Flower Adapts to Garden Varieties

July 16, 2004

HERE’S another eco-gardenornamental that is sure toplease your senses.Commonly referred to asSan José here in Costa Rica,Allamanda cathartica is a hardyBrazilian vine that providesbright yellow, flaring trumpetflowers most of the year, andrequires little attention once it’sestablished.Allamanda (pronounced ala-MAN-da) belongs to the familyApocynaceae and is a relativeof Oleander. It has evergreen,whorled leaves and a woody vine-like stem, whichmakes it ideal for covering walls or fences. It can alsobe clipped to create a bushy, freestanding specimen.Allamanda is an all-time favorite in Costa Rica andcan be found in most leading nurseries or in practicallyany barrio in most regions of the country. Stem cuttingscan be obtained to propagate your own home gardenplants and most Tico neighbors probably would be morethan glad to give you a few cuttings.THESE cuttings can be started directly in the soil intheir permanent sites or (with a little more care) can beplanted in plastic nursery bags with prepared pottingsoil to insure better results.Plant 8-inch cuttings about 4 inches deep and keepthem well watered until they begin to sprout new leavesand become well rooted.Then, bring the new cuttings slowly into full sunand transplant them to their permanent sites. Keep themwell cultivated during the initial stages of their growthto prevent them from being choked out by competingweeds. After that, only a yearly application of fertilizers,preferably organic composts, can be applied aroundthe base of each plant to keep them growing vigorouslyand producing an abundance of flowers.Allamanda does best in full sun settings, but canhandle areas with partial shade. These plants also adaptwell to most soils and require no irrigation during thedry season, which can play an important role in ourconservation of local water resources and a big differencein your water bill. Allamanda is also a hardy plantthat does not require spraying with chemical insecticidesor fungicides. All in all, Allamanda wins a greenflag when it comes to its eco-friendliness.One important note – the Allamandas are toxic andcan cause vomiting and diarrhea, if ingested, so be surechildren are forewarned about the flowers and leaves.Two more varieties of Allamanda are worth mentioning.The purple allamanda (A. violacea), which hassmall, magenta-violet flowers and the pink allamanda(Mandevilla splendens), which has larger, pinkishlavenderflowers. Both are available at leading nurseries,but are harder to find around the neighborhood.These species are also hardy, eco-friendly ornamentalsthat can add more colorful tones to your patio and homelandscaping. Until next time – happy gardening.For more info on tropical home gardening, be sureto see our Web site: www.thenewdawncenter.org orcontact us at: thenewdawncenter@yahoo.com

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