Extension Service: Tropical how-to

Frangipani champion is among tree and flower experts coming to Yard & Garden Show

Forget those phony, plastic leis you put around your neck at a luau or pig roast party. You’ll be able to make your very own real lei from the petals of your very own frangipani (also called plumeria) tree, after you hear Al Bunch, proprietor of Exotic Plumeria, at the Southwest Florida Yard and Garden Show today and Sunday.

Al Bunch, who speaks at the Southwest Florida Yard & Garden Show next weekend, hybridized this plumeria, or frangipani, called 'Multiplicity.'

Photo by Photo courtesy Al Bunch

Al Bunch, who speaks at the Southwest Florida Yard & Garden Show next weekend, hybridized this plumeria, or frangipani, called "Multiplicity."

Al will be talking at noon today about plumeria varieties and how to grow these tropical plants; he will have many varieties for sale during the show at our University of Florida Collier County Extension office at 14700 Immokalee Road (admission is $4 for adults, no charge for children younger than 12). Al has the largest concentration of plumeria plants on the continent — about 6,000 to 8,000 trees — on a 3-acre nursery in Seffner, just east of Tampa. A native Floridian, Al founded Exotic Plumeria nursery in 1989. He is an internationally known expert on plumeria and gives presentations throughout the U.S. and Asia. His Web site at www.exoticplumeria.com will have you a-Google-ing to learn more about these beautiful plants.

However, beware. You will want to at least buy a catalog, if not some plumeria, if you visit his Web site. Al has developed about 10 varieties. A major aberration among plumeria is his “Ruffle Rainbow.” It has distinctive ruffled leaves (see, www.exoticplumeria.com/list2.asp ) and is a heavy brancher with compact growth and up to eight new branches on one terminal. It has pinkish-white-yellow flowers.

Another of his varieties is “Multiplicity.” This plumeria is unique in that it has two to three inflorescences per branch tip with a dark pink flower.

Also, just out, is a new book, Volume 1 of “Exotic Plumeria” in an 11-by-17 inch format. It will be available to peruse or order for those needing great ideas for gifts, which Al will be happy to autograph. Whether you want the plumeria for the flowers or in the hopes of being the first in your neighborhood to attract populations of the scintillating, exotic frangipani hornworm (see collier.ifas.ufl.edu/Horticulture/Frangipani%20Pests.htm ), this is one talk you won’t want to miss.

Bougainvillea and other wall and garden plantings perfect for Florida’s climate are at the Yard & Garden Show Jan. 28 and 29. If you want to buy and learn at the same time, speakers are scheduled both days, and gardening veterans are there to help.

Photo by Photo courtesy Collier County Extension Service

Bougainvillea and other wall and garden plantings perfect for Florida’s climate are at the Yard & Garden Show Jan. 28 and 29. If you want to buy and learn at the same time, speakers are scheduled both days, and gardening veterans are there to help.

In addition to obtaining information and shopping for horticulture products at the Southwest Florida Yard & Garden Show from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 28 and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Jan. 29, you can enjoy four educational programs.

At 10:30 a.m. Jan. 28, learn the foolproof way to attract butterflies to your garden from Mike Malloy, founder of Naples Butterflies, followed by Al Bunch, founder of The Exotic Plumeria nursery, at noon. At 2 p.m., Robert Bobson, owner of Biospheric Engineering, will present a program on Tropical Flowering Trees. Guest speakers on Jan. 29 are a collector of not-so-typical tropical fruit trees, Stephen Brady, at noon; at 1:30 p.m. James Bixler will show you the exciting types of different bromeliads and how easy it is to nurture them.

Event schedule

Saturday, Jan. 28

Vendors’ booths open at 10 a.m. with plants, trees, containers, gardening materials and landscaping tools. Books are for sale and authors and educators are available for advice to would-be gardeners.

10:30 a.m. -- Learn the fool-proof way to attract butterflies to your garden from Mike Malloy of Naples Butterflies. Malloy raises butterflies in his back yard with plantings that offer nutrition and incubation spaces; he creates butterfly art as well, using butterflies from around the world.

Noon -- Al Bunch, founder of The Exotic Plumeria nursery, speaks on tropical plants. Bunch's Tampa-area nursery handles many cultivars of the favored flower of Hawaiian leis, as well as gingers of every color and heliconias that range from salmon shades to deep red.

2 p.m. -- Tropical Flowering Trees are the topic of Robert Bobson, president of the Tropical Flowering Tree Society, Miami. Bobson is also owner of Biospheric Engineering in Homestead, which offers rare trees and plants, from Scarlet Jade Vines (Mucuna Novo Guineensis) to purple Cassia (Cassia bakerina) trees.

Sunday, Jan. 29

Vendors’ booths open at 10 a.m. with plants, trees, containers, gardening materials and landscaping tools. Books are for sale and authors and educators are available for advice to would-be gardeners.

Noon -- Stephen Brady speaks. Brady is a Naples collector of not-so-typical tropical trees such as cecropia tree, a native of Costa Rica, and Madagascar native Colvillea.

1:30 p.m. -- James Bixler, bromeliad enthusiast, will show how easy it is to grow the colorful and exotic plants. Bixler adopted some bromeliads to enhance his landscaping five years ago after he moved to Naples, and began collecting, growing, selling and looking for ever-new cultivars. His home and yard now hold thousands of bromeliads in all sizes, colors and varieties. 

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Doug Caldwell is landscape horticulture agent for the University of Florida, Collier County Cooperative Extension Service. For more information on home gardening, contact its Master Gardener Plant Clinic at 353-2872. For specimen identification, the clinic, at 14700 Immokalee Road, is open 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday; call 353-2872. Web site: collier.ifas.ufl.edu.

© 2006 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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