or just about any other place where concrete consumes

the dirt and skyscrapers shield the sunshine.- USA Today

 
 

NEW Trips to Take!

Myrtle's easy when the conditions are right.

 
 
 
 

NEW Plants to Try!

Louis tries to capture the exact words to describe the fleeting but deep pleasures to be found in these Summer-into-Autumn incredibles.

 
 
 
 

New Gardening to Do!

Allergic to bees? You can still have an exciting garden, full of flowers and color and wildlife.

 
 
 
 

Plant Profiles

Today in Key West: Peregrina

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With its ever-present clusters of small, coral-red flowers, peregrina is justifiably popular throughout the tropics. Provide heat, sun, and good drainage, and the floral show is guaranteed.

 

All parts of the panicle of bloom are appealing. The shiny buds are just a bit darker than the flowers, while the bright green of the stems that hold the flowers contrasts handsomely with both. 

 

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The foliage of Jatropha integerrima bears a striking resemblance to that of one of the more eccentric and widespread natives of woodlands of Eastern North America, from Maine through central Florida: Sassafras. The two plants are related, but only distantly. Jatropha peregrina is a member of the spurge family, the Euphorbiaceae, whose members include tender cactus-like succulents, some hardy perennials, and the ever-popular tropical shrub, the poinsettia. Sassafras albidum is a member of the laurel family, the Lauraceae, whose members include the cinnamon and avocado trees, plus the true "bay" laurel, Laurus nobilis

 

The two families are members of the same Malpighiales order, whose constituent plants are so diverse that their biologic connection can't be confirmed by visual similarities, no matter how thoroughly you look for them. Instead, their relation is only apparent by genetic analysis.

 

Both sassafras and peregrina produce leaves of varying shapes, from unlobed to mitten-shaped to mittens with a thumb on either side. There's probably some gene, or group of genes, that are shared. The "mitten" genes, so to speak.

 

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As is typical for all forms of Jatropha, the flower clusters of J. integerrima appear at the tips of the stems; branching is not normally so frequent that the floral display is dense. Consider J. integerrima 'Compacta' if you'd like a form that is naturally denser and smaller. The straight species of peregrina can grow twelve to fifteen feet high and wide, whereas 'Compacta' is just a third the size.

 

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If you want to grow a tropical plant whose flowers are so profuse they obscure the foliage, consider members of the Tabebuia and Delonix genera.

 

Here's how to grow a cousin of peregina. Gout plant, Jatropha podagrica, needs the same conditions of frost-free heat, and soil that, above all, is well-drained, even at the expense of nutrients. Jatropha integerrima has many more stems, grows faster, and quickly assumes a fuller and more rounded shape; control its size by pruning at any time.  

 
 
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