Brugmansias forum: Callling all Brugs experts--I need the basics please !

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Name: Sherry
Tucson (Zone 9a)
Region: Southwest Gardening Ponds
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desertkoigal
May 31, 2013 9:16 AM CST
Hi All:
I am hoping for some basic advice to improve my success with Brugs,please !
I have a Sunset (variegated) Brug "patio tree" I bought through (don't yell at me please, I couldn't resist ) QVC *Blush* back in March, 2011. It has grown some but never flowered. It is in a pot because I am pretty sure it gets too cold here in Tucson to leave it out. It drops its leaves every winter (or most of them at least) but then comes back in the Spring. It seems to go thru cycles where it drops a lot of leaves and I would like it to live happier as it is so pretty, and hopefully flower ! So, what do Brugs like ? Filtered sun or direct ? Crowded roots or plenty of room? Rich soil or sandy? Regular feedings or rare/weak ? Does it want to be pruned a lot or left alone? Thanks in advance for advice, or pointing me to where on this wonderful site I can find it already captured. Lovey dubby
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
May 31, 2013 11:37 AM CST
Sherry, no 'expert' here, but I do grow lots of brugs. My climate is more friendly towards them than yours, mainly because of the humidity, I'd guess. Mine keep their leaves and bloom all year 'round unless we get really cold weather.

Main points, brugs are heavy feeders and like rich soil and lots of water. Moisture-retentive potting soil, for sure. They will grow to fill whatever size pot you put them in if they are healthy. So the ones I keep on my patio, I have to prune so they don't need re-potting once they're in the biggest pot I can handle.

In your hot, dry climate, I'd be inclined to try to give them only half a day of morning sun. The other thing I'd do, set up a micro-sprinkler head to water the pot every day and put a little T in the tubing, for a misting head, so not only will it get a good deep watering every day, it will get some added humidity.

My two big brugs in pots on the patio are shading a shelf unit of orchids at the moment. I have set them up with the mist heads clipped to the branches of the brugs so both they and the orchids get misted every day. May is our driest month, but we still have around 30% humidity on a really dry day.
Second and third pics show my watering system for my brugs. I have it on a timer, so even if I go away watering happens. Sorry, lousy pictures, it was raining . .,
Thumb of 2013-05-31/dyzzypyxxy/df21e5 Thumb of 2013-05-31/dyzzypyxxy/497a8a Thumb of 2013-05-31/dyzzypyxxy/30e5d4
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
[Last edited by dyzzypyxxy - May 31, 2013 11:42 AM (+)]
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Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
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dyzzypyxxy
May 31, 2013 11:53 AM CST
Oh, just read over your post again, and wanted to add that the variegated ones are not quite as robust as the regular, and probably need more filtered light, too. Early morning sun only, maybe?
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sherry
Tucson (Zone 9a)
Region: Southwest Gardening Ponds
Image
desertkoigal
May 31, 2013 9:23 PM CST
Elaine:
Thanks so much. I was wondering about the variegated being more temperamental but I had not considered humidity ! That helps a lot. Also, I just got a start of a green-leafed variety, so will try your suggestions on both and see who does better.
Your pics look beautiful to me. Lovey dubby
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
May 31, 2013 9:58 PM CST
Humidity is a wonderful thing, take my word for it! We lived in Salt Lake City for 21 years, and our kids still live there so I go and visit (and garden) there often. That dry air is tough on us tropicals!

Post some pictures when your baby starts to bloom? Mine put on a big flush of bloom about every month in warm weather and 6 weeks through the winter. That's why they're such heavy feeders. Takes lots of energy to put out those big, heavy flowers.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sherry
Tucson (Zone 9a)
Region: Southwest Gardening Ponds
Image
desertkoigal
Jun 1, 2013 9:59 AM CST
I will. haha I still remember humidity--from Seattle and Ohio and snow and mosquitos. Hmmmmmm....perhaps I will stay where I am. Sticking tongue out
Name: Sherry
Tucson (Zone 9a)
Region: Southwest Gardening Ponds
Image
desertkoigal
Jun 1, 2013 10:01 AM CST
By the way, the start (a bonus with some Aeonium cuttings that Rhapsody616 sent) is a Dr. Seuss and the one I had already (variegated) is a Sunset. I hope I will have flower pic(s) this year to show.
Name: JT Sessions
Milton,Fl.
Forum moderator Charter ATP Member Garden Ideas: Level 1
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gone2seed
Jun 1, 2013 3:22 PM CST

Moderator

Elaine's advice is right on.In addition I would check for spider mites.Your brug should not be losing all it's leaves.They normally do lose the lower ones.
Name: Sherry
Tucson (Zone 9a)
Region: Southwest Gardening Ponds
Image
desertkoigal
Jun 4, 2013 8:31 PM CST
Thanks, G2S! I think you may be on to something. I just looked up the info here on spider mites and I think that fits.
Name: Sherry
Tucson (Zone 9a)
Region: Southwest Gardening Ponds
Image
desertkoigal
Jun 10, 2013 7:36 AM CST
I did the "shake over paper" test and think I am indeed dealing with spider mites. Grumbling I ordered some 100% purity Neem oil online. When I get it , the advice I found was to dilute the pure Neem oil 1 to 4 (by volume,not weight , right?) and spray the leaves til saturated, but not before exposure to bright sun. Here that definitely means evening so it can dry overnight before the intense daytime sun which starts early. Does that sound correct? How many times or how often do you expect I will have to do this-just once? Confused
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Jun 10, 2013 8:16 AM CST
Sherry, that sounds 'way too strong a mix to me. I hope JT will weigh in on this. I haven't used my Neem oil for a while, and the instruction booklet is missing from under the label (naturally) so I can't tell you for sure, but I'm thinking it was more like 2 tablespoons per gallon of water. I also add some dish soap - about a tsp. - to the solution. It helps keep the oil in suspension, and spread it over the leaves as a surfactant. Added later, here's a good site http://www.discoverneem.com/neem-insect-spray.html for the dilution ratios. 1tsp. per quart of water. They do say to use soap for a surfactant, too. You can double the amount for a severe infestation.

The oil/soap combo is a good mechanical means to smother and dessicate the mites. The Neem does also have insecticidal properties, but mites are arachnids, not insects so the mechanical means works best. You need to be sure to cover all surfaces of the leaves and stems with the spray, and the soil surface, too. Be very careful about keeping the plants in the shade while they have the stuff on them. I would just keep them shaded until you're finished having to spray. The plants are stressed anyway, so could do with the relief from your strong sun. Do you have a piece of shade cloth or something you can just 'tent' over them?

You will have to repeat the spray probably once a week for a few weeks to make sure to get the new generations of mites that may be hatching out even after the present population is killed. Systemics (that are applied by drenching, and taken up by the plant roots) will only need one application, and last sometimes a year, but Neem is not a systemic.

Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sherry
Tucson (Zone 9a)
Region: Southwest Gardening Ponds
Image
desertkoigal
Jun 11, 2013 8:21 AM CST
Thanks Elaine! I will cover it after I spray.
Name: Sherry
Tucson (Zone 9a)
Region: Southwest Gardening Ponds
Image
desertkoigal
Jun 17, 2013 10:09 PM CST
OK. First application of Neem and soap has been made. I think the cover will help in another way, also, as some leaf cutters had found my plant between the time I last posted and now. Rolling my eyes. poor plant. Thanks for the advice ! I'll let you know how it turns out.
Name: Elaine
South Sarasota, Florida (Zone 9b)
The one constant in life is change
Cat Lover Master Gardener: Florida Tropicals Multi-Region Gardener Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Herbs Orchids Birds Garden Ideas: Level 2 Garden Sages Celebrating Gardening: 2015
Image
dyzzypyxxy
Jun 18, 2013 8:44 AM CST
The Neem will very likely take care of the leaf cutters, as well as the mites, Sherry.

When you said "cover" I envisioned a sheet or piece of cloth. That would shut out too much light unless it is very thin. I use tulle netting (like what you get for bridal veils). As the plants recover they'll take gentle morning sun, then more, but where you are, I wouldn't put them in the full sun until fall, when the sun is more gentle.

Through the winter they will probably do great out in the sun. South side of the house, and protect from the cold is what I do here.
Elaine

"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm." –Winston Churchill
Name: Sherry
Tucson (Zone 9a)
Region: Southwest Gardening Ponds
Image
desertkoigal
Jun 18, 2013 8:23 PM CST
ah....gotcha. Thanks! Smiling

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