Tropicals is one of the most exciting departments at Van Wilgen’s. When decorating your patio, pool, deck or containers we love to incorporate tropical plants because they love the summer heat and preform right to fall! Everyone loves the feeling like you are on a Caribbean island right in your yard and these plants certainly accomplish that! Citrus? Figs? In Connecticut? Absolutely. Citrus harvested right from the plant is the juiciest and most flavorful citrus I have ever tasted! We can tell you everything you need to know to have a successful citrus plant and if you have any questions about growing the freshest, best tasting figs around, we’re here to help!
Darlene Pastet, Assistant Greenhouse Manager, Darlene@vanwilgens.com,203-488-2110 x 105 • CANP Certified
Please note, below is a sample of some of our favorite plants that we carry throughout the year, and not a representation of current inventory.
This is by far the most amazing tropical plant. These hibiscus are just AWESOME! We love the colors and when they come of the truck we all are excited to see what colors we got. The other great thing about Yoder Hibiscus is the dark, dark green and clean foliage. We sell these in a bush for in a 6” pot and a 10” pot. We visited the farm these are produced at in Florida and it was so impressive to witness the seas of in bloom hibiscus. While we were there we put a bug in their ear about growing a 10” braided plant and I think we may see a few samples this spring, keep an eye out. Very exciting!
Sun Parasol Giant Pink Mandevilla
Sun parasol has revolutionized breeding in Mandevilla with the colors they have been introducing as well as the flower power the plants have been generating. Our favorite thing about these newer Mandevilla is that the leaves are smooth, glossy, shiny and flat. The biggest benefit besides esthetics is the plant is more pest and disease resistance. The older varieties have rough curly leaves that was notorious for harboring pests. We love this one!
Sun Parasol Giant White Mandevilla
Everything that is great about Giant Pink but in a clean and crisp white flower.
Sun Parasol Crimson Giant Mandevilla
This has all the great characteristics of the other Sun Parasol Mandevilla with a crisp and undoubtedly crimson flower. Some of the previous reds would fade and push more towards pink. Sun parasol had the original red flower and this is one of their newest and most improved reds. This is a winner.
Sun Parasol Stars and Stripes Mandevilla
This one of the newest introductions to the series. It is a smaller flower than the Giant series, but the red flowers have a white stripes running through the petals. Hence the name stars and stripes. Very different and great to use in combos
White Bird of Paradise
This is a tall and narrow plant that looks almost like a palm with solid large leaves. They are awesome to use in containers as part of a combo or they are substantial enough to showcase on their own. We carry a 2-3’s size all the way up to 6’ plus sizes. This plant looks amazing around a pool or back deck, it definitely reminds me of the tropics
Phoenix roebelenii Palms
This palm has been gaining popularity in the last few years, its common name is Pygmy Date Palm. The more mature they become the more extravagant the trunk and bark becomes. The fronds (leaves) are frilly and spindle like. They often are in a grouping of 3 stems in one pot which makes for a great show around the pool and/or deck. Watch out…they do have a thorn hidden here and there.
Pineapple? In CT? The plant is cool enough without the pineapple, which kind of reminds me of an agave. I was always curious what a pineapple plant looked like and while I was touring nurseries in Florida I met the guy who thought to grow and sell dwarf pineapple plants! He was quite the interesting character with his long white beard and huge sun hat. He could tell a story! He is also the only person in the U.S. or the world to have an organic pineapple farm.
OHHH that smell. There is only a few plants that catch your attention with a fragrance like that! Gardenia has dark green, shiny leaves and blooms bright white flowers. The flowers last quite a while and when they start to go past they turn brown but are still aromatic. A plant sales rep we have known for years takes “spent” gardenia flowers and uses it as an air freshener in his car!
Red Fountain Grass
The number one questions: Will this come back next year? Unfortunately, no. We would love it just as much as you if we could find a cold hardy grass that looks like this! This grass is just too showy not to use in containers and in your annual beds. The dark red blades of grass along with its abundance of plumes makes this one showy plant. It’s totally worth it. Make sure you keep it watered.
These are interesting little tropical plants. They leaves are so cool looking they are beautiful grayish green leaves it has cream flowers and produces small olive fruit. I was told these olives need to go through a curing process to enjoy, but the plant is cool enough to enjoy without eating the olives.
Improved Meyer Lemon
The ONLY lemon you need to have. This lemon tree produces so many lemons on such a small plant. This is another plant that can stop you in your tracks with the fragrance of the flowers. We keep all of our citrus in our courtyard room and whoever has the pleasure of opening the door in the morning gets a nose full of sweet citrus smells. Bright, bright window for the winter, reduce watering and bring out when temps are above 50 degrees consistently.
Not as prolific of a producer of fruit as the Meyer lemon but we got 30 Limes of our resident lime tree named “Leonard” this year. They are the tastiest and juiciest limes ever! Bright, bright window for the winter, reduce watering and bring out when temps are above 50 degrees consistently
These little guys pack a punch. The plant is usually smaller than the other lemons and limes but the amount of fruit, although small, per plant is amazing. Darlene made Key Lime Tort with the limes from our huge Mexican lime in the greenhouse a few years ago…DELICIOUS! Bright, bright window for the winter, reduce watering and bring out when temps are above 50 degrees consistently.
Spanish Madrid Lavender
We carry this lavender in the greenhouse because it is marginally hardy. The up side of Madrid Purple is its LARGE flower and flower power. It has the same great scent and uses as our perennial English lavender but way more showy.
Everyone loves a Boston fern. Grab a hanging basket for your shady spot on the porch. This is a pretty tough shade plant. Make sure you keep it watered and you will have a bright green show all summer. You can bring it in as a houseplant in the fall as well.
These are awesome foliage plants. Also called Elephant Ears because of the size and shape of the leaves. The leaves are are surely amazing. We planted a few of these as you pull into the driveway the last few years, they were HUGE by the end of the summer. I like Alocasia because of how thick, shiny, and strong the leaves are, they held up well. Plant them in a partly shady spot and keep them water. See how big you can get the leaves!
There is no other plant that can get a flower as close to a true blue as ‘Imperial Blue’ Plumbago. It is a difficult plant to keep happy early in the spring because it truly loves the heat of the summer. Once summer is in full swing, sit back and enjoy the show.
Another plant that is difficult to keep happy until the temperatures start to creep up. Lantana is a great summer performer and amazing hummingbird attractor. The plant is compact and mounding and has a distinct smell.
This is a vine that will knock your socks off with fragrance. Often called Star Jasmine this vining plant will produce one abundant flush of small white flowers and then produce intermittent flowers on new growth through the summer. It is so worth the fragrance.
Called Lilly of the Nile, but it is not actually a lily or in the lily family. This is also one of the closest to blue flowers out there. The blooms come up on a tall stem and open in canopy of blue flowers. We carry the original and a dwarf version called ‘Peter Pan’.
Fire Dragon Acalypha
Fire Dragon Acalypha is the Latin name but Fire Dragon sounds way cooler. Darlene and Ryan found this while exploring tropical suppliers in Florida. It almost looks like a weird coleus with the leaf shape and variegation. We will have this for the first time this spring. We thought it could be really interesting to use in containers as a thriller. Kirsten should have fun using these as something completely different at her new potting bench.
Purple Passion Flower
This is possibly one of the funkiest flowers out there. It looks alien like with all the different parts of their huge 3”+ flowers. This is truly an interesting plant. Passiflora is a climbing vine and even the tendrils that grab on to trellises are cool looking. The blooms only last a few days, so we suggest taking them off the vine and floating them in a bowl of water to enjoy them longer. Don’t worry it is a pretty abundant flower producer.
Brown Turkey Fig
Figs anyone? We love Brown Turkey Figs because of the amount of fruit you can get on a small sized plant. Brown Turkey is responsive to pruning and easily kept a manageable size which is great if you are bringing it in and out for the winter. Our fig master Jerry has some excellent advice on how to get the best figs possible. Jerry recommends garden lime and 5-10-5 fertilizer but to get the top secret tricks, you are going to have to talk to Jerry